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"Would you pass the ..." the explosion drowned out his next few words. She tossed him the box of shotgun shells, since he had the shotgun at the moment and there wasn't much else in the flat he might be asking for. "Thank you," he replied.

She started to reply, then stopped and waited for the next explosion. Which didn't come. "Do you think they're..."

A series of explosions near enough that the windows rattled cut her off. Nora wrapped her hands over her head, tucked her head to her knees, and thought several words she'd learned from dockworkers. She even said some of them when the noise was over.

"I dare say there won't be much of this city left by the time they're done," she concluded, launching herself from the floor to the end table where the ammunition for her rifle was stored.

They waited another several minutes for the next bomb or grenade or whatever had been exploding, but it seemed well and truly over with this time. For the next couple of hours, until the necromancer decided things had gotten boring again and sent in his fresh undead soldiers. "Don't be silly, there'll be many lovely museums and galleries left standing for you to visit..."

"Because no one in their right mind would take refuge in one," her fingers slid the cartridges into place. "Are you sure you're all right, dear? That last one was quite close, might have rattled your brain a bit."

"Not half so much as the first," he pointed out. Nora shuddered. The first explosion took place outside their building. It had thrown him backwards into her and two of their friends and then the gunfire started. A few minutes later the doorman pelted in and told them to get upstairs and lock their doors. Everyone bolted for their rooms. There'd been no word since from the outside.

Nora peered at her husband. "Well. You don't look terribly addled. Should I get you a drink?"

"Only if you'd like to stuff a rag in it and set it on fire," he nodded towards the window. "They've stopped blowing up the cars and I think they've run out of grenades, now they're onto anyone they can find on the streets."

She came to the window crouched, peering over the ledge with the rifle in both hands and pointed upwards. "Oh dear."

"That's rather an understatement."

"Would you prefer hysterics?" The sight below was certainly worth a few. Shambling corpses tottered over to anyone they could find who wasn't fit to run away fast enough, biting at the soft bits. Anyone who fell and didn't rise again lay twitching, and surely there was someone outside the range of the window animating them again. "I'm sure I could manage some if it would make you feel manly and brave."

"Managing this shotgun is quite enough to make me feel manly," he said dryly, though at the moment there wasn't anyone or anything within reach for him to shoot. He set the shotgun aside and stood, careful, with half an eye on the window in case someone got the bright idea to lob something at them again. "Though if you'd like to..."

"Don't mind if I do."

The rifle wasn't her favorite weapon, but she handled it with aplomb. And after a disastrous affair involving a detective friend of Nick's and some Hellhounds, Nick had presented her with the damn thing on her birthday. So you can ensure I come home safely, he'd said, or remove the offending parties if I don't, as you please. She was a better shot with it than Nick, too.

He gave her a silent count of three, reached out and opened the window so she could lean through and get a bead on someone.

"Are you sure you're all right?" he asked, looking down from her head bent towards a good sighting angle to the precarious slant of her hips. "You look rather like you're going to topple..."

"Just fine, dear." Her lip caught in her teeth for a moment, then she fired. On the street, a shambling undead dropped to the ground, its spine severed. "Be a love and pick me out a few more?"

He shook his head and went around behind her, contorting himself into an angle where he could lean over her and spot her kills while she shot. "That one even looks alive," he noted, pointing at a man taking advantage of the chaos to rob someone. "Think you can..."

"No sooner said than done." She kept her aim low, trying to kill as few as possible. It eased her conscience, and it kept the necromancer from amassing fresh bodies for his ranks.

"You're being nice today."

She sniffed. "I'm feeling charitable. Besides, there are more than enough dead men walking the streets, we don't need to give the person who's raising them any more."

"Well, there's that," he shrugged, stepping back as the rumbling started again. One of the sides, and neither of them was sure who, had gotten hold of a tank and taken to rolling it around the neighborhood. Nora felt it must be one of the enemy because the National Guard hadn't yet been called out, and no other lawful persons had access to tanks. Nick kept his ideas to himself, though he suspected some otherwise lawful person might have liberated a tank in order to protect the block. None of the living had yet been harmed by it, after all.

"Do you suppose they'll come in for us," she asked, putting her rifle up again. "Or will they just post guards at all the ways into the city and wait for it to die down like the last time?"

The last time hadn't been citywide, it had been one public transport station, and it hadn't taken long for it to die down. This time two gangs had started a war in a basketball court by the youth center, and when the police arrived it only threw fuel onto the fire. They'd taken note of it coming home from one of Nick's more eventful nights at the club, but it wasn't until late the next day that it swallowed the whole city. That had been when the grenades started to fly. In hindsight, the station was most likely a feint by the necromancer to gauge how ready the city was for a zombie incursion. Sadly unready, seemed to be the answer.

"Oh, I think it'll die down quick enough. Even the leaders of these groups are interested in being able to step outside of their houses now and again."

She looked up at him. "Sometimes you don't set foot outside the apartment for days."

"That was two days. And only once."


He thought better of replying to that one, though he did haul himself up to fetch the pitcher of water and two glasses. Water splashed into the crystal, which went one into her hand and the other onto the ground beneath the window sill. At worst, a little dust would fall into the glass.

"If you're going to bring on the I told you so, you could at least mention the shutters we didn't have repaired."

Nora shook her head. "That was my fault just as much as yours. We hadn't had a need for them in a while."

"Mmm." He looked over at her, though she was busy making sure no cartridges had gotten stuck where they shouldn't and that her rifle was in good working order. "You're quite a shot. Where did you pick that up?"

"A girl has to keep herself busy while her husband's off playing cops and robbers. You have your toys, I have mine." But she didn't pick it back up. Nora moved further away from the window and leaned her head against the wall, closing her eyes. He climbed to his feet and fetched the bottle of aspirin from the cabinet, ducking absently around the windows.

She opened her eyes and smiled a little at him as he handed it to her. "There you are. You looked like you were having a headache. Nothing serious?"

"No," she shook her head, but did finish off the water and a couple of pills. "No, nothing serious."

"There's still some of that brandy left over..."

"No, that's all right, darling," she patted his knee. "It's nothing much. Just the end of the world."