You know it's just a matter of time when dead things and goblins start chewing up your town. Some call it Armageddon. Some call it one bad day, but no matter what you call it, the end is still the end. Lisa, her boss Marty, and a random stranger sat on the roof of Fancy's Pool hall and counted the shadows skittering along the streets below.
"Don't suppose anyone thought to bring a deck of cards?" Marty asked.
Lisa held back the snort of laughter. The world's ending and you want a deck of cards? Right. Who needs weapons, food, or water when you have a straight flush?
"I've got one in my plus two bag of holding, but I think I left it back at the bar. Sorry, boss," she said.
If anyone should be sorry, it should be his sorry ass. Calling her in on her day off. Letting the dead man in the door to snack on the patrons. Oh yeah, and dropping the shotgun instead of emptying it into the fucking goblin that followed the dead man.
Funny. She'd always thought goblins would be tiny and made of muppety goodness.
"Plus two bag of what now?"
"Forget about it," she said.
It was just a matter of time. Mariner's Cross wasn't the first hit by this fuckery. She'd read about Kinley, Brighton, and West Ridge. Once the dead rolled in, the army rolled out. A couple bombs later and all that remained were smoldering craters where each shiny town used to be. Nobody ever said anything about goblins though. Nobody ever said anything about magic.
The third survivor cleared his throat. She had never seen him before, but he'd been the only customer not to face plant when the green skinned, yellow fanged, wart museum put his fist through the window.
"Sorry to interrupt your banter but we need to find a way off this roof," he said.
She guessed he read the newspapers too. They had maybe a day before Uncle Sam dropped a bomb on them. The thought made her bite her lip. Mariner's Cross was a shit hole but it was home. It deserved better than death by government warheads.
The scritch-scritch of nails raking along the door made her shiver. The wood groaned, straining against the lock. The goblin was getting impatient. How long, she wondered, before it broke through?
She picked up the pool stick and held it as though it would actually do a bit of damaged before she died horribly.
"We can always jump," she said, "And break our legs from the fall. That'll be great for when we need to run away from all the hungry little zombies."
"Yeah, that's helpful," the man said.
"It's a roof. We don't exactly use it for storage," she said.
Scritch, scritch, scritch. Where was Harry Fucking Potter when you needed him? If magic was real and goblins were real, there had to be a wizard somewhere to blame for all this. She could picture him, a tall man with an arrogant smirk and a big, bushy beard. He probably smelled like cheap pot and delighted in taking no responsibility for unleashing the apocalypse on an unsuspecting population. Oh yeah, and he probably kicked puppies for fun.
"Just fucking brilliant."
"It comes naturally," she said, "When I'm about to be murdered by goblins and undead versions of my customers."
"A deck of cards or some paper. Anybody grab a pen? We could play tick tack toe."
"Or not," the other man said, "Fine. I'll just improvise."
"Sure, MacGuyver," she said, "Duck tape me a ladder and a couple of Molotov cocktails while you're at it."
He hadn't bothered to grab a pool stick. Neither had Marty. He'd been too busy dropping the shotgun and screaming. God, what she wouldn't give for two rounds of shotgunny goodness to aim at the monster on the other side of the door. She could just picture the way his warty, green head would shatter into a million bloody pieces. And then she'd blast her way out of the pool hall and across town to safety.
Yeah right. While she was dreaming her last moments away, she might as well give herself an trust fund and a magical winged unicorn to ride through the night skies as she declared herself the Pumpkin Queen. She had about as much chance of surviving this as she had of waking up and finding out it was all just a dream. The scritch scritch scritch behind the door was totally just the neighbor's old tomcat, Mr. Fluffinator, begging once again to eat poor Gollum the goldfish.
The third survivor cleared his throat again as he stood. He turned to face the door, hands outstretched like a man who'd seen one too many fantasy vids. Lisa wondered if maybe he'd cracked from the stress of the end of the world. She supposed she couldn't blame him. Goblins and zombies working together? Magic? The slow count down ticking away until everything blipped off the planet? Insanity was sounding like a real vacation right about now.
The scritch scritching stopped. There was a popping sound so loud Lisa could feel it in her teeth. So much for the lock. She'd hoped they'd have a few hours of safety at least.
"You're going to want to stand back for this," the man said.
"Stand back for what?" Marty asked.
Lisa was already on her feet, the pool stick raised and angled to slide (she hoped) neatly into the goblin's squishy eyeball. It may have been a real, live magical creature, but if it had a brain, it could surely be scrambled just as easily as the next jerk. Right?
As the door swung open, the man's palms lit up with fire.