The wind was still howling, but at least the rain was beginning to taper off. It tore through Eric Doyle’s tattered green vest, casting billowing waves through it. He was tempted to discard it, but the pockets were weighed down with ammunition.

Eric pulled a round out of his pocket and looked at it. The .22 cartridge looked ridiculously small and weak cupped in his palm; it would only emit a weak crack as it left the barrel of his tiny varmint rifle. The shotguns, on the other hand, would let out a thunderous roar as they turned his chest into a pink swamp.

He shuddered at the thought. Eric had seen such nasty wounds already that night, and as he crouched in the shade of one of the roof air conditioners with a ridiculous pop gun in his hands, he was all but sure that was how it would end.

Noises up ahead. Beams of light slicing through the darkness. Eric switched his own light off, and closed the bolt on his gun. If he could get a clean shot off, maybe the rain would disguise the noise it made. Maybe, by some miracle, he could get all three of them, or at least signal the chopper when it arrived…maybe there was some hope, if not for Eric, then for the people trapped inside.

“Got it,” he heard a voice say. Something heavy struck the ground, audible even through the gale.

Eric chambered a round in his rifle and took a deep breath. Just like at scout camp, with the calm summer air replaced by high winds and torrential rain. And a flesh-and-blood target to boot.

The unmistakable sound of a shotgun being pumped shattered his concentration. Something jammed into the small of Eric’s back, and hot breath was suddenly in his ear.

“Drop it.”

Eric’s rifle splashed to the ground.

“Listen…” Eric whispered.

“Too late now,” the voice hissed.

The deafening roar of a shotgun blast tore apart the world.