She swaggered down the dim-lit streets. Cassandra had always walked like that; her mother used to claim she sashayed right down the birth canal.
Cassandra smiled and knit her brow as she remembered her mother. She tried to hold onto her mother’s big toothy smile and not what her mom had become in the end.
Even at night, the buildings seemed to leer overhead, crowding the streets and narrow sidewalks below. Scattered bits of leaves and leaflets stirred in the fitful breeze.
Her ears were attuned to the city around her: the distant blaring of horns, an occasional crunch of tires on cracked asphalt, and dogs barking in nearby neighborhoods. It was amazing that anybody got any sleep anymore. The dogs knew what was happening.
Maybe I should get a dog, she thought.
She shot quick, hard looks at the few passersby. Mostly though, she kept her eyes on the soft orange glow of the horizon.
She thought about Nietzsche. She sang whole albums in her head. She tried to remember as many lines as she could from her high school production of Macbeth. She thought about anything except last Thursday night.
As she passed two young men, her heart dropped cold into her stomach. It wasn’t their torn t-shirts, their placement in the shadows of the alleyway, nor the sullen glow of their cigarettes. It was the way they stood, completely placid and inhumanly immobile.
On the third pass, her instincts proved correct.
Cassandra screwed her courage to the sticking point and strode into the alleyway. She asked for a cigarette. She got no reply.
She looked away, just long enough. Her chest tightened. Slimy pressure swelled behind her eyes.
They’d gotten too close.
She jerked backwards and ripped the gun from its hidden holster. Their dead eyes looked so out of place above their gaping hungry mouths. Six sharp cracks and it was all over. The things lay dead
She didn’t bother to hide the bodies. Whatever was behind all this didn’t want to be found out, at least not yet. They’d be gone by morning.
Two more down and a whole city full of the vacant to go. Only the dogs and Cassandra saw the plague around them.