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Zombie Drift 4: Blake

Four: Blake

Communications Officer Blake Travers had been bothered by the messages. They were coming in at regular intervals, static and garbled voices begging him to decipher. Every now and then, he picked up a word or two thanks to the noise cancelling headphones. Infect. Virus. Brain. They were just a few he could pick out but the truth started to seep through. On land, there was some kind of contagion. A virus infecting the brain. He had to know more.

He decided to go to Morse Code. There could be no mistaking those kind of messages. As long as the receiver tapped out the right letters the message would reach you accurately. So he sat down at the Morse Code desk and began tapping out his question. ‘Is it safe to dock?’

It took a few minutes. He ran his finger through his yellow blond hair as he waited. This was a nervous habit from childhood and though he’d shaken it in recent years, stress always seemed to bring it back.

He looked at his watch, starting to wonder if anyone would answer. He knew Morse Code was a bit outdated, and the only ones who were taught it nowadays was sailors he was hoping someone at the docks still knew how to use it.

Then it came. In a short burst. Two words over the archaic system. ‘Turn Back.’

Blake quickly tapped out his next question. ‘Why?’

There was no immediate answer, He waited a few moments and tapped again. ‘Need to dock. Have passengers.’

This time the answer was almost instant. ‘Don’t.’

Again he asked. ‘Why not?’

‘Contagion.’

‘Virus?’

A slight hesitation. ‘No.’ Then, ‘Nuclear.’

Blake was taken aback. A deadly virus was one thing to contend with, but something nuclear? ‘Terrorists?’

‘No. Accident.’

‘Radiation leak?’

The reply, when it came, was shocking. ‘Warhead.’

Despite his alarm, he felt he had to ask the next question, so he tapped it out quickly. ‘Intended for whom?’

There was a long silence. The military man Blake had once been was now on high alert. And then a new message was tapped out from the docks. ‘Who is this?’

Blake hesitated. He didn’t know why, but he could almost hear his old naval instructor telling him, Never reveal yourself to the enemy. He’d spent a tour of duty on a submarine, where stealth and silence was normal engagement. Perhaps that applied here as well.

A new message came through. ‘Is this the approaching cruise ship?’

Blake didn’t respond, but the Morse Code persisted. ‘Is this the St. Fitzgerald?’

Despite his better judgement, he tapped out a quick answer. ‘Yes.’

‘Come on in. You are cleared for docking.’

Blake froze. Hadn’t the first message been to turn back? Hadn’t the Morse operator said Don’t when he said he had passengers and needed to dock? So, why all of a sudden was he now messaging us to come in? Because it’s two different people, he answered himself. The first guy isn’t there anymore. This is somebody new. And with this thought came another one. If there was a contagion, chemical derived or nuclear, the military would be there. They silenced him. The first guy. They replaced him with their man. And now they want us to come in. But why.

This can’t be happening, Blake thought. There is absolutely no way this is real. Maybe it’s a training exercise. Some kind of war game with the marines and the navy to better prepare the country for things like this. But his mind screamed at him in his father’s stern voice, “This is things like this! It’s happening now!

He got up from the desk, picking up the sheet he had been jotting the code messages on. He crammed it in his pocket and headed for the door. He had to get to the bridge and show this to the officer on watch. He could bypass him and go straight to the Captain, but that wasn’t normal ship procedure. He knew the Captain was on inspections so locating him could prove difficult. All he knew was they couldn’t go into port without finding out what was really happening onshore.

Outside, he started heading in the direction of the bridge, but something caught his eye. On the open deck, an Indian girl being accosted by two men. He wasn’t sure that was entirely true, but one of the men was holding the girl by her shoulders and was leaning down in her face. The other guy, a boy really, seemed to be looking the girl up and down.

He headed toward them, but waited until he was nearly on top of them before alerting them to his presence. The man had let the girl go and the boy had a cell phone out. “Everything okay here, Miss?” Blake asked.

The man, who had been looking at the cell phone too, suddenly looked up. “Oh, Officer. I think we need to see the Captain.”

This was something Blake heard time and time again. On most occasions they didn’t need the Commanding Officer of the ship and Blake had gotten pretty good at deflecting them.

“The captain is a busy man. Anything I can help you with?”

“Yeah,” the boy shouted. “You can take….”

“Who are you and what’s your rank?” the older man interrupted.

This threw him off a second. “I…I’m Blake Travers, Communications Officer. “

The man smiled and held out his hand. “Ethan. This is Peter. And…” He looked to the Indian girl.

“I’m Prisha,“ she replied.

Blake took the man’s hand and briefly shook it.

“Since you’re in Communications, maybe you should look at this communication,” Ethan said.

Peter handed the cell phone to Blake so he could see. Looking at what was on the screen, he instantly wished he’d left these people alone and continued to the bridge.

“What…what is this?”

“It’s my Instagram,” Prisha said. “A friend sent that to me. She’s waiting for me in Charleston.”

Blake started thinking of the coded messages and how it applied to this. Contagion, the guy had said.

“I’m worried about Cherise,” the girl continued, bringing him out of his thoughts. “I haven’t heard from her since she posted this.”

