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Synopsis

“Enduring Armageddon” is a story of love, betrayal and growth after a global nuclear war. A small group of survivors attempts to escape further south away from the deepening cold and increasing anarchy in Illinois. Along the way, they discover that the true monsters aren’t the mutants of the wastes — their most dangerous enemy is their fellow man.


Chapter Four

Four

The weather became absolutely rotten in the former state of Illinois. The foul-smelling ash-snow mixture continued to fall for the next three days. Travel became even more treacherous as the trucks slipped on the snow and ran off the roads when we could no longer see the shoulders. They spent the first day back from Jacksonville unpacking the trucks into the buildings near the center of town while my security crew took a much-needed rest.
The town was transforming into a fortress right before our eyes. The seemingly haphazard wall of heavy-duty wire fencing and overturned cars had been replaced in many sections by a four-foot high cinder block wall. There were several large semi-truck trailers parked with building supplies. Apparently there was a separate gathering crew for construction materials. I’d heard about them, but still hadn’t met anyone who worked for them, and the fruits of their labor could be seen as a legitimate wall slowly began to encircle the town.
We even had intermittent power in Virden that wasn’t coming from a gasoline-powered generator. Besides building materials, Allan had his secondary gathering squad collect up as many pieces of gym cardio equipment as they could find. He had electricians rig the ellipticals, stationary bicycles and rowing machines to connect to the town’s electrical grid somehow and we now had entire groups of people whose jobs were to exercise and generate the town’s electricity. It wasn’t steady power by any stretch of the imagination and no one was allowed to use their home’s lights, but it was enough to heat water and power the floodlights around the walls.
It was unintentional, but we didn’t leave Virden in a couple of weeks like we’d planned. We became complacent and my new duties as the food gathering squad’s security chief kept me busy. Almost every other day, we’d go out gathering supplies. Most of the time, we got into firefights with the defenders of wherever we were going, but it was generally accepted that Virden was a regional power and we weren’t to be fucked with anymore.
Becca loved teaching the town’s children and before we knew it, a month had passed. The shitty, probably radioactive, weather was a part of the reason we stayed, but towards the end of the month we figured out why my wife had been so horny for those first several days in town. She must have been ovulating and her body subconsciously told her to have sex, a lot of it. Now she was pregnant. It was like a miracle after nearly ten years of flirting with the possibility of having children and wanting to earn enough money to ensure we’d be able to provide for our potential kids. Our emotions warred between joy and the sheer terror of bringing a child into this world where I was nothing but a glorified gang leader who was trying to kill other survivors before they killed us.
We continued to stockpile supplies for the southbound trip that I still believed we needed to make, but it became increasingly less likely that we’d go anywhere. Virden was becoming just a little more secure every day and the countryside was falling more and more into chaos. We’d had several people murdered in the most heinous ways imaginable in the past week. The mutants had started working together in roving packs of terror and the scavengers were becoming increasingly bold as their supplies dwindled.
I met Allan after our mission to Carlinville. That was one crazy-ass trip and it was supposed to be the final small town before we asserted ourselves in the city of Springfield. The city of St. Louis had been slagged during the nuclear exchange and Carlinville was just on the edge of the devastation, but it hadn’t been completely spared. Anything taller than a single story was destroyed, either by the superheated blast winds or in the freakish tornado-like storms that followed in the days immediately afterwards.
Most of the town’s residents had been baked alive. Those that survived were the sick and diseased creatures that we called zombies. The place was crawling with them. We parked the heavy semis several miles outside of town and I drove right through the downtown square with my security team gunning everything we saw. Jesse said it was just like when he’d been in the army and his unit invaded Baghdad. He’d been part of a mechanized infantry unit and they did the exact same thing by running around the outskirts of the city destroying all of the military formations they saw. He called it the “Thunder Run” and said it was a very famous maneuver from the Iraq War. I agreed that it was a good strategy to draw out some mutants and kill them before we got out of the trucks, but I’d never heard of the Thunder Run. Must not have been all that famous, I thought.
We drove as fast as we could through the filthy snow-covered streets honking our horns and taking pot-shots at random creatures as we went. We had to double back on our tracks a couple of times when the way became blocked by debris from the blast. On the far side of the town we parked our vehicles and dismounted to fire into the crowd of mutants that followed us out of the ruined municipality. We formed a loose line of men and women and methodically picked our shots in order to save ammunition. We didn’t have to hit ‘em in the head like the zombies in the movies, but it sure did the job a lot more efficiently than shooting them five or six times in the chest.
