We stand at the gates, Basil and I, looking ahead without blinking.  My hands are clammy, and I find myself wiping them on my pant leg every moment or so while simultaneously chewing on my lower lip. 

"Do you... do you think we'll... do you think...?" I whisper, quietly. 

Basil is leaning against a wall.  "Quiet, rookie.  Just remain calm, stick near me, and we'll make it."

I nod my head, perhaps a bit too enthusiastically, and look over at the other recruits.  Jimmy is huddled in the corner, scratching a last-minute missive to his fiancee.  Eli is grinning and laughing, but we can all tell it's entirely faked - the jokes are too flat, and the laughter too shrill.  Aaron is puking in the corner.

We can hear them, outside.  Their wordless fricatives sound more like the prowls of predatory animals than the speech of human beings.  Those sounds remind me of the differences between us... and them. 

"Get ready boys," Basil says.  "The doors are about to go down."
We all gulp.  But we are ready to do battle.  We have trained for this.  We will make it.

Today... is boxing day. 

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