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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.

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Zombie Drift 6: Lynn

Six: Lynn

Lynn Billiot sat in a lounge by the pool. Her writing notebook sat in her lap as she jotted down three observations. One: life aboard a cruise ship hadn’t been what she expected. Two: Her parents didn’t understand her melancholy. Three: See observation one and two. The problem was this cruise was a long time coming. Meticulously planned a long time in advance, it was her parent’s present to her for graduating high school a year early. She guessed they thought the blazing sun and rolling sea would be a great reward and escape from their home of chill air and drifting snow. The truth was she missed Alaska. School in Anchorage, spending summers with her grandparents further north in Fairbanks. She missed how small life seemed to be. While others might be bothered by the isolation, the true isolation was being on a boat full of people and still feeling alone. She missed her best friend Jessica. She missed Ranger, her gray malamute dog. She missed the inspiration that came to her on early mornings while looking out the window on the Alaskan landscape.

The landscape on the St. Fitzgerald was much different. The sun back home was bright and blinding, but here it was burning hot. As such, both men and women seemed to don as little clothes as possible. She wasn’t used to that either. Clothing was a necessity where she came from, but here it seemed to be more an accessory, something to enhance one’s figure or draw attention to its shortcomings. Lynn really didn’t have to worry about that. She was a cute girl. At seventeen she was more woman that she ever felt before, with long dark hair and deep, knowing eyes, a dusky complexion that never seemed to need makeup, and a friendly nature that seemed to attract others back home. But she didn’t want to attract anyone here. Even the cute Asian boy standing at the ship’s railing staring wistfully out on the ocean.

What she wanted to attract however was a story. All her life she wanted to be a writer. She listened to stories of her Inuit people and longed to enthrall readers the way she herself had listened to storytellers weave a spell around the spoken word. She looked down at her notebook and a thought came into her head. Perhaps it was inspired by the episode of “The Walking Dead” she’d watched the night before, or maybe it was the feeling of foreboding that had dominated her time on the cruise. Either way she began to write.

“In the staggering crowd, Alisa ran. She didn’t want to be like everyone else. She didn’t want to be a zombie.”

She stared at the words and smiled, hoping this was the beginning of an exciting story. She put pen to paper again and was getting ready to write the next line when something caught her vision. A statuesque blond haired girl, wearing a two piece bikini that may have been three sizes too small strutted across the deck on the way to the pool. Though it seemed her goal was to attract attention to her golden bronze tan and her long shapely legs (and other body parts) it seemed she was attracting the wrong kind of guy. The man was following close on her heels. Solidly built, he wore khaki shorts and a colorful Hawaiian shirt. He was tagging so close that if the girl had stopped walking he would have plowed right into her. Lynn shook her head. She wanted to ask him if he’d ever heard of personal space, but then he zipped around the blond girl and was moving just as quickly away from her. Maybe he wasn’t following her after all she thought, but it gave her an idea for the next line of her tale.

“Someone was following her though. And this was no zombie. This man walked with purpose. This man was dangerous, someone on a mission. Maybe he was the one who would save them all from the zombie horde.”

Pleased with the few lines she’d just written, she looked up. Brushing hair out of her eyes, she saw both the man and girl were gone. There were others on deck, some just milling about around the pool, others on their way to other onboard destinations. The Asian boy still stood at the railing admiring the sea. She watched him for a moment, thinking to herself that his lithe, toned frame would be perfect for the upcoming protagonist in her story.

As if feeling her eyes on him, the Asian boy turned his head in her direction. Lynn immediately dropped her eyes in embarrassment. But before she did, she thought there was something very familiar about his face. He was strikingly good looking and could have been a model with his photogenic face. Small eyes, cute nose, perfect hair. His full, flawless lips looked as though if he opened his mouth, nothing would come out except the most beautiful melody. And that’s when it hit her. She knew where she’d seen his face before. Plastered all over her friend Jessica’s bedroom wall.

Lynn had always like the rugged Hollywood type, but a year ago Jessica had gotten bit by the k-pop bug. A musical genre from South Korea, it was an addictive blend of urban hip-hop, R&B, pop, and dance that had swept even Lynn’s part of the United States. And on Jessica’s wall was her favorite k-pop idol, New Yeong.

There was no way this could be the same guy though. Despite the similarity, why would a k-pop star be on an American cruise ship off the coast of South Carolina? Jessica’s dream boy was probably in South Korea getting ready for a photo shoot or TV appearance. Lynn laughed to herself, thinking it would have been something to get an autograph for her friend, but this boy was no….