Blake didn’t know how to respond. Normally, he would be trying to reassure passengers whenever there was a situation. But despite his training, he wasn’t quite prepared for something like this. Whatever this was.

“As the radio guy, you can call ashore, right?” Ethan asked. “Call her friend for her? Make sure she’s okay.”

“Yes,” Blake replied, distracted within his own flurry of thoughts. “Um, I mean no. No, I can’t. I have to get to the bridge. We’ll keep you informed..”

He handed the cell phone back to whomever would take it. Prisha took it from him, a dumbfounded look on her face that begged the question, why won’t you help us?

There was no answer forthcoming. The Communications Officer had stopped communicating and was now moving away from them so rapidly you’d think they were the ones with contagion.

From the direction of shore, the breeze softly blew…

TO BE CONTINUED

Zombie Drift. 2018 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved

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Zombie Drift 3: Prisha

Three: Prisha

Prisha stared at the luggage by the door. Packed and ready, she was dying to get off the ship. Despite the nice weather and exquisite food, the voyage had been terrible for her. Nothing had gone as planned and all she wanted to do was go home. She glanced at herself in the mirror. Her green and gold sari while exquisite was not what she was used to. She preferred jeans and a short sleeve top, a kurtis with leggings when cooler, but she knew her parents were waiting at the port, so something more traditional was required. They disliked how westernized she’d become, and had often threatened to return the family to Punjab, but for Prisha that would be even more alien than America sometimes seemed. They’d moved to the US when she was just nine. Now eleven years later, despite any pleasant memories of childhood with her cousins, America was home.

The cruise had been a disaster fifteen minutes after she boarded the ship. There had been some serious misunderstandings between herself and the guy she had planned to meet. After several years of Instagram, messaging, and e-mails, she had decided to finally meet the guy of her dreams, her online beau. They had planned to take the same cruise as a way of getting to know each other. That way they could have different cabins, yet still spend time dining and doing different activities the cruise offered. It wasn’t the way many of her friends would have arranged the first in person meeting, but as her parents had long alleged, Prisha was her own woman and quite headstrong when she wanted to be.

Desmond, the twenty-five year old Medical school graduate she was supposed to meet, and hopefully spend the rest of her life with, turned out to be a forty year old insurance salesman from Ohio. While age differences between couples didn’t really matter to her, the fact he’d been lying about it for years did. She’d been in university for two years studying medicine herself, and her hope had been to get married, move to New York, and join her new husband in his family practice. Now the only real thing about that was her studies, so once she disembarked she was going to throw herself into her work so much she wouldn’t even have time to think of men. Especially ones who expected you to come stay in their cabin five minutes after boarding the ship.

Prisha smiled in the mirror. She had to put on a happy face, the one that would tell her parents everything had went nice. Though she’d told her few friends, and older sister, the real purpose of the trip, to her parents she hadn’t been quite forthcoming. She told them she was going to meet some girlfriends from the internet on the cruise. She felt guilty for not telling them the truth, especially after she’d been lied to herself by Desmond. She was both ashamed and embarrassed over the whole thing. Maybe one day she’d confess to her mom and dad, but not today. They would be too disappointed.

She pinned her long dark hair away from her face and took a deep breath. She wanted off the ship but she dreaded to even leave her cabin. Desmond was still on board and out there. Since their argument over honesty within relationships and “no, I’m not going to stay in your room,” he’d approached her several times attempting to apologize, but she wasn’t having it. For one, in person he didn’t seem half as sincere as he did online. For another, there was something of a lecherous leer to his gaze that made her uncomfortable. She wasn’t about to….

Her cell went off. A notification. ‘Please, don’t be him,’ she said. She checked her phone. Instagram. She sighed in relief. It was a post from her friend Cherise at the College. It was a somewhat blurry picture. Prisha squinted her eyes, trying to determine just what she was looking at. Didn’t she know how to use the tools to make the image better? It appeared to be of a man on top of another man. None of her friends sent such things over the internet before and she was almost embarrassed to look at it, this image of a bulky man laying flat on top of a younger man. Never mind they were clothed, it was just that it didn’t look right or appropriate to her sensibilities. But then she saw what the guy on top was doing. He was eating the other man.

Prisha let out a scream and threw the phone down. Oh my god, he was really eating him! This wasn’t a photoshopped picture, nor a screenshot of a horror movie. This guy had pieces of the other man’s face in his freaking mouth! She looked down at the phone, Instagram still up and showing the gruesome image. She hesitated to even pick up the phone out of fear the man would come out of the cell and attack her too.

Bing! Another notification. She snatched up the phone and clicked on it. It was Cherise again. Another image. This time it scared her so bad she closed Instagram and made the mental note to uninstall the program as soon as she could think clearly. The image had been a close-up of a face. A woman. Maybe slightly older than Prisha herself. Her eyes had been blood red. Her nose twisted at an odd angle. Foam or something had been on her lips, which had been curled up in a canine like snarl. Her teeth had blood and what appeared to be human tissue on them. That’s what had prompted her to shut down the app so quickly. Most people feared common things like clowns, or spiders, or elevators, but hers was different. She feared zombies. Suddenly, the companionship of a jerk like Desmond didn’t seem so bad.