About five minutes after our first stop, the creatures were close enough that we had to move the trucks. As luck would have it, one of them stalled out and wouldn’t start, so there were a tense couple of minutes as we did a Chinese fire drill to find room for everyone. Add that to the kit bag: Have a load plan prepared if a vehicle goes down, I told myself. I didn’t want to admit it, but I was beginning to think like a hardened military veteran.
We played cat and mouse with the group of zombies until we’d killed them all and returned to the stalled vehicle. Wonder of wonders, it started right up so we cross-leveled our security force again and drove back through town. I rode in the lead truck and the Suburban took several hard hits and bumps as we ran down the former residents of the town. It was just like being in a video game except our vehicle actually sustained damage and if we died in this world, there was no second chance.
Our second run through Carlinville yielded a lot less of the creatures, but our firing line did get attacked by several of the fuckers that surprised us from the woods beside the road. I lost two of my guys before we repelled the attack and put the things down and then reengaged the ones who’d followed us out of the ruined town.
After several more runs though, we’d taken care of most of the mobile creatures so I called it quits in order to help preserve fuel. I called Jesse and D’Andre on our short-range radios to let them know it was relatively safe to bring in the trucks and see what we could get.
It turned out to be a gigantic waste of time. My guys had killed probably six hundred zombies, but Carlinville’s supermarket and most of the convenience stores had either burned to the ground or been emptied by scavengers and mutants. We were able to get about a quarter of a truckload of food from one partially-intact storage building, but that food would only last our population about a day, maybe a little more. It wasn’t worth the fuel we’d burned to drive there or the ammunition that it took to clear out the town. It definitely wasn’t worth the deaths of two trained shooters from my security team.
Jesse took total responsibility for the mission’s failure and told us that he’d set up a scouting party and send them out on autonomous reconnaissance trips before we moved the trucks. Once we returned back to Virden, we all pitched in to help unload the measly supplies and headed off to our various homes for the evening.
On our way home, Jesse and I stopped by to tell the families of the men who’d died. It was another throwback to Jesse’s military days. We certainly didn’t need to do it, people died here every day, but it was a courtesy that we’d promised our guys. If they didn’t make it, we’d ensure that their family knew how they died and would be taken care of. I’d done it more than I cared to think about in my month as the security squad chief, but it never got easier.
I finally made it home about an hour later and was still standing in the entryway when someone banged on the door behind me. I’d just taken my overcoat, boots and outer layer of pants off so I was hesitant to open the door and let in a blast of icy air. Rebecca asked who it was, I wasn’t sure, but given today’s disaster, I figured it wasn’t the mailman.
I opened the door to see Justin, my sadistic second in command of the security squad. He grinned at me like he’d just hatcheted his way through a kindergarten class. “Hey, bossman.” He never called me by my actual name. “The big man wants to see you, Jesse and D’Andre. He heard about the fuck up in Carlinville and wants all three of you over there now.”
Shit, this can’t be good, I thought. “Alright, let me get my clothes back on, it’s cold as hell out there,” I said out loud and slammed the door on Justin’s face. He was an extremely effective killer, but the dude just gave me the creeps. I’d seen what he did for fun and guys like him were a cancer, he needed to go. I decided that I’d talk to Jesse about getting rid of him after our meeting with Allan.
Rebecca sensed that something was in the air and came over to me. She crinkled her nose at the smell of cordite and ash that emanated from my clothes. “What is it?” she asked.
“We had a problem on our mission today. We tried to go too close to the St. Louis nuclear zone. The town we went to was burned to the ground and crawling with mutants. I lost two guys and we didn’t really even get very many supplies, so it was a big waste of resources.”
“I’m sorry, babe. Are you alright? I mean…about losing your men?”
“Yeah, they were both good dudes but we know the risks each time we go outside of the walls. I wish that asshole outside would have been the one to get it,” I said as I jerked my thumb over my shoulder.
Almost as if he’d heard me, Justin banged on the door again and yelled, “Let’s go, bossman! Allan said that I had to get you over there now!”
“I’m coming goddammit!” I shouted at the door. “I’ve got to go,” I said as I pulled on my boots and slid the pants over the top so snow and shit wouldn’t get into where my feet were. “Come here, give me a kiss…and hope it’s not the last one from me,” I added and then regretted immediately as Rebecca began to cry.
