Dickey slammed the hatchback shut and handed Marissa her assault rifle. She looked at him.
“This is a rotten job, you know,” she said softly.
“Just remember why we’re here,” he said.
He took his rifle off his shoulder, and the pair walked to the entrance of the elementary school. As they approached, a school police officer stepped outside.
“Halt, drop your weapons!” he shouted.
Dickey sighed as he shot the man in the forehead.
“Well, with all the practice, your aim has certainly improved,” Marissa said bitterly.
The pair sprayed the entrance of the school with gunfire, and then passed the shattered door. There were shouts and screams as teachers and students ran away down corridors, followed by the heavy slamming of doors.
“I’ll take care of the classrooms, you do the office and teachers’ lounge,” said Dickey.
Marissa walked into the school office, where a young woman threw her hands up in the air.
“No, please, no!”
Marissa shot her in the face, and then walked into the suite of offices. The principal tried to fight her, but she dispatched her easily. A few people hid under desks. She shot them all.
One teacher hid in the supply closet. She stared at the gunman, eyes wide in fear.
“Why are you doing this?” she sobbed.
“You’ll learn soon enough,” said Marissa as she shot her.
After ten minutes, all the people in the administrative portion of the school were dead, and Marissa followed the sound of gunfire to find Dickey in one of the classrooms.
“There are only a dozen classrooms, I’m halfway through,” he said.
“I’ll start at the other end of the hallway,” she said. “We’ll finish faster.”
“You get warmed up after a while, don’t you?”
“There’s a kind of shock that wears off,” she said.
Many of the children huddled together under desks. That made it easier for them to be killed. One young male teacher charged Dickey.
“The police are on their way,” he screamed.
“No, they’re not,” said Dickey and he shot him square in the chest.
Dickey turned away, but was startled to hear the teacher moaning on the ground.
“Why are you doing this?” he gasped.
Dickey went into a half crouch and looked the teacher in the eye.
“Be at peace, my brother, you’ll learn soon enough.”
He put a shot into the young man’s forehead, and then moved on.
After a half hour, the screams and sobs subsided. The pair of “killers” walked back to the entrance of the school, and sat down on a broken brick wall.
Dickey took out his iPhone.
“We’ve cleaned it out, you can bring over the Sensitive.”
In a few minutes a battered pickup truck appeared, and a man in a military-like uniform stepped out from the driver’s side.
Two more men exited the bed of the truck, as a young woman stepped from the passenger side.
“This is Kaylee,” said the driver.
Marissa grabbed Kaylee by the wrist.
“As hard as this is for us, I know how difficult it is for you,” she said.
The Sensitive smiled sadly. “It is what I must do, to help the others,” she said. “The living, and the dead.”
She walked forward towards the scattered remains of where the school once stood. Marissa and Dickey watched as she looked over the field where the outlines of walls indicated where the classrooms had been.
“It’s amazing how little of the structures remain, only 25 years later,” said the driver.
“The firestorm burned everything to the ground,” said Dickey.
Kaylee closed her eyes and moaned gently. The others watched intently.
After a minute, she opened her eyes. “Just sadness remains, fading quickly,” she said quietly.
“They’ve left, moved on.”
“Excellent,” said the driver. “I’ll notify the others. They can bring in settlers tomorrow.”
Kaylee dropped her arms at her sides. “I hope I don’t have to do this many more times.”
“Most of the known haunts have been cleared out, but settlers keep finding new ones,” said Dickey.
“I’m surprised there aren’t more haunts,” said the driver. “This area had millions of people living in it at the time of the Sun Stroke.”
“Yes, but most adult spirits eventually discern what happened, and have dissipated by now,” said Kaylee. “The schools, nurseries, playgrounds and such are the hard ones, places where there were a lot of children. They can hardly understand that a solar flare killed them instantly without warning.”
“Among all the innocence of the children, the teachers remain oblivious, also,” she added.
“A few always fight or challenge us,” said Dickey. “They always say the same thing, ‘Why are you doing this?’”
“Well, thanks to you two, the new people will be able to live here and start up again without the spirits,” said the driver.
The others got back in their truck and left the pair of shooters behind.
Dickey and Marissa stashed their rifles in the hatchback. Dickey slid behind the steering wheel, and Marissa sat down.
He set his mouth. “They’re already dead, you know.”
“It’s sad,” he continued, looking over at her. “But it needs to be done. Otherwise they don’t know to move on.”
“No, you know what’s sad? Not that a sudden solar eruption struck down millions of people without warning. Not that ghosts linger for decades because what happened to them was so sudden they don’t know they’re dead.”
She glared at him.
“What’s sad is that we had a society where a madman killing helpless children at a school was a regular occurrence,” she shouted.
She looked out the window. “None of them question what we did, and now they accept they’re dead.”
She looked forward.
“Let’s get out of here, let’s just get the fuck out of here.”
And they drove away through the empty landscape.