She shoved her phone in her purse, threw back the bolt on her door, and fled out into the hall. She had to show someone this. She needed someone to tell her that what she’d seen on Instagram wasn’t real. That she had been mistaken. Perhaps they would gently shake her awake and say they were at port and ready to leave the ship. Or that what she was looking at was a makeup screen test for a new movie they were filming. But there was no one in the hall. This was First Class. You usually had people coming and going from their rooms to onboard activities or dinner. That’s it, she thought. Everyone is at breakfast.

Or, her mind told her, everyone IS breakfast.

She raced down the hall and pushed a door open. She had to get outside. Get some air. She was starting to hyper ventilate. Coming out onto the open deck, the morning sun blinded her for a moment and she collided with someone. All she saw was a quick flash of palm trees and parrots as the person caught her from falling. Her eyes came into focus. The trees and birds were on a Hawaiian shirt and an older man with deep blue eyes was looking at her.

“Whoa,” he said. “You alright, miss?”

She tried to speak but was having trouble breathing.

“Maybe she needs the Heimlich,” somebody else said. She turned to the voice and saw a guy who appeared several years younger than she smiling at her. He had short ginger hair and was in a white polo shirt with colorful neon swim trucks so bright it made her wish she’d live long enough to enjoy Holi again.

The man who’d caught her was holding her by her shoulders at arm lengths away from him. He had his head slightly bent to one side in an attempt to look her straight in the face. “Hey, just try to relax. Breathe in slow, then exhale. Breathe in…breathe out. Are you okay? How many fingers am I holding up?” He put his hand in front of her face and held up a finger, then another, then four, followed by three, then all five in rapid fashion.

“You’re going too fast,” she protested, finally catching her breath.

The man smiled and let her go. “Good. You’re okay.” He straightened up his shirt and reached for his collar as if he were more used to suit and tie.

“I apologize, sir. I didn’t mean to…”

Before she could finish, the younger one laughed. “ Hell, we just want to know where the party is at. You was running like your butt is on fire!”

For a moment, she thought the guy was going to follow up his statement by staring at her backside, but thankfully he didn’t. She gave him a “you better not” look anyway.

“Forgive him,” the older man said. “He was born yesterday and has never seen a lady until a few minutes ago.”

Prisha wasn’t sure what to make of these guys. Were they trying to flirt with her or just being nice? Was the young guy checking her out? Was the older man trying to win her over with flattery? Desmond had really messed her up for the rest of the male population, she thought. And then she reached in her purse and pulled her phone out. She thrust it at the younger guy.

He took a step back and asked, “What? You want me to put my number in your contacts?”

“No, I don’t want your number. Pull up my Instagram.”

He had a disappointed look, but did as he was told. He stared at the screen for just a second before he looked at his companion. “Oh no Ethan…”

“What is it?”

“I don’t think that was a movie we saw.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Zombie Drift. 2018 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Zombie Drift 2: Peter

Zombie Drift

Two: Peter

Peter Evers sat on his bunk, staring at the cellphone in his hand. He hated not having service. Up until five minutes ago he’d been texting pretty as you please to his best friend Alec. It’s not like his buddy was that far away. In fact, Alec was right there in Charleston, SC. He was supposed to be waiting for him when he disembarked from the boat. Of course, Peter would need to find a way to escape the all seeing eye of his father’s watchdog, Ethan. He’d been a constant presence, and somewhat of a nuisance, the whole voyage. It wasn’t the fact the man was fifteen years his senior. It was more like, well…the guy just didn’t know how to have fun. He had even turned down the chance to dance with the Ethiopian singer up in the jazz lounge the night before. To Peter that was stupid.

There were many things Peter found stupid. The fact he was seventeen and being made to go on a cruise with a man who was a complete bore had to top the list. His Father, Gerald Evers put Peter on the ship to get him off the mainland while they investigated where the death threats were coming from. Gerald owned Ever Sail Cruise Lines, as well as other profitable business entities, and so it was the easiest way to get the boy out of the way. Peter wasn’t sure who he resented more, his Father, or the man he’d hired to watch over him during his time at sea. He briefly wondered if his dad discovered who’d been threatening to kill his son and why, but then he realized he already knew the why. Like the current President, his dad knew how to piss people off on Twitter.

Tired of trying to get his phone to work, Peter picked up the remote for the wall mounted television and turned it on. There wasn’t much else to do while he waited for Ethan to get out of the shower. If he snuck out the room the man would be furious. Come to think of it, that might not be a bad idea, but before he could entertain that notion, images on the TV stopped all mischievous thought. At first, he thought it was a movie. There’s no way this could be real. On screen, the front of a grocery store had been vandalized. Windows broken, the front door hanging off its hinges. The parking lot in the forefront was littered with trash and heaps of rags. But wait, it wasn’t rags. No, it was bodies. Laying in the lot as if it were a battlefield. And like a war zone, there were moans of the dying coming through the television speaker. It sent a chill up his spine. But it wasn’t just the sound that bothered him. It was the way the bodies were trying to move. In jerky movements, as if the bones had been broken in their arms and legs, some of the bodies were attacking others. A voice came over the image. “Are you getting this?” Then something else lumbered into view. It blocked out the entire camera eye for a moment then moved out of frame. The camera view was different now. In fact it was sideways, as if someone dropped the camera on its side in the dirt. From this new angle all Peter could see was shuffling feet and the dead unseeing eyes of a woman laying on the ground in front of the camera. He waited for someone to pick it up but they never did. He was forced to view the poor dead woman. He began to wonder if this was one of those “Cloverfield” type movies. The ones that were made to look like someone’s home video to give it a touch of realism. He’d seen several such films in the past. Cloverfield. Blair Witch Project. District 9.

