Date: Unknown. Time: Unknown. Location: Unidentified River.
I never thought I'd live to see the day she died.
She lasted longer than most thought she would but in the end she just wasn't strong enough.
Once life flourished in her briny depths. Now… Her waters have been stripped of life. I haven't seen a whale in… Well it feels like forever now. Sharks are gone. Craps, lobsters, clams. All of 'em gone. I find myself taking to the rivers more and more. They're not much better in terms of aquatic life, but the "scavenging" is better. That's what I'm doing right now. "Scavenging."
At first it was easy. I'd float with the motor out of the water making me look adrift. There was always some self-made pirate who'd come along and try to take what's mine. They were always shocked at how well armed my men are and how well practiced they are at securing and boarding other vessels. We'd take what we needed. We'd leave what they needed to survive. Unless they fought. Most didn't. We'd end our expedition by disabling their motors, nothing permanent mind you just something that would take time enough to fix for us to make our escape. That was then.
Now, the boat we're chasing down is a small 20 footer. The name River Princess is barely discernible on her stern. Her once white exterior coated with the grime of the new world. Her small motor is no match for us.
Us. Hmmph. I just wanted to help those I could. I know things. About survival. About the sea. I wanted to help. I took an oath. Swore to protect my fellow citizens. I tried…
"Admiral should we close the gap."
"Yes. Let's finish it."
The order is given. Just like that the second motor on each vessel kicks in giving us all a burst of unexpected speed. They never stood a chance. Our three boats surround them. Men with boarding hooks crouch low on deck. They've learned never to underestimate those we board. They were right to learn that lesson. A loud crack sounds. It's echo carries in every direction. As if the motors weren't enough now the dinner bells been rung. They'll be on the banks soon. Clawing at the air.
The shot was the husband. Father. Provider. Protector. The shot missed. Didn't take much for my crew to tackle him to the ground and bind him. I stepped on board without much of a thought. That's not true. I thought, 'Is this really what it's come down to. Taking from one to provide for another?' Huddled on the deck before me were the husband, his wife, and their daughter. They looked like they came from money. He still wore a blue blazer. The kind from a yacht club. The wife wore a rock that had to weigh her hand down. All signs that this "scavenging" run could be very profitable for us.
"What do you want?" He looks up defiantly, blood pouring form his nose.
My small boarding party stands at my back. Four in all for this run. Three men one woman. They all look to me. Look to me for food. Clean water. Protection. What do we want? "What do ya got?" I respond without emotion. I've done this too many times. Stopped thinking about it, don't remember when. Had to. Couldn't do it if I thought about it.
"What? Nothing. We have nothing."
"Well that's not true. You have a boat. You have gas for her engines. You must have some other supplies. Let's just see what treasure you have below deck shall we."
"No. Please. There's a box of supplies over there. A bag of stuff up near the bow. Please all that's down there is my son. He's scared. Sick. Please take everything else. Just leave him alone." Terror. True stark terror enters his eyes. I see it in his wife and daughter's. Shit. That can only mean.
The scream. It sickens me. Another one of my crew gone. "Everyone off. Now!" The remaining three quickly retreat to their craft not before grabbing the aforementioned box and bag. We leave the family bound on the boat. The thing claws its way topside.
The tears start.
It slowly makes its way toward its formerly family. Mom tries to hide behind dad. Dad stares at the thing. Tears streaking his sunburned cheeks. It only takes minutes for the thing to attack each of it's family members and for them to turn. I give the order, "Send her to the bottom."
The firemen take a small boat to her starboard side, away from the things. The torches are tossed. It takes much longer for the flames to eat away at what once was probably only used on weekends and holidays for jaunts on the river. When she finally sinks to the depths another piece of me goes with her.
By now the shore is clogged with THEM. Their arms out stretched their jaws slack. They reach for us. Some enter the water disappearing below the surface. They don't breathe. Meaning they don't drown. They just walk along the bottom one purpose in mind.
I look around at my crew. Men and women. Mothers and fathers. Sons and daughters. Civilians. Most of them anyways. Some lifted off the decks of derelict pleasure craft dehydration and starvation having nearly claimed their lives. Others plucked form the water, the only thing keeping them from meeting the mouths of the undead bellow them the life jackets they had the good sense to put on. Still others begged to join us after we overtook their small craft. Now each of them a hardened veteran of the seas. Scurvy Dogs. That's what they call themselves. Admiral. That's what they call me. I'm no Admiral. Admirals are courageous leaders, inspiring confidence, and exhibiting honor. Like Keel Haul. I've lost all that. I just left one of my own along with a family on a boat. I watched the infection spread. Watched the boat burn. There is no courage, leadership, or honor in any of that. No I'm no Admiral. Hell I'm not even an Officer. Never was. CPO. Chief Petty Officer is the highest I ever earned. CPO Delgado. Once a Joe. Now a pirate.
Categories: G.I Joe Chapters