Howard Journal 11

After Bernstein gave us his history lesson we had to decide what to do. We argued about it for a bit and decided the medical bay was the first logical choice, to collect up what we could, and more importantly get what Desirae needed for a blood transfusion as she only had hours to live without one. I approached Tabitha and asked if she wanted to go or not. I didn’t share with her all that bullshit that Bernstein shared with us because right now frankly its not important and the poor girl has enough on her mind without being told she may be some sort of miracle cure for some end of the world zombie apocalypse started by Nazis. Talk about blowing a young mind. So I just asked if she wanted to go and she said yes although one of the cheerleaders, Jon I think it was, demanded to go with her. We also decided to use the speakers to mask our movements. One of the young people volunteered up their little music pod thing. We would use the agents walkie talkies to tell them to turn the music off and on as we needed to cover us.

So up the stairs we go, sounds covered by some sad sounding young lady complaining about her broken relationships, heading to the medical center. The stairs had a few zombies which we dispatched easily enough. In ones and twos they are still scary but we are getting pretty handy at taking them out. There were a few more on Deck 1, but again we took them out pretty easily. Grim had a clever little mirror on a stick and we were able to see that there was quite a mass of zombies amidships on the port side but the way to the Medical center was fairly clear. We got there and cleared out the zombies there. One of the more grotesque things I saw was that one of the sick people I had restrained to a gurney, a once very pretty young lady, had turned into a zombie and in trying to get free stripped all of the flesh from her hand. She had pulled so hard the zip tie had sliced all the flesh from her lower arm and hand. Her hand was stripped of flesh, barely held together with a few tendons and ligaments, but it still reached out and attempted to claw at us as Rivet crushed her head with a casual overhand blow.

We gathered up the supplies we needed and rushed them down to our base. Then we decided to see how hard it would be to rescue a young lady Tabitha had contacted named Addison White. Tabitha and some of the other kids had been calling around to the various phones to find out who might be alive and this Addison happened to be on deck 1 very near the medical bay. There were a bunch of zombies near her room so we called the phone of an empty room nearby but further aft as a distraction and Kevin was able to dash in, rescue Addison and her sick son and get back without the zombies being any wiser.

If we had not been so exhausted we would have probably been both elated and horrified at what we had done. Elated to have saved two more people. Horrified at how dangerous what had just been done was and how so very wrong everything could have gone. We debated and eventually it was decided that we needed to get off the ship. I could see that Grim was in agony at the thought of leaving his son alone to die as we abandoned the ship, but his glances at his daughter told everyone present that he would do anything to keep the one child he knew was alive safe.

After helping set up the transfusion machine between himself and Desirae, Dr Rivet suggested we all get some sleep as actually getting off the ship would be extremely difficult and we were going to need all our wits about us and we were all still extremely tired. The group settled down, leaving a few guards. I lay down for a little while but I could feel them on me. I was sticky. Bruce, zombies, survivors. They were on my skin, in my hair, behind my ears. The stink of them was overpowering. My clothes were clean but I was not. I got up and went in search of a janitors closet. I was able rig up a hose to a faucet and fashion a shower head and then proceeded to wash down. I don’t know how long I was in there but I felt like a new man, very red and slightly prunish, but a new man. Baptism by hot shower, I recommend it for all zombie survivors. Clean I climbed up on my desk, fluffed my makeshift pillow, pulled my one blanket up to my chin and fell into a sound and thankfully dreamless sleep.

I woke to a lovely smell. Shampoo, Candy’s shampoo. My body hurt too much to believe that it had all been a dream. I lounged for a brief moment, hoping that maybe I had just fallen down some stairs on the way to a dinner last night and hadn’t just spent the last two+ days fighting the risen dead. I couldn’t maintain the fantasy so I opened my eyes. It was Tabitha, not Candy. I could see her hair was still wet and she had that red, just scrubbed look. She needed it, we all do. She gave me a big hug and thanked me for the shower. Good kid there. I got up slowly and other than a twinge from my side and my left leg shooting pain up to the base of my brain I actually felt pretty good. Pop tarts, some cheese and crackers and a bottle of water for breakfast and then we started planning.

The plan was simple enough.

