The fires smoldered but no longer burned.
Donita walked down Eighth Avenue towards Columbus Circle. Behind her a silent army followed, numbering in the thousands. From the circle they would take the park.
There were thousands of the living camped out in the park. She could smell them on the air that flowed past her face as she walked. They had believed they were safe in their numbers. They had believed that nothing could touch them with their barricades. And for a time that had been true, but that time was passed now.
She had left rapid city and begun her walk with only twenty five faithful. Jeff, the big red haired man that she had taken months before, was still with her. One of the twins, and several boys who followed. The others had come to her as she walked. The small towns, and the dead cities along the way, added their contributions from those that had gathered in those places. Many waiting for her. There were dozens of cities they controlled now. Dotted along the route she had walked. Some she had called and set in a place of power with the ability to call more of their own to them. Some had been there waiting for her. All had known who she was, and all had bowed to her power.
She had wound up through the southern states, what had been left of Mobile, Alabama had fallen easily, from there they had taken Atlanta, Georgia, and then into the Carolinas, Columbus, Charlotte, Durham, and spreading beyond that into Richmond, Virginia. She had followed the scent of the living from there into the wilderness and looked down on their place of refuge from the ridge tops with her soldiers spread out around her. She had left reluctantly, but with the knowledge that she would be back.
A scatter of wrecked and long burned out vehicles partially blocked the entrance. A line of buses blocked the roads and pathways into the park. Sheet steel was welded over the windows. Holes burned through with Acetylene torches every few feet as gun ports.
She watched as the barrel of a rifle slipped through a ragged hole in the sheet steel. She looked around at her silent army once more and then thrust her head back, face staring up at the moon, and screamed into the darkening night. As a mass they all ran at the line of buses.