Love Is The Darkest Art 25

Love Is The Darkest Art

A Dramione fanfic serial

Scene 37:

“Why are you looking at Malfoy?” Ron asked. They were sitting at dinner in the Great Hall, and Hermione nearly choked on her food.

“I’m not,” she replied. In fact, she wasn’t even sure if he came down to eat. She’d seen some Slytherins, but he hadn’t been amongst them.

“I don’t mean now. Today at practice.”

Hermione looked at Ron, a look of surprise on her face. “What are you talking about?”

“I saw you. Eyes glued to binoculars and watching his every move.” He looked over at Harry, who was smirking in between bites.

“Well, um…I was spying. Trying to see how good their team was. Looking for flaws you guys could exploit.”

“Oh,” said Ron, deflated just a little. But he still wasn’t convinced. He flipped his hand through his ginger hair. “So what did you find out?”

Hermione wasn’t expecting a follow up question, and she stuttered for a moment. “Well, Bletchly is a fairly decent keeper this year, but he seems to hang…um…left a lot. Crabbe and Goyle are ruthless beaters. They’ll probably try to cheat if they can.”

She looked at the boys. Ron looked stunned and was rendered silent. Harry was biting his lip, but soon nodded. “What about Draco?”

“He seems distracted,” she responded quickly.

“Probably because he saw you ogling him more than Pansy Parkinson does,” Ron mumbled.

“I wasn’t ogling anybody. I was just trying..”

“Yeah, yeah, we got it. Spying for us. Do you think we are that bad of a team?”

“No, Ron, I don’t. You know what, just forget it. I won’t help next time.” She scooted her chair back and stood up. It was almost scaring her how easy it was to act defensive over Draco. She was playing it off a little too well, but she kept running with it. “You know, you seem to be the one obsessed with Malfoy, not me.”

As she stormed off, she heard Ron ask Harry, “Jeez, What did I say?” She smiled to herself. It was fun keeping secrets. Exciting to hide the forbidden.

Scene 38:

Draco had been at dinner, but rather than sit with his usual pals Crabbe and Goyle, he had moved about unseen in his invisibilty cloak. As a prefect this had its advantages in seeing who was breaking rules and who wasn’t. Dolores Umbrudge had given him a quota to meet in how many students he got in trouble, so this allowed him to single out kids he didn’t like for future point reductions at the hands of the Professor.

As he moved down the line of tables, he was careful to avoid other professors as much as posdible. Though he was invisible, the adult teachers seemed to be able to sense his presence at times, and they’d almost sniff the air as if trying to latch on to his scent. But moving among students it was a little different and he couldn’t help but take the opportunity for prsnks and aggravation. He tugged on Pansy’s hair as he passed behibd her, moved Neville Longbottom’s cup to the edge of the table so the clumsy boy would accidentally knock it off. Brushing by Luna, he spun the trio of glittered pinwheels perched upon her head, and he even pinched Goyle in his side so hard the larger boy accused Crabbe of the offense. Draco snickered loudly and almost got caught. But then he saw Hermione Granger and smiled.

He passed by both Harry and Ron with a degree of stealth, though it was tempting to whop both of them upside the head. Especially Ron, who was grilling Hermione about watching someone. Who was Weasley going on about? Then he heard his own name mentioned and realized it was he they were talking about. He grinned even more at this and slunk up behind Granger’s chair. Ron was saying something about binoculars when he leaned close to Hermione’s ear. “I watch you too,” he whispered so quiet only she could hear. He could see her feeeze, her body stiffen slightly. Her friends took it as hesitation in answering Ron’s questions and smirked.

“I watch you so close I can almost taste you,” Draco whispered. Ron had just asked her another question, when Draco’s tongue lightly grazed her ear.

“He seems distracted,” Hermione blurted quickly, in answer to Ron’s question about Draco’s Quidditch skills.

“Oh you have no idea,” Draco said in a hushed voice. Again, this behavior stopped her halfway through her next statement in the conversation, but neither friend realized what was going on right in front of them.

