Climbing up a stairwell, Michael nearly collapsed at the third landing. “John, she's not light.”
“Alright, we'll take a break, check her.”
Michael nodded. He put her down slowly and unzipped the back of her jumpsuit. Peeling it off this time didn't seem to take as long, probably due to their being less bullets involved. Inspecting the bandage, he saw that the bleeding had been stemmed. She was safe for now. “Looks pretty good considering the golf ball sized hole at the back of her leg.”
“Yeah,” John said with little emotion, a thin veil that Michael had seen shattered in the van when they first learned of Andrea's wound.
“What's the plan now?” asked Michael.
Bobby got up. “Now we call for evac. There's a Huey at the base across the lake. If we get high enough I can probably contact them on the horn,” he said, waving a hand held radio.
“How far does that thing reach?” Michael asked with skepticism as he put the jumpsuit back up over Andrea's shoulders.
Bobby smiled, “Farther than you'd think old man.”
“Oh, here come the old man jokes.” Michael quipped.
Their attention turned to Andrea when she stirred, and coughed.
Michael propped her up into a more comfortable position that took pressure off the wound. “Hey,” he said. “You awake?”
Her eyes slowly slid open.
Michael pulled one of her eyelids fully open and watched as the pupil contracted as slow as molasses. “Yeah she's still out of it.” Without warning, Michael became exceedingly light headed. “Oh boy,” he said, partially delirious as he fell to a sitting position next to Andrea.
“This was the first time you've ever been shot at I assume?” John asked.
Michael shook his head. “No, I've been shot at. Just not so much in one sitting.” He looked over to Andrea. “And I've never …” he sucked in a breath, “done that before,” he said, pointing to Andrea.
“You did good,” John said, peering out the stairwell window again, a sigh breaking through his regular breathing. “We should keep going as soon as the old man catches his breath, I'll carry Andrea for a while.”
“No,” Michael said, picking her arm up and wrestling her good hip onto his shoulder. “I've got her.”
John shook his head, “Whatever.”
Bobby took point as they continued up the stairwell. “Looks like it ends here,” he said as he entered a long hallway.
“Huh, it's a hotel,” said Michael as they traveled down the narrow corridor. A breeze rushed in down the hall and soon they found its source. One of the hotel room doors was open. When Michael peered in, he saw the windows had been busted out; glass shards were strewn all over the floor, along with what he first perceived as a pile of moth bitten clothes. Something caught his eye on the initial glance, and he had to double back and look again.
On the floor in the room was a clothed skeleton. The person had died lying on their stomach. As Michael's eyes focused further into the room, he noticed another skeleton, hunched with its back against the wall.
“What happened here?” he asked to the two men who had not been fazed by the sight.
The reply came back from Bobby at the front who didn't even turn when he delivered it nonchalantly. “Neutron bomb.”
It rolled off his lips like any other set of words.
“The whole city, dead.”
Michael's heart stopped. His legs became numb and the axiomatic truth of this reality finally sank deep into his psyche as his eyes adjusted to the jagged gray cityscape beyond the window.
Each building filled with the dead; the mausoleums of a necropolis reaching out to the horizon.