Authors: D. Manuel Mendonca
Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse
Hope and Fanny just stare at his hand, both unwilling to touch it. He pulls it away slowly, and disgustedly glares at the pair. He powers past them heading out the door, muttering incoherently as he proceeds down the stairs.
Hope looks over at Fanny, a smile forms as she opens her mouth, her words come out dry and forced. “Thanks.” She clears her throat as she looks down at her old, faded boots. “Thanks for coming back for me.”
“I’m always going to be there for you,” Fanny says uncocking the gun and putting it back in her pocket. “Just like I know you’ll always be there for me.”
“It’s what we do. Family sticks together,” Hope says hugging her friend.
“Oh there you are girls,” Penelope says popping her head past the bedroom door, “it’s almost time.”
“We’ll be right there mom,” Hope says, “Just need to make sure we have everything packed.”
“Speaking of which,” Fanny says peeling herself away. “I should really double check my bag.”
“Are you trying to leave us alone?” Hope asks whispering in her ear.
“Yeah. You might not get another chance to say things you want to say, so now’s the time,” Fanny whispers back before rushing out the door.
“Are you ready?” Penelope asks again.
“Almost,” Hope replies.
Penelope’s bottom lip quivers slightly. “Are you sure this is what you want to do?”
“Mom, please don’t do this, not now.”
“I’m sorry. I’m not trying to stop you…I’m just going to miss you,” Penelope takes Hope’s free hand and pats the top lovingly.
“I’ll be back soon enough,” Hope smiles.
“I hope so,” Penelope says tightening her grip, “I hope so.”
“How bad can it be? I’ve heard the stories, I’ve learnt about it in class. I know what I’m up against.”
“Don’t be so sure,” Penelope says with a shiver.
“What do you mean?” Hope asks with an inquisitive look on her face. “What aren’t you telling me?”
“A lot,” Penelope says in a dark, serious tone. “Some of the stories we told you as a child were, modified. We all agreed when you were born that you didn’t have to endure the Hell we all dealt with.”
“You lied to me?” Hope says, her heart shocked and crushed by her mother’s omission.
“It was for your own good. We lied to protect your innocence!”
“It was still a lie!” Hope says soft and slow, “What don’t I know?”
“For starters you don’t know how to deal with pain of death,” Penelope replies just as harshly.
“I’ve seen people die before,” Hope argues.
“Yes, but how many of them died by your hand?”
“Well none, but…”
“Exactly. Do you have the heart to put a bullet in someone on your team? Or Fanny?”
“It probably won’t come to that,” Hope replies.
“But what if it does?” Penelope says her voice becoming more cautious, “We had to learn as we went. When you were about ten you asked us why we didn’t sleep much. We told you that we did but we just did it in shifts.”
“That wasn’t the truth was it?”
“No, the truth is not many of us can sleep more than three hours before we wake up screaming.”
“But that was all in the past,” Hope says, “things that needed to be done.”
“Yes because we couldn’t avoid it, you can,” Penelope sighs, “like I said I’m not going to stop you, you’re a grown woman now. I just wanted to make sure you were properly informed.”
“Well thank you, I think,” Hope says reaching for the sword as it lay on the ground.
“Your father’s sword?” Penelope asks.
“Yeah, he gave it to me,” Hope says, hugging it close to her person.
“That sword saw a lot of action. Trust your instincts with it,” Penelope says waving her out the door with a forced smile on her face.
“You do know it’s a sword and not alive right?” Hope says with a chuckle as she passes by her mother.
“Now you’re a smart ass too, huh?” Penelope says laughing back at her.
The pair head down the stairs and out the front door. The sky is bright blue, the orange hue of sun reflects off the blue ocean waves. This is being the only noticeable difference between the sky and water. A small crowd has gathered around the island’s docks. There are only half a dozen boats tied up. Damian, Natalie and Joshua each notice Hope at the same time and wave for her to join them in front of a mid-sized boat. The boat is painted white with red trim along the sides. The back is adorned with chipped and worn red letters that spell out the boat’s name, “THE OMEGA.”
“That doesn’t seem ominous at all does it?” Penelope asks walking up to Damian.
“Yeah, but this is the best boat we have,” Damian admits. “Natalie and Connor can both confirm that.”
“Oh I believe that, but it doesn’t help my nerves,” Penelope says with a shudder.
“Attention,” Joshua calls out from in front of the boat, “could I have all that have volunteered gather on the boat for debriefing? Please say your goodbyes now because no one else is allowed on the boat.”
