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Authors: Jon Schafer

Tags: #apocalypse, #zombie, #series, #dead, #cruise, #walking dead, #undead apocalypse

Dead Calm

BOOK: Dead Calm
12.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub










Jon Schafer






Copyright© 2013 Jon Schafer





Cover art by David Reyes, but you know him on Fiverr
as Bluecuore

Modification for the paperback edition by Jon





For Catface, Rocky, Kaiser, Kasey and Jaz.






I want to thank my brother Steve and my friend Patti
Mercier for all their hard work. Susan Herkness for deciphering my
writing and putting it in a format that you all can read. If you’re
looking for a good editor, you can find her on Facebook at Thanks to Orlando
Fernandez for his first read of this book and a special thanks to
Mac and Brat for their typing skills.




This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents are either
the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or
locales is entirely coincidental.




Visit Jon Schafer's website at

or find him on Facebook at

Watch the promo video on YouTube at

: A condition of no wind according to the Beaufort


Chapter One


The Gulf of Mexico:

Steve Wendell woke with a start.

Jolting upward, he cursed as he banged his head
against the low ceiling and fell back onto the mattress. Rubbing
the knot already swelling on his forehead, he swung his legs out
from under the blanket and placed them on the deck before
cautiously trying again. Once upright, his eyes focused on the wall
of the small cabin, the dream that woke him rushed, unbidden, into
his mind.

Dead, decaying arms reached up from the depths of the
clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, grabbing and clawing at
the hull of a sailboat. The hands dragged along its length, causing
it to stop dead in the water. His sailboat, their sailboat, the
sailboat named “The Usual Suspects”, that he and his fellow
survivors took after fleeing the city of Clearwater and the flesh
eating dead that populated it. Shaking off the residual images of
the nightmare, he pulled on a pair of cut off jeans and his tennis
shoes before slowly standing. Although the 48-foot sailboat they
had taken was spacious enough for the seven people who escaped the
city of the dead, the cabin he and Heather shared in the bow had a
slanted overhead, which he always seemed to be hitting his head

Stooping slightly, he navigated around a cardboard
box half filled with MREs salvaged from a National Guard MRAP after
its crew had been killed and eaten. Opening the door, not a door he
reminded himself (Tick-Tock told them to call it a hatch), he
entered the main sleeping compartment. Bunk beds were set into the
walls on each side of this area to create a corridor with a long
table set in the middle. In the dim glow of a night-light, he could
see that four of the beds were occupied.

Steve quietly made his way past the sleeping forms
and let himself through the hatch at the far end. Entering the next
compartment, he glanced with longing at the small, enclosed shower.
He would have liked nothing better than to sit under its spray and
soap off the salt and grime caked on his body but, since water was
at a premium, this was not to be. Running along the left bulkhead
was the galley. He approached the stove and removed the coffee pot
from the brackets. He poured a mug and quickly downed the tepid
brew. Grimacing at the hours old coffee, he muttered, “Not
recommended to be taken internally except in an extreme caffeine

Glancing at his watch, he saw it was a little past
five AM. Knowing the others would be awake soon, he poured more
water from their dwindling supply into the container and added
grounds to make a fresh pot. Re-securing it in its brackets, he
adjusted the gas flame to the lowest setting before moving to the
ladder leading to the cockpit.

Above him, he could hear Tick-Tock say something and
Heather laugh in reply. He paused as he considered the one good
thing to come from having the dead walk the earth.


A Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy, she had been
working part time at a bowling alley to help pay off her student
loans when Steve met her. Although both were in a relationship at
the time, they found themselves attracted to each other. They drew
even closer when the HWNW virus loosed itself on the world, killing
off its victims before bringing them back to life to feed on the
living. It seemed like they'd just found each other though, when
the disease split them apart.

On the night the dead raised up to challenge the
living for possession of the Tampa Bay area, Steve went in search
of his current girlfriend, Ginny. She had not taken the growing
threat of the HWNW virus seriously and had gone out bar hopping
with friends in Tampa. Steve hoped he could bring her to the safe
area he had prepared in the Garnett Bank Building where he managed
a radio station, He had spent the previous days securing the high
rise building and had stockpiled supplies to help them survive the
expected waves of walking dead. After searching for Ginny, and with
no other way to find her, he retreated to the safety of the bank

Meanwhile, Heather had been called into duty by the
Sherriff’s department to help repel the hordes of flesh eating dead
that had clawed their way out of the sewers and storm drains
running beneath Pinellas County. She fought side by side with her
fellow law enforcement officers, but they became overwhelmed by the
rapidly growing number of flesh eaters and were pushed back into a
small pocket near the St. Petersburg pier. When the Sheriff saw
that the situation had deteriorated beyond anything his deputies
could be expected to deal with, he released them from their duties
so they could find shelter wherever they could. Although the pier
itself was a safe area, to Heather shelter meant joining up with
Steve who was four cities and dozens of miles away.

Since the living dead now populated the route
overland, she set out alone in a small, open boat.

