“Another new year,” Eddie said. “Wonder how it’ll go.” He threw another branch on the fire.

“I’m optimistic,” George replied. “The bombs stopped falling weeks ago.”

“Maybe they just ran out,” Wendy said. “It wouldn’t be the the first time they’ve had to pause to restock.” She huddled under their last whole blanket, hands held out to the roaring fire.

There were dozens here at the celebration, more than they’d seen together since the last New Year’s party. Though not as many as there had been, then. The hopeful among them said that the others had gotten away, past the No Man’s Land, maybe even to the Great City. Wendy was not one of those people.

“It’s never been this long, though!” George shouted. He waved his hands over his head and put on a near-manic grin. His brewer’s credentials were well-earned this year, given what he had to work with. He was also well ahead of the rest of the crowd on enjoying the results.

“Miracles can happen,” Wendy admitted. “That’s what they say, anyway. Said. I haven’t talked to a priest since the Cull.”

At that word, the entire crowd went silent. Several of them made a gesture of warding, aimed at the sky. Nobody ever wanted to talk about it. As if ignoring it would make it never have happened. She pulled the blanket tight as she dared without tearing it.