Author : Terri Monture

The three days leading up to the executions proceeded with great fanfare and celebration; by dusk on the third day, with the sun setting in purple ultraviolet through the polluted sky the people were in a state of frenzied orgiastic ecstasy. Drums were beaten, scrap metal pieces pounded together and the smell of cooking rat flesh filled the darkening air.

The captives were brought to the plaza in the shadow of the decaying bank towers. Tied to decrepit office chairs, their faces were bloodied with the traces of the ritual beatings. There were three old men and one terrified woman, her lips moving in prayer. “Slim pickings this time,” Draper mused to Marla, who was perched on the rim of an old crumbling statue. “They must be running out of the obvious ones.”

Marla spat and picked at her teeth with a filed-down rat bone. “Bout time,” she sneered. “Damn capitalists anyway.” She looked up into the radioactive sky. “Maybe it’ll rain. That would be nice.”

Draper shivered as the captives were displayed to the crowd, now screaming for their blood. “I think I’m getting sick again,” he said, feeling his guts cramp. The dysentery came in cycles for him. Some days were better than others, but it never went away. There was hardly any water left with the levels of the lake falling so drastically. He scanned the sky anxiously. Rain would make a difference; at least they had some filtering equipment.

Marla glanced at him. “I’ll go see if I can scavenge some penicillin,’ she offered. “There’s those pharmacies in Scarborough guarded by the Smiling Buddha guys, I know some of them.”

He shrugged, watching the executioners raise their truncheons and the crunch of skulls shattering. “That last batch was bad,” he said. “No point. Maybe if I don’t eat it will go away.” He wondered how long it would be before he had to crawl into the lobby of a looted office tower and shiver while every bit of fluid drained out of his body.

Marla said something but her words were lost beneath the howling of the crowd and the ecstatic outpouring of hate as the corpses were torn apart and bloody limbs displayed for them. Draper felt the first wave of heat as the fever started.

The howling of the mob reached a frenzied crescendo and people racing past him buffeted Draper. “Sorry,” he muttered, and then louder, feverish and sweating. “I’m sorry, I had to make a living…”

Marla reached down and steadied him with a firm grip on his shoulder. “Stop it,” she hissed. “No one needs to know what you did before the Collapse.” Several faces turned to look at him as he swayed precariously. “He’s cool,” she yelled. “It’s the dysentery.”

Draper saw only a blurred outline as a voice above him said, “You sure? He looks like a banker to me…” and he slipped out of Marla’s grasp.

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