“I can’t believe you!” George yelled. “How could you mess this up?”
“I got the wrong URL and bought tickets to the wrong ship.” Sarah rebutted. “ By the time I figured out what happened it was too late to change it.” She looked around the one-star cabin. It contained a cracked TV, a sink, a waste basket, a bathroom (which had an odor that a homeless beggar would go to great lengths to expunge himself from), and three bunk beds. A portrait of New York City hung to the right of the door and a circular window divulged a view of the rear of the ship. “It could be worse.” she contemplated.
A clicking sound came from the beds. Upon a brief investigation, George discovered that a mouse was gnawing at one of the legs. He took off his shoe and swung it at the mouse. Blood splattered onto the beds and the wall.
“You were saying?” George asked. Sarah didn’t hear him. She was curled up into a ball in the opposite corner of the room. The fetal position was broken, however, when another mouse scurried across her leg. She shrieked and sprinted towards the beds. “Mother always knows best.” George said to himself as he removed the blood stained sheets from the bottom bed. “Which bunk do you want?” he asked. She pondered over this for several seconds. If she chose the bottom bed the mice could easily get to her and she would be lying on mouse blood. If she chose the top bed, it would be harder for her to escape from the rat’s wrath if one should climb up the bed. She decided to follow the safest route and chose the middle bed. She saw George climb up the ladder to the top bed.
“Why don’t you take the bottom one?” she asked nervously.
“Why should I take the bottom one?” he responded.
“So you can kill all of the mice that get close to the bed.”
“No, the bottom one is covered in mouse blood.”
“But what if a mouse comes while we’re lying in our beds?”
“If I’m lying in my bed, chances are that I’ll be too tired to get up and kill a rat anyways.” Sarah sighed.
“Fine, but can you at least clean the blood off of the wall before you go to sleep?”
“There’s plastic gloves and a rag in the suitcase.” George got them out of the suitcase and wiped off the blood. He rinsed out the rag and threw the gloves away. He placed the wet rag in the sink to dry.
“Did you bring any soap?” he inquired.
“I left it on the bed at home.” she stated. George stood stolidly and stared at his mother. Afterwards, he took the TV remote and turned on the news.
“Hello, and welcome to the 10 o’clock evening news,” most of the broadcaster greeted, “I’m Sam Nihau. A Sergeant in the US military has been convicted of fraud and faces two years in jail. Sergeant Willis Gutentag diverted military funds towards himself in order to build a device that allegedly cures all zombies of their condition. The device is undergoing examination at Fort Hamilton.” George turned the TV off.
“It’s scary how a nut like him could be a sergeant in the military.” Sarah commented.
“Yeah,” George said, “but it’s good to know that he’s out of the system now.” He ascended up the ladder to the upper bunk. He fell asleep, letting the newscast become evanescent. While most of the ship’s passengers slumbered, underwater debris gradually opened a sizable breech in the hull in the fuel and chemical waste compartments of the ship. Toxic lead and chlorine from the waste mixed with the chemicals in gasoline, poisoning the Delaware River, New York City‘s main drinking water supply. The captain brought the ship inland for repairs, which lengthened the cruse by two days. During the second day, the repair men began to act strangely. They, for the most part, looked sickly and their skin had a slight tint of green. Their eyes were bloodshot and seemed to daze off into space every few minutes as they let out a soft moan. Being as the repair men looked to have the symptoms of Ebola, the passengers and crew stayed as far away as possible.
After another week, the cruse ship returned to Queens, New York. Though many of the passengers wished to escape the many hazards of the ship, they were persuaded to remain on the ship by the crowd of red-eyed green people surrounding the harbor. Quickly the captain put the ship into reverse. The passengers screamed in horror as the green people attempted to jump onto the ship while it backed out of the harbor. A collective moan stirred up among the assembled.
“What is that?!” George exclaimed as a zombie leaped towards their cabin. It gripped the window with its teeth, but the weight of its body fell down into the see. The dislodged head in the window looked eerily similar to Sam Nihau. Black putrid filth poured from its neck and into the river. When George turned to alert Sarah, he found her lying on the floor. Finally, the ship went beyond the zombies’ reach. George went to the sink and filled his hands with cold water and dumped it onto Sarah’s face. She awoke with a start, and fell backwards once more when she saw the head in the window. The captain called an all inclusive meeting on the deck. George revived Sarah a second time and helped her up the stairs.