Hermione felt a finger trail against her lower back and knew it was Malfoy’s touch sending chills all over her. She couldn’t take much more of this. She wanted his touch even more. On her face, her neck, down the front of her trembling frame. She suddenly scooted her chair back. It nudged the invisible Draco and he stumbled a second, before grabbing the back of her skirt to steady himself. He took the opportunity for a playful touch across her backside. She did her best to play it off by berating Ron for his questions.

“You seem to be the one obsessed with Draco, not me,” she declared and stormed away from the table. Draco followed her, whispering “liar” playfully in her ear.

Scene 39:

The early evening air was a little chilly, a slight breeze tousling Hermione’s mousy brown locks. She had stepped outside before the night’s curfew could take effect, a practice that no other students took this time of the year without a coat. But Hermione needed to cool off big time. And before she could even register the fact it was cold out, she was wrapped up in Malfoy’s arms.

“You are so mean,” she said, as he removed his invisibility cloak and tucked it safely away inside his clothes. “And bad,” she added.

“I know,” he grinned. “Don’t you just want to eat me up?”

“Draco, you can’t be doing stuff like you did back there. We’ll be found out.”

His grin diappeared. “Aren’t you tired of hiding?”

“Yes, but…”

“Would you be ashamed or embarrassed if everyone knew?”

“No, I….”

“I think if someone saw me holding your hand, or taking you in my arms like this, you would push me away and accuse me of throwing myself on you.” Before she could answer, his lips grazed hers for just a brief moment. She didnt know if he were teasing her or offering a challenge, but she took it.

Her mouth collided with his in a furious, dangerous kiss. Dangerous because she reached around and squeezed his butt with both hands. He smiled within their kiss and returned the gesture.

“I’m guessing you’re not going to scream for help then,” he whispered.

“No,” she sighed, staring into his silvery eyes. “I can help myself, thank you very much.”

“Good for you,” Draco replied with a kiss against the nape of her neck. “Because I can’t help myself.” Another graze of the lips. “I think of you every moment of the day. There’s not a time you’re not on my mind.”

“Likewise,” she agreed, turning her face to his so she could playfully bite his lip. “But I’m still not rooting for your team to win.”

This brought a laugh that was pure mirth and joy. “Hermione, that’s not what this is about. It’s not about gaining a sexy cheerleader for Slytherin House.”

She raised an eyebrow and blushed a little. “Oh it’s not? So what is this about then?”

“It’s about me…”

“You?”

“Me being so madly in love with you I can scarcely breathe when we’re apart. Me wanting you like I haven’t wanted anything before.”

“More than the Nimbus 2001?”

“More than anything. And certainly more than a broomstick.”

Knowing how much the Slytherins loved their super sleek Nimbus 2001’s, a gift from Draco’s own father, made Hermione give him a questioning, unsure look.

“You kiss a broom, you get bristles in your mouth,” Malfoy asserted.

“What do you get when you kiss me?”

Draco smiled. “I get crazy.”

“Well then,” Hermione replied with an adoring smile. “All my kisses are for you.”

“Better be,” Draco muttered weakly as they clutched each other for another kiss, born not just from longing, but of a promise.

And in the shadows of the porch, unseen by the amorous couple, a figure shifted uncomfortably, wishing they’d stop and move on so he wouldnt have to see the youthful desire that had eluded him his entire life. He’d come out here to escape the maddening crowd of irritating students, to lose himself in his own memories of almost happiness. He didn’t want to see lovers entwined in heated kisses. Severus Snape just wanted to be alone.

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Zombie Drift 13: Peter, Aida, & Prisha

Zombie Drift

Thirteen: Peter, Aida, & Prisha

Peter Evers stood at the door inside the starlit lounge. Being on the main deck it afforded him a view of the ship’s activity. People seemed to be rushing nowhere fast. Through the glass he caught snippets of conversation. Things about “dead people in water” and “speedboats”, and “the guy just slid down the chain.” With the last, it made him think of his bodyguard Ethan. In his mind it was just the showboat kind of thing anyone hired by his dad would do. While he didn’t wish ill on the man, he thought as soon as he could he was sneaking out of here and getting out from under Ethan’s restrictions. There was nothing worse than being seventeen and stuck under an adult’s supervision.