“Sir?” Damian asks speaking up.
“No one else,” Joshua repeats.
One by one the volunteers hug their loved ones and trudge onto the old vessel.
“Where’s Fanny?” Hope asks looking around, “Where’s Fanny?”
“Relax,” Fanny says running to join up with them, “I thought you didn’t need me anyway.”
“Guess I didn’t know what I really wanted,” Hope admits.
The two say goodbye to the crowd. Fanny looks around as she steps onto the boat and sees Connor’s familiar face from a distance, a sly smile as he offers a nod. Fanny taps Hope on the shoulder and points her in his direction as they wave goodbye. He joins his friends as they disappear into the cabin of the boat. The others are sitting around a small circular table except for Joshua and a young man. He can’t be more than twenty-five. His baby face makes him look even younger but his eyes give away his true age. Dark circles help accent his ice blue eyes, his hair ratty and unkempt. He has on light tan camouflage pants and a white shirt that is partially covered by a dark coat. He stands perfectly still as he waits for the others to take their seat and Joshua to start talking.
“Before I begin I’d like to thank each of you once again for volunteering,” Joshua starts, “especially Fanny who was a last minute addition to this rescue party. First, I’d like to introduce everyone to your mission leader and the captain of this boat, Mr. Greggory Rappore.”
“Thank you, sir,” Greggory says stepping forward.
“Yes, very good,” Joshua says backing him off, “now, this is a basic rescue mission. From what I understand there is roughly a dozen people trapped at an army base in Houston, Texas. Gather them, and as many supplies as you can, and bring them back. Simple enough right?”
“Yes, sir,” the group calls out.
“Now I’ll leave you all in the capable hands of Captain Rappore. I wish you all a safe journey and God speed.”
Joshua steps down and nods his head to the crew before shaking Greg’s hand one last time. They watch as he leaves the cabin.
“All right everyone, lets shove off,” Greggory calls out causing the group to scatter around leaving him alone with Fanny and Hope. “Well?”
“Well what?” Hope asks.
“Aren’t you going to get to work?” he asks cynically.
“What are my orders, Captain?” Hope says as she sarcastically salutes him.
“Don’t think I don’t know about you, both of you,” He says looking at Hope and Fanny. “I don’t care who your friends or family are back at the island. On this boat and on the main land, I’m in charge, and I’m not your friend.”
“Give it time,” Fanny winks, “we’re very loveable people.”
“Stop with the jokes and find something to do,” Greg says, “and that’s an order”
The pair slink out of the cabin each taking a separate stations of the boat and learning from the other volunteers. The day continues to progress, the boat inching closer to the land as each second passes. The sun starts to set as land begins to come into view.
“Captain we are approaching land,” an older male calls out.
“Land? Already?” Fanny questions, “We can’t be near Texas yet.”
“We aren’t,” Greg replies.
“Then why are we headed for land?” Fanny asks.
“Look my orders were to get us to Louisiana and have us walk the rest of the way,” Greg answers reluctantly, “something about not having enough fuel.”
“Wait you expect us to walk?” Fanny asks as she starts to breathe heavily, “Do you know what happens when people walk through that cursed land?”
“No, to be honest I’ve never really dealt with it. My family was one of the first to be rescued after the virus spread,” Greg replies with a somewhat worried look.
“I’ll tell you what happens,” Fanny says getting up into his face, “When people stay too long on land, they tend to die.”
“That’s Just insanity,” Greg says blowing her off.
“I’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE,” Fanny says loudly and slowly, “I might have only been thirteen at the time, but believe me I remember it all too clearly.”
“If it was so horrible the first time, then why come back?”
“I have my reasons for what I do.”
He watches as his head turns slightly pointing in Hope’s direction.
“I understand,” Greg responds, “but why didn’t you just convince her not to come? This is a volunteer mission after all.”
“Hope’s a stubborn girl,” Fanny admits.
“Well then let’s hope that stubbornness just keeps her alive. Because I don’t intend on dying today, or any day soon.”
“Captain, we’ll arrive at port in twenty minutes,” A short, pudgy man says poking his head around the corner.
“Thank you Chester,” Greg says with a nod, “inform the others that our first priority after we dock is to find shelter.”
“Yes, sir,” Chester says with an improved salute.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” Fanny says wrapping her arms around her stomach.
“Don’t worry,” Greg smirks, “I’ll protect you.” He throws his arm over her shoulders.