“Babe, I was joking!” I said as I pulled off the glove I’d just shoved on and ran my hand across her cheek. She leaned her head to the side as if she were trying to soak up every bit of my touch. I kissed her softly on the forehead. “Okay, I gotta go. I love you.”
I turned and opened the door. She mumbled something back but I was already closing the door and didn’t catch what she said. As I settled my fancy new gas mask over my face I told Justin that I was going to kill him one day.
“Looking forward to it, boss,” he said with that damned smirk on his stupid face.

* * *

I’d never been to Allan’s place before. D’Andre and Jesse had told me that it was like a fortress and as I walked up to the normal looking brick house on the south end of town I couldn’t imagine what they meant. There was an iron fence and a few guards that I’d seen around town but never talked to and that was about it. Justin went up and said a few things to one of them in hushed tones and he waved me up the stairs to the porch. The fact that I was looked at skeptically while Justin was allowed to come and go meant I needed to keep an even closer watch on my little problem than I’d originally thought.
I heard several locks being thrown open as we got closer to the door. Maybe there was a little more security than I’d initially thought. We went into the house through a heavy steel door into a foyer that held three men that I’d never seen. I was asked to leave my weapons at the door, so I deposited my carbine, the KA-BAR that D’Andre gave me that first day when I didn’t know how to shoot a weapon yet and my reliable old baseball bat. They gave me a cursory patting down, but even without my overcoat it would have been nearly impossible to feel any type of weapon underneath all the layers of clothing I wore to keep out the cold.
After they were satisfied that I was relatively clean, they led me towards the back of the house and through another reinforced door to what had once been a closet, but was now a staircase leading down. The stairs went deeper than I would have believed from looking at the house and opened into a massive basement level. There was a very large main area with four or five closed doors leading off of it, probably to the storage rooms for the prepper’s personal stash of supplies.
Jesse and D’Andre were sitting on a couch across from a man in a wing-backed chair. Jesse saw me and waved me over. He stood up and said, “Ah, Chuck, glad you could make it. Let me introduce you to Allan, the savior of our town and the mastermind of the plan we are following to get us through these tough times.”
I turned to face a pretty normal-looking white guy with long, greasy hair wearing an expensive bath robe. He grabbed my hand and shook it. “Hey there, Chuck. I’ve heard a lot about you. Good things don’t worry! Sorry I haven’t had you up here yet and we had to meet under these circumstances. Please sit down,” he finished as he gestured towards the empty seat beside D’Andre.
I sat down beside the gathering squad’s number two man, who had that weird stare of a zealot in his eyes again.
“Chuck, did you know that Jesse and D’Andre have been with me since the beginning, before the war I mean?” He didn’t wait for me to answer. “Back when I was just the town’s minor celebrity nut-job who’d been on the television. We came together and tried to spread the word about being prepared for the end of times. Well these are certainly the end of times my friends.” D’Andre nodded enthusiastically.
“These two are like children to me, Chuck, deadly children with whom I have trusted my life.” He gestured again and four men walked up behind the couch. “Chuck, I don’t know you. I’ve heard great things about your abilities to organize the security team and how you are a natural killer that just needs a little refinement. Did you know that I had taken notice of you, Chuck?”
“Uh, no sir, I didn’t know,” I said. I wasn’t sure that I liked being called a natural killer by this man.
“Well I have, Chuck. You’re doing great things for Virden. I see you becoming one of the leaders of our town as we move forward. My children have disappointed me though, Chuck,” he said as he jabbed a stubby finger at Jesse and D’Andre. “What would you have done differently in Carlinville?”
I thought rapidly to something Jesse had said earlier. “We should have sent out a search team to verify the validity of our target. Jesse actually suggested that…”
“After the fact!” Allan cut me off with a roar. His face visually relaxed as he composed himself before continuing. “Jesse recommended that brilliant suggestion after we’d already lost two soldiers, burned through hundreds of gallons of irreplaceable fuel and shot thousands of rounds at these creatures that will eventually kill each other off before they ever travel this far north to bother us. We can’t afford to waste our resources like that. We’ve been lucky so far, but our fuel supply is finite, Chuck. There won’t be any more produced and we’re hemmed in between highly radioactive areas to both our north and south. We will need to continue to expand our sphere of influence, but we can’t do that without resources.”
