As Chris, Mark and the rest of their ragtag band settled in for the night, all their hopes and fears forgotten for one brief moment, in the burning city beyond, an old enemy was completing his night time activities.
In a deserted London street on the city outskirts, only a mile away from the petrol station Chris and the others were holed up in, a green and black camouflaged Mastiff armoured vehicle, stolen from an abandoned army checkpoint, came screaming to a halt. As soon as the heavy truck, bumper stained crimson with walker blood, stopped, instantly a gaggle of ragged walkers came stumbling from the empty shopfronts, arms outstretched.
The necrotic figures were within metres of the vehicle when the two front doors were flung open and three men leapt out, the leader, dressed in an immaculate grey suit and overcoat, casually hefting a baseball bat whilst the other two, outfitted in hooded tops and military body armour, aimed supressed MP5 sub-machine guns at the incoming undead.
"I've got this boys…" the leader, Sunil Singh, the same man who had murdered a young woman in front of her lover for little more than a bit of resistance to him kidnapping her, said firmly, and gripping the bat in both hands, started forward.
He swung the weapon, caving in the skull of the first walker in one blow, and then bringing the metal bat crashing on top of the next, a teenager with half its face missing, before three more stumbled toward him, yellowed teeth bared.
Sunil sighed and glanced back at his men, who were both gripping their weapons tightly in clenched fists, not sharing their leader's calm attitude to the walking corpses.
With a shrug as the nearest walker reached for him he stepped back, threw aside the bat and drew a chrome Desert Eagle handgun from his jacket and shot down all three in a heartbeat, putting a bullet in the forehead of each walking corpse.
Stowing his gun back in his jacket he glanced at his two underlings.
"Shots will bring more of them. We need to work quickly" He declared simply as he grabbed his AK-47 rifle from the front seat of the truck and slammed the door shut. "Bring out the prisoners."
A minute later and the small group, now including three wide eyed prisoners bound and gagged with thick duct tape, straining at their bonds as they emerged onto the roof a nearby office block, seven stories up.
"Enjoy the view boys!" Sunil declared loudly, spreading his right arm out on the burning city beyond, the other holding a small red can of petrol as he heard the three men shoved to the ground behind him.
Far off in the distance he could just make out the black shapes of RAF jets in the skies overhead, swooping down as they firebombed the city into oblivion. The fire clambered ever higher above the London skyline, consuming whole districts in the firestorm of pitch black smoke and flame. From his lofty position Sunil could see it all, as if God had decided to smite London from above, sweep clean centuries of work in one fell swoop and, as he gazed out, only one expression came to his face.
He didn't care what happened to any of it. All the police, soldiers and the government camped across the river at the Westminster Safe Zone could all burn with the walkers as far as he cared. And now, as he prepared to dispose of the prisoners, the crackle of the fires beyond and the stench of burning flesh assaulting his senses, he walked toward the three prisoners arranged in a circle, unscrewing the lid from the petrol can as he began to sing a song he remembered hearing somewhere once, in what felt like another life.
"Woke up this morning…" he began, a grin on his face as the three men before him looked up at him in fear.
"…got myself a gun…" he added, drawing the Desert Eagle from his jacket and casually putting a bullet through the leg of the nearest prisoner, a middle aged man in a ragged blue suit who they had found trying to bring a stash of supplies back to his family across the street.
Sunil had enjoyed the look on that man's face as he threw a grenade through his family's window and heard the desperate screams and sounds of running feet simply disappear in a puff of smoke like a cheap magic trick. Now he was enjoying the man's other expression even more. It was the look of someone who had lost everything and the gangster loved it. He considered doing this sort of thing more often as he continued to sing.
"Mama always said I'd be the chosen one. One in a million…"
As he sang he began to tip the contents of the petrol can all over them. Reaching into his pocket and finding a gold plated lighter, marked with a silver dragon motif that he had taken off some big shot businessman after bashing his fat head in, he paused in singing and crouched down next to the sobbing, petrol stained prisoners.
"You know what the funny thing is?" he said softly to the youngest of them as he looked at the lighter and held it in front of him. The boy couldn't have been more than eighteen, with a mass of long black hair, now drenched in foul smelling petrol.
The boy was already crying by now, a dark stain on the crotch of his ragged jeans.
"Funny thing is…" Sunil said with a jovial grin. "Even if I burn you guys to a cinder, I know you're all coming back, no matter what state you're in."
"Should be a bit of a shock to those soldiers eh? Seeing you three shuffle down the street as if you crawled out of hell itself…"
He stood up and flicked the lighter on then, draining the last of the petrol on the young man's face, threw it down and stepped back as the flames, and the screams, pierced the night.
"You got to burn to shine…" he sang softly as he watched the prisoner's death throes then turned away, a wry grin on his face.
"Born under a bad sign with a blue moon in my eye..." he added as he looked to the outskirts of the burning city, and saw the distant lights from an abandoned petrol station.
"Let's pack it up!" he ordered as one of his thugs threw his AK over and he pulled back the firing pin with a resounding ping.
Glancing at the dark petrol station he laughed, ignoring the howl of the still burning prisoners.
"It's hunting season!"