She stopped. Did someone just say zombie? Lynn had pretty good hearing and she could have swore someone had just said the word her whole story was based on. Taking her eyes off the Asian boy, she cast a look around her, trying to find the person who’d spoken. It only took a second. There were two older women standing by the pool. One was showing the other her tablet. The other was exclaiming, “there’s no such thing as zombies!”

The first one was shaking her head madly. “Well, look for yourself! I’m not making it up! This is in Charleston right now!”

Lynn stood up. The hair was standing up on the back of her neck. She had to see what they were freaking out about. She looked back to the boy at the railing and noticed he was climbing it. What in the world is he doing, she thought. Before she could dwell on it much, the two women yelped and the one dropped the tablet. It momentarily distracted her, but something about the boy held her attention. He was nearly standing on top of the railing now. Oh shit, she thought. He’s going to jump.

TO BE CONTINUED

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

Zombie Drift 3: Prisha

Three: Prisha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or, her mind told her, everyone IS breakfast.

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

“Whoa,” he said. “You alright, miss?”

She tried to speak but was having trouble breathing.

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

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

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

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

“I apologize, sir. I didn’t mean to…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What is it?”

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

TO BE CONTINUED

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

Zombie Drift 1: Captain Walker

Zombie Drift

One: Captain Walker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are the docks full?”

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

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

“You’re a fine Captain, sir.”

Walker raised an eyebrow. “Just fine?”

“Well..uh..I mean, sir…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TO BE CONTINUED

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

Drafting Zombie Drift

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

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

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

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

Vampire Boys Of Summer (revamped) Ep. 85 (last chapter!)

Vampire Boys Of Summer

85: Home Is Where The Haru Is

We rounded the corner in the neighborhood, and there was my house, right next door to the one Haru and his “uncles” had moved into, and Ryo’s across the street, Mrs Winston’s actually. It was a nice little arrangement. I could see that now, with my house protected in several directions from any enemy vampires that might try to take my life. Everything was peaceful now, but if what they said was true, this wasn’t over. Another attempt to build an army of vampires and take over Chelsea Valley was inevitable, but hopefully we’d have a respite. It still wasn’t clear why Haru’s dad, if he was in fact the master responsible for all this, wanted to make this little town headquarters for a vampire takeover, but all thoughts of that disappeared with the person sitting on my front porch.

I saw her right away, and though things had been pretty strained between us since I became a teenager, it was so wonderful to see Mom again. I was out of the car before it even stopped. My legs carried me swiftly across the yard, limping and all. Mother herself was jumping from the porch to run towards me. In the movies, you see this big reunion scene, where all is well, everything forgiven, and all parties involved are laughing, crying, and clutching each other like there’s no tomorrow. Well…that’s exactly the way it was. Mother wrapped her arms around me and I allowed myself not to be annoyed with it, but instead reveled in the fact that I was loved and missed by the one who had brought me into this world.

“I have so much to tell you,” she whispered in my ear. For a moment, I wondered if she was going to say there were vampires in Chelsea Valley or that dad had been right all along. But she didn’t. Instead she spoke softly against my cheek. “I love you so much.”

I smiled. This was not something I often heard from her. But I took it gladly into my heart. “I love you too, mom.”

We hugged a little longer, and then out of the blue, mom asked, “What’s wrong with Angela?”

I turned around to see Ryo standing in the yard holding Angela in his arms. She was still sleeping, her head lolled against his chest. “Um, she had a long night,” I said. “She’s just…you know, tired…”

She laughed. “Yeah, I’d say. And who’s the gorgeous boy?”

“Yeah, that’s Ryo. He lives across the street now.”

“With Mrs. Winston?”

“Nephew,” I replied.

“Ohhhh.”

To my relief, Haru had gotten out of the car and was now walking towards us. He smiled at Mother. “Mrs. Williams,” he said. “I’m so sorry to hear of your loss.” He held out his hand.

She took it and nodded graciously. “Thank you. And please thank your uncles for me again, for their hospitality and generous spirit.”

Haru raised an eyebrow. I guess this didn’t sound like the uncles he knew.

“For offering to pay for Jefferson’s funeral expenses,” she explained.

“Oh yes, Of course,” Haru replied.

I myself was in shock. Not over the offer of help, but in the fact it was the first time in years I’d heard mom call dad by his given name. I realized that I too, for some strange reason, had delegated him to just dad over the years. This made me sad because he had been much more than that. He had been my friend. But Chelsea Valley was not only missing a man the town barely knew. There were others forever gone. We’d lost a teacher or two, a guidance counselor, Students I’d gone to school with. And all for what?

Haru grabbed my hand and squeezed it. “I need to head over to the house,” he said. “Check on Tomoko and Kaito. You want to come?”

“Mom?”

“Sure, you go ahead. Now that I know you’re home, I’m going to go get me a shower. I can rest easy now.”

