A large darkly clad man held a smaller, almost frail, lifeless body, by the hair with one hand while twisting a thin silver rod in the body's chest clockwise a full rotation. He released the dead man's long tangled hair and the body slid from his fingers onto the watery ground.
"You OK?" His similarly dressed companion asked, speaking over loud through his raspatory mask.
The first man nodded. Raising his head to survey their surroundings.
"Was that your last rod?"
"Yep, unless you got one to loan me."
"No. I used mine on the woman" Shame, he thought to himself, I usually like to hold one back for the trip home. Just in case we come across a high value target. Like the one they had missed on the way in.
"Then I suggest we ignore the other one and get back as quickly as possible."
The other man shrugged non committedly
"You been inside yet?"
"No, but I creeped the windows while we were stalking." He gestured towards the dead man a few feet behind them. "It'll do if you don't mind bunking with a couple of rats!"
Then the second man grinned beneath his mask, "don't mind if I do, He lifted the dark respiratory mask back to expose a fair but weathered face, with gaunt edges. He smacked his lips, :"you know I love rat. Let's go get some."
A few hours later they found themselves .warm and satiated. Both men had their respiratory masks and jackets off and were leisurely licking lips and fingers covered with the tasty grease of their dinner. The fair man's companion was his exact opposite. Rather than fair, lean, and lithe looking, he had thick dark hair and while his face was fair it was covered with a curly thick beard. He was built thick and strong--brutish. He motioned to the his friend, "Sol, what do you think they would do in decontamination if they knew how much we ate out here?"
Soldier stretched his long legs out in front of him, perfectly built for running and chasing, "I don't know, Koran, Maybe they don't even care." He leaned back, "I mean why would they. Everyone knows Contractors don't live very long.."
"But that's because most die out here. I don't intend to,"
"Some just decide to stay."
Koran leaned back against his pack, tilted his head slightly, ascertaining Soldier's seriousness. "Yeah, but we kill most of those." He tapped the side pocket of his pack. The spent retreival rods jingling quietly.
A faint shuffling noise interrupted the conversation. Both men sat up, instantly at full awareness. They sensed more than saw a rush of movement just inside the doorway of the ramshackle hut.
Koran ignited a small liquid light rod and flashed it over the entrance and into the corners on each side. As he passed over the second corner, something scampered out of the light towards the door.
With a quickness that belied his size, Koran reached out and grabbed one of the creatures by the tail and lifted it to the light in his other hand. Both men winced a little as they surveyed the smaller rat. It's little body covered in tumorous growths. Koran quickly swung it against the door jam, crushing it's little skull and flinging if from the shack.
"Hey," Soldier consoled his friend, "there are still those that would consider that a good dinner." But he couldn't hide his own shudder of revulsion.
"Someone already did," Koran countered.
Neither wishing to discuss the subject further, Soldier began pulling on his respirator mask and jacket. "I'll take the first watch. "Sleep friend."
But Koran was already spread out lifelessly on the dirty floor snoring soundly,
BA Hubert lives in Vancouver British Columbia, a long time writer wanna be with the metal boxes of unfinished manuscripts and the rejection letters to prove it.