Tag Archives: serial

Zombie Drift 13: Peter, Aida, & Prisha

Zombie Drift

Thirteen: Peter, Aida, & Prisha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aida sighed. “Open the door, Peter.”

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

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

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

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

Aida slapped him. “You pig.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I was very scared,” she confessed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Can it be locked from outside?”

“No.”

“Well shit,” Peter mumbled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

Love Is The Darkest Art 20

Love Is The Darkest Art

A Dramione Fanfic Serial

Scene 29

For Draco and Hermione, their escape was part quick thinking, part luck. A few inches to the left and the charm from Draco’s wand would have been ineffective. The solid construction of the sewage tunnel would have stopped the hastily conjured bolt.

The two landed on their feet with a jolt. If they hadn’t been holding on to each other they might have collapsed to the floor. But as it was, they both landed in a half squat that sent shudders up their legs. Draco clutched Hermione and didn’t let her fall.

“Draco,” she began, nearly out of breath. “I’m….”

“Later,” he interrupted her grimly. He grabbed her hand and started leading her down the dank, smelly tunnel. At first, she heistated. She didn’t want to venture away from the light of their escape into the unknown darkness. Who knew what kind of creatures lurked in the shadows?

“Come on,” Malfoy urged. “They’ve called more Death Eaters. They will be here any min…”

A muffled pop came from the corridor ahead and they froze. Something or someone had just apparated in front of them. Both Draco and Hermione took a defensive stance with their wands.

Out of the shadows came a figure. Tall and cloaked in black. It’s face hidden beneath a hood and cowl, it almost hissed at the sight of them. Hermione’s first thought was Voldemort. Draco’s was his father. Neither of them were right.

“Fools,” the figure mumbled. “You can’t fight a death eater.”

“Watch me,” replied Draco bravely with a slight tremble to his voice.

The figure laughed in a low sinister tone. “It is beyond me why you are protecting a mudblood, but we all have our faults.”
There was something familiar about the voice, but it was being purposedly disguised. “Against my better judgement, I’m here to help you.”

“Oh yeah? What you going to do, disapparate us out of here?”

“I can’t take us all,” it replied. “One of you must stay.”

“Well fat chance of that. I’m not leaving Hermione.”

“You have a few seconds to stick by that. You both can be captured and possibly tortured by the other Death Eaters, or Draco, you can give me…the girl.” This last part he uttered with distaste in his mouth, as if Hermione was the last person he’d want to rescue.

“What do they want?” Granger blurted.

“Why Potter, of course,” came the man’s reply.

“Ha!” Draco explained. “I can’t stand him either. So why would…”

“They don’t want you, idiot.”

A series of thuds came from behind them. Three Death Eaters had just plopped down through the hole in the street. Draco spun, wand at the ready, and it was all the distraction their would-be rescuer needed. He reached out with a bony, gnarled hand and grabbed Hermione by the wrist. Before she could even scream, the figure disapparated, dragging Hermione with him.

Draco realized too late what happened. The Death Eater had teleported, vanished and reassembled somewhere else. And Hermione was his captive. Confronting the other Eaters who had crashed the party, Draco was struck with the notion they’d been working together all along to kidnap his girl. There were no good guys here. Not even him.

“Expelliarmus!” he shouted, thrusting his wand towards the Death Eaters. They easily deflected his charm and turned it back on him. His wand dropped from his hand as if someone had bent his fingers back to the point of breaking. He screamed and clutched his hand as the three figures bore down on him. “No,” he began to plead. “My father is…”

A muffled pop sounded from beside him. The hooded figure who’d taken Hermione was back. “Stop!” he commanded. He held his wand in a fighting stance, and the even though they unnumbered him three to one, there was something about his posture, his very height, that warned the death eaters a fight would be devastating to their ranks. “The boy is mine,” he further asserted. “He’s been promised to me…to deal with.”

There was some hesitation. One of the death eaters seemed unsure and made a lunge forward, waving his wand. The hooded figure uttered a few words low in his throat and a bolt of grey light erupted from the tip of his wand. It struck the death eater’s arm, engulfing his hand and wand momentarily before turning to dust and dissipating into the air. The death eater cried out in alarm and stopped his charge. Looking at his arm, he saw it had turned to stone. His hand began to crack and his eyes grew wide in terror. The wand broke and crumbled, its pieces tumbling to the floor of the tunnel. “No,” he moaned, watching his fingers start to do the same thing. He turned to his companions, his eyes imploring them to help him, but they’d never seen a charm attack like that. So they retreated and ran, leaving their companion to crumble alone.

Draco, shocked by the sight, nearly ran himself, but the hooded figure clutched his hand on his forearm. The last thing Draco noted before they both disapparated was that of the thin hand, it’s fingernails painted black, clutching his arm so tight it drew blood. There was something about that hand…

Scene 30:

Hermione Granger stood in the cold alone. The wind blew through the tall trees overhead, bare branches creaking so much she’d thought the limbs would break and come crashing down on her head. She stood in someone’s driveway. She didn’t know who’s. She didn’t even know where she was at. She’d been left here by the hooded mystery man who had disaparated her away from Malfoy and the attacking Death Eaters. When they had appeared in the drive, she’d looked up the lane, trying to determine who’s house they’d arrived at. “Don’t worry,” he said. “No one is home.” Then he vanished in the very same way they had appeared, leaving her alone, but apparently rescued from danger. For the time being anyway.

A dog howled in the distance and it sounded angry and agitated. The sound made her wary and she held her wand in front of her in case the animal rushed from the surrounding woods. A little voice inside warned her that maybe it wasn’t a dog she was hearing, but a wolf. Wolves attack from behind, the inner voice added, and she turned quickly, jabbing her wand in the air. But there was nothing there. No wolves. No dogs. Just the house at the end of the driveway.

The man must have intended she take refuge here, but was she ready to trust him? Just because he rescued her from the other dearh eaters, it was apparent he’d been one himself. When they’d aparated here she’d caught a glimpse of the mark on his forearm, and there was something dark about his very presence as if his very being was permeated by shadows. And he had taken her away from Draco. Seperated them. Left her alone at a dark mansion that looked anything but accomodating.

There was a popping sound from behind her and she jumped. The hooded man was back. And with him was Draco. She nearly dropped her wand as she ran into his arms. Draco clutched her just as tightly as she clung to him, and his kiss on her cheek seemed to make her forget there was a death eater in her midst. It wasnt until the figure spoke that she came out of her dreamy sense.

“The enemy is everywhere,” he spake darkly. “There won’t be many safe places. Go home Malfoy.”

Draco seemed to realize where he was at now. He looked around him and grinned. “Well, Hermione looks like you get to spend the weekend at my house anyway.”

“Your house? This is…”

“Malfoy Mansion,” he confirmed. “Why did you bring us here?” he asked, turning to the one who’d rescued them, but he was gone. He had vanished just as quickly as he’d arrived.

“Who was that?”

Draco looked at Hermione. “I’m not sure. Must be a friend of Father’s to know who I am and where I live. And he knew you too.”
He flashed her a devilish smirk. “But not the way I do…Hermione, I’m…”

“No,” she interrupted. “I’m sorry, Draco. I am so sorry I hurt you. I didn’t mean to. I just didn’t want you to go too far in trying to convince others that we weren’t together. When I saw you heading after Neville, I panicked and…”

“Hermione Granger,” Draco said, cutting her off. “Don’t you ever shut up?”

She looked at him in shock and surprise. Did he just…

His lips were on hers before she could even finish the thought.

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

Zombie Drift 11: Lynn & Yeong

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.

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.