Still there was something way creepier with what he saw on the TV.

“Hey Ethan,” he called out. He didn’t know if the man heard him from the shower, but it made Peter feel better just to call out his name. He may have been a bore to the teenager, but he knew his dad wouldn’t have had the guy traveling with him if there wasn’t something special about him. Despite their close quarters, he had never asked the man what he did for a living when not babysitting on sea cruises.

“Ethan,” he called again, his eyes glued to the dead woman’s eyes on the screen. He entertained the notion of getting off the bed and going into the bathroom to retrieve the man. The only thing that stopped him was the thought of the man not in the shower, but on the toilet or in some other state that required privacy. As the long seconds ticked by, and they did seem awfully long, he continued to watch the still dead body onscreen. He noticed some things going on in the background of the image. Other fallen bodies were visible, but thankfully their gaze wasn’t directed at the camera. Peter could see shadows of movement past the corpses. Or at least he thought they were corpses as none were moving or otherwise showing signs of life. He stared a little closer to the TV. Did one of the bodies just twitch?

“Hey kid, What you watching?”

Peter turned to look at Ethan. The man had emerged from the bathroom fully clothed. He wore tan khaki shorts and a horrendous Hawaiian shirt that had so much color to it there was no way the man could blend into a crowd. The button up shirt screamed attention. Normally, Peter would have said something sarcastic about his attire, but the images from the television wouldn’t let him go.

“There’s something weird on the TV,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a movie, the news, or what, but the camera has been laying on the ground for awhile.”

The older man walked over to get a better look. “Damn,” he muttered. “Is that a…”

“Yeah, she’s dead. It’s got to be one of those found footage horror movies, right?”

“Um..yeah..I guess. I don’t watch many of these new movies, so…”

“It’s got to be a movie..” Peter replied. “There’s no way it…”

Suddenly her eyes blinked. On the screen. The dead woman. Her eyes blinked.

Peter jumped. “Holy shit! Did you see that?” He looked at Ethan. The older man hadn’t jumped like he had, but Peter could tell something was going on behind his eyes, as if he was working things out in his head.

“What channel is this?”

“I’m not sure. I just turned it on and somebody was filming a store get vandalized or something.”

On screen, the woman twitched and she began to move.

Peter didn’t jump this time. At least not on the outside. But on the inside his nerves were thrashing around and a knot was forming in his stomach.

The woman tried to push herself up, but her arms were at awkward positions, and one even seemed to snap, producing a loud crack through the speaker. She looked at the camera and let out a low guttural moan. Then she began to chew up her own tongue.

TO BE CONTINUED

Zombie Drift. Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Zombie Drift 1: Captain Walker

Zombie Drift

One: Captain Walker

Captain Charles Walker sat on the edge of the bed. Already dressed in his crisp white uniform, he took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, repeating the action twice before reaching for his cap and placing it on his head. Coming into port was always a nerve wracking experience. He preferred to be out in open waters and not have to deal with corporate bureaucrats and shareholders. He’d rather swim with sharks. It didn’t help that he was the youngest captain to be employed by Ever Sail Cruise Lines. And it didn’t matter that he’d come from a long line of sailors, including his great uncle Shelton who had guided boats onto the beaches of Normandy during WW2. This was only Walker’s second voyage as a captain, and though the trip to the usual Caribbean ports of call had been a success, coming home was always worrisome. Of course, home wasn’t really home to the Captain. Home for the ship was the port of Charleston, South Carolina, but the real home for Charles was Goolwa, a tourist town on the South Australian coast. It was there he first learned to sail as a boy on The Murray River as it wound its way into Lake Alexandrina, and indeed the ocean. And though his apartment in South Carolina overlooked the waters of the Atlantic, it was nothing compared to his childhood home.

With that memory hanging there in his mind, he stood up, adjusted his cap and looked in the stateroom mirror. He’d forgotten to shave. While it wasn’t a requirement, he knew his bosses preferred a smooth face. It was an American thing, he supposed. “Crikey,” he mumbled, using the phrase every American adored and most Australians never uttered. Walker said it rarely, but he knew he’d hear it five times or more before he ever put the ship into dock, so he might as well embrace it.

He left his quarters, shut the door and locked it. He headed down the corridor, now bustling with crew activity. Amid salutes and “Good day, sir” it lifted his spirits. He didn’t feel so lonely once he was among his crew and the scent of the ocean air. Today the St. Fitzgerald would dock into Charleston, unload passengers, pick up others, and then head up the coast where they would unload guests again, this time closer to the Nation’s Capitol. With any luck his sea legs would touch land soon and he’d be disoriented standing on a surface that didn’t sway beneath his feet.

