Tag Archives: amwriting

Around The Corner (short story)

Authors note: This short story was created from a writing prompt on twitter. I can’t remember who posted it, but the first paragraph here was the prompt. The rest of the story is mine, inspired by it. Hope you enjoy it.

Around The Corner

The old homeless man didn’t talk to people. He was dead silent on the church steps, while the other street people pushed raucous carts and screamed obscenities. “You,” he said, lifting a gnarled finger, his eyes milky. “I see death around the corner.”

The woman with the baby carriage looked at him in shock, then horror. Quickly she pushed it in the other direction, hushing the baby within the whole way.

The homeless man put his hands in his lap and was silent again. A young couple, holding hands and giggling, crossed the street not far from where he was. Once again he lifted his gnarled finger and pointed. “You,” he intoned. “I see death around the corner.”

Very quickly, the couple hurried down the sidewalk, casting furtive glances back at him. Their hushed voices revealed to any passerby their uneasiness at being spoken to by this ancient, dirty faced wretch. Once gone however, they didnt think of him again, and the old man placed his hands in his lap in again.

Another old man, this one better dressed and groomed, hobbled down the walk with the use of a cane. Despite his limp, he seemed accustomed to it, and moved briskly on shaky, spindly legs. The homeless man pointed at him and gave his usual proclamation. “You. I see death around the corner.”

The old man stopped briefly, wobbling on his cane. He didn’t look at the homeless man, but just shook his head. Then he resumed his unsteady, but sure walk. He didn’t even see the man lower his hands back to his lap. Just another beggar, he reasoned.

On the church steps the homeless man remained, quiet and reserved between the occasional finger pointing and warning. Everyone either ignored or avoided his judgements as they went about their day.
A cab pulled up to the curb on the opposite side of the street. The old man watched its rear door open and a very well fashioned figure emerged. Dressed to the nines in a pressed formal tuxedo and top hat, sporting a polished silver tipped cane, the passenger paid the driver. The cab moved on and the smartly dressed gentleman stood on the opposite sidewalk. He pulled a pocket watch from inside his waist coat and looked at it. He nodded and smiled, looking up at the church building.

The homeless man sat undisturbed and watched the figure cross the street. Slowly, he lifted his finger and pointed at the stranger. “You,” he said, as the man stopped at the steps, and leaned nonchalantly on his cane. “I see death around the corner.”

The stranger smiled. “Of course you do,” he replied in a deep monotone voice. He looked at the homeless man who just stared back, neither one wavering from their half smiles. For the stranger, his smile seemed to suck the very joy from the surrounding air. For the homeless man, his smile was one of a person who had ran a race aimlessly only to find himself at the finishing line among friends.

The stranger held out a black gloved hand. “Shall we?”

The homeless man lifted his hand, his finger no longer pointing outward, and took the stranger’s gentle grasp. Allowing the stranger to help him stand, he got up. He slipped his arm inside the stranger’s and looked up into his dark eyes. “Thank you,” he said.

“My pleasure,” the stranger replied, and the two began to walk together down the walk. No one paid them any attention. The world went about its business. And the two figures disappeared around the corner.

Advertisements

Love Is The Darkest Art Part 1

Okay, it’s been awhile since i shared any writing, so here we go with something different, my Harry Potter themed fan fic project. I guess most aspiring or serious writers wouldn’t spend the time to write something they could never publish or monetize, but for me fan fic serves several purposes. For one, in writing fan fic you get the chance to celebrate and immerse yourself in something that obviously inspires you to be a writer. Two, it is awesome writing practice, helping you build on pre-existing characters and themes. And three, it has the potential to attract others who would not otherwise discover your other works.

So with that said, I have found myself attending a Hogwarts where Bad boy Draco Malfoy discovers he has a very soft spot Hermione Granger in year 5 and together they embark on a secret romance while new professor Dolores Umbridge would like nothing more than destroy them both.

It’s called “Love is the darkest art” , so let us begin, shall we? All comments, critique, and discussions about my take on this, or about Potter fandom in general is more than welcome. And yes, I know this isn’t for everyone, and there will be haters, but hey it’s just storytelling, folks…relax 😉

Love Is The Darkest Art

A Dramione fan fic serial

Scene 1:

“Granger,” the voice said, and she froze. Though her back was to him she knew that voice. The only one that gave her cold chills, that invaded her dreams with sweats of cruelty and irritation. She turned.

“Malfoy,” Hermoine scoffed, dismissing him with a glare. She looked first at Ron, then Harry, before she dared to meet Draco’s usual insult. Yesterday it was about her muggle parents, the day before it was about her secondhand wardrobe. Today it was probably her hair or something. Stupid insults from a sixteen year old immature scoundrel.

“Congratulations on becoming prefect,” he said, his tone dripping with sarcasm. “Perhaps now you can do what you do best and be snooty and boss others around.”

