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Authors: Jon Schafer

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

Dead Calm (8 page)

BOOK: Dead Calm
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Cautiously reaching out to check the chain, and
expecting that at any second the doors would burst open to disgorge
a horde of the dead, his hand was only inches away when it was
stopped by a voice calling out loudly from behind him, “I wouldn’t
go in there if I were you.”

Whirling around as his heart leapt to his throat,
Steve brought his M-4 up to his shoulder and easily found his
target. A boy, not even in his teens, stood at the foot of the
grand staircase looking nervously down the barrels of the four
automatic rifles pointed at him.

Steve's finger pulsed on the trigger as it started to
squeeze the last half-ounce of pressure. Seeing no immediate threat
in the kid, or anywhere else in the immediate vicinity, he eased
off and said furiously, “That's a good way to get your shit sprayed
all over the far wall, dumbass.”

Not giving the youngster a chance to reply, and angry
that someone, especially a kid, had been able to sneak up on him,
Tick-Tock called out aggressively, “What the fuck are you doing
creeping around down here? And who the fuck are you?”

Shocked and scared at the reaction from the four
people, and amazed at how incredibly fast they had all spun around
to point their guns at him, he answered in a squeaky voice, “My
name's Tim.” He cleared his throat and tried to put some bass in it
as he added, “I’m the one who left the hatch open for you so you
could get on board. I need your help.”

“Is it zombies?” Heather asked as she looked around
for any sign of the dead.

“They’re part of the problem,” he replied. “But
mostly it's the living ones on the ship. They're crazy as
hell.”

 

Chapter Five

 

The Dead Calm:

After regaining his composure, Tim Lopez walked to
the guest registration counter and jumped up to sit on it. His legs
dangled over the edge and his heels thumped its face as he studied
the four people he hoped could help him and his sister escape the
madness they found themselves in.

The two siblings and their parents had boarded the
Calm of the Seas almost three months earlier from Port Canaveral
for what was supposed to be a seven day cruise to Mexico. Tim still
remembered the fun and excitement of the first two days at sea, but
after that, the trip had spiraled into a nightmare that continued
to get worse. The first case of HWNW showed itself on the second
day of the cruise when one of the attendants entered a cabin to
clean it and create an animal figure from rolled towels he would
leave for his guest's enjoyment. The room itself was empty, but
when he opened the door to the bathroom, he found a bloody,
half-naked woman lying on the floor. He summoned medical aid
immediately, but before they could arrive, he saw the woman start
to convulse and then lay still. Her body sagging as all its muscles
relaxed.

Seeing that she had quit breathing, and fearing that
she was dying, the attendant bent over her and started
mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The woman quickly came back, but not
to life. Instead of giving her thanks to the attendant for his
heroic efforts, she lunged up from the bathroom floor and bit off
his right ear.

What the attendant didn't know, was that earlier in
the day when the ship had stopped in Miami, the woman and her
husband had disembarked to tour the city and buy souvenirs. She
brought back T-shirts, a coffee mug and a new sundress, while her
husband brought back the HWNW virus after being attacked and bitten
on the shoulder in a public restroom.

Thinking at first that the assault was nothing more
than some freak getting his perverted kicks, this was Miami after
all, and not wanting to ruin his vacation, the man kept the attack
to himself. Hours later he started convulsing, died, came back to
life and tried to eat his wife. His secret was out. She escaped her
dead husband by locking herself in the bathroom. Here she fainted
from shock and blood loss, lying unconscious on the floor until the
cabin attendant found her. Hubby, in the mean time, having been
denied his meal, went in search of other food.

Staggering down the passageway, the dead thing had
barely gone ten yards when it found something to eat. A door to a
cabin opened and an elderly man stepped out. Seeing food, the dead
man turned and leapt at him, pushing him back into his room. The
senior citizen's first impression was that he was being robbed.
That thought was snuffed out, along with his life, when dead hubby
tore his throat out and started to feed. In this manner, the zombie
visited three more cabins over the next day before being
discovered.