He stepped out onto the deck to take in the full effect of the sea breeze, but before he could even take one breath, he saw Blake Travers, the ship’s Communications Officer, heading his way. The man’s yellow blond hair was a disheveled mess and the disturbed look on his face wasn’t much better.

“Morning, Cap’n,” Blake said with a salute. He was nearly out of breath and had to wait a second to continue. “Looks like Brekkie and Shine is going to be delayed .”

Captain Walker knew the young officer was trying to use Aussie slang to cover up for something. He appeared nervous, but that was no excuse to butcher his normal way of speaking. It was downright embarrassing. “How so?” he asked the young man.

“We’re getting some garbled messages from the port offices. It’s static mostly. Like there’s some kind of interference. But I caught something underneath it all. It was a message saying something about being overrun.”

“Are the docks full?”

“It could be, sir. Every cruise line likes to connect in Charleston. We will be in sight of the port soon.”

“Well, keep me informed, Travers. I need to make a few inspections be we arrive. Reps from the line are going to want to board and see what kind of fault they can find in my leadership on our second voyage out.”

“You’re a fine Captain, sir.”

Walker raised an eyebrow. “Just fine?”

“Well..uh..I mean, sir…”

The Captain smiled. “It’s okay, son. I thank you for your support and compliment. I will take it with pleasure…and possibly some coffee..”

The Com officer’s face lit up, for he was all too eager to please his chief. “Right away sir!” He saluted and dashed across the deck to a coffee station that had been set up for passengers.

Walker watched him for a moment. Because of his own age, it was hard getting used to the fact of having subordinates, those that were beneath him in rank. It was just a year ago that he was behaving in the same manner, bending over backwards to please his commander so as to earn a spot at the Captain’s Table. He usually picked one or two of his crew to join him for dinner, along with a few distinguished passengers. He made a mental note to include Travers this evening just as the young man returned with the cup of hot java. Walker took a hesitant sip to avoid the burn of the fresh brew, and then let out a satisfied sigh. One could always tell what kind of day it would be by the taste of his coffee. It was going to be a fine morning indeed.

Charles didn’t even give a thought to the Traver’s news of garbled messages. Things like this happened more frequently than not. Even with new equipment outfitted on a relatively new ship, problems arose with communications from shore. He was confident the next contact would not be garbled at all, but a clear message directing them where to dock because of the heavy boat traffic.

He went back inside. Descending two levels into the ship, he came out in the deck known as Reliant. Among the crew it was called Hungry Alley, as it housed several kitchens, sleeping quarters for the galley crew and waitstaff, as well as numerous food storage rooms and walk in freezers. It was here Captain Walker checked on his friend, the ship’s Master Chef, a man simply known as Wu. An Asian-American from San Francisco, with glossy black hair forever hidden under his Chef’s hat, he and his family were residents of the St. Fitzgerald. Along with his wife and two sons , they all worked on board the ship. His wife was the hostess of The Starlit lounge, a jazz influenced bar situated on the first deck down from the top. A popular spot for adults to while away the cruise while listening to a live jazz ensemble, the lounge was one of the Captain’s favorite public places on the ship, and it was there that Wu’s two sons tended bar and knew how to mix Walker’s favorite drinks in exact fashion.

“Morning, Chef,” Walker greeted his friend. While to some it may have seemed the Australian and Asian-American made on odd pair, they didn’t know the history. Of how Wu had befriended a young, and very seasick, Charles Walker, on his very first ocean cruise. Discrete and supportive, the older man had nursed the future captain back to health and informed him the open sea was a lot harder to get used to than a winding Aussie river.

“Morning, Captain,” Chef Wu returned, before noting the cup of coffee in the commanding officer’s hand. “You know it’s an affront to us when you bring the java of mortals into our domain.”

Charles laughed. He loved the informal way in which the chef spoke to him. No salutes, or standing at attention, just the ease of pleasant company. Here among the kitchen staff he didn’t feel like a captain, but as one of them, and he liked it that way. It was the one place he could go and…

He stopped before shaking hands with his friend. He looked above his head as if he could see up through the decks and into the open sky. And though most couldn’t tell it, he could. The ship was slowing down…

TO BE CONTINUED

Zombie Drift Episode 1 . Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Drafting Zombie Drift

Okay, so I have been quiet here the past couple months, but I have been working behind the scenes to create new material. For one, I spent time bashing out the second draft for “Time Of Our Death”, my entry from NaNoWriMo 2016. That year I successfully completed the first draft. I was so proud of the achievement as it was my first time doing National Novel Writing Month. I also posted it here as it was being written, which was a lot of fun and cemented my love for Serial novels.

Speaking of which, another thing I’ve been working on is something called Zombie Drift. I’ve been spending some time in the Mirakee writing community, sharing my previously written serials for all the awesome writers and readers there. It has been very helpful to my writing and a great encouragement, and as a result of the international feel of the group, I have begun drafting a new Serial with an international cast of characters. It had been suggested to me to write a zombie story. Another reader added it should be at sea. And so the idea quickly formed in my head of a group of passengers on a cruise ship during a zombie apocalypse.