He looked at his two companions, Crabbe and Goyle and snickered. “Snooty,” snorted Crabbe. “Bossy,” agreed Goyle.

Hermoine didn’t even afford Draco’s cronies a glance. They were just mindless sheep. No she instead directed her ire at Malfoy himself. “Well at least i earned the title. Everything you earn comes as a gift from your father.”

“Ooh,” winced Harry, adjusting his glasses.

“Good one,” whispered Ron.

Draco Malfoy however was livid. The permanent sneer that was usually on his face disappeared. He looked at Hermoine with cold, vengeful eyes.

“One day Granger,” he snarled. “You won’t be around your friends. You’ll be alone and unprotected. We’ll see how funny you are then.”

He pushed past her, his shoulder bumping her own so hard it nearly knocked her down.

“Hey,” Harry shouted before both Crabbe and Goyle bumped into him in the same fashion. Harry staggered slightly but still protested. “We’ll turn you in!”

The trio of thugs just kept walking and didnt look back. Harry turned to Hermoine who was holding her shoulder where Malfoy had bumped her. “You’re a prefect now. You should report them.”

Hermoine shook her head. “It wouldn’t do any good. He’d just say I insulted his father. Lucius has the school in his pocket.”

Ron grumbled. “Yeah, and Umbridge would probably reward Draco with a free trip to…”

“Hello Harry,” a soft voice spoke as it passed. Seeing the blond wisps of hair flying in all directions, Harry knew exactly who it was. That, and the fact the person carried an open umbrella on a perfectly dry day, told him it was Luna Lovegood. But before he could even respond, she was gone, disappearing in the crowd of students who lingered outside of classes.

“Shes weird,” Ron said.

“At least she’s consistent,” Harry replied. After all, everytime she saw him she greeted him formally. He kind of liked the celebrity. This year, his fifth, had started out with the negative fallout from Cedric Diggiry’s death. Though it happened at the end of the previous school year, it was still much the talk among students and garnered Harry plenty of suspicious looks. So any kind of good greeting was fine by Potter.

“She’s not weird,” Hermoine said. “It’s just no one understands her.” She looked down the hallway where Draco and his pals had gone.

Harry patted her on her back. “Oh, don’t worry, Hermoine, we understand you.”

She smiled and turned to look at her truest friends. “I know, guys. You both are wonderful.”

Ron made a face.

Scene 2:

Hermoine turned off a corridor on the first floor and entered the library. At this time of day not many students frequented the great room that housed thousand upon thousands of books. Madam Irma Pince sat behind a large oak desk, sifting through some ancient parchments laid out across the top. She looked up and noticed Hermoine, who was a frequent visitor to the world of Hogwart’s volumes and tomes. Hermoine gives her her usual friendly wave and heads into the aisles. On an apparent search down the thin rows of shelves, anyone could tell she wasn’t just looking for any old book, or even something casual to picque her interest in her spare hours. She was on a serious mission.

She rounded a corner and went down the Divination aisle, hoping to find something useful to answer the questions in her head this particular morning, and many before. Looking at the titles on the shelf, she was confused. Where the books on divination should be there were very few titles. When she had last visited the library there were countless tomes on the subject. Now there were only a few dozen if that. There were still books on the history of the craft, or profiles on great teachers, but there no spell books, encyclopedias of incantations, nothing to instruct the student on practicing the art of seeing into the future and all its possibilities. This troubled her on several levels. For one, though she wasn’t into divining her own future, there was something she wanted to know, a curiosity that bugged her on things to come or not. But someone didn’t want the students to practice this. No one could have checked out all the books and then reshuffled the shelves to make it appear as if they had never been there. Was this Umbridge’s doing? She knew she’d changed the curriculum of the dark arts class and was no longer teaching defensive techniques, but had she somehow managed to remove books she didn’t want students to read as well?

Out of curiosity, Hermione thought she’d check other subjects as well. She walked briskly up and down other aisles, trying to determine what was missing until she finally came to the section of books for defense of the dark arts. In shock, she saw there were only two. What is going on, she thought to herself, reaching for one of the volumes. She lay her hand on it, started to pull it off the shelf, when to her surprise it pulled away from her and set itself back in line with the other books on the shelf. She reached for the other volume, touched its spine, and it jerked away from her as if it had a life of its own, or was enchanted by a spell. When she reached for yet another book, she hesitated and didn’t touch it. The book pulled away anyway. This was no spell she realized. The actions of these books had a human agent. And they were in the next aisle over.

She ran to the end of the aisle and popped her head around the corner. Charging into the aisle she stopped short. Someone was standing there, leaning against the shelf, arms crossed with a malicious smirk on his face. He turned to the shelf and slid the book he’d pulled from her side back into place. He took a step towards her, haughty and proud, and flipped a pale lock out of his face.

“Draco Malfoy,” Hermione whispered.

“You know, mudblood, that was a cheap shot earlier about my dad.”