Allan gestured again and two men each grabbed Jesse and D’Andre from behind and jerked them to their feet. Both men cried out in alarm and surprise.
“Children, you’ve failed the town of Virden. You’ve failed me,” he sneered. Allan turned back to me and said, “Chuck, these men are the shooting stars of our society. They were high in the sky like the moon above, but now they are falling rapidly. I think that you are Virden’s next superstar, but you’ll need assistance. Pick one of these falling stars to be your executive officer.”
“What happens to the person I don’t pick?” I asked in a panic. I’d known this meeting would be bad, but I was expecting a scolding, this had turned strange rapidly and it was frightening me.
“D’Andre, tell Chuck our rules,” the madman said imperiously.
“You…” he hesitated and the look of adoration had clearly disappeared from his eyes. “You don’t question Allan. His word is the law. He foresaw this disaster and saved our town.”
“You see, Chuck, D’Andre knows the rules. I’ll let it slide because you haven’t had the opportunity to learn them yet,” he paused and then shouted to a woman sitting at a desk along the wall, “Trudy! Make sure we publish the rules to our population. It seems a little unfair that we expect them to follow the rules without letting them know what they are. I want them posted on every wall in town.
“So, Chuck. Who will be your number two man, Jesse or D’Andre?”
I was at a loss. What the fuck was going on? Jesse or D’Andre? Who was better for the town, hell, for me? Jesse was one of the more charismatic people I’d ever met and D’Andre was a brilliant planner. I would benefit from both of them…but what happened to the other one if I didn’t pick him? Shit, what did he mean that I needed an executive officer? Was I supposed to be in charge of the gathering squad now?
“Jesse, what is my number one pet peeve?” Allan asked.
“To be kept waiting sir,” he replied instantly.
“Maybe you aren’t our next superstar, Chuck. If you can’t make a snap decision, then you aren’t the guy. I asked a simple question of you. When I ask a question, I expect to be answered. I want to know who you pick to be your number two in the gathering squad. Now.”
I thought rapidly for a moment and looked from face to face. “Jesse should be my executive officer,” I said as I avoided D’Andre’s eyes.
“Very well, release Jesse,” Allan commanded with another of his gestures. D’Andre began to struggle in an effort to free himself from the men holding him. The two who’d held onto Jesse turned and grabbed D’Andre’s kicking ankles. “Take that failure into the next room until I’m done here. I will pass my judgment on him after this meeting.” The guards carried the thrashing D’Andre from the room screaming. Another nonchalantly tossed Jesse’s silver pistol into his lap.
“See, Chuck. That was easy. I have to show the people of Virden that I am willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that our stronghold survives the storm that is coming,” he said.
My mind wandered a little at his use of the word stronghold. That’s really what we were, one little reinforced location within a hostile environment. “Failure is like a cancer,” Allan continued. “If I let someone who has failed continue in their current position, then others will think it’s alright for them to fail, or not try as hard. If I didn’t make a move, I’d be considered weak, Chuck. We’ve got to show the people that our society is performance-based and not a system built on nepotism and preferred treatment.
“Chuck, you will take the expertise that you’ve refined over these last several weeks and you’ll lead the gathering crew to excellence and Virden will rise in power and prosperity! Justin will take over the security squad.” Shit, this guy is a nut, I thought to myself.
“I want you…” Allan paused as his eyes searched up and to the left in thought. “Actually, I want the entire town, at the square tomorrow morning. Say, ten o’clock. You will be in the first row.” He made another gesture and Jesse and I were free to leave.

* * *

Except for about a hundred guards along the town’s walls, it looked like most of the people in town were there. Rebecca wanted to stay home, but Allan’s goons had made it perfectly clear at breakfast this morning that everyone was expected to be there.
We met Jesse and his wife Trisha on the way to the square as we were trudging our way through a thin layer of newly fallen brown snow. Somehow I’d actually been expecting Trisha to look just like she did. She was fairly slim, even in her cold weather clothing, but given Jesse’s past as a football player and a soldier, I decided that she was probably more muscular than thin. Her hair was a mix of pre-nuclear holocaust bleach-blonde and post-apocalypse brunette roots. Even through her mask, I could tell that she must have been pretty and she had the most amazing blue eyes. I’d never really talked to her before, but she gave me a huge hug and if we hadn’t both been wearing masks to keep the cancer-causing shit in the air out of our lungs, I’m positive that she would have kissed me on the lips.
