The vampire slid into bed next to the girl. She smiled in half sleep and curled up against him. Despite the age difference of hundreds of years, it felt perfect to her, their bodies touching each other like this. She offered her neck to him. He didn’t drink. He cried.
Create a scene/story in exactly 50 words.
50 Words #8
The beast looked back at her with cold, dead eyes. She had thought maybe there was still a human in there somewhere, but now she wasn’t so sure. Even when he reached out to her, his fingers grazing the swell of her breast in curiosity, all she saw was zombie.
Thirteen: Peter, Aida, & Prisha
Peter Evers stood at the door inside the starlit lounge. Being on the main deck it afforded him a view of the ship’s activity. People seemed to be rushing nowhere fast. Through the glass he caught snippets of conversation. Things about “dead people in water” and “speedboats”, and “the guy just slid down the chain.” With the last, it made him think of his bodyguard Ethan. In his mind it was just the showboat kind of thing anyone hired by his dad would do. While he didn’t wish ill on the man, he thought as soon as he could he was sneaking out of here and getting out from under Ethan’s restrictions. There was nothing worse than being seventeen and stuck under an adult’s supervision.
He turned to see what the girls were doing. Prisha had stopped crying some time ago, and the lounge singer Aida had turned the TV above the bar back on. Images splayed across the screen showing carnage everywhere. Most of it were single shot live feeds as if the cameraman had strapped his video to a tree and ran for it. What was left behind was a view of the street, zombies walking, crawling, sliding, lumbering, trying their best to find live food that wasn’t escaping. The images were bad enough, but it was the sound that sent chills up his spine. Screams, moans, the crunch and munch of flesh and bone as zombies feasted, sometimes on each other.
He couldn’t understand why the girls were torturing themselves by watching it all. Peter guessed it was like driving by a fatal traffic accident. You knew it was horrible, and people were dead, but you just couldn’t tear your eyes away. He tried his best not to be drawn to it that way. Other things bothered him. Like what was going on board. It was obvious something was happening with all the flurry of activity. Were the zombies here too? He hated being locked up and out of the way, which is what Ethan had done with him while he went off running to wherever.
He looked back at the girls again. They could handle themselves, he thought. How hard could it be to keep others out the bar? With that he decided he wanted out. He wasn’t going to be stuck in here one second longer, he didn’t care how hot he thought Prisha was. He put his hand on the door handle and prepared to open it when something smashed against it.
He jumped back from the frantic face at the glass. It was a man with jet black hair and wild grey eyes. He was trying to look through the door and when his eyes saw Peter they grew wider and he began to pound on the frame.
“Aida!” he shouted. “Aida! Let me in!”
Peter looked at Aida. She had heard the shouts and beating on the door frame. Turning from the TV, she frowned. Something in her face told Peter she wasn’t ready for this. Whatever this was.
“Aida! Tell this little shit to open the door!” He began to thump his palm flat against the glass. The door itself shook.
Aida sighed. “Open the door, Peter.”
The boy looked at her as if to ask, are you sure? When she nodded grimly, he shrugged and threw the latch.
The man outside didn’t waste time. He shoved the door open, nearly knocking Peter down, and headed acoss the floor of the lounge towards the girls. ‘Trying to lock me out, Aida? Again?”
“No one is trying to lock you out, Jerome. You chose not to return last night. Guess you found some other room to sleep.”
He grinned. “It was a good room too. Wish you could have been there. Well, on second thought, maybe not.” He eyes caught sight of Prisha. ” Now, you however….”
Aida slapped him. “You pig.”
He seemed unaffected and laughed. “You know everybody is going crazy on deck over something. The three of us could get crazy on something too, you know?” He turned to glance at Peter. “Sorry kid, there isn’t room for two guys.” Then he smiled at the girls again. “Lock the door.” When Peter didn’t immediately lock it, the man glared at him with dangerous, almost empty eyes. If Ethan was here this situation would be different, Peter thought. But he wasn’t here. He’d left them here alone to face their own survival. “Lock the door,” the man said again, returning his psychotic gaze to the now frightened girls. He listened for the sound of the latch clicking and then smiled. He undid the cufflinks on his shirt and began to take it off. “It’s okay,” he said. “About time you took your punishment, Aida.” His slid his belt out of his pants. “Now which one of you likes to get restrained?” He looked at Prisha, staring hard into her dark frightened eyes, and licked his lips. He took a step towards her.
The chair hit the back of his head so hard the wood shattered against his skull. Peter held the remains of it in his hands as Jerome dropped to the floor with a resounding thud.
