Mornings within the walled off, reclusive world are the worst part of an already fucked up life. The smell of decay mixed with body order, sprinkled with a constant moaning.

The moaning was worse then the stench at times. A twisted symphony of pain expressed in guttural “Ohhhhs” all day and night.

Tommy stared at the dangling plaster above his head. The room had seen better days but as was the world.

Zombies milled under his window waiting like dogs hungry for breakfast

“Tommy!” Shouted Mary , the station chief.

“You have a phone call.”

“All the technology in the world destroyed but we still have phones. The cockroaches of technology,” Tommy thought to himself as he dressed for the day.

“Listen, Mr. Carson. We give you are word. We will find your daughter.”

“Don’t do that,” Tommy said as he buckled his .45 caliber pistol into its leather holster.

“Don’t promise anyone anything. I am no superhero.” Mary, a thin woman, eyes that understood the horrors of the world, placed the phone receiver in Tommy’s hand.

“Mr. Carson,” Tommy O’Neal began. He sat the phone on his shoulder and slicked back his hair.

“There are no guarantees in this zoo.” He said. “I lost 8 people just yesterday because they wouldn’t listen. “ This daughter is what 22, 25 and a criminal?”

“My daughter,” Mr Carson shot back. “Is 14 and was kidnapped by criminals.”

“Not possible,” Tommy snapped. “They would not push a 14 year old into this shithole.”

Mr. Carson stopped talking for several moments then said, “she snuck in.”

“Snuck in! That is ridiculous. No one would sneak into this place. Are you calling from a radio show, your joking right.”

Mr. Carson went quiet again.

“No,” he then said. Tommy could feel the anger or was it guilt eating at this man.

“Your daughter is dead,” Tommy said.

“Bullshit,” the caller retorted. “I offered the BlackGuard 50,000 credits to find her.”

“50,000? Seriously?”

“The guards outside the prison will not do shit for 50,000 credits. I doubt they would step into this zoo for 100,000 and they are definitely not looking for your daughter in West Ransom. They may take your money though.”

“Mary, can I get a plate of your awesome fried rice and a candied apple. I love those candied apples.” Tommy said waiting for a response.

“Sure thing, I got you. Anything else?” Mary said.

A glass of water, please.” Mary disappeared into the kitchen of the diner.

“What are offering for this job, Mr Carson. I have expenses.”

“150,000 dollars, certified by the Northeast territory… “

—-

“You did and that will cost more. With more then one there is always casualties… always.”

“There is only one rescue. One! The others can die. I don’t care… and my daughter has a backpack. You bring that back safely and I will add 100,000 more.”

“Wow, father of the year here. Backpack is worth as much as your daughter, almost.”

“Shut up, O‘Neil. Just do the job. You’re the only one left to try.”

“Sure, thanks. Glad to know I was on the bottom of that list. How will you guarantee I get paid? I am on the inside of this hell on earth zoo. The Blackguards are corrupt as hell and I can’t get out.”

There is silence then a muffled argument and finally a response.

“The Garden. Go to the top of that and I will meet you in a few weeks.

“A few weeks. Could you be a little more specific?”

“You live in a walled city zoned off by criminals, zombies and these hybrid creatures. Do you honestly think you can make it in a specific time?” The caller snapped.

“Good point, so you want me to go to the West, rescue a little girl, fight zombies then go to the center of town and climb 185 floors to the roof?

I have a contact at The Garden named Charlie. Find him and have him call me when you get there.

More to come soon

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