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Chapter 46 – Don’t Deem It’s Over

May 8, 2012

Chapter 46 – “Don’t Deem It’s Over”

Now – Liberty Island, New York

The pair of improvised undertakers finished the bottle attempting to quash that uneasy feeling in their gut with the cheap booze. They talked about what they’d do with the money, knowing that it really wasn’t enough to achieve the dreams they had as kids.

“Y’know… Father McLoone says it’s all over. This is the end times and such…”

“He’s been sayin’ that since we was altar boys, Mike.”

“Yeah, but now. The economy. The wars. The terrorisms. It’s different now. Sometimes I wonder…”

Mike’s face turned white and was frozen. His gaze was over Rich’s shoulder. Rich knew he was looking at the grave they had just filled with dirt without turning around. A shiver ran down his spine. He turned slowly.

A hand, covered with dirt, had popped up and was moving. The ground was writhing as if alive.

“F*** dis!”

Rich dropped the bottle and they ran for their boat and only looked back to make sure that the thing that rose from the dead was not pursuing them on the water. Could the dead swim? Father McLoone had never said that they could recall.

It looked as though it tried. It couldn’t speak but made weird croaking sounds and drool ran from it’s mouth. They didn’t look back again once they saw it standing in silhouette as the water’s edge.

“Frickin’ zombies, man!”

The docked and ran to the nearest church. The attending father noticed their whiskey breath when they pantedly related to him that the dead were rising. The priest seemed nonplussed. However, he was considerably more sympathetic to their claims once they plopped their combined $20,000 into the donation box. Ten Hail Marys and they’d be fine, he said.

*****

Mere moments ago – Liberty Island, New York

When Braden woke up, his chest hurt. He vaguely recalled the feeling of being struck by lightning repeatedly.

Eli had killed him. He had exposed Braden to the deadly virus now circling the entire planet like a noose around a traitor’s neck. He’d dropped dead. He was certain of it. He was not, as some people had once believed about Phoebus decades ago, invulnerable.

And yet he was now awake and confined in a small dark space. A box just large enough to hold his large frame with little wiggle room.

“Ahhhhh!”

A light came on right in front of his face. Actually two. One for each eye. There were video goggles built into the…coffin?

“What the hey?”

“Good morning, Braden Nelson. Welcome back.”

There was sound as well, in stereo. It was a female voice, but like one of those you hear on the TV that meant it was a computer, an artificial intelligence. It sounded pleasant and yet utterly insensitive to his current claustrophobia. The face he saw in 3D was pleasant…attractive even, but also professional in a sexy librarian kind of way.

“Computer…what happened?”

“You were clinically dead. You have been revived though repeated defibrilation and pressurized circulation of your blood. This unit had to increase the power in order to restart your heart. It very nearly drained my batteries altogether.”

“But the virus?”

“Not just the virus. An experimental vaccine. Unfortunately, the virus ceases body functions before the antibodies can react. It acts quickly and is quite potent in even very small quantities. The vaccine took effect once your blood distributed the vaccine properly.”

“Experimental…? And if you hadn’t been able to revive me?”

“This unit doubles as a coffin.”

“Where’s Eli?”

The librarian disappeared from his sight. The googles lit up with a greenish hue. It showed what happened after Braden died. He saw Maya looking just the way she had last time he saw her alive. She knocked Eli out after he emerged from his hiding place.

“Well, I’ll be…”

Then he saw… It had to be Roarke, older and bald…checking to make sure Braden was dead.

“Crap! Where are they?”

“Checking satelite…”

The screen lit up again. Google Earth showed the location of Liberty Island. It then zoomed out and to the southeast. It pinpointed a location in the Atlantic. Then it zoomed in: Grenada.

“How far is that?”

“2,112 miles.”

“Two thousand miles?”

“2,112.”

“How long to swim that?”

“For you, two and one-half days, approximately, depending on weather.”

“I need to get out of here. Any ideas?”

“Push!”

There was a hissing sound at the pneumatic seal released. He pushed up on the lid and dirt poured into the coffin, covering him from head to foot. He started to spit what had gotten into his mouth but realized it would have nowhere to go but his face.

He thought he heard some screaming as he dug himself out. There was a boat just pulling away. He tried to knock some of the mud off. He tried to shout but his mouth was full of dirt. He spat and choked trying to get it out but merely choked and tried to breathe. By the time he shouted ‘stop’ they were too far away.

“Dadburnit. Not fast enough.”

He was wishing he could fly, which of course, he could not. It’d be a short plane ride but a very long swim. What had Eli expected? He’d have left him some way… Or did he forget that? He couldn’t have known where Roarke was hiding… Maybe didn’t even know it was Roarke at all. He was supposed to be dead. Dammit, he expected whoever it was to be local!

The sound of the chopper was barely audible given that it was in stealth mode. In fact, it was practically upon Braden when he noticed it. The loudspeaker at somewhere near the front bottom of the chopper blared.

“So. How did it go?”

Mendoza.

“Get down here! No time!”

After he climbed aboard, before Mendoza could even debrief him, the radio blared with orders. Mendoza was to take Nelson to Fort Detrick for debriefing. “Top priority”, “immediately.”

“It’s Roarke, Mendoza. We don’t have time for this. Gotta get to Grenada.”

“Sorry. Orders.”

“You know I won’t allow it. You really want more damage to taxpayer property?”

“Roarke’s protected. The guy pulls a lot of weight in the both the US and British governments…they love the guy, and therefore he is off limits.

“No way they’ll let you near him. Especially being associated with Schneider, whom they believe a world class terrorist and the most dangerous man in the world at this point.”

“So that’s it? We’re screwed.”

“Base, this is Mendoza. On our way.”

The reply came, understood. Mendoza fiddled with a control, then drew his a knife and slid it in under a small screwed-in panel. There was no smoke, no sound, but the lights went out on one smallish display.

“One more thing, base. The chopper is having some GPS difficulties. May need to swing south and approach from there to avoid commercial traffic. Over.”

Base acknowledged. Just hurry, was the main point.

Mendoza gazed over the top of his sunglasses at Braden, “You didn’t see that.”

“See what? The damage to taxpayer property? Wear and tear, I’m sure of it! But how will we get there without GPS?”

“Been there before. But you didn’t hear that.”

“Hear what?”

The chopper spun south and a bit to the east. Mendoza brought it up a bit and they sped toward the little island.

“Just pray they don’t send planes to intercept once they realize we are swinging way south. They will shoot us down.”

“I thought this thing was stealthy!”

Mendoza just smiled grimly and pushed the throttle forward. They flew.

—–

©2011 Christopher C. Knall

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