He turned to see what the girls were doing. Prisha had stopped crying some time ago, and the lounge singer Aida had turned the TV above the bar back on. Images splayed across the screen showing carnage everywhere. Most of it were single shot live feeds as if the cameraman had strapped his video to a tree and ran for it. What was left behind was a view of the street, zombies walking, crawling, sliding, lumbering, trying their best to find live food that wasn’t escaping. The images were bad enough, but it was the sound that sent chills up his spine. Screams, moans, the crunch and munch of flesh and bone as zombies feasted, sometimes on each other.

He couldn’t understand why the girls were torturing themselves by watching it all. Peter guessed it was like driving by a fatal traffic accident. You knew it was horrible, and people were dead, but you just couldn’t tear your eyes away. He tried his best not to be drawn to it that way. Other things bothered him. Like what was going on board. It was obvious something was happening with all the flurry of activity. Were the zombies here too? He hated being locked up and out of the way, which is what Ethan had done with him while he went off running to wherever.

He looked back at the girls again. They could handle themselves, he thought. How hard could it be to keep others out the bar? With that he decided he wanted out. He wasn’t going to be stuck in here one second longer, he didn’t care how hot he thought Prisha was. He put his hand on the door handle and prepared to open it when something smashed against it.

He jumped back from the frantic face at the glass. It was a man with jet black hair and wild grey eyes. He was trying to look through the door and when his eyes saw Peter they grew wider and he began to pound on the frame.

“Aida!” he shouted. “Aida! Let me in!”

Peter looked at Aida. She had heard the shouts and beating on the door frame. Turning from the TV, she frowned. Something in her face told Peter she wasn’t ready for this. Whatever this was.

“Aida! Tell this little shit to open the door!” He began to thump his palm flat against the glass. The door itself shook.

Aida sighed. “Open the door, Peter.”

The boy looked at her as if to ask, are you sure? When she nodded grimly, he shrugged and threw the latch.

The man outside didn’t waste time. He shoved the door open, nearly knocking Peter down, and headed acoss the floor of the lounge towards the girls. ‘Trying to lock me out, Aida? Again?”

“No one is trying to lock you out, Jerome. You chose not to return last night. Guess you found some other room to sleep.”

He grinned. “It was a good room too. Wish you could have been there. Well, on second thought, maybe not.” He eyes caught sight of Prisha. ” Now, you however….”

Aida slapped him. “You pig.”

He seemed unaffected and laughed. “You know everybody is going crazy on deck over something. The three of us could get crazy on something too, you know?” He turned to glance at Peter. “Sorry kid, there isn’t room for two guys.” Then he smiled at the girls again. “Lock the door.” When Peter didn’t immediately lock it, the man glared at him with dangerous, almost empty eyes. If Ethan was here this situation would be different, Peter thought. But he wasn’t here. He’d left them here alone to face their own survival. “Lock the door,” the man said again, returning his psychotic gaze to the now frightened girls. He listened for the sound of the latch clicking and then smiled. He undid the cufflinks on his shirt and began to take it off. “It’s okay,” he said. “About time you took your punishment, Aida.” His slid his belt out of his pants. “Now which one of you likes to get restrained?” He looked at Prisha, staring hard into her dark frightened eyes, and licked his lips. He took a step towards her.

The chair hit the back of his head so hard the wood shattered against his skull. Peter held the remains of it in his hands as Jerome dropped to the floor with a resounding thud.

“So like, who did I just knock out?” the teenager asked, after they had tied Jerome’s hands behind his back with his own belt. “I can hit him again if it would help.”

Aida frowned and nodded at the unconscious man. “He’s Jerome Stipe. My sad excuse for a boyfriend.”

Peter looked up. “Shit lady, i think you need a new boyfriend. My bodyguard Ethan is available I think.”

Aida laughed a little, as he was the same man she’d tried to get to dance with her during last night’s performance. “We’ll probably need a bodyguard when Jerome wakes up.”

“I think we should call security,” Prisha suggested. “I know he’s your guy and all, but….”

Aida had already picked up the phone and dialed the number. She had to be strong while she had the support of others. Last time she’d called security on him she had been alone and earned a couple cracked ribs for it.

