“You cocky son of a bitch,” I said, glaring at Pale Male. He stood perched in the tree, watching me as he dipped his head down into the body of the pigeon he’d just taken down. I perched in the tree opposite him, my feathers ruffled. “You stand there, eating one of my fuckin’ buddies in front of me. You have some fucking nerve.”
It was, I thought, a truly beautiful evening. The sun stood on the horizon, still casting down enough golden light for us to see. The campground was empty of people, nobody interested in camping here at the moment. Rutted tracks were visible in the ground, where people had driven up to the campsite. Dark patches where people had put up their tents. Evidence that this had been a popular place, once. Now, it was empty and quiet.
It was a gloriously bright, sunny day in Nineveh. The sky had just enough clouds in it to provide a bit of shade and keep the temperature cool. This far south and west of Lake Ontario, the snow and winter had not been as rough, the city shielded by the Catskills. The flowers had begun to blossom, and a riot of color adorned the planters, matched in brilliance if not organization by the wildflowers growing by the lakeside, on the other side of the road.
Cassandra Hirosata frowned into the mirror. The expression was a good one. She was starting to learn her mother’s secret. The hard eyes, the expression that said she knew exactly what was wrong with someone’s soul, all of their darkest secrets. She didn’t need to actually know the secrets. They just had to believe she did.
“Again? You stupid bitch! You burn the food again?! What, you were too busy shooting up to pay attention to the smell of smoke? I spend all day working my ass off, and you fucking burn dinner?! Can’t you do anything right?!”
Cold rain splashed across my face. I gasped, opening my eyes, and tried to sit up. I was pinned down against a cot, rope drawn painfully tight around my wrists, my ankles, my waist, my neck. I could shift around a little bit, and that was all. I blinked in the low light. I looked to the side, and saw Mannfred in a similar situation, pinned to what looked, for all the world, like an operating table. Stacy stood over him. I thought it was Mannfred, at any rate. All of his clothes had been removed, leaving the disturbingly sexless white plastic mannequin there, a bullet hole through its head. She sighed as she studied me.
“At first, I thought it was some kind of biological weapon. 28 Days Later style. My dad built the bunker back in the 60s, and ever since that whole dream bullshit back in September, I’ve been refurbishing it. Went to sleep in it one night, woke up, and, pfft. Everyone gone. Whole world gone silent.” Stacy sighed. “But there were no traces of biological contaminants, nothing that showed up in the bunker’s filters. Then, I figured, maybe it was some kind of cosmological phenomenon. Like in that movie, Night of the Comet? Something gets introduced to Earth from space, some kind of chemical, bam, turns people into mannequins.”