“Casey’s Jersey City crew got careless,” Says Bossman. “Zombies flooded three sites. Two held them back but we blew the third. Horde made it up four flights and we couldn’t risk it. All told, probably lost fifty people.”
Bossman looks at me, gin blossoms reddening. The skin around his eyes draws tight, his hands, resting on the desk between us, clench, unclench. “Go find Casey. You ask him how he nearly lost three buildings. Then, once he answers, you make certain it doesn’t happen again.”
“Yes, sir,” I say.
Boss nods, quick, but the tears never leave his eyes. I turn and make for the stairs. How do I make fifty deaths count for something? These weren’t soldiers or made-men. These were men, women, and children, each under the protection of the Poverelli family. Fifty dead. And I gotta go make it fifty-one.
Name’s Blaylock, but everybody calls me Block. The name suits me. I’m muscle for the Family. It’s my job to make sure none of these mooks foul up and let the dead run riot over our rooftop paradise.
Here, it ain’t the zombies on the streets you gotta worry about. It’s the guy beside ya still breathing.
I only knock once ’cause I’m a little pissed. I’m standing just outside the door to Casey’s office, gun in hand. Behind me there’s a little crowd of civilians gathering. They’re all lookin’ mean at me—probably because they’re a little fed up with the administration at this point. They’re all quiet-like though, ’cause I was sent by Bossman himself and they knowed it.
It took a while to get to Casey’s place, what with the big, still smoking ruins of the building he lost in the way. Before the screw-up I coulda walked straight over. The buildings had been like a row of teeth, albeit crooked and rotting. But, one of ’em had got knocked out, so I had to schlep it ‘cross the gap on the ground, which was dangerous.
That was a stressful trip. I am stressed.
So, I only knock once. Then I open the door, see Casey still getting’ outa his chair, and say to him, “Casey.”
“I… I can explain,” he says, but his face says he can’t, so I shoot him before he can bullshit me. His head pops like a soda can that somebody shook up and dropped.
I turn around and hear one of the civvies, actually a soldier I guess, since he’s pointing a gun at me, say, “We’re sick of the Family’s shit.”
I see that they’re all pointing guns at me and frown. I musta underestimated how angry they was.
Here’s the thing about Jersey City that some folks forget.
Jersey City folks, they’re used to some gunfire ruining a nice, quiet evening.
Jersey City zombies, well, they ain’t so kind.
There’s a reason my gun’s got a silencer. It’s not that whisper-quiet pchew, pchew bullshit you’d get in the movies, but it’s a damn sight more quiet than, say, a bunch of pissed-off civvies with poorly-maintained firearms.
I duck ’round the corner into Casey’s place when they start unloading. I ain’t gonna lie, being outgunned by just about anybody is pretty scary, and I’m a little scared as I hunker down behind Casey’s davenport. But I got two things going for me.
One, the mob’s more scared than I am, so they hesitate rather than rushing me.
Two, guns without silencers are loud as balls.
“Why don’t you come on out, Block?” It’s the soldier again. Gotta be the leader. “Stop hiding and face death like a man.”
I spot the fire escape outside of the bedroom window, a room and a half away. I’ll never make it with them watching.
Then the zombies start breaking down the door downstairs.
The civvies panic. I make a break for it.