I have been posting chapters over on Mirakee first, and now it seems to be getting solid enough to start sharing them here as well. So stay tuned if you like zombies, or just follow my work in general, and I’ll start the process of bringing this tale in the making to my blog here.

By the way, just a little plug on where else to find me and my work. In addition to the Mirakee community (you can download the app at the google play store. Sorry not available for Apple), I am also on Wattpad and Twitter. My Wattpad ID is @PaulDAronson. Over at Twitter, I am Paul Writes and my ID is @pauldaronson. I would love to have you follow me. I follow back and try to support other writers, poets, and readers.

Vampire Boys Of Summer (revamped) Ep. 59

Vampire Boys Of Summer

59: The Odd Miss Thomas

Miss Thomas regained her composure and began to take charge, telling the students to go on to their classes, now that the excitement was over. Then she approached us, her eyes taking in Chi in a suspicious manner.

“Thank you, young lady,” she said. “That was some quick thinking and a very brave thing to do. I don’t believe we have been properly introduced. What’s your name?”

This threw me off a bit. Hadn’t she met Chi in her office the other day when the Japanese girl had broken Amanda Trump’s nose? Had she forgotten that quickly? Chi herself didn’t register any surprise, as if this was normal behavior among adults she had met. Instead, she put on her most gracious smile. “I just started last week. I’m Chinatsu, but my friends call me Chi. You can call me Chi, too.”

I didn’t know if she used some kind of vampiric hypnosis, but her response and tone seemed to take the suspicion right out of the guidance counselor.

“Oh well, thank you for your assistance in handling….” She looked at the unconscious Mr. Sharp, who was now being lifted from the ground by the two teachers.

“No problem,” Chi replied. “It’s surprising what you pick up after eight hundred years of high school.”

I didn’t know if she was making a crack at the middle aged Miss Thomas or poking fun at her own experience as one of the undead, but either way, everyone couldn’t help but laugh. It was especially good for me having feared for my life just minutes ago.

If I thought the rest of the school day would be without event, I was mistaken. After the bizarre attack from the math teacher, Chinatsu wandered off down the hall, and Mrs Thomas went back to her office, leaving Angela and I alone. We watched the other students eye us warily and go to their classes.

“That was a good kick,” I told Angela.

She grinned. “I don’t know what came over me. Good thing I’m not in his class.”

“Yeah, me neither.”

“I don’t know what’s weirder, him eating a rat or trying to attack you. What’s he have against you anyway?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. I didn’t say as much, but I felt it was connected to last night’s assault. That’s not what puzzled me though. It was the few words he said to me. Ick-uh-rus. This wasn’t the first occasion I’d heard it, but this time It had sounded almost derogatory. Was he calling me a name, or was it a code word, a clue to the vampire master’s identity? What did Ick-uh-rus even mean anyway? And why did he say soon it would be my turn? My turn for what? The slave and master thing didn’t sound too promising either. After all, I didn’t think he was talking about Fifty Shades Of Grey.

“Things are definitely getting strange in Chelsea Valley,” Angela said, as we headed to our classes. Her Spanish Class was on the second floor so we climbed the stairs, neither of us very anxious to get there.

“What do you mean, strange?” I asked.

“Just people. Acting all funky and weird and shit. Guys hanging outside my house.”

I stopped. “What?”

She shook her head. “Yeah. Last night there were like three guys sitting on the low wall across the street. Just chilling. They kept looking up at my house like Lana Del Rey lived there or something. I looked out the window one time and they even waved at me. I shot them the finger and they all laughed.”

“Do you know who they were?”

“No, never seen them before. They were older, like college guys or something. Normally, I’d find that inviting, but last night it was creepy. The last time I looked out they had come off the wall and were in the middle of the street. Then this other guy came walking down the street and they took off. I guess they didn’t want anyone but me to notice them. Bunch of freaks.”

“Yeah, that’s freaky.” I wanted to tell her what had happened to me but I couldn’t. I felt like I would regret it later, but I had to keep my silence.

“But hey, my night was nowhere as bad as yours,” Ang added.

“What do you mean?”

“You know, your dad.”

I hung my head. “Yeah, it doesn’t get much worse than that.”

But actually it does. A worse notion is an invasion of evil vampires taking over the school and all of Chelsea Valley. I was hoping that Haru and Ryo were having some luck today finding Bram.

While Angela was stuck in Spanish Class, I had to endure Art. Normally it was one of my favorite classes, but I couldn’t quite concentrate on the assignment. The class was halfway over when Miss Thomas came looking for me and asked that I accompany her to her office.

Once there, we sat for a few moments in silence, her at her desk, me in the sofa chair across from it. Finally, she sighed.

“I am so sorry about your father, Nora. You and your mother have my deepest sympathies.”

“Thank you.”

“If there’s anything I can do…”

“No, I think we’re okay,” I said , trying to head her off from the typical spate of condolences that come at time likes this.

She nodded her head and seemed to be contemplating saying anything further. She picked up a pen and nervously twirled it between her fingers. After a moment, she set it down and said what was really on her mind.

“Mr. Sharp has been taken into police custody. He will be taken to the hospital to be evaluated. Detectives will want to question you eventually, I imagine. Are you okay with that? “

“Yeah, no problem.”

