The Graveyard Tales
Chapter Fifty Three: New Stories
Four days after leaving Boulder, Colorado, a small fleet of vehicles converged in New Orleans. The city was badly overrun. By the time the undead had reached Louisiana, too many soldiers, police, and National Guardsmen had fallen. Too much of the government had been lost, or had abandoned the American people to save their own wretched skins. The state had been left to fend for itself, and within two days, had been completely overtaken by the dead.
It had been tough going, but with some clever driving through back roads and the expenditure of many bullets, they arrived together at the docks.
There were no handshakes. No hugs. No high-fives or fist bumps. They were all glad to see each other, but it was a bittersweet reunion. Too many friends were absent, and though the sting off loss was nothing new, it was something one never grew accustomed to.
Jake Marlowe. Sara Kern. Steven Rankin. Aiko. All gone, through one means or another. Names erased from a swiftly dwindling list of humanity. With the loss of each one, the species lost something important, something irreplaceable. It made it that much more necessary to keep moving and stay alive. Who knew if there were any others? For all this small group could tell, they were the last of the human race.
Introductions were made for the newcomers. All told, forty three uninfected humans stood on the dock. The way they looked at Addie Mayor, Ron Bern, and Michael Rayanson, it was clear that they were being looked to for guidance and leadership. Not an honor they wanted in the slightest, but if they didn't step up, this group would fall. It was as simple as that. These three were more than just survivors-they were warriors, and this was war. They had to lead.
Ron began issuing orders, and Addie led a group to a pair of large, private yachts. Only a couple dead were aboard, and they found the galley stuffed to bursting with food, much of it canned and able to last for months. A search also revealed loads of medical supplies, and several canisters of fuel. The sails were new, and a few in their group had experience on boats like this. Perhaps the original owners had the same plan this group did, but didn't live to carry it out. In that case, Addie said a quick prayer of thanks for the good fortune.
Nearby, Michael and another group raided a bait shop, coming out with rods, reels, lines, hooks, sinkers, and all manner of fishing accessories. The sea would become their new larder once the food aboard the ships ran out, and they intended to be prepared.
Ron checked a nearby gun store, and reported that it had been picked fairly clean. He had four pistols, two rifles, and a dozen boxes of ammunition. The one bright side—the store had a number of blades, knives, and axes which this group were now the proud owners of. Whoever had raided that store seemed to only care about the boomsticks. Good luck to those dumbasses.
A short time later, the ships departed, a crowd of undead on the docks to give them a sendoff. It seemed proper, in a way. The dead had been their companions this entire trip, and though they hoped with all their hearts that they would never see them again, none were naïve enough to believe it would happen. One way or another, they knew their paths would cross once more.
Some among the survivors raised the salient point of the naval blockade which had sunk so many ships doing just what they planned to do. Ron said they would cross that bridge when they came to it, and in any event, there was no place left in America for them to go. The United States, now known as The Graveyard, was the realm of the dead. It was not a place for the living.
As they sailed away, Addie looked across the waters back into America, and past that, to Canada. She missed her lover and son with all her heart, but she could feel it in her soul—the mission that had brought her back to this hellhole wasn't over, and she had to remain with these people until she made up for the lives she had sacrificed in her bid for freedom so long ago.
Michael stowed their weapons, and found his thoughts drifting to a time long ago. He and his friend Matthew Erickson walking the streets of Boston, chatting about bands and movies. He couldn't remember exactly when that trip had taken place, but as the details filled in, he found himself wishing to return to that time, if only for a moment.
On the other ship, Ron did his best to keep his thoughts clear. Too many people were counting on him to let the despair and sadness which gripped his soul take over. As before, as ever, he pushed it aside, building a dam against the flood. His purpose came first, and it wasn't to grieve.
No one knew what lay across the oceans. Would they be welcomed as weary refugees, or turned away as diseased threats? Was there a safe harbor for them, or would they be doomed to spend what remained of their lives on the open seas? Was the rest of the world free of the zombie plague, or had the undead made their way to new shores, new victims?
All good questions, all without answers. As Ron said, they'd just cross that bridge when they came to it.
But they'd do it together. This was their tale, and it was far from over.
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