“You know how I feel about your father,” she replied.

He shrugged. “And how he feels about you.” He waited a moment, and then added, “How I feel about you.”

Hermione closed her eyes for a second and then looked at Draco. She opened her mouth to say something, but in a swift motion he covered her lips with his hand. “Shhh, it’s Umbridge.”

He pushed her against the shelf, nearly pinning her to the wooden rack with his body. He was close enough that she could feel Draco’s breath at the side of her face. She felt it on the bare skin of her neck and she closed her eyes for a moment, struggling slightly for him to release her.

“Shh,” he whispered in her ear. “She’ll hear us. She’s been removing books for several days now. If she catches us, we’ll get detention.” Then he let out a quiet laugh. “Not only the damage to both our reputations.”

A noise shuffled from the next aisle over. Someone was looking through the books. The slow shuffle of their feet let Hermione know the person was moving off. But instead of moving away, the person came around the corner and Draco let her go, releasing her from his grip. She quickly put a few feet between them as Neville Longbottom stood there staring at them.

No one said anything for a moment, and then Draco glared at Hermione. “Watch your back, Granger,” he snarled. “I’m not done with you yet.” Then he pushed past Neville, bumping his shoulder as he went by.

“Nor I with you, jerk,” Hermione called after him.

Scene 3:

Draco Malfoy shoved his way out of the library. Rounding the corner he let out a long baited breath. Leaning against the wall, he looked at the palm of his hand, discerning the place Hermione’s lips had been against it as he held her mouth shut. He closed his eyes for a moment and he could almost see her image behind his eyelids. He shook his head as if he were trying to dislodge the thought from his mind. He opened his eyes just in time to see Neville leaving the library, a couple of books in his hands. Normally, Draco would have done something. Made fun of him, tripped him up, something. But instead he let him pass by unmolested. Once the boy was out of sight, Draco clenched his fists and returned to the library.

Hermione was gone. She wasn’t where he left her. He checked a few nearby aisles and there was no sign of her. This puzzled the Slytherin boy. She hadn’t left by the main doors. He’d been standing there. How did she manage to evade him? The answer was simple. She still had to be in the library. Somewhere.

He made his way back to the front desk. Perhaps she was checking out some books or something. But no one was at the desk. Even Madam Pince was gone. This made no sense at all. And so Draco wandered up and down the aisles. He thought of calling out her name, or at least whispering it. But he thought if someone else heard him they would wonder why he was calling her name. So instead he moved silently among the shelves, trying to catch a glimpse of where she’d disappeared to.

After some time he gave up. He returned to the divination aisle where he’d first found her. He started scanning the shelves though he knew Umbridge had removed a large number of books from the section.

“What were you looking for?” he mumbled to himself.

Just then there was movement to his left. It startled him, but he didn’t jump. After all it was Hermione. At last. With a toss of her brown hair she walked down the aisle towards him.

“You know,” she said, “the next time you come looking for me…”

“I wasn’t looking for you.”

She smirked. “Okay then, next time we meet..”

“This wasn’t a meeting.” Then he smirked back, though he was better at it than she. “I don’t even like you, Granger.”

“And I like you even less,” she replied quietly.

He nodded, taking a step closer. So close there were only inches between them. “Then let’s keep it that way,” he agreed.

Before she could make another retort, he kissed her, full and light on the lips. Hermione closed her eyes and let it settle there. This wasn’t the first time he’d kissed her, but it was the longest, his lips barely leaving hers before pressing them once again, his mouth pleasantly parting with hers, tongues briefly touching as he took her into his embrace, one hand touching her cheek, the other resting lightly on her throat.

Hermione wrapped her arms around his waist, gently pulling him to her so that even air couldn’t pass between their bodies. She leaned her face into his hand and imagined his long fingers touching her bare skin in other places. The fact they were in the library seemed to fall away from her, replaced with the single thought of floating on clouds high up in a starry night sky, two lovers entwined in the darkness where no one could see.

Draco pulled himself slowly from her kiss. “You know I adore you, right?” When she nodded, he added, “No matter what I say in front of others, you are my true magic, mudblood.”

She smiled. While it seemed an insult to call her that in public, in private it meant something different to her. It was about her uniqueness, the strange, unexplainable blending of their two souls, one of purety, the other of fault.

“I…,” she tried to say. “I..I am so…”

“Shhhh,” he whispered and kissed her again. She couldn’t help but melt against him, the silence in the library contrasting with the steady, overpowering thrum of their hearts keeping time against the other.

Scene 4:

The very first kiss had taken place not even a year earlier at the Yule Ball. It had been very awkward as she had been there as the date of Victor Krum, international Quiddich champion, and Draco had been there with another Slytherin, Pansy Parkinson. It was a strange event, as it seemed all eyes had been on her that day, but the ones she noticed the most were the astonished grey silver orbs of her nemesis. Or at least that’s what she had thought of him then.

