A brief excerpt of a story I started years ago.
THE CROWS NESTS
Can you see anything?" The air was frigid, making Colin's words appear in the air in faint puffs of mist. Nita said nothing in return. That was her way. Across the narrow platform, he watched as she swept her rifle swiftly left and right. Her eye fixed to the massive telescopic site affixed to the top of the weapon. She paused and held her position for a few seconds. Then she relaxed and raised her eye from the scope. That was how every night passed atop the crows nest. Long, bitterly cold hours spent jumping at shadows. It was a shit job. Someone had to do it.
Nita cleared the chamber on her rifle and sat back against the wall. She was tired. But would never openly admit it to a newcomer like Collin. She was a seasoned soldier despite being barely over thirty. In a different situation, in another time, she would have been rather attractive. But the stress of the job had worn fine lines across her cheeks and dulled her eyes. A spotlight mounted on the Sanctuary shone over them briefly before swooping away. In that instant, Collin saw that her eyes were, or had been, a deep shade of blue. He wondered what she would have been like if the world had turned out better than it had.
"What are you looking at?" Nita said. Her voice seemed so clear and forceful that Collin struggled to form a response. She glared hard at him a beat, then turned her attention to an M she had pulled from her pocket. How could she eat? Collin watched her eat, careful not to attract her attention once again. He was literally on the verge of shitting himself out here, and she was stuffing her face. Her reputation as a hard-ass was certainly well-earned.
A gentle gust of chilled wind passed over them, carrying the sounds of life. The sound he heard came from the sports stadium across the vast parking lot below. That was the Sanctuary. Home. Collin sighed heavily and turned his back on the hulking building. He raised the butt of his rifle to his shoulder. It was an older model of the one that Nita used, and it felt old too. He hated that damn gun. His shoulder still ached just thinking about it. He swept left, the slowly right, but there was nothing out there. All he could see were the empty streets littered with long-abandoned vehicles. Garbage blew across the pavements, occasionally snagging on the bones of a skeleton. Store windows hung shattered and their innards gutted by time and weather. It had been some time since anyone had seen anything. The last time anything living had ventured down those streets, it had been a large dog. Its journey had ended abruptly as a round from Nita's 50bmg spread its innards across the tarmac. That had been seven years ago.
Five crows nests surrounded The Sanctuary. The purpose of these structures and the mission of the soldiers in them was to kill anything that appeared on the streets. It was imperative that nothing from the outside world ever reached The Sanctuary. Ever.