After the woman who had attacked the attendant was
restrained, the Captain was summoned to deal with the bloody
incident. Not wanting to alarm the passengers for what he suspected
was a drug induced attack, he had the cabin sealed and the injured
moved through the crew passageways to the ship’s infirmary. The
doctor who examined the woman had never seen a case like hers
before, so he advised that she be airlifted to the nearest
hospital. The Coast Guard was called and a helicopter dispatched,
but before they could arrive, two more cases of passengers going
crazy and attacking those around them were reported; one in the
Sombrero lounge on deck ten near the bow and the other in the
formal dining room on deck five near the stern.

The Captain, now thinking that since the three
incidents were scattered throughout the Calm of the Seas that they
could be related to some type of food poisoning, gave orders to
have the ship's stores examined for any type of contamination. The
reports came back negative, so he reverted to his initial theory
that that the attacks were caused by some type of drug use. When no
other cases were reported, and the three sick people were
successfully airlifted, he felt justified in giving the order to
continue on with the cruise schedule. All went well until early the
next morning when the cabin attendant who had been bitten on the
ear staggered into the crew’s mess hall and attacked a sales girl
who worked in one of the shops in the Centrum. Before three men
from the engine room restrained him, he managed to infect them, the
sales girl and four others.

Before the Captain could respond to this latest
carnage, dozens of reports started coming in about other attacks on
passengers and crew by maniacs who bit and clawed at their victims.
Now fearing that whatever contaminates causing the outbreak was
being spread by the water or air circulation systems, the Captain
ordered that these be shut down and examined. No contaminants were
found, but with the situation getting out of control, he ordered
his first officer to make for Cozumel.

Calling a general emergency, the Captain asked that
all passengers return to, and remain in, their cabins. Using the
excuse that the crew needed the passageways clear while they worked
on the water and air systems, he left these off to support his lie.
What he really wanted to do was to keep the decks clear so that the
drug addled junkies could be restrained and locked up. Splitting
his available crew into two person teams, the Captain ordered every
square inch of the cruise liner searched for anyone acting
aggressively. Once apprehended, these people were to be kept in the
Sounds Lounge at the rear of deck eight. Although his intentions
were good, and most of those carrying the virus were detained, the
Captain's order caused a good portion of his crew to become
infected when they came into contact with the dead.

After the sweep of the Calm of the Seas was completed
and an all clear sounded, the Captain allowed the passengers to
come out into the common areas of the ship. At first the mood was
subdued, but as word leaked out as to what was really going on, and
that these incidents were connected to news reports about the
spread of the HWNW virus, it started to get ugly.

Some passengers locked themselves in the relative
security of their cabins but many more besieged the crew with
demands for protection. A large group banded together and initiated
roving patrols that went in search of anyone who might be infected
with the disease. The words 'plague ship' were used for the first
time.

Over the course of the day, as the members of the
crew who had been infected succumbed to their various bites and
infected scratches, the Captain ordered them quarantined with the
others in the Sounds Lounge. Finding himself shorthanded due to the
attrition of his crew, he asked for volunteers from the passengers
to fill the gaps in his staff.

Tim's dad had served in the navy on a cruiser, so he
stepped forward to offer his skills. Assuring his wife and children
they would be safe, he left to do what he thought was his duty.
None of them ever saw him again.

Shortly after this, a passenger who had joined one of
the roving patrols knocked on the door of the Lopez's cabin. Now
better organized, the men of the patrol had taken to wearing
crimson colored T-shirts so they could be more easily identified.
The red shirt that came to the Lopez's cabin informed the family
that they had to relocate since their deck was to be used to
quarantine those suspected of being infected. After being given ten
minutes to pack their belongings, Tim and his family stepped out
into the passageway to join the stream of other displaced
passengers from deck four heading toward the exit.

Despite many people stopping and complaining to the
red shirts, stationed at twenty-foot intervals to make sure
everything went smoothly, the exodus was moving along in a fairly
orderly fashion as everyone filed toward the rear of the ship. Not
liking the crowds and the noise, and wanting to keep her family
together as more people flooded into the hallway from their cabins,
Tim's mom had just finished telling him and his sister to stay
close when from behind them they heard a blood curdling scream.