When she had first descended the steps and felt everyone’s eyes on her, it was Draco in his black velvet dress robe who she noticed, though she tried not to show it. It wasn’t that he was dressed for success, in fact the high collar of his robe looked a little ridiculous. No, it was the fact that for once he was speechless in her presence. The boy who earlier that year had hexed her and given her huge horrid teeth. The boy she had slapped two years ago for laughing about Buckbeat’s impending execution. The boy who almost certainly hated her for not being pureblood. And yet now, he was nothing like his usual self. In that fact, he turned away from her as she passed by him and his date. It wasn’t a rude or baleful turn, but one of embarrassment for staring at someone so long.

And then later that evening as Victor left her side to greet some of his fellow teammates, for some strange reason she found herself looking to see if Draco were anywhere around. After all, it gave her a sense of satisfaction to see him so uncomfortable at the sight of the new her, the young lady in the periwinkle blue. Her eyes found him standing in a corridor doorway. He was alone, leaning against the frame, and his eyes seemed to be boring holes into her.

She didn’t quite know why she wanted a confrontation. Perhaps she would find it fun, or seeing how he’d been speechless earlier, to goad him into some new insult, so he would be back to usual Malfoy behavior. Either way, she found herself approaching him.

“What are you staring at, Malfoy?”

He didn’t respond at first, and when he tried to smile it came off more like a smirk, but she didn’t mind. “My doom,” he finally replied.

“Do I look that bad? No wait, don’t answer that. You are not one who would say something nice.”

Again the smirk. “I was going to say you look beautiful, but since my words don’t matter…”

He turned away from her in an attempt to walk off but Hermione took a couple steps after him. “Draco, I’m sorry…”

He stopped, but didn’t turn to face her.

“I can’t believe I’m apologizing to you for anything…” Hermione continued.

“I guess that makes us even, for I cant believe I think you look…ravishing.”

He finally turned to look at her, took a few steps closer, then changed his mind, choosing instead to walk away, his black velvet robes swishing in his wake.

Hermione, against her better judgement, followef him into a dark corridor, away from the sound of the festivities. “Draco, what has gotten into you?”

He turned to her, his eyes narrowing. “You have. But perhaps it’s just the season. I shouldn’t be thinking such things about a mudblood.”

She let the comment slide. “What kind of things are you talking about? If you are planning some trick or insult to embarass me on this night, I will….”

He kissed her. It was quick but still a kiss. His lips touched hers and it was long enough to make her close her eyes and enjoy it, even if it was Draco. But then the moment was over, the brief smooch done, and she slapped him.

“Draco!” She scolded. “What are you doing?”

He touched his cheek where she slapped him. It was red. But so was her own face, whether in anger or embarassment, no one could tell. They stood looking at each other a moment, neither saying a word, but then he answered her.

“I was just …wanting…needing…no…” He stopped and hung his head. When he raised it again, he couldn’t look at her. “Hermione, the greatest tragedy in my life so far is… wanting what I know I can’t have.” He finally allowed his grey eyes to see her. “Everyone likes you. Krum. Potter. Weasley…”

“Ron? Don’t be ridiculous…”

“But I am ridiculous. Ridiculously, hopelessly, ….” He let it hang in the air.

Hermione waited for him to finish, but he never did. Never even had a chance to.

“Are you okay, angel?” A deep voice interrupted. It was Victor Krum.

Hermione smiled at her rugged date. “Yes, I’m fine…Draco and I were just talking.”

Krum looked at Malfoy and raised a thick eyebrow.

“A disagreement as usual,” Draco clarified. He looked at Hermione, his eyes unreadable, but seemingly cold again. “No need to discuss this later.”

Victor seemed satisfied, but Hermione peered at Draco with different, kinder eyes. “No disagreement,” she answered, “just bewilderment.”

As she walked off, her arm linked through Victor’s, she dared to glance back with some satisfaction. After all, she’d felt Draco’s eyes upon her, and though it surprised her to think so, she liked his attention, and as the hours passed on further into night, she found her mind returning to Draco’s attempt at a kiss.

To Be Continued

Where the hell have I been?

Wow, long time no post! I’ve been horrible at blogging for quite a few months. I wish everyone a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I have to confess that for me and my family the year has started out with difficulties, tragedies, sorrow, and strife. January has been very unpopular with us, that’s for sure. I won’t go into those personal details, but hey, if you have any good vibes to send our way, we could sure use them.

On my writing homefront, which is what this blog is supposed to showcase, I’m still putting pen to paper on the horror novel-in-progress “Zombie Drift” but it’s all out of sequence, so it’s kind of pointless to post it at this point. It would be very confusing for any reader. After it’s all in its proper sequence I’ll pick back up the story and share it with you. For those who were actively reading it, I apologize. It will return, I promise.

