Barney checked his pistol again. The break-action revealed the end of the cartridge, .50 caliber.

He snapped it shut, letting the gun rest in his hand. His arms crossed and he spit. A look of impatience and anxiety wore on his face; it looked like it had been taking a toll on him.

Barney stood in an intersection; the tall buildings around him watched him with a thousand glowing eyes, from a thousand broken windows. Their leader was on the way.

He was outnumbered, hopelessly. There was no going back. No way out except death. The only chance was that this single bullet would change the course of things to come.

It had been dipped in pig’s blood, smeared with garlic, it was silver. Anything anyone could think of. Whether through science or the occult, every organization had a theory of what this thing was.

And it had called out to him.

Barney was a hunter of monsters after the world changed. The monsters spread like a disease, turning cities into a horrifying mess.

He would order his men to burn them out, slaughter them. He had gassed them, demolished their homes, and more than he could remember died from small arms.

Apparently they had a leader. Patient 0. The one that started it all.

A figure stepped out from one of the office buildings. Man-shaped, man-sized. It strode towards the center of the street with its hands in its pockets.

It wore a suit, nothing outlandish. But it was not human, gray-skinned, with eyes black as the night on a new moon. They shimmered eerily in the pale light of the setting sun. Long gray/white hair fell on its shoulders.

“Hello Barney,” it addressed him and straightened its tie.

“What are you? Who are you?” Barney called out.

Chittering erupted from the buildings. The beasts’ reflective eyes danced about in fits of anticipation.

“I’m the new world order!” it yelled.

It twirled about in a flourish, its arms outstretched. A glorious smile came to its face, filled with sharp, jagged teeth. Cheers that resembled a hissing cat came from the audience of diseased.

“What do you call yourself?” Barney did his best to appear calm.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Look upon me and despair,” it bowed as if finishing a play.

More cheers.

“What do you want with me?” Barney asked them all.

The crowd died down.

“You’ve become a symbol of hope for your dying race. And a thorn in my side for too long,” it adjusted its cufflinks.

The beasts simply stared down at Barney.

“Well,” he unholstered his pistol, “Let’s do this, then.”

“You shouldn’t have come here, Barney.”

Before the last sounds of Patient 0 left its mouth, the figure vanished into the dark. Cheers erupted from the buildings, and dark figures poured over the walls to the intersection.

“Let’s shed some light on this,” Barney said.

Taking a canister from inside his duster, he set it on the asphalt. A moment passed, and then white light burst from all directions.

The creatures hissed in pain and anger. Barney stood with his back to it, trying to find the suit in the chaos.

The creatures scurried and twisted against each other on the perimeter of light. The eyes danced like fish in the ocean. Their motion was like bubbles in a pot of boiling water.

“Your light will run out,” a voice came from the crowd.

Barney lifted the lantern, holstered his pistol and took out a large bowie knife with his free hand.

“I’ll find you. I’ll find you and I’ll kill you,” he yelled to the space in front of him.

He walked towards the nearest building, the beasts parted before him.

“I’d be disappointed if you didn’t try,” the voice came again.

Barney stepped into one of the skyscrapers. Only a faint echo of the scurrying masses outside met his ear. His lower lip turned. He sheathed the knife, took a thermite grenade, pulled the pin and tossed it towards a large support column.

It erupted into white hot fire, melting the concrete and metal.

“I’ll burn this whole city to find you,” he whispered to the fire.