Keeping to the long grasses and palm trees that grew along the edge of the sand bank, Mike and I crept towards the marina. The moon glinted in the water which sloshed soothingly on the beach. It was a picture of serenity and beauty. I knew better. As we drew alongside the first row of boats, I could see dark figures wandering along the pier. The boathouse above the pier stood dark and forbidding.
"How are we going to do this?" I asked in a low whisper. Mike nodded to the row of boats before us. "We swim out to the end of the pier, climb up the ladder and work our way through the boats till we find one with keys and fuel. Considering some of the owners must have been killed while still onboard, it shouldn't be too hard."
I swallowed, pretty confident it would be bloody hard. "Okay. Let's do it." I glanced uneasily at the horizon. Was it my imagination or was there a ghost of a light already there? I knew dawn couldn't be far away. And with dawn came extinction...
Staying low, we slid into the gentle waves. I'd never really liked swimming in the sea. Between sharks, jellyfish and crocodiles, I had always found it hard to fully relax and enjoy the experience. Now I could add the possibility of walking corpses to the list of things that could be waiting for me beneath the water. However, except for a couple of scary moments when I felt unseen things brushed my legs, the swim to the end of the jetty was uneventful. Mike pulled himself up the ladder and paused at the top for me to join him.
"I'll check the left side, you check the right." He whispered. "Stay alert, Lori."
I nodded and scurried into the nearest boat, a fifty foot sailing boat. I checked the ignition. Nothing. Pulling out my parang, I crept down the stairs into the living area. It was small but comfortably decorated, designed to feel like home. I glanced around, wondering where the owners would keep their keys. The kitchen? Keeping a wary eye before me, I backed into the compact kitchen. No keys on the bench tops or hanging on the walls. I started searching through the drawers. As I bent down to peer into the bottom drawer, a sixth sense alerted me. Spinning around and falling on my bum, I saw a man rushing at me. Swallowing a scream, I thrust my parang up defensively as the man flung himself on me. The knife lodged in his chest giving me the space to throw him to the side, with considerable effort. Scrambling to my feet, I swung my parang down, cleaving his forehead. Pulling it out, I brought the parang down again with all the force I could muster. Brains spilling out of his skull, the body stilled.
Breathing heavily, I spun around in case the noise had attracted any other corpse lurking in the ship. But nothing moved. Heart thumping, I quickly checked the rest of the ship but there were no further surprises. I moved back out onto the pier. Mike emerged from his ship and shook his head. Damn it. I stepped onto the next ship, a fishing boat. Again, the keys weren't in the ignition. I searched the entire ship cautiously, but there was no trace of the keys. Feeling the dawn pressing on me, I hurried onto the next ship, a motor boat. As I searched the galley, I heard footsteps pounding down the stairs. Mike appeared in the doorway, looking grim. "We've got company." Oh hell.
Rushing out, I saw a wall of dark bodies flooding down the jetty towards us. So many corpses pressed down the narrow wooden walkway, that bodies spilled into the sea continuously on either side. Wordlessly, Mike and I ran to the next boat, a catamaran. Again, no keys. I smacked the side of the boat in frustration. As Mike searched below, I ran across the jetty to a large motorboat. To my delight, I spotted keys in the ignition. "Mike!" I screamed excitedly, scrambling into the boat. As I reached for the keys, a moan brought me to a stop. A man, grey haired with dulled eyes, stood up from behind the captain's seat. From the cabin, a woman stumbled as she tried to climb up.
I felt Mike come up beside me. "You take the woman, I'll handle the man." He murmured. Nodding, I lifted my parang in preparation and slid cautiously forward. At the top of the stairs, I waited for her to look up at me. The curly haired middle aged woman bared her teeth at me although her eyes remained emotionless. With a vicious swipe of the knife, I lopped off her head. It bounced off the steps as the body fell to the side. Turning around, I saw Mike stepping over the man's fallen body to turn on the ignition.
Glancing around, I saw, with an ice-cold chill, that the mob was only minutes away. The whole length of the jetty jostled with corpses desperate for us. Noting them, Mike turned the ignition. Nothing. He tried again. Grimly, he turned to me. "Might be a spark plug but we don't have time to find out."
Scrambling onto the jetty with Mike behind me, I looked around desperately. Just ahead of the mob spilling down the jetty was a small speedboat, its outboard motor catching my eye. I looked at Mike and he nodded. We bolted to reach the speedboat before the mob reached us. It seemed I could feel their non-existent breath on my neck as I screeched to a halt ahead of them and leapt into the speedboat. Pausing to remove the mooring rope, Mike leapt in after me and grabbed the outdoor motor with surety. Tilting it back, he quickly opened the tank vent, moved the shift gear into neutral and adjusted the choke.
"Mike." I whispered, voice quivering. Glancing up, he muttered a choice word as he saw the corpses standing on the edge of the jetty, reaching for us.
Standing up, he swung his rifle up. As he took careful aim, he spoke to me in a measured tone. "Lori, you need to prime the fuel system. Squeeze the line until it feels firm and then pull the cord. Got it?"
I nodded dazedly, my heart in my throat as I stared into the faces of the walking corpses, so close I could count the lines and wounds on their faces in the moonlight. As Mike fired, taking out the nearest body, I primed the gas-line bulb with shaking hands, trying to decide if it felt firm or not. Rapidly, Mike aimed and shot, aimed and shot. As quickly as the bodies fell down or off the jetty, more took their place.
Finally, I pulled the cord. The engine stuttered. With more strength, I pulled the cord again. It roared for a moment, filling me with excitement. As the head of the drifting boat bumped along the jetty, corpses threw themselves at us. To my dismay, several hit the boat, causing it to rock severely. Mike stumbled and fell over a corpse as it moaned on the bottom of the boat. Desperately, I pulled at the cord again. Please, God, start! The engine roared to life. I don't think I had ever heard such a sweet sound in my life. As the boat pulled away from the jetty, I turned back to Mike. I saw him struggling beneath two corpses. Grimacing, he was holding one corpse at arm's length as it snapped its teeth above him. The other lay pinned beneath Mike's body at a right angle, its arms clawing at Mike's face.
Pulling out my parang, I stood beside him and with one slice, decapitated the creature below him.
"Thanks." Mike grunted, throwing the other corpse off him. Scrambling to his feet, he stood over the creature as it gaped hungrily at him, and calmly put a bullet through its' brain.
Moving to the wheel, Mike took control of the boat. Smiling tiredly at me, he said, "Good job."
"Thanks." I responded weakly, finding a seat before my legs collapsed under me. "Could you tell it was my first time starting an engine?"
The clouds that had been so heavy with rain all night finally released their burden. Rain dripped down our faces as we drew parallel with the group on the beach. Mike stopped the boat some distance offshore.
"Lori, there's something I need to tell you before we go in."
I looked at him queryingly. He looked so serious...and sad. "What is it, Mike?"
Rather than answer me, he pulled off his shirt. As I gaped at him, startled, he turned around. I stared at his back as the rain dripped down his smooth skin. My mind couldn't seem to comprehend what it was seeing. It couldn't be a bite, it couldn't be. Slowly, Mike turned back to me. As I raised my eyes to his face, he shrugged, an ironic lift to his lips . "Such is life."