In my down time from zombies, I’ve begun a fan fic project for fun that I hope won’t cause litigation 😉 It is novella length heading into novel status fan fic set in the world of Harry Potter and its characters. It is called “Love Is The Darkest Art” and poses the question, What if Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger had a secret romance in year five of Hogwarts (During “Order Of The Phoenix”) ? This popular pairing, known as “Dramione” among fans who “ship” them, has been done many times by fan fic writers before, but after looking at several of them and their extreme deviations from the HP canon, I thought I’d challenge myself and see if i could write something that would almost (I use that term loosely) fit in the original novels by JK Rowling.

But anyway, instead of telling you about it, I will begin posting it in mini episodes soon, as part of my new years resolutions to complete all my started (and stalled) novels. I feel like it’s a daunting task, but I’m hopeful to get at least half of them finished. We’ll see what the months ahead bring….

Happy writing and many blogging blessings to you all. See you soon 😀

Zombie Drift 10: Edward Santos

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.

Zombie Drift 9: Captain Walker

Nine: Captain Walker

“Would someone care to tell me why we are slowing down and turning off course?”

Having rushed from his morning inspections to the bridge, Captain Walker was irritated. After all, no one had cleared anything with him. Unless it was an extreme life threatening emergency, it was understood no changes in course were to be made without his okay, even if the person doing the changing was the ship’s chief navigator. But it was that crew member that answered. Or better yet, pointed.

Walker looked out the forward window. They were close enough to their home port they could see the docks. “What the hell is…?” He couldn’t believe his eyes. The docks were packed. Not with supplies, provisions, or other cargo. No, it was swarming with people. Even from this distance, he could see the crowds, though it looked more like an angry mob. They were still too far away to see exactly what was going on, but it was apparent there was a large altercation of some sort.

The navigator, a middle aged sailor named Rohrbaugh, handed him his binoculars so he could take a closer look. Walker took them and held it up so he could see through the dual lenses. “Holy mother of god,” he muttered.

Through the viewfinder he could see them. People walking or shuffling across the docks, stopping to attack others at random. Some people ran, trying to avoid the attackers. They appeared to be trying to find a hiding place, but the sheer number of people wouldn’t allow this. In desperation, those fleeing jumped off the wharf and into the sea. Others appeared to be walking off the docks as if it were a road that kept going. Walker watched a group step off the edge of a pier and disappear under the waves. The undertow sucked them down into the water and they acted like it was nothing. No screams or yells for help from what he could see. He panned the binoculars around and saw a small child pounce on a large dog. The animal tried to shake the child off to no avail. The kid bit down on the dog’s neck and blood shot out. Walker turned from the scene as an adult shambled up to the child and pulled him off the dog only to bite down on the kid’s head. The binoculars slipped from the Captain’s hands and hit the floor of the bridge.

“My god, what is happening!?”

Communications Officer Blake Travers spoke up. “Contagion, sir. I think.”

Walker turned to look at him. “What kind of contagion does this to people? They look like something out of The Walking Dead.”

“I don’t know sir. I’m not even sure that’s what it is. I was talking to someone at the home office and that’s what they said.”

“What else did they say?”

“Not to come in.”

Walker looked over at Rohrbaugh. “Is that why we are stopping?”

“Yes sir,” the navigator replied. “Based on Travers information and what we can see here, I felt it best to take caution.”

The Captain nodded. “ Good job. Carry on.” He took a deep breath and was getting ready to give his next orders when the door to the bridge burst open. One of the security offers, a rookie on this cruise, stood there breathless.

“Sorry Captain,” he interrupted. “We have some people overboard. Starboard side.”

“Did you radio your superior and inform him?”

“I couldn’t reach anyone sir, so I came here.”

Walker turned to Blake. “Are inter ship communications down?”

“Not that I’m aware of. I’ll check.”

Returning his attention to the security officer, he asked, “have any efforts been made to rescue them?”

“Yes sir, one lifeboat is in the water, but when I left it seemed there were too many people in the water. They were swarming over the boat.”

Walker raised an eyebrow, thinking ‘swarming’ was not a term many used in a positive way. In most cases it was like saying the boat was being over run.

“sir, you should see this.”

It was the navigator again. When Walker turned towards him. He immediately knew what it was his officer wanted him to see. Two speedboats had left the dock. One ran right over people in the water. The other followed in its wake.

“Now, who the heck is this?”

“Captain,” Travers said. “Our ship communications is down. There’s some kind of signal jamming it. I’d say its some kind of military grade.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Because they threatened to come out here and get us.”

The captain looked at him sharply. “What do you mean?”

“I was talking to someone from our home office. He said there was a contagion and for us not to come in. Then someone new got on the Morse and asked if we were the St. Fitzgerald. When I said yes he said to come in. It freaked me out, so I grabbed the message transcription and came to alert you.”

“Let me see the transcription.”

