now, looted or not worth the effort, some windows smashed, others opaque under layers of posters and graffiti that grew as control of this last city changed with the ebb and flow of battle, the doors and walls that frame them pocked with gunfire’s blemishes. Where passing feet and tires would have once brushed dust and hubbub aside as a matter of course, the sidewalk and pavement are dirty, almost silent, almost abandoned. The woman sits on a crate, holds her daughter close while eyeing a man and a boy across the way. The sound of distant gunfire ceases so suddenly it takes a moment to register that perhaps the armies have finally done it, have finally killed the last of each other everywhere, and she turns her gaze away from the two strangers, pulls her daughter even closer as she wonders fearfully if this is the end of days or an uncertain Eden.