“Thank you for saving Jesse,” she said. “I know you didn’t have to. You could have chosen D’Andre instead…” she broke off and started to sob.
Jesse cradled his big arms around his wife and said, “We’ve known D’Andre since we were kids in high school together. I don’t know what Allan has planned, but it can’t be good if he wants the whole town there to witnesses it.”
“I wondered if anyone knew what was going on. Chuck sure doesn’t,” Rebecca stated.
“I think he’s going to shame D’Andre publicly for the waste of resources at Carlinville. Maybe even kick him out,” Jesse surmised. “Even though that entire debacle was Allan’s fault because he ordered us to go there, he’s going to shift the blame onto D’Andre and come out looking like a hero who is trying to save the people.”
“That snake needs to go,” Trisha hissed.
“Babe, keep it to yourself,” Jesse warned. “Allan’s become…different since the day the bombs fell. He’s not the same man he used to be. He’s more secretive now and he’s paranoid about losing his newfound power. Watch yourself, Chuck, he’s a very charismatic man and we’ve all done things that we aren’t proud of because he’s asked us to.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I said as I unconsciously pulled Becca closer to my side. “What about Jillian, has anyone talked to her yet?”
Jillian and D’Andre were an item now and the whole town knew that she ran their relationship. It probably drove her crazy that I’d chosen Jesse to be my number two man and relegated him back into ranks with the rest of the gatherers. “I saw her at breakfast this morning and I asked her how she was holding up,” Trisha said. “She seemed fine, like nothing was the matter.”
“That’s really weird,” I mused. “I would’ve figured that she’d be throwing a fit since she’s likely to be just as embarrassed by his punishment as he will be.”
“I don’t know, there’s something strange about that woman,” Trisha stated. “She’s an opportunist and none of us better turn our backs to her if we don’t want to get stabbed in it.”
“Hey, we should get going, it’s almost ten,” Jesse reminded everyone. “Allan doesn’t like it when people are late.”
When we arrived we were ushered to the front row of townspeople by a couple of Allan’s people. Jesse and Trisha stood beside us near the stage while we waited for whatever Allan had in store for D’Andre. We didn’t have to wait long before a handcuffed D’Andre was brought out by the same men who’d brought us to the front of the crowd. He was chained by the neck to a heavy park bench placed on stage and he was absolutely stark naked.
I felt sick to my stomach when I saw his bruised and battered body. His lips were blue and his body convulsed uncontrollably as he shivered in the below-freezing temperatures. In the back of my mind, I’d thought that there would be some type of public humiliation for what had happened, but when I saw D’Andre with no mask or clothes I knew that he was a dead man.
His eyes burned with hatred as he recognized Jesse and me. He leapt to his feet and tried to reach us, but the chain around his throat constricted and pulled him backwards. “You fuckers! I’m going to kill you! You dirty sonsabitches!” he screamed at us. “You sacks of shit…” My shoes have never been so interesting in all my life. I stared intently at them as I did my best to tune out what he said about raping my mother and disemboweling my dog.
It wasn’t long before Allan showed up and the crowd quieted down. D’Andre tried to shout things at him, but a gag was quickly placed in his mouth to shut him up. Allan looked him up and down, shook his head and turned his back on the poor man sharing the stage with him.
“Friends!” his voice boomed from the portable bullhorn he had connected to the voice emitter on his mask. “Welcome to the first town gathering that we’ve had since that fateful day when the heavens opened up and fire rained down to destroy the earth.” He glanced behind himself to where D’Andre sat. “I bet some of us are wishing for the warmth of that fire right now, hey?” A few nervous chuckles wafted their way to the stage, but it was clearly far short of what he’d been expecting.
He cleared his throat. “Well then. We have a large number of new folks in town. I am Allan. I am the one who predicted that the end times were coming and I forced the others to prepare. More importantly, on that day of the holocaust, I was the man who convinced everyone to close off the town to keep the outsiders away. Without my leadership, Virden would have perished as so many other communities have.” I wondered how many of those communities would still be around if we hadn’t gone there and killed their defenders and taken their food.
