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Sharkey quickly introduced both Ryan and Kas to the other of his men who were present and then sat them down in the same room that he’d spoken to Ryan earlier.
“You’ve made your choice boys. I think it’s the best one goin’ forwards.”
“I’ve always preferred the common-sense approach,” Ryan said with his hands spread.
“And that’s why you’ve lasted this long. Forget compassion and empathy. Those traits are only gonna get you killed in this world. Take our team. The rule’s pretty straightforward: if you see a teammate in trouble, only try and save ‘em if you’re sure it ain’t gonna kill you. I don’t care for heroic bollocks and I won’t reward anyone for it. We aren’t heroes; we’re renegades. If you see a man fall, and the likelihood is you’re gonna die tryin’ t’save him, leave him. Sentiment has no place in my crew; understand?”
Both Ryan and Kas muttered their comprehension.
“You,” Sharkey pointed at Kas. “You were Jay’s righthand man, yeah?”
“I suppose so.”
“I’m not gonna have any problems with split loyalty from you, am I?”
“The only person I’m loyal to is myself,” Kas said forthrightly.
“Nice words. Problem is that words are easy t’say.” Sharkey reached into a drawer on his side of the desk. After a short chorus of metallic clacking, he produced two handguns and placed them in front of him. He checked to see they were both loaded and then pushed the weapons carefully towards the two men. “Actions are what I base my opinion on.”
Ryan and Kas looked at one another. While Kas’ expression read mild incomprehension, Ryan had a feeling he knew exactly what was coming. They each retrieved a weapon.
“You aren’t part o’ me crew yet. There’s somethin’ you’re gonna need to do first. I respect that your loyalty only lies within, Kas; however, you’re gonna have t’show me you aren’t just chattin’ bollocks first. Same wi’ you Ryan.”
“What do you want us to do?” Ryan asked.
“I want you t’kill Jay’s other two mates. Nothin’ messy; quick and clean. It’s a shame as I could use two big blokes like that. Sadly, examples have to be made.”
Another glance at each other between Ryan and Kas. Ryan offered an expression of encouragement; he didn’t want Kas to back down now.
“The alternative is that you go back down there wi’ them. Given how pissed off they are at you, my guess is you won’t—”
“We’ll do it,” Ryan interrupted. “I have one condition though.”
“Oh aye?” Sharkey rubbed his hands together. “What’s your condition?”
“My 7 iron—I want it back. I’m not doing a thing until I get it back.”
“Grown attached to it have you?”
“It’s served me well. It’ll serve you well too—in my hands!”
“No problem! I know who’s got it. I’ll make him give it you back.”
They were led out into the back garden of the house—a large expanse of lawn that had grown thick and long and was flanked on all sides with trees, flowers, and shrubbery—where the men present from Sharkey’s crew were gathered. Both Ryan and Kas paid little mind to the sneering looks of derision from the gathered lackeys.
Just seconds later, Callum and Dylan were forced roughly out of the door by a couple of henchmen and Sharkey followed in their wake. Jay’s men were flung against the wall of the house and growled at to stay where they were as Sharkey stepped towards his two potential initiates.
“Y’know what needs doin’; the stage is yours, boys!” With that, Sharkey stepped aside and signalled to his henchmen to move away from Callum and Dylan, leaving Ryan and Kas facing their friends.
Callum looked at them both with confusion. “What… what’s going on here guys? Why are we—”
The muted sound of a shot from a silenced pistol cut Callum off midsentence as he fell to the ground in a heap. The eyes of Dylan and Kas swung to Ryan, who’d just lowered his weapon.
“Fuck you!” Dylan roared as he stepped towards Ryan to attack. He didn’t get more than two steps when a second silenced pistol shot whispered and he too dropped to the floor.
Ryan looked to Kas; the big, bearded Asian still had the pistol held out before him and his face read the deepest regret. He knew how hard it must have been for Kas as both Callum and Dylan had been his teammates and friends since the start of the apocalypse if not before. “It’s done now, bro. Rest easy”.
Sharkey stepped forwards with a slow applause. “And that’s that! You’ve both shown pure balls here today. Killin’ two guys you’ve run with this whole time won’t’ve been easy, but you’ve proven that, when t’chips are down, you’ll get done what needs doin’. Ryan and Kas, welcome to t’team!”
The other men came forth and started to offer handshakes and introductions while the henchmen moved the bodies of Callum and Dylan, both with bullet holes in their foreheads.
A little later, Ryan and Kas went to the room that Jay, Georgina, and the scientists were still holed up in. They’d been given the green light to once again try and talk Jay around. Their former leader wore his distaste at seeing them like an overcoat.
“What do you two traitorous pieces of shit want?”
“Jay, c’mon man. The pride act needs to stop—”
“Where are Callum and Dylan?” Jay interrupted Kas.
Kas swallowed hard and Ryan looked anywhere except Jay’s face.
“We didn’t have a choice,” Ryan muttered.
“You killed them? You killed your teammates; your friends?”
“It didn’t have to be this way, Jay!” Ryan said loudly. “If you’d have just set aside your pride then everyone would be okay now. Don’t pin this on us! It isn’t too late to change your mind.”
“No, Ryan. My mind’s made up.” Jay stood, which prompted both Ryan and Kas to raise their sidearms. “I’m not joining you. What I am going to do is kill you! One day, one way or another, I’m going to ensure your parasitic ways can’t harm another soul!”
“Jay, think about this man—”
“And you,” Jay cut Kas off again. “I’ll kill you too! I thought, out of everyone, you’d definitely have my back. Turns out you’re just as cowardly as this prick! I’ll avenge Callum and Dylan. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of you had murdered Keith too,” Jay alluded to one of his men who’d died whilst lost in the woods several days earlier.
“You’re making a mistake,” Ryan said. “I don’t know what Sharkey’s planning to do with you. Why risk your life trying to make some kind of statement?”
“I have nothing more to say to either of you. What will be will be.” Jay sat back down on the floor and turned his head.
Ryan looked in Georgina’s direction; she was looking in any direction other than his. For now, his bridges were burned, but if the apocalypse had taught him anything it was that nothing was permanent. Everything was subject to last second change; everything!
TO BE CONTINUED
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