While the Nigerian talked to security, the Indian girl walked over to Peter, who was making sure the prisoner’s belt was as tight as he could get it. “Thank you,” Prisha said.

“No problem. I couldn’t let him hurt either of you.”

“I was very scared,” she confessed.

He nodded and tried to be cool, but he felt the truth was better. “Yeah, me too.” He looked at her and smiled. “I saw Ethan headbutt a guy unconscious before, but I thought i should use a chair.”

She smiled back. “Good decision. Why hurt your cute head, right?”

Peter raised an eyebrow at the mention of cute, but when she turned her face away in embarassment he decided she didn’t mean anything by it. She was just being grateful.
“Well, here’s hoping he don’t wake up soon,” he said getting to his feet. “I’d hate to break another chair.”

Prisha offered a smile. “Well, thanks for protecting us. Not everyone would have done that.”

Peter was trying to think of a zippy one-liner to say that would make him sound like an action hero at the movies, when Aida said, “I can’t get the phones to work. Someone will have to go get security.”

They all looked towards the door. There was still a lot of activity outside. People dashed by running in both directions, but most seemed to be heading towards the rear of the ship, peering over railings as they went.
It wasn’t the same panic as what was occuring on television, but Peter felt nervous about it just the same. He looked at Aida. “I think we should move Jerome somewhere and then all of us go. I got a feeling it’s not going to be too safe alone.”

“There’s my dressing room. It’s a glorified broom closet really.”

“Can it be locked from outside?”

“No.”

“Well shit,” Peter mumbled.

Prisha walked over to the glass door and picked something up. “How about this?”
In her hands, she held a wooden doorstop, obviously used to hold the entrance open during peak hours.

“That will work. Come on Aida, help me get him back there.”

As they both bent down to hoist Jerome’s limp body up, Aida asked, “Where did you hit him?”

Peter looked at her strangely. “In the back of the head. Why?”

Aida looked at both her companions with a look of bewilderment. “Because there’s a chunk out of his arm.”

“Zombie Drift” 2019 P. D. Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Love Is The Darkest Art 24

Love Is The Darkest Art

A Dramione fanfic serial

Scene 35:

Dumbledore’s Army was growing. The group of students were now meeting regularly in The Room Of Requirements. This room, hidden from all others not part of their gathering, was becoming Hermione’s favorite place. Not only for their meetings, where Harry was teaching them defense against the dark arts, but for solitary time as well. On evenings when no meeting was held, she slipped away to be alone and ponder the most darkest art of all: being in love.
In her mind she still tried to convince herself she did not love Draco, though with her mouth she had confessed so. But Draco was different than her, and there were some things she couldn’t tell him, leading her to reason that what she felt couldn’t be love. After all, when you loved someone, weren’t you comfortable sharing everything with them? If you had to hide things, then what did that mean for the relationship? And yet having to hide her feelings for the Slytherin bad boy was a large part of the allure. The excitement of the thought of being with Draco was because she wasn’t supposed to. The differences between their houses made that clear. No Gryffindor girl had ever been so enamored of a Slytherin guy before. It was almost forbidden. And there it was. Draco was the boy she wasn’t supposed to have.
The more she thought that though, the more determined her heart became. And with that she found reasons to be close to him.

Quidditch was about to resume. Afternoon practices were going on daily. Thankfully her friend Harry was being allowed to play again, his detentions with Dolores Umbridge having come to a close. Hermione, in a show of support attended the practices, cheering for both Harry and the sadly inept Ron, whom she hoped would improve by the time of the first game. But she wasn’t just there for them. No, there was a certain boy in robes of green and silver, practicing with his team close by. She could pick him out at times, his pale blonde hair waving in the breeze. Though she would never admit it, she loved how agressive he played. There was something urgent, almost animalistic, in the way he flew on his broomstick, or practiced grabbing the snitch. Briefly she imagined him being that aggressive as a lover. It made her muscles ache, put a tingling in her stomach, thinking of the two of them wrapped up together, bodies entwined in throes of…

“Ron’s a horrible player,” a soft voice said from beside her, and it jolted her out of her sensual wanderings. She turned red as if everyone knew which gutter her mind had to clamber out of.