“The wall around this town that keeps those disgusting, diseased creatures out of here was my idea. The men and women who risk their lives daily to gather the supplies that allow us to live do so at my bidding. The power that allows you to wash yourself with warm water instead of icy slush came from this brain,” Allan claimed while he tapped himself on the side of the head. “I am the man who ensures that our way of life is preserved. Without me, it is highly probable that you all would be dead.”
The silence in the town square was palpable. You could hear people drawing ragged breaths through the filters of the various masks they wore in anticipation of what was about to happen. The air practically hummed with the realization that we were witnessing a pivotal time in our new lives.
“Where is Chuck Broussard?” Allan’s amplified voice bellowed from the bullhorn. I raised my hand near the center of the stage.
“Shit son, get up here,” he said as he gestured to a place beside him. “I can’t tell who’s who with these damn masks. Necessary evil and all that.”
I crawled up to the stage and felt hands press against my rear end to help me up. The more clothing we wore to ward off the cold, the harder it became to move around effectively and I would have fallen without that additional support. Once I’d finally worked my way up to the stage Allan slapped me on the back and said, “Folks, this is Chuck. He’s the new leader for our gathering squad. He’s replacing this miserable failure behind me.”
He gestured towards a man standing near the side of the stage. I recognized the clothing and gait of Justin as he walked over carrying a metal bar and a knife. Allan grabbed both from him and turned back to me. He held out the rod and whispered for me to take it, so I did.
Allan fumbled with the bullhorn for a moment and then muttered, “This is your moment, Chuck. This is where you show your loyalty to me and to Virden, son.” He gave me another pat on the back.
I watched as he turned the bullhorn back on and turned to face the crowd. “This man has been condemned to death. He was the leader of the gathering squad, but he purposefully wasted our town’s resources and murdered two of our men on their last mission. That mission was a miserable failure, by the way.” The facts were a little skewed, but essentially correct, except that he’d totally failed to mention Jesse at all.
“Everyone may think this is a harsh punishment,” Allan continued, “but it’s the world we live in. My mind is made up on this. Our world, this unclean winter wonderland outside of our gates, is not a nice place. We can’t afford to be weak or to show weakness. If we do, we will be steamrolled and every one of you, and you,” he jabbed his gloved fingers at various points in the crowd, “and you, will all be dead and your wives and children will be sex slaves for the scavengers.”
I had to hand it to the guy. He knows how to play on the fears of the crowd. There’s not a single person who didn’t know someone that knew someone who’d been murdered outside of the gates of Virden.
“Now is the time, children. Now we see what the price of disloyalty and incompetence is. Obey me and you will survive and prosper. Disobey me and your fate will be similar.”
He slapped me even harder on the shoulder than before. “Chuck. The honor of the first blow to this traitor goes to you.”
“I can’t do this,” I whispered to him. “I mean, he taught me everything I know about shooting and tactics. He’s my friend for fuck’s sake.”
He turned off the bullhorn again and leaned in to speak quietly to me. “Don’t fuck this up, son,” he muttered. “You either do this or you’ll end up here with him. Got it?” I got it. “Now, I know what you’re thinking, don’t end it quickly for him and bash in his brains. He’s going to suffer for his transgressions.”
I nodded numbly and stepped away from him. I gazed out into the crowd and near the back stood Jillian. Her face was uncovered and I could see her eyes sparkling with hatred. She noticed that I’d finally seen her and flipped me the bird and stormed off in the direction of her and D’Andre’s place.
The length of steel rebar felt heavy in my hand as I trudged over to where D’Andre was restrained. I raised it over my head and D’Andre’s eyes went wide as he realized that this was really the end. He screamed for mercy behind his gag. The flat side of the bar landed on his clavicle and crushed the bones that helped to support his shoulder. His screams reached a short crescendo before falling into sobs of pain and remorse that he’d failed Allan.
My world started to go black as my heart pounded blood into my brain. I fell to one knee, but I stayed upright. From out of the fog, I felt a hand on my shoulder and someone asked me to let go of the bar. I released it but I didn’t hear it fall to the ground. The gentle hand guided me a few feet away and then spun me around to watch the punishment be meted out against the “traitor.”
The town’s residents were lined up and forced to take part in carrying out D’Andre’s execution. Every person was made to either hit him once with the metal bar or to stab him with the knife to ensure everyone took part in the prosecution of Allan’s justice. This was how our society was formed. This is how the town of Virden created its ruthless killers and made a deity out of a man who had once been on some stupid reality television show.

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Brian Parker

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