The Fast and the Dead - Day 38

They tried to run, but the water was thigh-high. Claire put on some speed and reached the boat, scrambling in while Ben struggled to keep up. “Get it started!” he yelled. The dead were converging on them, more and more approaching from either side.

The first one grabbed his arm just as he was reaching out for the side of the boat, the water up past his waist. He jerked his arm away, nearly pulling the thing onto him, its mouth gaping open. He stumbled back, shoving it away. More were crowding in close.

Desperately he surged toward the boat, gripping the sides and pulling himself halfway over. Cold, wet hands grabbed at his legs and shoes; he kicked and shoved, trying to use them to get in to safety faster. One of the hands got a solid grasp on his good ankle.

Claire slammed an oar into the thing’s head, knocking it away. It didn’t let go, but Ben pulled himself free. “I couldn’t make sense of that thing!” Claire screamed.

He wasted no time replying, clawing his way to the engine while Claire beat the oncoming dead back like so many weeds in a field.

The water was thick with them. Franticly he primed the motor, jabbed what he thought must be the starter, and it roared to life. Claire stumbled and nearly fell as the boat began moving slowly ahead. Claire shoved the second oar at him as they moved, and together they shoved and bashed any that got too close.

Ben steered them into deeper waters; they were picking up speed but too slowly to stay where they could be reached. From below they began to feel heavy impacts; more of the dead, still in the deeper waters, unseen but still coming for them. The heavy impacts gave way to softer scraping. “They’re reaching up for us,” Ben said with a shiver. Dead fingers outstretched from the deep.

Finally the water was too deep and anything below couldn’t reach them. Looking over the side, they could see them though. Pale, lifeless faces, staring up hungrily, slowly following them.

“Where to from here?” Ben had been thinking an island. Now he wasn’t so sure.

“I don’t care,” Claire said, staring back at the ruins of the once-great city. Pinpricks of light glinted off the buildings as the afternoon wore on. Broken glass? Or camera lenses? Even in death, the city had a million eyes. “Anywhere but here.”