She peels his arm off and backs away from his sleazy advance, “At the end of the day, I’ll be the one protecting you.”
She turns and walks away from him, letting out a ragged sigh as she tries to calm her nerves. She searches the ship for Hope, finding her with another young woman. They are looking over the side of the ship at an endless amount of ocean that is in front of them. The woman seems to be in her early to mid-thirties with curly red hair that covers the collar of her light colored flannel shirt. The two share a laugh as Fanny taps her friend on the shoulder, spinning her around.
“Fanny!” She exclaims when she notices her friend, “Have you met Sarah?”
“Yeah. We’ve seen each other around a few times,” Fanny says.
“How have you been?” Sarah asks with a phony smile.
“I was better before I got on this boat.”
“What’s wrong?” Hope asks picking up on her worried vibe.
“A lot,” Fanny remarks, “can I talk to you in private?”
“Yeah,” Hope nods before excusing herself from Sarah’s company, waiting to speak until they are out of earshot. “What’s wrong?”
“Has anyone clued you in on what’s happening?” Fanny asks trying to avoid arousing any fear.
“No. I’ve spent most of my time with Sarah learning what to do,” Hope replies.
“That’s another thing, why does everyone on this boat have a job but us?”
“Sarah said she got her assignment from Joshua. Maybe we didn’t get one because of, you know, the incident back in my room.”
“Yeah, maybe. But here is another fact we aren’t landing in Texas. This boat is headed for Louisiana.”
“But we were both in the cabin when Joshua flat out told us that we were going to Texas,” Hope argues.
“Well Greggory just informed me that his orders were to sail to Louisiana, and then walk to the survivors.”
“That can’t be, that’s suicide,” Hope says in a panic.
“I know. But unfortunately there is nothing we can do but ride this out and try to survive,” Fanny says trying to comfort her.
“But we can’t survive that long. Nobody has been on the main land that long since…since,” Hope’s eyes widen with fear and terror.
“Yeah, nobody’s survived the main land since your parents,” Fanny nods, “but that’s also a good thing. Because we both know you have their will to survive. So if we just stick together we should be fine.”
“But what if something happens and we can’t survive?” Hope’s eyes start to water up, her voice crackling as she talks.
“Then we die together,” Fanny says trying to sound brave, “but not before taking out as many of those shits as we can.”
A loud bell rings on the top of the boat startling the two young girls, sending them rushing back to the cabin of the boat where they find Greggory sitting in a seat, his feet lifted as he chugs water from a canteen.
“What’s going on?” Hope asks.
“We are landing,” Greg says. “The bell lets the crew know that we have hit land.”
“It also lets anything that wants to kill us know our position,” Fanny says slamming her hand down on the table.
Greg sits up, his face slightly visible with a disturbance. He signals to one of his men to stop the chiming of the bell before getting onto his feet and glaring into Fanny’s eyes.
“Get your stuff, we head out in five,” Greggory says trying to intimidate them.
“It’s already getting dark,” Fanny says, “do you have any idea where we can make camp?”
“Honestly? No,” Greg answers. “But I’m sure we’ll find a safe house shortly after docking.”
“Well that’s just great,” Fanny says knocking him back into his seat. “I don’t know if you think this is some kind of game or something, but this is life or death. We have to plan our moves accordingly or we will die. Is that what you want?”
The rest of the volunteers have entered the cabin and watch as Fanny verbally tongue lashes Greggory causing his face to turn red with anger as he rises back to his feet and stares Fanny back.
“Look I may not know everything about this mission but this is what I do know, I was put in charge and I give the orders. UNDERSTAND!”
“Tell me Mr. Rappore, do you know how to kill one of those…things? You have to cut off its head, only way to make sure the virus is truly dead.” She whips out a handgun and raises it to his head. “You on the other hand, you are easier to get rid of.”
“Put the gun down,” Sarah calls as the others aim their guns at her.
“Kill me,” Fanny responds, “if we follow the orders of this moron then we are already dead.”
“Fanny, please don’t do this,” Hope begs.
“I can’t go out there,” Fanny stammers. “I thought I could, but it’s just too much.”
“Please put the gun down and talk to me.”
“We aren’t going to survive,” Fanny cries, “none of us.”
“We can if we stick together,” Hope coaxes, “but first I need you to put the gun down.”
Fanny nods wildly as she bends down and drops the gun before curling up into a ball and bursting out in tears. Hope goes to comfort her friend but is pushed away by the others. Two of the men push Fanny onto her stomach as they tie her hands behind her back.