I hugged her. “We’ll get through all this, Mom. We have each other. We’re together. That’s what matters.”

Mother smiled. “Sometimes Nora, You’re more adult than I am.”

“Oh, mom…”

Haru looked over at Ryo, who had joined us while I was hugging mom. “You taking her home?” He asked him.

Ryo looked down at Angela in his arms. “Not yet.”

“I’ll call her mom and tell her she’s with me,” I offered.

“Thanks.”

He nodded to us both and headed across the yard. As he stepped into the street, Angela woke up. From where we stood I could still hear her voice. “Ryo?”

“Yes?”

“Am I dreaming?”

He grinned. It was that teasing bad boy smirk of old. “No, Doll. I am.”

He kissed her forehead and she peered up at him with half opened eyes. “It was a dream,” she reasoned. “I…dreamt you saved me.”

“Wrong again, sweetheart. You saved me.”

And then he kissed her for real. Softly on the lips. She closed her eyes again. This time not to sleep, but in pleasure of his kiss.

“Come on, peeping tom,” Haru said and gently tugged me from the scene.

We walked over to the car. Luhan and Chi were still seated inside. Haru leaned down at the passenger window where Luhan now sat. “You guys alright?” Haru asked. Chi nodded wearily. I could tell she was exhausted.

“Yes, we are fine,” Luhan agreed.”But we will need to talk soon.” He sighed and looked past Haru to me. “Nora Williams, You are every bit worth the fight.” Then he winked and it was back to old Luhan again. “If Haru ever breaks your heart…”

“I won’t,” my boyfriend replied quickly.

“But if he should…” Luhan blew me a kiss.

“Luhan…” Chi said impatiently.

“Okay, okay…got to go,” he laughed. “See you kiddies around.”

We watched them drive away. I turned to Haru and looked at him with adoring eyes. Since his arrival things had changed so much. He had come sweeping into my life like a whirlwind. I’d lost so much in the past few days, but had gained the type of boy I’d always dreamed about. And while Luhan may be king of the flirts, and Ryo Mr. Competitive bad boy, I knew that come what may, I could handle anything, face down any evil, as long as I had the vampire boys of summer at my side.

“Remember the thought I sent you earlier,” I asked Haru.

“Um…yeah.”

I looked at him with a teasing grin. “Race you for it!”

I took off across the yard towards his house. I looked back just in time to hear Haru yell out, “Hey, no fair!” And playfully chase after me.

Yes, we were going to be just fine…

The End Of Season One

Vampire Boys Of Summer (Re-vamped)

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

Vampire Boys Of Summer (revamped) Ep. 84

Vampire Boys Of Summer

84: While I Was Out

I dropped the letter opener and reached for my neck. I was hoping with the death of Colin that the place where he’d bitten me would be miraculously gone. But it wasn’t. It was still there. His mark. Did this mean after all I’d been through I was queen anyway? Was I going to become a vampire now? Or had he been a beta like Haru, and my wound would end up killing me the way Haru had accidentally killed his first love hundreds of years ago?

I looked at Haru with pain and horror in my eyes. My legs gave out and he caught me. I began to cry. Wouldn’t it be the cruelty of fate to defeat the one who had caused us so much pain, and then be defeated myself because of a bloody hickey?

He smiled. As always, my thoughts must have slipped into his because he said, “Hickey. That’s funny.” He kissed me softly on the lips, preventing me from asking what was so funny about it. In the end it didn’t matter. Before I passed out, I remembered thinking at least I’m here. At least I have this moment. I have my Haru.

When I came to, there was motion. At first I thought I was reliving the memory of Ryo carrying me down the street, then I thought I was in a boat bobbing serenely on the lake’s surface. The reality was I was in Haru’s car, bouncing down the dirt road with Chi behind the wheel. Well, Chi and Luhan actually, because when I managed to sit up from where my head lay in Haru’s lap in the backseat, I saw Luhan sitting on Chi’s lap behind the wheel. He was steering the car and she was working the petals. I realized he wasn’t tall enough to drive it by himself, but it made me wonder about the nature of their relationship. In the caverns when he had come to her rescue, she had called him ‘Master.’ Yet he had called her ‘sister.’ Did this mean he saw her as an equal, or had they been siblings in the ages before they became vampires? I looked over at Haru for answers. He just smiled and shrugged.

I returned my gaze to Chi. The wound in her throat was still there, but it now looked cauterized, as if someone had taken a hot flame to the skin and burned it shut. As beautiful as she was, I knew the imperfection would be a glaring reminder of her sacrifice for me. Someone was always paying the price because of Nora Williams, and this saddened me.