“So like, who did I just knock out?” the teenager asked, after they had tied Jerome’s hands behind his back with his own belt. “I can hit him again if it would help.”
Aida frowned and nodded at the unconscious man. “He’s Jerome Stipe. My sad excuse for a boyfriend.”
Peter looked up. “Shit lady, i think you need a new boyfriend. My bodyguard Ethan is available I think.”
Aida laughed a little, as he was the same man she’d tried to get to dance with her during last night’s performance. “We’ll probably need a bodyguard when Jerome wakes up.”
“I think we should call security,” Prisha suggested. “I know he’s your guy and all, but….”
Aida had already picked up the phone and dialed the number. She had to be strong while she had the support of others. Last time she’d called security on him she had been alone and earned a couple cracked ribs for it.
While the Nigerian talked to security, the Indian girl walked over to Peter, who was making sure the prisoner’s belt was as tight as he could get it. “Thank you,” Prisha said.
“No problem. I couldn’t let him hurt either of you.”
“I was very scared,” she confessed.
He nodded and tried to be cool, but he felt the truth was better. “Yeah, me too.” He looked at her and smiled. “I saw Ethan headbutt a guy unconscious before, but I thought i should use a chair.”
She smiled back. “Good decision. Why hurt your cute head, right?”
Peter raised an eyebrow at the mention of cute, but when she turned her face away in embarassment he decided she didn’t mean anything by it. She was just being grateful.
“Well, here’s hoping he don’t wake up soon,” he said getting to his feet. “I’d hate to break another chair.”
Prisha offered a smile. “Well, thanks for protecting us. Not everyone would have done that.”
Peter was trying to think of a zippy one-liner to say that would make him sound like an action hero at the movies, when Aida said, “I can’t get the phones to work. Someone will have to go get security.”
They all looked towards the door. There was still a lot of activity outside. People dashed by running in both directions, but most seemed to be heading towards the rear of the ship, peering over railings as they went.
It wasn’t the same panic as what was occuring on television, but Peter felt nervous about it just the same. He looked at Aida. “I think we should move Jerome somewhere and then all of us go. I got a feeling it’s not going to be too safe alone.”
“There’s my dressing room. It’s a glorified broom closet really.”
“Can it be locked from outside?”
“Well shit,” Peter mumbled.
Prisha walked over to the glass door and picked something up. “How about this?”
In her hands, she held a wooden doorstop, obviously used to hold the entrance open during peak hours.
“That will work. Come on Aida, help me get him back there.”
As they both bent down to hoist Jerome’s limp body up, Aida asked, “Where did you hit him?”
Peter looked at her strangely. “In the back of the head. Why?”
Aida looked at both her companions with a look of bewilderment. “Because there’s a chunk out of his arm.”
“Zombie Drift” 2019 P. D. Aronson. All Rights Reserved.
Eleven: Lynn & Yeong
Lynn Billiot and Yeong, the boy she saved, stood at the railing, frozen in place by the events that unfolded in front of them. Down in the water below, the lifeboat seemed to thrash about on its tether. In reality, it was being pulled and jostled by the waterlogged zombies that had risen up from the ocean. The two men inside the boat were trying to fight them off, but it looked as if eventually they would find themselves in the water with the living dead, and then it would be all over with. Lynn knew they had to stay in the boat. There had to be something she could do. She looked over at the crewman operating the winch. Only he wasn’t operating it. He was trying to bring the lifeboat up but it wouldn’t budge. The chain seemed to be stuck. It was Yeong who pointed out the problem. A zombie had managed to climb aboard the lifeboat and stick his arm through the lower pulley causing the chain to pin his arm against the wheel, bringing the whole thing to a halt. Lucky for he and Lynn, they couldn’t hear the tearing of chain against flesh as the cogs of the wheel dug into the zombie slowly carving its way to the bone.
The lifeboat was at a standstill now, just inches above the water, as the zombies continued their assault on it, trying to tip the desperate occupants into the ocean. Now that the boat was stuck on its pulley this made it easier. Lynn, in desperation to help, looked all around, and in a flash of inspiration she ran over to the lawn chair where she’d left her books and pens. She didn’t bother with her writing, but instead picked up the chair and ran back to the railing with it. Looking over the side to see where the zombies were trying to tip the lifeboat, she let the chair go with a shout of “Fire in the hole!” She wasn’t sure what that meant, but she’d seen it in a war movie her dad liked to watch.
