Barricaded into a city block called The Station, two hundred souls have survived the apocalypse. So far. Was it a bomb? A biological attack? Phase one of an invasion? No one knows. The Long Silence has begun. After dark, thousands of the city's inhabitants - neither living nor dead - prowl the streets snatching survivors. The Station is under constant threat. Each day a lottery decides the seven members of The Kill Crew - a night shift of civilian soldiers. Their mission is simple: Extermination. Sheri Foley, a nobody in the days before the Long Silence, discovers she has the heart of a survivalist. She becomes one of the toughest members of The Kill Crew. But there are enemies inside the Station too. The evils of the old world persist and Sheri Foley must fight them all.
All electrical components are destroyed. A strange green glow is in the air. Office workers are turned into strange mute creatures that wander the streets. The survivors have built a fortress like structure in the city to defend themselves from the creatures called The Commuters that patrol the night, crying, waiting to grab the unsuspecting. Each night a Kill Crew are sent out to thin out their numbers and keep the survivors safe, a job not everyone has the stomach for. You can volunteer for the Kill Crew as often as you want though only seven of the volunteers are sent out each night. Once a week, a lottery of all non volunteers is done to keep things fair. If you fail on Kill Crew, you are dragged away by the creatures and somehow turned into one of them.
Sheri was an ordinary person Before, a hairdresser with a normal life. Now she likes to have some purpose by being part of the Kill Crew with her guns Kane and Abel. On the nights that she isn't crewing, she sometimes spends it with Ike, the boyfriend of convenience that passes her time. As the numbers of zombies grow, it makes it harder to predict their movements and it seems like they might be developing a plan to get to them, making daylight just as risky to move around in. It is a grim life of survival and little hope, and I liked the way the author is able to build this world in such a short story. You can feel the tension and despair, and understand why the survivors are one step away from suicide.
On this shift, Sheri is crewing and the team are surprised to find The Commuters hiding nearby, waiting for them, despite the Kill Crew using different exits each time they leave. It becomes clear that it is an ambush. The closer they get to home, the more dangerous things become. A non volunteer on her second crewing mission is in a state of panic, forgetting everything she has been taught and putting the other six at risk. New tactics occur as the Commuters start running and working in packs. Sheri is torn between saving herself and saving someone else. It was an exciting part of the story where the tension is ramped up and you wonder if they will all survive.
I feel a bit sorry for Ike in the beginning, the way Sheri treats him. She is always thinking that he is a mindless idiot with no personality, someone she wouldn't bother with if things were different. She can't seem to see that he is kind and thoughtful, someone who would be a loyal friend even if they weren't sleeping together. Sheri always treats him as if he is a pain in the ass, there just to annoy her but it is she who is using him when she feels like it, pushing him away in a cruel way when she can't be bothered with him. Thing is, I can get her anger because of the stress she is under, and I like him for being so understanding and not giving up on her.
The book takes an interesting turn next as Sheri evaluates her life and that of her eleven year old friend Trixie. Now it is fellow humans who will be more of a threat than the Commuters. This was an intriguing plot change which I liked, and I certainly wasn't expecting this shocker, which turns the book on its head in more ways than one. Two things happen that I was not expecting and I did not see the hints of it, even when I read this until I read it second time round. It was an excellent piece of storytelling from the author.
I would have liked to see what happens next. This could easily be expanded into a full length novel showing the collapse of society or maybe the story after the novella ends. I found this story enjoyable and would recommend it for those who like apocalypse dystopia.