Haru reached over and grasped my hand, giving it a little squeeze, as if to tell me everything was going to be alright. I’m not sure I believed him. I looked next to us. Ryo and Angela also occupied the backseat. My bestie was sleeping or passed out, I couldn’t quite tell. Her head lay over on Ryo’s shoulder, and he had an arm around her protectively. His eyes were also closed, but from the rise and fall of his chest I could tell he was okay. I smiled, wondering what this would mean for them. I feared Angela wouldn’t be the same girl after her ordeal, and that we would never have our playfully snappy, yet Intelligent conversations again.

Ryo opened his eyes. Perhaps my thoughts had been too loud. He kissed Angela’s forehead and ran his fingers through her silver shorn hair. I couldn’t help but smile. But my happiness faded when I turned towards Haru. He also bore lasting scars of having to help me all the time. There was an angry red ring around his neck from where it had been in a noose for so long as he hung from the cavern’s ceiling at Colin’s sick whim. Colin. It pained me that I had to kill him. He had been okay and innocent once. A nerdy kid who didn’t do anything but aggravate the snot out of you, following you around like a lost puppy. But he had changed. Became something sadistic and evil. I had no choice. He had been responsible for my dad’s death. Or at least partly responsible. He may have been under orders, but he was still complicit in the deed. He had tortured Angela to the point of death, tried to kill all of us at one point or another. Hell, he’d even bit me in an effort to turn me into…

I reached up to my neck. I could feel the teeth marks he’d left in my skin. The gaping congealed wound. Mine hadn’t been cauterized like Chi’s. Perhaps they would get Ryo to heal mine, as he did once before when I was injured at the hands of the Trumps. So why not heal Chi’s too?

“Shhh, “ whispered Haru beside me. “You are thinking too much.” Then he smiled and took my face in both his hands. His kiss was warm and enticing and I couldn’t help thinking how I wanted to be with him now this very instant. “I know, “ he confessed. “Me too.”

I smiled and lay my head back down on his lap as we continued down the road. Chi reached over and turned on the radio. It was tuned to a rock station that began to play “If you want blood, you got it,” by AC-DC. “Nope, I don’t think so,” she said, and changed the station.

As we arrived back in town it was already mid day. I assumed we’d been in the cavern and labyrinth all night. I had been unconscious when Haru had put me in one of the boats and sailed us out through the hidden channel the vampire army had used to bring their captives in. When I began to wonder about the humans down there, Luhan informed me that because of my actions twenty-seven had made it out. I was pleased with this, but I wished there had been more. Twenty-seven meant there were still some down in the caverns with the remains of the vampire army. When I started to protest this, Ryo cut me off.

“We need to regroup and be more prepared next time,” he said.

“Next time?”

“My father will not take this so easily,” Haru answered. “…the damage we inflicted on his army. Unless all this has been a distraction for bigger things.”

“He will want retribution for the death of his lieutenant,” Ryo added.

“So it’s not over?” I asked, tears welling up in my eyes.

Haru hung his head. “No. We barely escaped.”

“We did accomplish what we set out to do,” Ryo chimed. It was odd that he’d be the one trying to bring in a ray of hope. “We rescued Angela.” He looked down at her as she slept peacefully against him.

“And your father’s death is avenged,” Chi threw out there. “We put a real hurting on the army that was being built. He’s going to need more recruits before he tries anything again.”

“What about the people we saved? Where are they now?”

“If I did my job right,” Luhan said, “they are confused as hell.”

“You wiped their memory?”

“Not all the way. But enough to keep them wondering if they just had a vivid dream. Of course, those still down in the caverns, I couldn’t do anything about them. I hate to say it, but they are either dead or vampires by now.”

I shook my head. Chelsea Valley would never be the same again. Despite this, the streets didn’t look any different. Shops were open. Kids were outside playing. Life went on oblivious to what happened the night before. There were an unusual number of people missing, yes, but no one seemed overly concerned. It was as if someone, Luhan maybe, had brought a fog over the whole town and it’s citizens. That made me wonder about mom. Had she been okay through this ordeal? How was she coping with the loss of dad? I knew she had been left in Tomoko’s care, and I trusted him with her life. He was a good man. I still hadn’t forgotten how he and the jigsaw man had saved my life when we….

“His name is Kaito,” Haru said.

“Haru! You need to stay out of my head.”

He gave me a teasing look. “Why? Is there something you don’t want me to know?”

I purposely sent a thought his way.

“Oh….really?”

I smiled. “Really.”

“Well then…good thing we are almost home.”

We both laughed at our secret little thoughts. Of course, when you are riding in a car with vampires, nothing is secret anyway. Ryo grinned. Chi smirked. Luhan giggled. And Angela slept on….

Continue toEp. 85 (last chapter!)

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