“Passengers,” the captain announced, “I cannot begin to understand what has happened here, nor do I pretend to. That being said, I think we all may come to concordance that the people at the harbor were hostile. A solution to this problem remains unclear. We cannot go more than five miles farther without completely exhausting the ship’s fuel. We also have only enough food and water to last for two more days,” a rat scampered across the deck. “give or take. If anyone has a suggestion, please make yourself known.” The memory of the zombie head reminded George of the news broadcast. He waved his hands in the air and shouted in the midst of the crowd.
“You,” The captain beckoned, “the one who‘s jumping and shouting, come to my side.” With Sarah in hand, he made his way through the crowd.
“Hello.” the captain said when they had emerged. “What are your names?”
“George and Sarah Jumbo.” Sarah said.
“I am captain Hola Bonjour. Now, tell me your suggestion.”
“Sarah and I were watching the news on the first day after we departed.” George began. “The reporter said that a sergeant took military money and made a device that could supposedly cure zombies. The military had it for examination in Fort Hamilton.”
“Fort Hamilton?” Hola asked. “That’s over twenty miles away.”
“If I may,” Sarah stated, “we can ride the ship for the first five miles and go by foot for the last fifteen, carrying whatever food and supplies we can carry.”
“This ship has two hundred people on it.” Hola argued. “How are we going to remain unseen by those zombies?”
“Maybe the zombies aren’t so smart.” George remarked. “Maybe we can coat ourselves with green dye or food coloring and dunk our eyes in salt water.”
“I can honestly say that that is the most ludicrous idea that I’ve ever heard,” Hola admitted, “but we don’t have much of a choice.” Once everyone was evenly coated, the ship set sail. The five miles that captain Hola described was actually three. Once that distance was covered, the passengers and crew set off on foot. A large portion of the food was used to disguise the people on the ship and left them with only a day to reach Fort Hamilton. As they progressed along, the passengers noticed another group following them. Perspiration spread like a plague, making the dye wear off. Seven miles after they had started to walk, an elderly woman fell from exhaustion. When the zombies saw affection from her husband, they attacked. The passengers were quickly surrounded by a growing horde of zombies.
“Into the water!” cried George. Those who could dove into the Upper Bay, leaving the rest for the zombies. George saw Sarah jump in, but she was pulled out by the zombies. She let out one last scream before fainting.
“Mom!” George bawled. The zombies cut Sarah’s skin and infected the cut with their body fluids. In minutes, she was one of them. The zombies followed the passengers into the bay, hunting them relentlessly until they were fewer than forty. These forty assembled under a bridge.
“Captain.” George called.
“Yes?” he answered.
“Do you remember the spill that we had in the Delaware River?”
“Isn’t this bay is fed by that river?” A morbid sense of doom troubled the survivors’ minds.
“Indeed, it does.”
“If the zombies turned into zombies by drinking tap water a few times a day, how long will we last now that we’re soaking in it?”
“I don’t know, but we have time now. We must move now, before it’s too late to activate the machine.”
“That news broadcast was a week ago. What if the military moved the device?” People began to murmur noisily, speaking of their families and unfulfilled dreams.
“Then we’re all dead men.” Of the forty that set out, only ten had not drowned by the time that they reached the fort. The ten’s skin was beginning to become green. Fifty zombies surrounded the fort, looking for things to scavenge.
“How do we get in?” Hola asked.
“They’re pretty spread out.” George answered. “I think that if we run, some of us can make it through.”
“Are you daft? We would be sacrificing more men. What if there’s more inside?”
“Look at your skin. We don’t have a lot of time left and we’ll be able to camouflage better.”
“Fine. I’ll go tell the men.” As Hola informed the remaining men of the plan, one of them, a Japanese born man named Konichiwa, attacked Hola. Hola wrestled himself away and ran inland, with the rest following close behind. When George made it to the door, he went inside and waited for the others, but they all arrived as zombies. They flung the door open and chased him around the fort. As George was running, he saw a rather peculiar machine in a room. If he entered, he would be trapped, but if the machine was the device was the one he was looking for, all hope would be lost. He turned and attempted to quickly learn how to operate the machine. He found an on switch and flipped it. The zombies were in the room. Their ominous moaning beckoned George to hurry. A red button said “activate” on it. George pressed it. A blue pulse was sent throughout the room and past the walls of the fort. The zombies stopped dead in their tracks and their moaning ceased. After a moment’s pause one of them spoke.
“Get him!” he bellowed. The zombies advanced further and added another to their ranks.
© Copyright 2016 jp23. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Science Fiction
Short Story / Action and Adventure
Short Story / Historical Fiction
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