Clipboard in hand, I walked around the neighborhood, examining the houses. All too many of them stood abandoned, left to disrepair. Some had been boarded up by the owners before they evacuated. Others had been left wide open to the looters, the squatters, and eventually, the monsters.

As I continued my examinations, I was accompanied by a number of trap runners, people who were trained to identify and safely disable the booby traps that had been left by either the people abandoning their homes, or those unscrupulous individuals who had since made those buildings their homes.

The sheer volume of lost homes was dismaying at times. Those families were never coming back though. The entire area had been sealed off, a wall keeping us in, all to try and contain the outbreak of monsters that seemed to have sprung up from nowhere.

We’d dealt with that menace though, kept them contained. The rest of the world didn’t care though. They only saw the death toll, knew that the military wasn’t working to stop them, so they did what they always do with something that don’t and won’t understand. They ignored it, hid it away.

Those of us who remained needed to do what we could to survive. To rebuild. That meant cleaning away these broken homes.

I came to a stop in front of one of the homes I recognized.The front door was still smashed in from when the monsters had attacked. No doubt the blood still stained the walls. I lost some good friends that day.

Turning around, I motioned to one of the demo crews. They brought over the backpack and handed it over. I started to reach in only to have someone clamp their hand on my arm. Looking up, I found one of my friends, one of the few that remained. He stared into my eyes for a moment before pointedly looking down at my hand.

Following his gaze I could see my hand, visibly shaking, even in his grip. The thought of destroying this house, with the memories, both good and ill, seemed to overwhelm me. He was right though. I was in no condition to handle that portion of the assignment.

With a sigh, I returned the backpack to the demo team then waved them forward. This needed to be done. I couldn’t watch though. Turning away, I headed to the next house to see what condition it was in, the roar of the explosion and the sound of splintering wood echoing behind me.