“Stop it, you’re hurting her!” Hope cries as Greg holds her back.
“It has to be done,” Greg replies. “She is a threat and a menace and must be stopped.”
“What should we do with her sir?” Chester asks.
“Nothing changes, she still comes with us,” Greg states, “but we leave her tied up and on a short leash. I have a feeling she might become very useful.”
“Yes sir,” Chester says with a crooked smile. “Let’s go, move it.”
Chester struggles to move Fanny as she pulls back, getting right up into Greg’s face, and “if anything happens to Hope, you are going to die a very slow, painful death…at my hand.”
“And this one sir?” Sarah asks of Hope.
“She has done nothing wrong,” Greg says dusting himself off, “let’s just keep an eye on her. We wouldn’t want to provoke the crazy one.”
The others look at each other as Greg waves Hope out the door and follows close behind. One by one the others join them outside. The fresh air feels good on their skin, cooling them all off after such a heated confrontation. They each pull out portable, hand cranked flashlights from random pockets.
“Now before we set foot on land let me remind each of you of the importance of this mission,” Greg says near the boats outer railing. “This mission brings more to those survivors then just survival, it brings them hope. It gives us all confidence that tomorrow will be better and we will not live in fear the rest of our lives!”
His speech warrants a few slow claps from the volunteers before a pair of hands wrap around his torso in the cover of darkness, pulling him backward. The others shine their lights on their captain and see a creature fighting to pull him off the boat and onto the docks. Its eyes are milky white, and its skin looks like it has started to melt off of its body. The volunteers fire randomly at the creature trying their hardest not to hit Greg.
“You have to cut off the head!” Fanny screams as she tries to free herself.
Hope slides her sword out of its scabbard and rushes toward the attacker. The decaying monster drops the half dead body of Greggory and reaches wildly for Hope’s arms. Hope swings the blade of her sword at the attacker but the blade gets stuck in the Zombie’s neck. Fanny begins to rub the restraints around her wrists frantically against the edge of the boat, wanting badly to help her friend. The Zombie slaps its arm wildly knocking Hope to the ground, a gash forms on her forehead, blood spills out slowly. Chester rushes over next, trying to free the sword from the brute. He gets his fingers around the handle, but not much more as the monster sinks it’s teeth into his arm causing him to scream out in pain. The creature pulls him in closer it’s sharp teeth ripping out Chester’s jugular. Soon the screaming stops leaving an eerie silence as the wind whistles. A soft snap is heard before the others hear Fanny growling in anger as she yanks the blade of the sword out of the creature’s neck, her arm getting badly scratched in the process.
“Don’t be stupid.” Sarah yells. “You have the sword, get out of there.”
“No,” Fanny says, “I’m done running.”
She forces her arms upward, the sword feeling ten times heavier than before. She lets out a loud scream as she slices with all of her might, not stopping until the creature’s head rolls past her feet, its body dropping dead on the dock. Fanny drops the sword on the deck of the boat as she pants heavily. The others stand in shock as she pulls her gun out once again and aims it at Greggory’s mangled body.
“Do it,” He says.
“You know you deserve to suffer,” Fanny replies, anger burning in her eyes, “but lucky for you I’m feeling mercy.” The sound of the gun causes the others to jump in fear.
“You killed him?” Sarah asks still in shock.
“He was dead anyway. We’re miles away from any kind of medical assistance. He would have bled to death. My way might seem cruel, but it was, IS, the only way,” Fanny explains. “I expect everyone to have the same mind set.”
“What do we do now?” Sarah asks.
“We wake Hope up, check on her wounds and then we find a safe house and try to survive until sunrise,” Fanny says putting her gun away and kneeling down beside her unconscious friend.
“Why sunrise?” A male figure asks stepping forward.
“Because in the dark, they have the advantage,” Fanny says wiping the blood off of Hope’s face.
“Why did they send us to this God forsaken place?” Sarah asks starting to panic.
“And why aren’t you still freaking out?” the male asks again.
Fanny gets back to her feet and looks around at the nervous faces looking to her for guidance, “Because we don’t have the luxury of being scared anymore.”
“Can you save us?” Sarah asks.
“I don’t know. But I can show you what I learned. That may be the only way we survive through this. Now please help me move Hope into the cabin, we need to assess our next move.”
“Can’t we just go home?” the male asks.
“You’re John right?” Fanny asks getting a nod in response, “We had a few classes together when I first got here. What happened to you?”