“The school will have to notify your mother as to what happened. But before we do, is there anything you’d like to tell me? Something the school should know?”

“No.”

“You don’t know why Mr. Sharp attacked you?”

“No. He’s not even one of my teachers. I’ve never spoken to him or acknowledged him in any way before. I mean, I know who he is. He’s a popular teacher, but I wasn’t aware he knew me.”

“So what exactly happened?”

“Angela and I were walking down the hall. We saw some people outside the classroom and when we got there and looked in, he was at his desk foaming at the mouth. Then he got up and attacked me.”

She nodded, picked up her pen and jotted something down on a notepad in front of her.

“Did he say anything to you ?”

“No, mam,” I lied . I didn’t think she’d understand any of his words to me. There was no point in divulging them to anyone except my Asian vampire friends.

She made another note. “Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

She sighed as if she knew I was lying. “Anything else unusual about him?”

“No.”

“Eating a rat isn’t unusual?”

I didn’t look at her. Instead I tried focusing my attention at the window, wishing I could will myself out of the room.

“Look, Nora. You can talk to me. It’s okay. You can trust me.”

I wasn’t so sure about that. I mean, could I really trust her enough to say there were vampires in Chelsea Valley? No, I didn’t think so. It was best that the less she knew, the better off she would be. Ignorance is bliss.

“I know the things you go through as a teenager,” she continued. “I was there myself once. I know that the culture may be different than when I grew up, but the feelings are the same. I will understand anything you tell me and try my best to help you through it.”

I doubted very seriously she’d understand anything I was going through, but I decided to go out on a limb.

“What does Ick-uh-rus mean?” I asked .

This threw her off big time. “Excuse me?”

“The words, Ick-Uh-Rus. What does it mean?”

She still seemed thrown off, as if she couldn’t understand what my question had to do with anything, let alone teen insecurities or problems.

“Well…um….Icarus I believe, if this is what you are referring to…he was a figure in Greek Mythology. He flew too close to the sun. Um, I never was much into mythology myself. Perhaps you should ask your history teacher about it. I believe they may….”

“Okay, thank you,” I replied, heading her off from rambling even further. I didn’t think she’d be much help, but she had asked for me to talk, so there you go.

I got up from my chair. “Is that all? Can I go back to class now?”

“Yes, that’s it for now. I’ll talk to your mom about the incident soon.”

I didn’t know if she meant it as a threat, but it didn’t scare me half as much as the thought of evil vampires running up and down the halls.

“Okay, I’ll tell her,” I replied, and headed for the door.

“Uh, Nora?”

I stopped, but only half turned to her. “Yes?”

“See you in summer school.”

“Yeah, great.”

I didn’t know it, but it would be the last time we’d have a somewhat friendly conversation.

Continue to Ep. 60

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“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2018 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Vampire Boys Of Summer (revamped) Ep. 58

Vampire Boys Of Summer

58: Rabid Teacher Day

I did make it for the last day of school, but I was a little late. Time may stand still sometimes, but it speeds to catch up eventually. Because of that, I missed the bus. I could have gotten mom to take me, but Haru offered to give me a ride. I don’t think he was worried I would run into trouble on the way. I think he just thought it was the gentleman’s thing to do. He may have embraced a modern attitude about some things, but he still had this old world way of thought. I really liked that about him. It was a quality that no one else had, not even Ryo.

Haru kissed me when we pulled up in front of school and told me I didn’t really have to be there if I didn’t want to. We could just as easily go back home. He seemed to understand the dilemma of going to classes the morning after a parent has died.

“No,” I told him. “I need to do this. Dad wouldn’t want me to be sitting around and moping. He’d want to me to be preparing for the invasion he was talking about. We need to know if anything else happened last night and if any of the others involved in the attack show up for school.”

He smiled and nodded. “You always impress me, Nora. Your resilience and strength is to be commended.”

“I wouldn’t be strong without you,” I replied, getting out of the car. I walked around to the driver’s side and leaned inside his window. “A kiss for luck, please.”

He obliged me, his lips full upon my own. With Haru’s kisses I felt like I could face anything. But it made me wonder what he was going to face.

“What are you going to do today?” I asked.

“Ryo and I are going grocery shopping.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Grocery shopping?”

“Yes. It’s time to find that Bram guy your dad was talking about. It all started with that confrontation. If we can find him, maybe we can find the one behind your father’s killing and the attack on you.”

“Please be careful.”

“I will. Say hello to Angela for me.”

Angela. In all the madness of last night, I had forgotten about her. Last time we had spoke it hadn’t ended on good terms. I hadn’t wanted her to go see Ryo, but she had misunderstood my reasons. I had to admit now I thought my reasons had been stupid. I just wanted to protect her, but I should have stayed out of her attempts at a love life. Maybe I was jealous in a way. Maybe for once I had wanted to be the one to have a boyfriend, and for her to be the loner. I needed to stop being selfish and let her do as she wanted. She’d find out Ryo was a vampire soon enough. How she handled that when the time comes would be up to her.

I smiled at Haru. “I’ll tell her hi, but I don’t know if she’ll show up today. She’s notorious for skipping.”

“I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that.” He turned his head towards the school and nodded.

