Chapter One

I slam Turrito up against the wall of the makeshift holding cell. “The guys say it was you.”

He’s tied up, but he’s bulky. He pushes back, throwing me off-balance. I shift on my feet. I get the message. I may have surprised him, but he’s stronger than I am. Fat lot of good that’s going to do him, though.

“It was me doing what?”

“You let the berserker into the compound.” I fold my arms over my chest. Of course, it’s a little silly calling it a compound. It’s an apartment building. The bottom floors are sealed off and booby-trapped to keep out roaming berserkers, so we like to kid ourselves that it’s some kind of sturdy, militant structure, but, as Turrito’s actions have just made very clear, we’re still vulnerable.

Turrito is dirty. Hell, we all are. There hasn’t been running water in months. Bathing is not the highest order of business. He has a scraggly attempt at a beard hanging off his chin. But when he grins at me, his teeth are yellowing. Jesus. It’s not like we’ve run out of toothpaste. “Wasn’t a zerk when I let her in.” Ever since the Scourge, people have been shortening berserkers to zerks.

So he’s admitting it. Good. That will make things easier. I get enough trouble with Carmine questioning every move I make, trying to make me look incompetent. I’m not going to have to fight too hard on this. “Turrito, what are the rules about bringing in strays?”

“Look,” he says, “I’m not some bleeding heart. I didn’t let her in because she looked like she needed help or nothing. I wasn’t exactly thinking with my big head, if you know what I mean.” He grins down at his crotch with those yellow teeth of his, and I have the sudden urge to kick them right out of his mouth.

I take a deep breath. I want this done properly. I want Turrito made an example of. “You didn’t wonder why she was wandering around all on her own? You didn’t think that maybe she’d been kicked out of one of the surrounding sanctuaries precisely because she was a berserker?”

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