After navigating her way around the peninsula that
forms Pinellas County, Heather crept on foot through the city of
Clearwater, which was now filled with tens of thousands of zombies.
She made her way as far as a rooftop across from the Garnett Bank
Building and managed to signal Steve. With the help of the other
survivors holed up with him, he succeeded in getting her to the
relative safety of the high rise. Once reunited, they rarely left
each other's side.

Both had failed in their endeavors, but not from lack
of doing everything in their power.

Climbing the ladder, Steve poked his head up through
the hatch and looked around the darkened cockpit of the sailboat.
Heather spotted him and motioned for him to sit by her. Tick-Tock
gave him a thumbs-up from where he lounged in a captain's chair
behind the wheel.

The dark silence of the calm night made Heather speak
just above a whisper as she said with a laugh, “Tick-Tock is one
warped individual, where did you ever dig him up?”

Steve smiled and shrugged as he settled into his
seat. Tick-Tock had been working as one of the disc jockeys at the
radio station he managed. In need of people with special skills, he
invited the man to join him along with some of the others who
worked there. As a former Marine and part-time adventure seeker,
Tick-Tock quickly became his number two, making himself
indispensible in helping to secure their position.

And, in the end, trying to defend it.

The end had come when, after months of living in
relative security, the dead breached their defenses and flooded the
building. It had been Tick-Tock who slowed the initial assault and
helped buy them time to evacuate. But even before that, when Marcia
and Heather had discovered a ten year old girl hiding in the
building who appeared to be immune to the HWNW virus, it had been
Tick-Tock’s idea to use a sailboat to take her to one of the
military bases that dotted the Florida coastline. It was everyone's
hope that the child might hold the cure for the disease of the

Looking at the endless expanse of flat, dark water
around them, Steve asked, “Seen anything?”

“Couple of dolphins,” Tick-Tock answered, “besides
that, nothing. No boats, no planes, not even a mermaid to keep me

Heather spoke up, “I didn't see anything on my watch
either. I crashed out for a while when Tick-Tock took over and just
came up here a few minutes ago to get some fresh air.”

Steve found his unease at the situation growing. He
had been hopeful that during the night, when lights stood out
better, one of them would spot another craft. Their situation was
getting desperate as their food and water was depleted. If
something didn’t happen soon, they would have to take drastic

The small group of survivors had set out over a week
ago from Clearwater, their destination being the naval base in Key
West. Everything was going smoothly until they reached a point just
south of Fort Myers. Here, their original plan to follow the coast
was frustrated by a late season storm that came up and blew them
out into the Gulf. They were tossed around for two days before the
storm passed and then found themselves becalmed in its wake. For
five days now there had barely been the slightest breeze to propel
the or even cause a ripple on the water's surface.

Although they had a small engine in the stern of the
sailboat, their fuel supply was limited to what they had on board.
Until they could determine their position, they couldn't afford to
waste it by heading in an arbitrary direction. If the storm had
blown them too far to the south and they headed east to where there
should be land, they might end up going through the Florida Straits
and out into the Atlantic Ocean. Or they might have been blown near
the coast of Mexico or Texas and would then be heading in the wrong
direction if they went east. Despite the mystery of their location,
they decided to let the slight breeze that occasionally came up
take them in an easterly direction in the hope they could reacquire
the Florida coast.

“Still nothing on the GPS?” Steve asked Heather,
whose job it was to monitor the device.

“It locks onto a signal every few hours but loses it
before the coordinates come through,” she replied. “Brain looked at
it again and said it's not the electronics. Everything checks out.
He thinks it's got to be a problem with the satellites, so there's
nothing we can do about it.”

Steve nodded. Brain had been an engineer at the radio
station and their tech guru.

Turning to Tick-Tock, he stated the obvious, “And
still no wind.”

Tick-Tock pointed to the slack sails in response.
“Just barely making headway.”

“Still heading east?” he asked.

Tick-Tock nodded in reply and then asked, “How are we
doing on food and water?”

Steve sighed, “Food for another week, but we’ve only
got enough water for three days if we stretch it. The inboard water
tank is down to just a few gallons. Then all we have left is the
water we brought with us. After we finish this pot of coffee, I’m
going to put a restriction on who can drink it to only those on
wheel watch. If we don't spot anything by tonight, we’re going to
have to crank up the engine and risk heading east. We can go
without food for about three weeks if we have to, but without water
we won't last two or three days.”

“When you caught Mary taking a shower, you should
have thrown her worthless ass overboard,” Tick-Tock said.

Steve nodded. His chief detractor was Mary Oliver.
The former morning show host had only been included in Steve's plan
to take refuge in the radio station because her brother owned it.
In her quest for self-gratification, she ignored everybody's needs
except her own. Now, like it or not, she was part of the group and
was expected to pull her own weight. Steve had major doubts this
would ever happen.

Heather laughed harshly. “I still can't believe what
she said when you caught her.” In a high-pitched mimic of Mary's
voice she said, “But I'm not drinking it, I’m washing up.”

“If living, breathing human beings weren't in such
short supply right now, I'd have cut her up and used her for shark
bait,” Steve replied.

BOOK: Dead Calm
12.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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