“I don’t say it to be mean,” Luna Lovegood continued. “He’s just the weakest link on the team.”

“He’s not that bad,” Hermione replied, regaining her composure and coming to her friend’s defense. Luna was right of course. Ron did seem to be lacking in the concentration needed to be an effective player, but one does not talk bad about friend. “He just needs encouragement,” she said out loud, though whether it was for Luna’s benefit or her own remained to be seen.

Again, her eyes turned towards Draco practicing in the adjoining field with the Slytherin team. She felt something bump her arm. She turned and saw Luna was holding a pair of small binoculars out to her. When Hermione didn’t take them right away, Luna said, “Don’t worry, I wont tell anyone.”

Hermione was caught by surprise. “Tell anyone what?”

Luna gave her a look that spoke volumes. “You and Draco.”

Hermione laughed. “Draco? You must be out of your head.”

Luna look confused for just a second, but then replied, “No, I’m well inside my head. I know you were with him in the greenhouse that day. When you saw me and Neville.”

Hermione didn’t know how to respond. Whether to verify the truth in Luna’s observations or to play it off as plain silliness. After a few moments she made up her mind.

“You’re mistaken. I don’t like Draco. I like….” She looked at the players on the quidditch field and blurted out the first one she could think of. “…Ron Weasley.”

Luna raised an eyebrow and lifted her binoculars to her eyes. Directing them towards the Quidditch goal she nodded. “That could work, I suppose. My dad says things aren’t going to work with Neville and me. He says he’s going to marry Hannah Abbott one day.” She shook her head. “As if.”

Hermione wasn’t sure why she was yelling her all this. She and Luna hadn’t been close friends. In fact, she often had ridiculed and sometimes insulted Lovegood. And now the strangest girl at Hogwarts was opening up to her on the Quidditch bleachers.

“Hannah Abbott?” Hermione asked, incredulous. “I cant see that either.”

Luna looked at her. Her face held a knowing secret. “Well, there are many who wouldn’t believe you like Draco either, so you’re safe. Mum’s the word with me.” Shecaet the binoculars down beside Hermione. “You can return them to me later. No sense straining your eyes.”

Before she could protest or deny things further, Luna was up and gone. She watched her go and the realization hit her. Someone knew. The secret wasn’t quite hidden anymore. For a moment in her quiet panic, she thought of casting a spell towards Luna, to ensure she’d never speak of it to anyone else. But instead she looked on the bleacher beside her. She picked up the binoculars and put them to her eyes. First, she focused on the Gryffindor team. Harry on the pitch. Ron at the goal. But she soon found herself seeking out that flash of green and silver. Draco. Her Draco. Forever.

Scene 36:

Malfoy was having trouble concentrating. Usually he did well at practice, but he found himself being more aggressive and he tried to curb his heightened emotions. Save it for Gryffindor, he told himself. It was just a dream, nothing more.

The dream in question had occurred the night before. In it, Draco had found himself looking upon his father’s stricken face. Lucius was afraid. Very afraid. Dementors swirled around him, seeming to feed off the elder Malfoy’s fears. Draco tried to go to him, but could never quite reach him. There was an invisible barrier between them, as if his father was a prisoner and he was free. He called out and Lucius looked up. “I told you to stay away from her,” he moaned at his son. “Now look what you’ve done.”

Draco, now on the field, looked up in much the same way his father had done in the dream. Except here, someone was watching him. Someone with binoculars in the stands. Even from where he stood he could see who it was. Hermione Granger. His heart’s desire. His secret love. His father’s doom.

But Malfoy wasn’t the only one who saw Hermione with the binoculars. Ron Weasley had looked up from the goal to see his friend checking out the practice. The problem was she was looking at the opposite team. Slytherin. Why was she checking them out? Worse yet, she was smiling. When he saw the direction of her amplified gaze, his jaw dropped. She was grinning dreamily. At Draco Malfoy.

While You Can: personal essay on mother’s day

Mom once told me her goal was to walk with Jesus each day. It was a beautiful sentiment, a personal philosophy, and a Christian truth. Today on Mother’s day, I realize there are many of us whose Moms truly walk with Jesus every day now. And while they do that, and we are left with a beautiful vision of what joy awaits us in the afterlife, we still miss them.

