Tuesday, November 18, 2008



We zipped across the surface of the ocean like some kind of giant hydroplane. Water simply exploded off the propellers in a huge spray of foam. The twin cooling towers glowed even with the 200mph cooling breeze as the vaporized water and sea salt shot high into the sky like billowing orange flames. In two hours or so it took to reach our target, we only consumed a tiny bit of fuel. The system took a while to cool down, and ship also needed to be slowed gradually, so we just coasted the last twenty miles or so. Even now, at a complete stop, about half a mile away from our target, steam still billowed out of the towers as the Singularity Matrix released its residual energy.

A boarding party assembled down near Ellie's cage. Mostly men, they carried any and all weapons they could, mostly shotguns and short swords and hatchets.

"Oh Alex," said Carrie, "you haven't seen the best part of this yet. Check out this feature."

The Klaxon sounded again, this time with a more urgent tone. People huddled in the room as all the hatches were double checked.

"Ready? we discovered this almost by accident. Apparently, if you dump a bunch of matter into the Singularity Matrix instead of ramping it up slowly, the Matrix creates this pulse that kind of messes with your head chemically. The theory is some channels get opened that aren't supposed to be. There are three basic levels: Stage One, people just pass out, and wake up with headaches. Stage Two, you're about to see that. Stage Three, well, they never wake up again. Turns people into vegetables. The problem with Stage Three is that the blast is so powerful we're afraid it will damage the Matrix so we try not to use it. It's pretty much overkill anyways. Well here we goes."

Carrie typed in some instructions and waited for a green condition on her monitor. She hit a button. I felt a shudder rip through the boat but not much else. A large plume of steam like a small mushroom cloud puffed out of the towers.

"Is it done," I asked.

Carrie nodded. She pointed at the monitors. Nothing moved. A couple other cameras focused on aircraft in the area. They seemed normal. "Approach the vessel at idle speed."

I directed the ship to approach the stricken freighter. It had come to a stop when it first saw us. In a delicate procedure, we came along side the boat. The men ran up the stairs and onto our deck, still warm from the heat of the towers. They spread out and started roping in the other ship. We cast a few lines across and then a rope ladder. A dozen of our men climbed it and jumped on the deck of the ship.

"Why don't you go with them and check it out," said Carrie.

I looked at Misty and she nodded OK. I arranged for Rod to take them back to their room and look after them. I didn't want Misty left alone without me.

"Et tu Alex Ross," Ellie yelled at me from her cell. She could see the proceedings on the movie wall. A couple pirates had mounted cameras so everyone could watch the invasion.

They wouldn't give me a gun but I managed a sword. I figured I might need a weapon. By the time I reached the deck they had already laid a gangplank across so I just walked onto the other ship. I followed the crowd around into the main bridge area. I noticed a couple crewmen laying still on the ground. They were still breathing. One of them started groaning and moving, holding his head.

I went over to him, and tried to help him sit up. His simply groaned louder and louder, and soon his companion began the same routine. Finally he stood up and screamed. His eyes popped open, and his mouth snarled with rage. In a moment he spotted me as I instinctively backed away. He charged at me, arms reaching for me. I think I screamed or something then ran. The fellow tripped and cracked his head on some pipes. He rose again, blood pouring from his open wound. He took another step towards me, and then his companion jumped on his back, biting and chewing and ripping at his neck and shoulders while beating him with his arms.

In a moment the first guy collapsed, blood streaming out like a river. The second chewed away on the downed man then stopped, eyeing me with rage. He started to approach me, and then his head exploded as a shotgun blast reached its mark.

"Fucking rookie," spat an old grizzly pirate. "You never been on a zombie raid?"

"Uhh... I just got on board. What the fuck is going on?"

The man scratched his scraggly beard and looked around. "It's zombie time. First we kill the zombies, then we loot. Is all you got that little sword? You expect to fight a zombie with that?"

I unsheathed it and examined it. The sword did seem like a poor killing weapon, especially against a charging zombie. "Not really. You got something better?"

The man raised his eyebrows and nodded. "Yeah, we found an arsenal over here. You better grab something. Not all these zombies attack on sight...some of them lay around waiting for someone to show, real smart and stealthy. Some don't even turn to Zombies, they just act all drunk. They're the first ones to die though when the full zombies attack, can't defend worth shit."

He led me around the bridge to the arsenal. It had been almost picked clean but after some rummaging the man found me a pump-action shotgun and a box of shells. I began to hate my outfit since it had almost no pockets whatsoever.

"Stick with me, kid. Let's see what's on this boat."

What proceeded was the most disorganized and random looting I've ever seen. As the men killed the zombies, they stole their possessions. The blew the ship safe and stole cash. The staterooms were searched. Then they turned their attention to the cargo: a shipment of produce and refrigerated meats from Argentina and Chile, food we desperately needed to restock our larder.

The old pirate led me around the boat searching for various items. When we discovered a large cache of booze, I think the old man also died from joy. We radioed up our discovery, and all attention turned to figuring out the best way to get the booze onto our boat.

I decided I had seen enough and started to return back to the QC1 when I heard an odd keening noise. I followed it, my shotgun drawn and loaded. I entered the engine room. A man sat on the floor, bleeding from several places. Another man lay on the ground, his face and neck cut to ribbons. He spoke in Spanish, crying and raising his broken hands towards me. I felt another presence near me, one of the other pirates.

"Do you know what he's saying," I asked. "Is he still a zombie?"

"No, it wears off after a while," replied the man, aiming his gun at the man. "He's asking why, why did this happen? You see, he just pretty much ate that other dude. Now his mind's clearing up. This is the worst part. His says he thinks his arms are broken. They swing so hard as zombies that they break their arms, dislocate their shoulders, break their necks, you name it. It's like you just went to Hell."

He took aim, and blew the guy's head off. "Poor bastard."

I hurried up and out of there, and puked my guts out before I could even get to the rail. My whole body trembled. What the hell has Carrie done? How could you use this against people? This is horrible. I think people should not try to fight us. It's not worth it. If you're on a boat and you see us approach, just put up a white flag and surrender. Don't let us do this again. This isn't a weapon you can fight.

After that incident I retired to my quarters where Misty held me tight. Rod had offered to play some checkers with Julia while I talked with Misty. There's not much that can erase those memories from my head.

Posted: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 @ 9:11 PM

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