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Part one, Arrival at Green Gate, is here: https://garybaileywriting.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/arrivingatgreengate/

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Part Two

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That’s close enough.” Dante knew this guy wasn’t normal but something in his mind, maybe the part that wanted to stay sane, told him to keep calm and let the ex-cop take over.

     The man with the torn-away face limped toward him slowly, inexorably. His arms hung at his sides, swinging lightly as he moved, only his fingers kept twitching.

     “Last warning, pal.” Dante had his gun up now, thumbing the safety off as he levelled it at the oncoming man.

     Just metres away, Torn-off Face’s arms reached forward suddenly and a frenzied gurgling erupted from what was left of his throat as he lunged toward Dante.

     Two shots rang out and the crazed man hit the floor, smoking holes left in his chest.

     That got the attention of the other two shufflers.

     Like the first, these two had horrible lacerations on their faces. But they also had an almost grey pallor and their eyes were completely blood-filled. Dante raised his gun again and moved forward, reflexively switching from target to target as they shambled toward him, their bodies writhing unnaturally as they moved.

     He heard a gurgling moan behind him.

     “What. The. Fuck.” The ex-cop’s brain couldn’t work out what was happening.

     Torn-off Face was sitting up.

     Dante was unsure of himself now, his composure shaken. The bloody mess of the man he had just shot was now standing and making his way toward him again. Swivelling his aim behind him, the other two were bearing down on him too. Turning again, he saw Torn-off Face readying another lunge, his arms stiffening and his twitching hands almost pointed at their target.

     His already mutilated head exploded in a shower of misty red and brain matter.

     As Dante turned, he saw the other two suffer a similar fate, mere seconds apart.

     “Up here!” The drawling voice belonged to an older man, leaning out of a second floor window with a scoped rifle in his grasp. “So, stranger…what brings ya to our fair town?”

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     There were only a handful of exhausted-looking people left inside the old Town Hall. Two women, one in her late teens, ginger hair, the other probably in her late thirties, with dusty blonde hair, had let him in through the heavy gate out front. The older man with the rifle was descending the stairs at the back of the reception area, passing the last two residents, a young man and what may have been his younger brother.

     Every one of them was armed.

     “You wanna holster that sidearm, son,” the old man began, “makes folk nervous.”

     Dante hadn’t even realised he still held it, though he had at least remembered to take the safety off. “Sorry, I’m still a little fuzzy on what’s going on here,” he said as he slid the handgun back into the holster on his belt.

     “How’d you even get out here?” the ginger girl enquired.

     After a slight pause and a puzzled look, he replied, “I, uh…I walked.”

     “You walked?” The blonde woman this time. “From where?”

     “I’ve been out of the world for a while. Only been in and out of gas stations and the like, picking up food and water before moving on. The odd small town put a roof over my head for a few nights, here and there, allowing me to shower and wash my clothes.

     Been a while since I hit any towns though,” he finished.

     “That makes sense,” the old man stated. “You’ve missed an awful lot, son.”

     The ginger teenager nodded at the old man, before turning back to Dante.

     “You missed the end of the world, sir.”

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Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this second part, please feel free to leave any feedback. I’m always looking to learn!

This is my first pass at a little serial I decided to write. I hope to make it a regular thing, with each part no longer than a page (or just over) to keep it running quickly and smoothly, plus challenging myself to write something interesting within a limited space.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling…I hope you enjoy this little taster, please feel free to leave feedback – I’m always looking to learn and improve in my writing!

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Dawn was breaking over the town, sending shadows sprawling over roads and walls as the first carmine tendrils stretched from below the horizon.

     Green Gate was usually a sleepy town, but even at this early hour it seemed unnaturally quiet. The wind moaned and an empty soda can rolled and bounced noisily across the street, the tinny clattering sounding like thunderclaps in the silence.

     Dante looked around. He had been walking for hours, all hope of hitching a ride lost long ago when not a single vehicle had passed him on the narrow road that cut through the green countryside. He pulled a bottle of water from his bag and unscrewed the top, unable to shake the uneasy feeling in his stomach. The water quenched his thirst in the warm air, when even the stirring breeze did nothing to cool him down.

     One of those days.

     Returning the bottle back to his bag, he took another look around. Seeing nothing, hearing nothing, but smelling an acrid odour on the breeze, he pulled the handgun from his belt holster.

     Something felt wrong here.

     He pulled back the slide, securing a round in the chamber but leaving the safety on for now. After all, if he shot at everything that made him uneasy, he’d be in prison for shooting his ex-wife.

     And cops don’t do well in prison.

     Being a cop was what told him to be prepared. He hooked the strap of his backpack over his shoulder before rubbing his hand over the fuzz of short blonde hair atop his head, shaking out all traces of tiredness as he made his way into the town proper.

     Further into the town his uneasy feelings came clear.

     Shop windows were smashed in or left with spider-web cracks covering the tougher ones, others were boarded up weakly, judging by the splintered holes left in doorways and house fronts. One building toward the end of the main road, about half a mile from where Dante stood, was still boarded up and intact. Shielding his eyes from the morning sun and squinting into the distance, he could just about make out the shapes of a few people milling about the boarded-up building. He shrugged and made his way down the street.

     As he approached the building, he realised it must have been the town hall or perhaps the police station, judging by the old white concrete and the scalloped pillars holding up the semi-circular veranda at the entrance.

     The normality ended there.

     A huge fence of jagged metal ran around the veranda. Pieces of rusting iron and steel had been grafted together hastily, with an old iron gate lashed across the front, held in place by heavy chains.

     A few rough-looking people shambled around what used to be the car park of the building, drunk by the looks of things, and Dante kept a wary eye on them as he approached slowly. He was about to speak when one of the men spotted him.

     Dante froze.

     The man’s face was torn to shreds, the flesh hung from ragged wounds and the blood had congealed within the lesions.

     How is that possible? How’s he even still standing?

     The man exhaled hungrily, blood dribbling from his lips, and his silvery irises locked on Dante with a mixture of wildness and…nothingness.

     His eyes were dead.

     He looked dead.

     What’s wrong with this place?

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