Some of us have holes in our very lives that nothing can fill the way mother did. Some of us, feeling complete in our lives with loved ones, spouses and children, still grieve that one missing plate setting where mother used to be. We miss her sitting in her favorite TV chair playfully shouting at game show contestants. We miss her greeting and accepting every stranger as if they were a member of the family. We miss her wisdom and simple compassion, the zest for life she attempted to instill in our childish little hearts.

It is a consolation that our mothers are now free of pain, worry, heartache. They don’t cry over us anymore when we do something stupid, but every day when it rains, I look out the window, where she used to sit and eat her lunch, and I can feel her there. I can almost reach out and get me a really big mother of a hug. Today it’s mother’s day and she’s everywhere, dancing through eternity with both her heavenly father and my natural one. She is at peace, and she’s not alone.

Many mothers now, and even more as we grow older, join her in her most extreme happiness, and while I know I should be happy for that freedom she so longed for, and mow possesses, I am sad and grieving her loss as if it were yesterday instead of a decade.

If your mother is still here, please allow me to suggest this. Do not waste a single moment on selfishness. Do not turn away or make excuses when she wants to spend time with you. Do not make an argument out of every disagreement. Cherish your mother, not just for the life she borne you into, but for the time that she has left to enjoy hers. Love her today as if there is no tomorrow for any of us. Regret is not something you should feel on mother’s day. Celebrate mom now while you can.

God bless all mother’s everywhere.

Zombie Drift 12: Camelia Cray

Zombie Drift

Twelve: Camelia

Camelia Cray opened her eyes to the bright morning sun. For a brief second she thought she had been dreaming about the disaster. First the containment leak, then the explosion and toxic chemicals dispersed into the air. Had it really infected everyone in the fallout? And if so, how did it suddenly affect populations in other states? She blinked her eyes again, the sun almost seeming to burn her retinas. The brightness didn’t just bring pain to her eyes, but made her aware of the searing pain in her shoulder. With a hand she reached for it and her fingers came away with blood. With the blood came sound. Not of her own anguish, but of people shouting, screaming. Rising above the shouts was the voice of the man who had saved her and her boss. The Hispanic. She thought his name was Edward or something. She couldn’t remember. “Turn us around!” he was shouting.

She propped herself up on one elbow and tried to sit up. Pain shot through the injured shoulder and she wondered what in the hell the military bastards had shot her with. The speedboat turned in the water. Vertigo played hell with her and she almost threw up with the motion. She’d never been on a boat of any kind, so the motion of the waves did not suit well with her stomach. The craft surged forward and the motion sent her off her elbow and and flat on her back, the wind getting knocked out of her in the process. The speedboat hit something and there was a crunch, like the cracking of wood except sharper.

“Grab my oar,” she heard Edward shout as the craft decelerated in a swift motion. Someone jumped into the boat and hit the deck with a groan. For a second she thought a zombie had flung itself in an effort to get to her. But then she saw the white uniform and orange life vest. She looked in the direction he had come and saw the side of an immense ship. It looked like one of those huge cruise liners that sailed to the Caribbean and back. She clambered to her feet and the very space she stood in seemed to turn. A wave of dizziness threatened to swarm over her. The sailor grabbed her. “Whoa there,” he said. “I think we both need to sit down.”

And then she saw it. The truth of what she had woken up into. The speedboat was beside a sinking vessel. A lifeboat, by the looks of it, as it was tethered by a huge chain to the larger cruise ship. Looking up, she could see passengers peering over the side, some shouting warnings, others just screaming hysterically.

She noticed the guy in the lifevest looking at her curiously. “Are you bit?” he asked.

She shook her head. Her mouth was parched and dry but she managed to answer. “No,” she replied, “shot,” though it came out in a slow slur sounding like “shawt.”

The shipmate sighed in relief. She could see the cruise line logo on his white, but bloody shirt, and half wondered if maybe he’d been one to get bit. “Get us out of here!” he suddenly screamed to Edward.