Blake handed him the papers. Before the captain looked at them, he peered out the front at the approaching speedboats. For a moment, they didn’t look to be together. One seemed to be chasing the other, for the first boat was not coming in a straight line, but weaved its way back and forth across the waves. Still, he didn’t think much of it and instead inspected the communication officer’s papers. He nodded a few times as he read and then passed them back to Blake. The captain seemed thoughtful for a moment and then spoke. “He said it was nuclear. I would assume if something had detonated, we would have seen it.”

“He also said it was an accident, sir. Perhaps it was a nuclear leak. A crack in the warhead or its casing.”

Suddenly there were some light pops in the air, like distant fireworks or a weapon going off. The people in the boats were shooting at each other.

“What the devil now,” Walker exclaimed, as everyone watched the exchange. The captain reached down and picked up the binoculars he’d dropped just minutes ago. Setting his sights on the speedboats he noticed the closest ones contained three people. Two men and a woman. The driver appeared to be hispanic, while the other man and woman were African-American. Civilians by the looks of it, though the African-Americans wore labcoats. The driver had on a flak jacket.

In the pursuing boat, it was easy to tell why it was having trouble catching the first one. It was loaded down with six men , all wearing military uniforms and apparently armed. Every last one, except the pilot of the craft were firing at the first boat. Wood chips flew off the side of it as a barrage of bullets made contact. The Hispanic driver swerved the boat, bringing it around as if he were going to face the gunfire head on. Soon it became apparent why.

The woman took the wheel, while the Hispanic lifted something from the bottom of the boat. It looked like a rocket.

TO BE CONTINUED

Zombie Drift 9. Paul D Aronson. 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Zombie Drift 8: Ethan Benoit

Eight: Ethan

Ethan Benoit had eyes in the back of his head. He also had them on the sides too. To some it would seem he was a paranoid individual, but he preferred the term “Vigilant.” One of his main life lessons was this: Be aware of everything going on around you. He came by this lesson the hard way and lost someone special in the learning. And while there wasn’t anyone special nowadays, he was vigilant, part as his penance, part because he was paid to be.

The life of a bodyguard didn’t come easy to him. He didn’t enjoy being responsible for someone else, but it’s all he knew to do now. After losing Veronique. The one time he’d failed to protect. And now all that was left of him was the vow never to let it happen again. He would forever be on guard, aware of his surroundings, potential trouble, and routes of escape, if the need should arise to retreat.

He was all these as he made his way to the ship’s Bridge. He hated leaving the others behind in the Starlit Lounge, but he had gauged it was one of the safest places to be topside. For one, it could be closed and locked down so others couldn’t get in. It was also in the center of the ship, meaning it wouldn’t be the first target of an attack. He wasn’t sure why he was thinking this, these tactical thoughts. Perhaps it was imbedded from his training, a natural by-product of his experience, but when one doesn’t know what is happening it was a good mode to be in.

He walked briskly to his destination. He’d been on plenty of ships before. He knew his way around. It had been a cruise ship like this where he’d lost Veronique, his bride to never be. It had been pirates then, intent on taking control of the ship and ransoming off its passengers. Veronique had been the first casualty and the last person the pirates ever killed. Ethan’s hands were stuffed in his pockets as he walked across deck, but if he pulled them out and dared to look at the open palms he knew his memory would show the blood of those who took her life. Perhaps it was his imagination, but his hands would never be clean again and his heart would forever be a hardened place.

He skirted around other passengers. No one paid him any mind thanks to the tourist attire he’d chosen to wear this morning. He passed by a girl in a large lounger writing in a notebook. She gave him a hard look, probably because he was nearly walking on top of the scantily clad blonde in front of him. Despite the fact the woman was in a bikini that appeared to be made of two pieces of string, he paid her no mind. She wasn’t Veronique. No one was. If anything, he just wanted the wannabe super model to get the hell out of his way.

An Asian boy stood at the starboard railing. He looked lost in thought and didn’t appear to be a threat to anyone. In fact, it almost looked like he wanted to jump overboard. It almost made Ethan stop, but he kept going. He’d hadn’t made it far though when a scream sounded in the air. In a split second he accessed the situation: alert the ship’s captain to things going on ashore or go to the aid of the screamer. He ran back the way he’d come. The notebook girl he’d passed just a minute ago was now at the starboard railing hauling the Asian boy back onto the ship. Ethan wasn’t sure he’d fallen or jumped, but he wasn’t the only one who noticed their plight. Others had been alerted by the girl’s scream. But in typical fashion, no one went to see what was wrong. Only in America would a crowd of people see someone in distress and instead of helping, pull their cellphones out and film it.

Ethan reached the girl and boy as they looked back over the railing and down into the ocean. “Hey, is everybody alright?” he asked. “What happened? Are you….” He stopped. Looking down into the sea, he saw what had made the young lady scream. There were several bodies in the water and they were all clambering for the side of the ship. Right away he knew this wasn’t a case of people overboard for it appeared they had been in the water a very long time. Their clothes, their very flesh was eaten away in places, revealing exposed muscle and bone. One who was desperately trying to claw the metal of the ship was missing an eye. Another had opened its mouth, it jaws making snapping noises, as if trying to chew something that wasn’t there.