I followed his gaze and saw Angela come out the front doors to stand at the top of the stairs, as if she had been waiting for me to arrive. I gave Haru a quick kiss and walked around the car to start up the walk towards her. She came down the steps, a sympathetic look on her face. At first there were no words, just a hug followed by tears. I cried in her long blond hair, and she in turn wet the side of my cheek.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “Mom saw it on the news this morning.”

I didn’t know what to say. “Thank you,” was all I could come up with.

“I should have been there for you,” she continued.

I pulled away from her. “I should have been there for you, too,” I replied, wiping my tears with the back of my hand. “I was a jerk to you the other day. I’m sorry.”

“I was a bigger jerk,” she replied. “Forgive me?”

“Forgive me first.”

“No, you forgive me first,” she insisted.

“Uh-uh, you first.”

She grinned. “No way, bitch. Forgive me first.”

We both laughed at our playful argument and knew there was no forgiveness necessary. We’d always be besties. Nothing was going to change that, not even boys.

Entering school together, we both noticed something was off. I mean we knew it was the last day of school, and some of our peers and classmates would be trying to start summer break early, but there was now a large number of students that were absent. I felt I knew the reason for this, but I couldn’t confide in Angela about it, bestie or not. I had promised Haru I’d keep their secrets.

The first ones we noticed missing were the football team. Of course, I knew that at least some of them had been part of last night’s attack on Haru’s house, but today the whole team was absent, including the coach and his assistant.

“That’s weird,” Angela said, and at first I thought she was talking about the jocks, but she pointed down the hall to Mr. Sharp’s math class. A bunch of students were standing out in the hall talking in curious, worried tones, strange bewildered looks on their faces. A few of them, girls mostly, looked like they would hurl up their breakfast any moment. We hurried down the hall to see what was happening.

Maneuvering through the crowd in the doorway, I managed to get a look inside the room. Mr. Sharp sat behind his desk. On your average day he was a well dressed, perfectly groomed kind of man. Suit, tie, clean shaven, not a hair out of place. Young and good looking, he was popular with the female students. Today however, he was different. He looked rough. Clothes disheveled, hair a mess as if he had pulled clumps of it out, unshaven beard with what looked to be bits of food clumped in it. But perhaps it wasn’t food in the normal sense, for he sat there with a half eaten rat hanging out of his mouth, gnawing on it like a ravenous, rabies infested dog.

“Oh My God,” Angela whispered under her breath, coming up alongside me. “What the hell is wrong with him?”

“I don’t know,” I muttered in reply, but all I could think of was Renfield in Dracula. Had Mr. Sharp been turned into a vampire’s servant? Or was this the ugly process of turning into a bloodsucker? First rats, then humans?

As if he knew my thoughts, the math teacher looked up and made eye contact. His pupils clouded over and a slow grin began to spread across his face. “Nora,” he garbled, his voice sounding like he was drowning in water.

“Uh oh,” I said and backed out of the doorway, just as he leaped on top of his desk. With a big gulp, he swallowed the rest of the rat and jumped off the desktop, heading for me. Students screamed and bolted in every direction. He came out into the hallway, snarling and foaming at the mouth. Angela shoved me out of the way and snarled back at him, like you would a dog that had run out of its yard to chase you on your bike. He was distracted long enough for me to get my back pack off and swing it at him. Laden with books, it connected with his head. The force was enough to knock him off his feet. He nearly did a somersault on his way to the floor. Angela took several steps towards him, her short black skirt swirling about her legs. She put a well placed kick right in his groin, and while it may have slowed him down, he soon recovered and was getting to his feet again.

“Ick-uh-rus,” he growled in a tone of contempt, pushing her to the side and launching himself towards me again. This time however, he was taken down by two teachers who had come running up the hallway. They tackled him and pinned him to the floor. He writhed and squirmed in their grasp, snapping his teeth at them. I figured it wouldn’t be long before he was up again and coming for me. The teachers were strong, but there was no holding a madman. He needed a sedative and I didn’t think the school nurse had anything like that. Still, she came running, along with our guidance counselor, Miss Thomas.

“What is going on here?!”

I turned to answer Miss Thomas, and the rabid math teacher broke free. Flinging the other teachers from him as if they were fifty pound weaklings, he was at me before I even knew it. He grabbed me by my shoulders and shook me. “Soon it will be your turn,” he snarled in a low voice only I could hear. “You will be the slave, groveling at the feet of my master.”

“Your master is a coward,” a voice said from behind him. Before anybody knew what was happening, the speaker wrapped their arms around Sharp’s head and squeezed. His eyes started to roll up in his head and he let me go. Chi tightened her grip, enfolding him within her arms so much you could barely see his face. You could almost hear the air escaping his body in a gasp for breath. Within seconds his body went limp and he collapsed in her arms. She eased him to the ground where he lay still and unconscious. Chi wiped her hands on her skin tight leather pants and with a toss of her long shimmering tresses said, “You’re getting to be high maintenance, Nora.”

Everyone in the hallway was stunned. Rendered mute, they all just stared at Chinatsu, until finally she shrugged and explained with a playful smirk, “I watch wrestling on the weekends.”

Continue to Ep. 59

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“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2018 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.