Ten: Edward Santos
Edward Santos was tired of running. This wasn’t like the 25k he ran every morning as part of his exercise regimen. No, this was a run for his life. At just under six feet and being physical fit, the half Spanish, half Filipino gym instructor wasn’t afraid of much. Until he saw the zombies attacking the man and woman in lab coats. He’d left the gym early, not because he desired to, but because of the commotion coming from outside. Like all the gym patrons he went first to the windows to take a look. And then wished he hadn’t. It looked like the world was going crazy all of a sudden. People were attacking each other in extremely violent ways, vehicles were plowing over those on foot, with some citizens arming themselves and taking shots at others. And then there were the stumbling, shuffling ones. Edward wasn’t stupid. He was a fan of The Walking Dead, but he didn’t know he’d be living out an episode of it. As long as he didn’t meet Negan, he’d be fine. But instead of meeting a TV show’s villain, he met Dr. Wills and his assistant Camelia.
They had been in a hospital car when it was attacked by six shuffling zombies right outside the gym. Seeing their plight, Edward snatched up a long barbell whose weights had been removed from each end, and headed outside like a roman gladiator wading into an arena of man eating tigers. He made short work of the zombies as they were slow, mindless, and not much on personal defense. The two people inside the car were fine, but the vehicle itself would never make it through the zombie infested streets. Edward tried to talk them into taking refuge in the gym, but they were adamant that it wasn’t safe. The only safe place was off the mainland. They were close to the ocean. They needed to acquire a boat.
Edward had always been one to help his fellow human being, but this was situation was different. People were killing each other and then proceeding to dine on the flesh. It appeared to be every man for himself. But he couldn’t bring himself to abandon the ones he’d just saved. There was something about the African American doctor and assistant that told him their lives were important. And since he had no one waiting for him at home except his cat, Desperado, he felt like getting out into the water just might be the best course of action. And the fact he himself had a boat made things a lot easier as long as they could make it to the docks. He had a few things inside the gym that might have been useful as weapons, but by the time he got the pair out of their ruined vehicle, zombies had forced their way into the building. So armed with the unweighted barbell, he plowed through the crowds with the hapless doctor and beautiful assistant following on his heels.
It was only two blocks to the main ship port, but by the time they got there thirty minutes had passed and the situation had escalated to epic proportions. The docks were overwhelmed with both people and zombies. And both groups had become dangerous to deal with. On top of that, the military had attempted to take over. No ships were being allowed to leave, and some had become infested with the living dead. His own boat, a personal schooner, was one such vessel. Even if they could get past the zombies that had taken up residence, there was no way they’d make it away from shore in a private rig. They needed a military one.
Edward had the highest respect for the military. He himself had served a tour overseas before coming home to a tedious, and often lonely, civilian life. But the military on the docks were different. They were shooting unarmed civilians. And while some of the victims were these twisted versions of The Walking Dead, others were regular, unaffected people. Men. Women. Even children. So he didn’t have any qualms about taking out two guards who stood before a speedboat with military insignia. A third serviceman was loading some equipment on board when Edward struck. Thinking he was one of the zombies the man threw himself off the dock and into the water. There was no time to notice what happened to him next, as Edward and his lab coat refugees took over the boat.
It didn’t take long for others to figure out what had happened. When he pulled the speedboat out and away from the docks, another was in pursuit. That’s what these boats were for, Edward surmised. To chase down any stray ships trying to escape the military’s quarantine. If Santos had been inexperienced they would have caught them fast, but he had born in the sight of water and had piloted his first boat at age seven, so he was no stranger to the waves. Whenever the pursuing craft got close he swerved off course, and when they started firing rounds at them, it was a testament to his upbringing that they were able to dodge bullets. It was also helpful that both his passengers discovered one of the things the military had been loading on this boat. Guns and ammunition. Soon, they were armed and firing back.
When Edward saw the American Cruise ship a short distance away , he knew it was his best choice of survival. As long as it hadn’t been overrun by zombies as well. As both speedboats exchanged fire, he was getting antsy to reach that ship. It took Camelia taking a hit to the shoulder to make him get really desperate. Looking back at her, he could see the bullet, or bullets, had tore her shoulder up. The blood against her dark skin threatened to soak her white coat. She was going to need a tourniquet of some kind to staunch the bleeding. Alternating between driving and looking around the boat for sight of a medical kit, his eyes fell on the thing that would save them. A rocket launcher, seemingly armed and ready to rock.
“Hey doc! Can you pilot this thing?”
The doctor shook his head. He almost appeared to be going into shock. Had he been hit too? Before he could ask him, Camelia clambered to the wheel. She winced from her injuries, but she took the wheel. “I got it,” she said.
Edward nearly dove for the launcher as bullets started tearing up the side of their boat. He came up on one knee and checked to see if the weapon had a safety mechanism in place. He’d handled one or two before in his military stint, but this was a different model. Lucky for him it was easy to find and within seconds he was primed to fire. He took aim at the pursuing boat knowing they were close enough to see him and the weapon. They would either attempt to take him out with gunfire before he could launch the rocket, or they would change course to avoid the hit. Perhaps they would do both, but Edward was busy trying to calculate their path. Would they dodge left or right? He altered his aim and fired. Jerking it slightly to the right, the rocket left the hand held launcher. The enemy speedboat was already making its evasive turn. To the right.
There was a low whistle in the air as the rocket soared towards its target. It hit the craft squarely in the side. Edward wasn’t sure what kind of missile he just fired, but the explosion tore the boat in two, sending parts of it skyward in smoke and flame. Everyone in the boat was flung through the air and into the sea, some of them in pieces.
“Holy shit,“ he exclaimed, thinking if this insane situation ever got corrected he was going to be in deep trouble for sure. He hadn’t wanted to kill anyone, let alone half a dozen soldiers. He just wanted to get away from all the chaos and anarchy on land. If they’d just given up the chase, he thought, everything would….The boat jerked and he lost his balance for a moment. Camelia had slumped over the wheel. He rushed to the front and took over, easing her gently to the deck. Righting the speedboat’s course, he saw the Cruise ship looming in front of them. They were so close he could see people at the rails. He hoped they would let them on, but he was starting to have his doubts. After all, they may not even have a clue of what’s happening on land, he thought.
He came around on the starboard side and it was then he realized he’d been wrong. They knew what was happening firsthand. There was a lifeboat in the water. A dozen or so zombies, most of them looking to have been a long time under the sea, were swarming over it, trying to tip it so it’s two occupants would fall into the water with them.
“Hold on, doc!” he shouted and took a quick look at Camelia at his feet. She wasn’t passed out, but she was close. Her eyes were fluttering as if she were fighting to stay awake. He pushed the throttle as far it would go as they headed for the troubled lifeboat.
TO BE CONTINUED
Zombie Drift. Paul D Aronson. 2018. All Rights Reserved.