He had seen this before. Not just on the television and Instagram. Yes, this was all connected it seemed, but something horrible was happening in the world. He’d seen something like this years ago in Haiti. He’d been there in service to a pharmaceutical company who wished its visiting officials around the clock protection from the area locals who had made threats to the company for harvesting plants from the region. Plants that were sacred to their shamans. After a few attempts to stop the company, other means had been implemented and one of the Witch doctors had sent zombies against them. Those zombies had been living men though. These that were in the water were definitely dead, or had been at one time.

“What are they, sir?” the girl asked Ethan hopefully. He couldn’t give her any hope, but before he could answer, she said it herself, “zombies.”

He couldn’t lie to her, even if it did cause a panic. “It would appear so. They are on land too, I think.”

“Oh my God,” the Asian boy said, and they looked at what he was pointing at. One of the dead things, having given up on trying to get on the ship, had attacked another. He was biting down on the others head. Even from where they stood, they could hear the crunch, and then several voices shouted, “Man overboard! Man overboard!”

Looking to his right, Ethan saw other passengers gathering at the railing. Many were pointing at the bodies in the water and crying out, “Somebody help them!” They obviously weren’t observant enough to see there was something wrong with those thrashing about in the waves against the ship. Suddenly there was a sound of a winch and pulley and he looked to the left. A lifeboat was being lowered down. Inside there was a crew member in a life vest.

“No!” Ethan shouted. “Stop! What are you doing?” He ran to where the guy was operating the lowering system. “Bring him back up!”

“Sir, you’ll have to step back! There are people in the water!”

“Those aren’t people! Those are….”

Just then, the pulley jerked, nearly ripping from where it was attached onboard. One of the zombies had managed to climb onboard the life boat and was grabbing at his would be rescuer. The crew member started yelling, trying to throw the thing off of him. He got the message really quick that these weren’t people in need of saving. But it was too late. The lifeboat was now touching water and two more were trying to scramble aboard.

Ethan shouted at the winch operator. “Pull him up, damn you!”

The guy was frozen. He didn’t know what to do. His training hadn’t included this scenario and as such he was at a loss. “I…I….,” he stammered.

“Oh fuck it,” Ethan muttered and kicked off his shoes, climbing up onto the railing. It was too far to jump he knew. The impact would take the breath out of him. So he swung himself over and grabbed hold of the pulley. This is going to hurt like hell, he thought. For a brief moment his mind whispered, don’t do it. Let the man die. But then that part of his conscious that asked him what would Veronique do kicked in. He slid down the pulley, the cables burning his hands the whole way. By the time he neared the end, they had started cutting into his palms.

The lifeboat was built for twelve or more. Ethan should have landed squarely in the middle but the idiot manning the winch above finally came to his senses and hit the up button. The boat rose to meet him with two zombie hanging on the side and two more in the boat itself. The one man crew was holding his own with an oar, pushing the flesh eaters back away from him. Ethan landed a little to the side and it caused the boat to tip just a little. He strong armed the other zombie and it flipped off the boat back into the water. Still, the two zombies hanging off the side decided to clamber in.

The guy with the oar swung it at one of their heads but it managed to grab the makeshift weapon and pull it out of his hands. Tossing it aside it grabbed the man and started to pull him towards his slavering mouth. The guy screamed and there was a loud pop , followed by an equally loud hiss. The zombie’s head exploded in a shower of red sparks. It fell backwards into the water, its head glowing red like someone had stuck a colored sparkler in its mouth and lit it.

Ethan stood there, the flare gun he’d gotten from the emergency box in the lifeboat still discharging smoke from its barrel. Three more zombie rose from the depths and climbed aboard.

TO BE CONTINUED

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

Zombie Drift 7: Yeong

Seven: Yeong

New Yeong never liked his stage name much. Loosely translated into English, it meant “New person of courage,” and right now he didn’t feel that way. Instead he felt alone. Completely. He hadn’t enjoyed the getaway trip aboard the St. Fitzgerald. Even mixed drinks and and pretty American girls didn’t distract him from the fact he didn’t even know who he was anymore. In fact, for most of his twenty years he had no idea who was Yeong, himself or the management company that had created his persona and image. Ever since he was twelve, and his parents signed the contract, he’d been trained to be a K-pop star. Handlers decided nearly everything for him. His life was like a big road map to stardom and they’d kept him on the route with no room for deviation. Even this trip didn’t give him much personal space, as there were handlers on board with him. They might have been in separate rooms, but they were like an endless presence helping him pick out meals, clothes, and even activities to do while on board. That’s why the first thing he wanted to do, the first organized thought, was to jump. Maybe then he would find himself, even if only for a few seconds before he hit the water and drowned.