Luckily, the two humans in the boat knew what it meant. They had the common sense to get out of the way. Two zombies however had no sense at all and were hit by the chair just as they were climbing aboard the boat. They fell backwards in the water, and the pretty Alaskan girl turned to the Asian boy, who let out a whoop and gave her a high five.
“Awesome!” he exclaimed and turned around to look for some furniture of his own to throw. But three girls were rushing towards him. He tensed, knowing full well what was coming. He’d seen it before on the streets of Seoul, but he never imagined it would happen here where up until now he had enjoyed some anonymity.
One of the girls screamed, “It’s New Yeong!” The other two squealed in heightened excitement and started gibbering something about autographs and photos with their ultimate bias. They almost seemed to be getting in an argument about who got to have him when Lynn noticed them.
“You’ve got to kidding me,” she mumbled under her breath. She looked at the three girls, teenagers like her, and found them to be almost as frightening as the zombies in the water. Then she looked at the guy beside her. “You’re Yeong?” she asked, it finally hitting home that the boy on her best friend’s wall was the same one she just saved. In another circumstance, she would have been asking for an autograph too for her friend, but things had changed in the last fifteen minutes. “You’re really Yeong??”
The K-Pop star looked at her with what appeared to be fear, as if she too would be mobbing him like the trio before them. “Oh no, don’t worry” she exclaimed. “I’m not a fan.”
Before Yeong could even be put out by her statement, the three girls began to scream much louder. But they weren’t looking at the Korean idol anymore. No, they had finally seen what Lynn and their idol had been gawking at. The zombies in the ocean.
“What the hell is that?!”
“Oh my God! Are those…”
Neither Yeong or Lynn needed to answer them for one of the dead in the water emitted a loud moan that sent chills up their spine. It was trying to grab hold of the side of the ship below them but there was nothing for its broken, twisted fingers to grip. The zombie let out a string of moans and looked up, a brief glint in its eye.
“It’s trying to talk,” Lynn said.
Then the glint was gone and it was a mindless zombie again, trying desperately to get to where food was at. But Lynn didn’t want to be food. And though the k-pop fangirls looked like they wanted to eat Yeong themselves, it was apparent he wasn’t interested in them at all. He too busy looking forward towards the bow of the ship. Hanging over the railing, he had spotted something coming in fast, a speedboat that seemed to be trailing smoke behind it.
“Look!,” he shouted, pointing in its direction. Both he and Lynn could make out at least two figures in the boat. One was driving, the others was standing armed with what appeared to be an oar in his hands. As it drew closer, they saw the driver was a Hispanic man of sturdy build in gym sweats and a tank top. His standing companion was of African descent, wearing a white lab coat like a doctor. He shifted the oar to his other hand and raised it as if in greeting.
Lynn wanted to shout to them to turn back, to warn them of the zombies in the water, but then she realized they already knew this, for the speedboat accelerated and headed along the ship towards the lifeboat under siege. The occupants of the lifeboat also realized something was coming. Zombies and human alike turned to the boat’s approach.
Whack! An oar connected with two zombies as the speedboat rushed by, sending up a spray of water in its wake. The impacted zombies flipped off the boat, one of them minus his head from the blow of the oar. The two humans aboard, the bewildered crew member and Ethan, both looked on dumbfounded as the speedboat turned around and started to come in for another pass. A persistent zombie with one arm hanging loose tried to pull itself up onto the lifeboat. Ethan lunged forward and punched the creature in its face. There was a loud crack, followed by a spray of blood and gray matter. Apparently this one had been dead a very long time and its time at the bottom of the sea had weakened its bones. Ethan barely had time to shake his fist loose from the ruined skull when the crew member yelled a warning that’s sounded a lot like the words “Oh Shit!”
Ethan turned just in time to see another zombie climbing aboard. This one wasn’t wasting any time though. It bit down on the frenchmen’s arm, its half rotted teeth breaking against the skin. Ethan grabbed the living corpse and held it back at arm’s length. From Lynn and Yeong’s vantage point above, they could hear the horrid clacking of the zombie’s remaining teeth as it gnashed them together in a frantic attempt to bite Ethan again.
The speedboat came speeding by again just as Ethan shoved the zombie off the lifeboat. There was a sickening crunch as the thing nearly fell apart under the impact of the speeder’s bow. Ethan heard something splash behind him. He turned just in time to the see the crewman getting sick, retching overboard into the ocean. He grabbed him so he wouldn’t fall in after his own bile.
“It’s alright man, pull it together and…” He looked down. Water was covering his shoes. The lifeboat was sinking.
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.
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.
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.