Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

Mordeck and Cheddar Plain were field-stripping their weapons on top of Concourse B. No one came by here. They talked and smoked openly. Eyes in the sky were a thing of the past.

They perched there on an I-beam, ten stories up from the concrete graveyard.

The broken teeth of the buildings around them creaked in the wind. The rubbish of destroyed skyscrapers snuggled up to the corners of architecture too stupid to fall down. Cities like zombies, not knowing they were dead. Sunlight picked out the holes of shattered windows like hundreds of surprised but empty eye sockets. They leaned against each other like headless drunks.

The broken glass was in the process of becoming sand. The concrete was becoming dust. The gyprock was becoming mud from the rain. The paper from office after office took flight and settled whimsically around the town. Most of it was used for nests. Every intersection was a wind-shaped bowl extending down from building’s eroding corners. Dunes formed in places. It didn’t take a predicator to see that the city was being scoured from the Earth and it was being done quicker than one would expect.

Soon, within centuries, the red bones of rusted rebar would be all that was left poking up occasionally like treasure through the sand.

The buildings were crying dust and the wind sounded like their moaning. No wonder the postborns saw the cities as haunted.

Preday survivors like Cheddar Plain and Mordeck knew better. They could go into the cities with no fear.

Mordeck and Cheddar Plain still had working implants from before when they were soldiers. Mordeck switched on his eye. Cheddar Plain carefully studded his firing arm to ‘on’. A supersonic flashbulb whine of readiness cycled up, muffled by the towel he’d wrapped around it. Their job as part of the Polis Fors was to kill folks trying to come back and live in the city.

The zealots came into view, dressed in red cloaks. They were carrying incense. Scavengers and Repopulists. Religious Nostalgics who had dreams of a new future. They wanted to go back to the way things were, not forward into a rural world.

Vets like Cheddar Plain and Mordeck fought a losing battle. Postborns were outnumbering the Preday survivors every day. Humanity might eventually boomerang back to being able to a nuclear age if they reclaimed the cities.

With a shrug, Mordeck hooked his visual cortex up to Cheddar Plain’s arm and looked down at the priests in red shuffling their way through the debris. They lit up in IR, nightviz, and t-sonics. The reds became greens, the grey dust became blue, and through the directionals, Mordeck could hear them as if he was walking with them.

Cheddar Plain drew in breath and bit his lip in anticipation. Mordeck nodded once, quickly. That was the trigger.

Cheddar Plain’s arm tip flowered open. Six hunterstrikes winked forward in a puff of smoke and a slight recoil.

The priests exploded in an orange ball seventeen blocks away. Today’s quota had been reached.

Cheddar Plain and Mordeck smiled in the shadows and waited for news of another gridpoint sighting.

The cities must remain empty.


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