Since he couldn't see what was happening through the
throng of people, Tim assumed it was an attack by one of the crazy
people he had heard his mom and dad talking about. Not wanting to
be separated from his family, he reached over to grab his sister's
hand. Finding it, he locked it in a death grip. As he reached for
his mom’s, a sudden press of people surged from behind and
separated them. Above the frightened screams and shouts that filled
the passageway, Tim could hear his mother calling for him and his
sister. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't force his way back
through the now panicked mob to reach her.

The forward momentum of the crowd pushed Tim and his
sister Connie out through the double doors of the cabin area and
into the Centrum where Connie pulled Tim to the side of the flow.
Here they could wait for their mom to appear. As they anxiously
watched the exit, neither could find their mother in the throng but
they did see their first zombie.

When Tim spotted the thing, it appeared to be
receiving a piggyback ride from a stocky man who looked like he had
just stepped out of an ad for Muscle and Fitness magazine. As
Muscle man stepped past the exit doors, it became clear that he was
not willingly giving his hitchhiker a ride. Twisting and bending,
he swung back and forth in an effort to dislodge the thing, but the
zombie was not to be denied its meal. With its arms wrapped around
Muscle man's neck and its legs similarly wound around his waist, it
clung to him like a remora as it repeatedly bit into the back of
his head, ripping scalp from his skull in small flaps.

The crowd coming through the doors scattered at the
bloody sight, and those still waiting to exit backed up into the
cabin area's passageway. Two red shirts that had been standing by
the doors jumped forward to try and remove the zombie from Muscle
man’s back but got nowhere for their efforts. Seeing they couldn't
save the man, and knowing that anyone who was bitten would soon go
crazy themselves and try to assault others, the two red shirts
pushed Muscle man and his aggressor back into the cabin area and
slammed the heavy, steel fire doors behind them with a resounding
bang. Before any of the onlookers could step forward to point out
that there were people trapped in the cabin area with the maniac,
one of the red shirts produced a length of chain and a lock, using
them to secure the doors.

Seeing this, Connie screamed and froze as Tim rushed
forward to save his mother. A crowd formed around the red shirts,
yelling at them to open the doors. Tim heard one of the men reply
that he didn't have the key, someone named Reverend Ricky had
it.

Hearing this sent fear and rage shooting through Tim
and he threw himself against the barricade, tearing at the heavy
links of chain that imprisoned his mother. Even above the noise of
the crowd, he could hear screams of pain and terror coming from the
other side of the door. As he tugged futilely at the lock, he never
saw the red shirt step up behind him and raise the club in his
hand.

Regaining consciousness, Tim's first sight was his
sister leaning over him with tears streaming down her face. “Mom?”
He asked groggily, but his sister couldn't speak. She shook her
head and mouthed the word, “No.”

Pain welled up in him. Looking around, he tried to
focus on something besides his grief and hiding his tears, when he
noticed that they were in a cabin. Connie finally got herself under
control and explained what happened after he was knocked
unconscious.

When the red shirt struck Tim down, the crowd surged
forward in rage at seeing a small boy abused. Tim's attacker and
his partner were outnumbered twenty to one, but they carried clubs
while the passengers were unarmed. With their backs against the
doors leading to the cabin area, the red shirts used these
bludgeons to menace the mob and hold them at bay. Despite this, the
angry crowd inched forward until it looked like the two men would
be pulled down anyway by sheer weight of numbers. Suddenly, screams
erupted from the back of the group. Turning to what they thought
was another crazed attacker, the people in the mob were astonished
to see half a dozen men in red T-shirts knocking passengers to the
left and right with an assortment of sawed off pool cues and broken
off table legs. Seeing their rescuers coming to save them, the two
red shirts at the door joined in by striking the passengers nearest
them with their own clubs.

BOOK: Dead Calm
5.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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