The towering rescuer appeared not to hear him. He had one hand on the wheel of the speedboat, another on an oar he was extending to the troubled lifeboat shouting at another man to grab it. This man, in a garish Hawaiian shirt, grabbed it and allowed Edward to pull him across to safety. But the man wasn’t the only one to come across. A zombie had latched on to his legs and was trying to prevent his escape. The man kicked the creature in its face and its head reared back. It did not let go. Even when the man let go of the oar so Edward could swing it at the zombie. The man fell into the boat, rolling onto his back and tried to dislodge the living dead who was now trying to get its mouth at his calf. Three solid punches to the face seemed to slow it down, but its mission was relentless. Bite someone. Anyone. Bite them now.

Suddenly there was a loud pop and the zombie’s eye exploded, followed by bits of skull erupting through an new exit in the back of the creature’s head. Dr. Wills stood there, a smoking pistol in his hand. Small enough to conceal, yet large enough to take out a target.

“Where the hell did you….” Edward began, but the doctor was already turning away, taking hold of the wheel again and throwing the throttle open.

“Hold on!” Wills shouted and the sudden surge of power nearly threw Edward off balance. He caught himself and then turned to the speedboat’s newest passengers.

“Anybody hurt?” he asked.

The crewman, though dashed in blood, shook his head. Then he looked warily at Ethan. “He got bit.”

“That true?” Edward asked, now eyeing Ethan with suspicion.

Ethan nodded. He showed him his arm. The teeth marks were visible but there wasn’t much blood. “Lucky for me zombies don’t have good dental hygiene. Barely broke the skin.”

Edward nodded grimly. “Once we get on this ship, you need to be checked out. I’ve seen enough horror flicks to know how more zombies are made.”

“Fair enough,” Ethan said, noticing Dr. Wills was taking them around the bow of the ship in an effort to get to them to the other side. Ethan looked over at Camelia. “You shot?”

“Yeah. Army bastards got me.”

“You look like you’re losing a lot of blood. Is there a first aid kit onboard?” He didn’t wait for an answer. He took off his shirt and wrapped it around her shoulder and upper arm. He pulled it tightly and Camelia grimaced. Tieing it off, Ethan gave her an apologetic look. “Sorry, my nursing skills are lacking. You guys look like the doctors.”

“Not that kind,” she replied, before Wills turned and gave her a hard look.

“Yeah Doc,” Edward said. “Since when does the medical profession issue guns?”

Wills focused on his steering of the boat and said nothing.

Edward shook his head. “It would have been helpful if you’d used that gun earlier.”

The doctor didn’t look at him. “I was saving it for myself,” he muttered.

No one said anything for a few moments. Ethan looked up as they came along the port side of the St. Fitzgerald. Apparently, the spectators of the lifeboat attack, had crossed the deck to follow the speedboat and were now at the port railing. Others had joined them as well. He spotted the asian guy and teenager who had first alerted him to zombies in the water. Right beside them the man he had been looking for in the first place. The Captain. ‘Hell of a way to get the Cap’s attention,’ he thought.

“Thank you,” Camelia said from beside him. Her voice was weak, but she was a strong girl, holding herself together despite the blood loss.

He turned to her. “For what?”

“The tourniquet,” she replied, nodding towards her wounded shoulder. “It looked like a nice shirt,” she added.

“I hated it.”

She grinned. “Who wouldn’t?” Then, looking around them, a thought occured to her. “Hey, how come there’s no zombies on this side?”

Edward had been watching the lowering of a lifeboat, in which two uniformed crew members sat. Now he looked at Camelia.

“Good question, but if TV shows are right, I’d say they have a pack mentality. Travelling and acting in groups.”

“Like a bee hive?” she asked.

“Perhaps something like that.”

“Well, i hope they are just worker bees then.”

Ethan looked around the speedboat. He could see none of the zombies, and like Camelia it worried him. It was only a matter of time before they figured out their meal had ducked around to the other side of the ship. And if the hispanic was right, and there was a pack mentality, what did that mean for any zombies on shore?

The speedboat came alongside the ship and was met by the lowered lifeboat. “Get the injured on first,” one of the crew members said.

Camelia stood on shaky legs and started to step over. “I guess that would be me,” she said, before blacking out again. If not for Edward, she would have toppled into the ocean.

“Zombie Drift” 2019 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.