The old power station rose up by the side of the river. Its network of fallen spires and industrial chimneys that onced reached up to the polluted sky now leaned in against each other for support and groaned under their own weight as the wind passed through.

The precarious cathedral of oil and dirt had been condemned by the local council decades previously with the understanding that the regeneration contractor would handle the demolition. A survey finding most of the surrounding area to be marshland, therefore unsuitable for residential development, meant that the deal fell through and the structure entered into the limbo state of somedody else’s problem

In time it became the home of rats and street urchins. The warrens of creaking steel offering partial cover from the perpetual drizzle and rain outside

On the coldest of nights bonfires glowed red in its dark heart and only added to the gothic steampunk look which was clearly visible from the city on the opposite side of the river. But then there wasn’t anyboby left in the city to see it…..other than “them.”

The city had been one of the many victims of the war. It’s heart had been carved out by the D-fiss bombs deployed by the extremists as their last act of vengeance for their god. A nasty little invention that took the concept of a dirty bomb then threw in several newly discovered radioactive isotopes for good measure. The mix of traditional explosives and these newer nuclear elements were less powerful than larger atomic devices but one placed at the heart of a small city would be certain to neutralise the population.

Depending on proximity to the blast the effects varied significantly. Those at the epicentre were simply vapourised – skin and bone – while those further out had their flesh melted and their organs liquidised – eyes dripping like tears from skeletal sockets. Ultimately they were still the lucky ones as death soon followed, whereas the survivors became ghoulish travesties and distortions of life. Horribly scarred and maddened from the constant pain, their minds broken and vicious, they resorted to cannabalism in their stuborn attempts to survive. To say their circumstances had driven them crazy could be true but something about the radiation had destroyed various centres in the brain reducing their existence to an ongoing murderous, carnal rampage.They had devolved to survive and so far it was working.

Unfortunately non consensual procreation still served its original purpose and a new generation of mutated children were born – often their first meal being of their own mother’s entrails.

When some of them had finally braved crossing the bridge Father Nathan had been waiting for them. The fight had been short as Nathan’s men still had the use of automatic weapons, but as soon as it was over the decision was made to blow the bridge.

That had been many years before Emily had been born and as she huddled by the fire in the old boiler room she watched the sparks flickering off into the darkness above.