Standing between wagon ruts, Draco Torre considers the sign announcing Hope Hill. Stars meet prairie, flat horizons. Hope without a hill.

Following ruts, Torre scans dark buildings. Nothing stirs. Blasted heat carries the stench of death.

At the far end of Hope Hill, light flows from an open doorway, down three steps splashing the road. The church casts a sullen look. Catcalls of rapists, howls of murderers pour from the doorway. A scream shatters the night.

Not even the hottest summer on record matches the blazing eyes of Draco Torre. Throwing open duster, Torre grasps guns. Last hope for Hope Hill.