Yeong couldn’t swim. Well, he could as long as his feet could touch bottom of the pool. But in the ocean he had no doubt he’d sink. He’d stuffed as many coins in his pants pockets as he could in an attempt to make him heavier. He’d also grabbed two paperweights from the desk in his cabin. And while everyone else on board was wearing sandals, sneakers, or even going barefoot, he had donned the heaviest shoes in his luggage, a pair of black dress shoes he had modified with steel taps on the bottom to help him sound out dance moves while practicing. He found it fitting they should go to the watery end with him.

He stood with one foot on the starboard railing. Looking out over the vast ocean he wondered how many people had chosen to go this way. If one were to scour the seabed how many drowned corpses or skeletal remains would be discovered. Such a morbid thought, and he felt horrible just thinking it. Feeling a twinge of guilt, he turned his head to see if anyone were watching him. Most people were engrossed in other things. All except one. It was a girl. She had dark hair and eyes and he couldn’t help but think how pretty she was. He saw she had a book In her lap and a pen in her hand, and he remembered the days he sat in his company owned apartment jotting down verses and things about girl he would never know. What was she writing about, he wondered. The thought passed when she quickly looked away, and he thought that perhaps the darkness inside him had scared her. Maybe she could see the large devastating hole that had almost engulfed him, except for these last few rungs of a ship railing.

He put his other foot up on the railing and returned his gaze to the waves. If he was going to do this, it would have to be soon. They were getting close to the ship’s home port. Soon they would be docking and everyone would be disembarking and going about their lives, reuniting with loved ones, kissing those they had missed while they had been on the cruise. A tear fell from his eye. There was no one like that for him. Sure, there were tons of fans back home who would do anything for him, but there was no one to cling to in lonely moments, to kiss every time he walked through the door. There was absolutely no one who could save him from this pale shadow of living. He stepped up another rung. And then another. He threw a leg over the top of the railing. He took a deep breath. Hesitated for a moment. He wanted to turn around and take another look at the cute girl in the lounge chair. If he was going to do this, he wanted something pretty to be the last thing his eyes would take in. But he didn’t turn. He just closed his eyes and pushed off from the railing.

For a moment there was a feeling of weightlessness, as if he were just hanging in the air, his body waiting to drop. And then gravity took hold. He began a prayer for his own soul, knowing he would never get it all out before hitting water. Suddenly there was a jerk. Gravity must have changed its mind because he was being pulled up by the collar of his shirt. Perhaps the gods had taken mercy on him. He was dangling in the air over the side of the ship, but they had hold of him. Whatever God had spared him, he wanted to know. He craned his neck up to see. It was the girl. She had hold of his shirt in both hands and was trying to pull him back up . A look of desperation was on her face as if she knew she couldn’t hold him for long. His shirt began to rip. He could feel the fabric coming apart in her hands.

She didn’t say a word, but readjusted her grip to get her hands under his armpit and haul him up more. Unfortunately he was kicking his legs under the side of the railing , causing his body to swing. “No!” she cried out. “Stop swinging!” He pulled up on him hard, bracing her body against the railing for leverage. His foot found the bottom rail and instinct made him push up on his heel. This allowed her to get a better hold of him and lift him just enough to get his other heel back on the low rail. When this happened, she yelled at him, “You have to help!”

When he looked back up into her face, all he saw were her dark, teary eyes. It reminded him of a line from one of his popular hits that went “only your ebony eyes can save me.” But then her eyes changed. They grew wide with a different kind of fear. But she was no longer looking at him. She was looking at something beyond his suspended body.

He looked down. There was a body in the ocean. A corpse floating face down. Had someone else jumped, he thought. And then the body turned over in the rolling waves. The face was something of terror, and the girl almost let Yeong go. He reached behind him with his hands and grabbed the railing. There was no way he wanted to fall down into that. The corpse’s face was scarred and serated. Blood and pus covered it with a thin, mucous like film. The clothes were tattered and seemed to be fashion from years ago. One of its arms was bent oddly at the elbow. A leg that was half missing. Thank God the eyes were closed.

Holding onto the railing with one hand, Yeong swung himself around so he was facing the railing and no longer looking at the lifeless body in the water. He scrambled up the railing, and once he got to the top, the girl helped haul him over and back onto the ship. He was getting ready to thank her when she let out a scream. Looking back down, he saw the corpse had opened its eyes and was now thrashing about in the water.

“What the hell is it?” she asked, looking at him like it was now his turn to save her.

“I don’t know,” he replied watching the creature thrash about helplessly. It didn’t even have the sense to try and save itself. All it was doing was throwing its arms and legs about as if there wasn’t a brain in its head to tell it what to do. “But here comes another one.”

They watched as another body came up from the depths to bob upon the water’s surface.

TO BE CONTINUED

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