1) Get to the bridge
2) lower down the life boats
3) Set up the escape, we weren’t sure exactly how we were going to do this part yet
4) announce to people that what we were doing so they could get ready.
5) escape

Of course it was nowhere near to this easy, with part 1 being nearly the hairiest part of the whole ordeal. The last time we went to the bridge we walked up the crew stairwell, straight to the bridge and got in, but that was no longer an option. The two crew stairwells had filled with zombies, probably attracted by the grenades that Agent Smith had set up. Those stairwells were not an option. We briefly considered taking the bow elevators as those would let us out very near the bridge, but then someone pointed out we could then be stuck in a small box that opens up in front of a bunch of man eating beasts. Not a good idea. We finally decided to chop our way up the bow stairwells as they seemed the least occupied. We played music again to mask our movements.

Fighting uphill is not to be recommended, especially with creatures that throw themselves down on you attempting to rend your flesh with some sort of weird soundtrack playing in the background. We made it up only because we were getting more proficient with our weapons. The bridge was on deck 8 but we cleared all the way up to 10 and made sure the whole stairwell was clear. Returning to 8 we cracked the door and found the halls packed with zombies. No go. We climbed to deck 9 with the thought of maybe going forward to the staff stairs and darting down one level if it was clear. No luck that deck was packed with Zombies as well. Kevin suggested we go up to deck 10 and see if maybe we could lower ourselves down to the catwalk of the bridge. When we got to deck 10 it looked pretty good. The main deck and pool area had a few creatures shambling around but nothing of note. We turned the corner to head forward. There were a few downed zombies, shot in the head. Maybe the agents. As we approached the Wide World of Sports we were confronted with…a mass. That is the only way to describe it. Hundreds of zombies were packed onto the sports deck.

They were so clumped that they were having trouble moving. Thinking about it later they were probably attracted by the helicopter that the agents fled in. Hearing the noise they all moved to the bow and just clumped there. The only thing keeping them there were the high fences there to prevent passengers from sending various balls over into the water. Kevin saw the nets that run all the way around the WWoS and thought maybe we could crawl out on those but even there zombies were hanging suspended on various parts of the nets. Their slow jerky movements would suddenly change if we tried to get out on those nets with them. We fled back to the stairwell before any zombies of the mass were able to see us which would send a flood of shambling death in our direction.

I don’t remember who suggested it, but Kevin had brought a strange device with him. A mannequin torso rigged with speakers. I think the intention was for us to throw it overboard and have this floating noisemaker attract zombies who would then fling themselves over the railing. Someone suggested we turn off the ship wide music, take this mannequin, throw it down the landing from the stairs on deck 8 and wait a while. The zombies in the hallways blocking the bridge should then clear out of our path and we can make a break for it. Our plan worked great. The mannequin was thrown, the music was cleared, we waited 5 minutes and then checked the halls. Only a few zombies were left in the starboard hallway. We chopped them down and got to the door, swiped the key-card and….the door didn’t move. It was blocked from the other side. SHIT!! We started shoving and with a horrible screech we moved it open. A second shove and even louder screech it moved again. After a third great heave the door was open maybe 8 inches. Tabitha told us to all move to the sides and with a hop, a wiggle and a little cute grunting she was through. As she started moving things Grim whispered “They are coming!!”

In our rush we had forgotten to get the ship wide music turned on and all the noise we had created trying to get the door open was bringing our friends back our way. Tabitha was frantically trying to move cabinets and desks and other things as Kevin, Jonathan and I pushed on the door and Grim guarded our rear. I wished that Rivet had chosen to come with us. He would have helped tremendously, but he had stayed back to help care for the wounded. We freed up the door and got in just as the zombies reached the door. With them bashing on the door Grim and I leaned on the door while the others quickly put all the junk back in front of it to keep the door shut. We had made it to the bridge!

We set about lowering the boats while Tabitha rigged the controls to be able to control the alarm klaxons. While she was working she was able to figure out she would be able to control where the klaxons would go off and for how long and she could do this from the engine room, making things much easier. The plan we developed would be that we would retreat back down to the engine room, make an announcement to the whole boat which Klaxons we would be setting off and once the klaxons had drawn the zombies to a specific part of the ship when people should attempt to flee. The problem was we were stuck on the bridge. The catwalk was empty but the drop to the water would kill us, and even if it didn’t we would be stuck in a life boat unable to get back onto the ship. We tried to move the zombies by slowly moving the alarm klaxons away from the bridge toward the aft of the ship and were eventually able to get down to the engine room.

We then gathered every, explained that we were going to evac the engine room and leave a small group to run the alarms and the evacuation while the rest of the survivors got to boats and facilitated picking people up. We took a few moments to gather up what supplies we could, set off the klaxons aft and then started to move up the bow stairwell and out the port cargo hatch while the zombies shuffled toward the rear of the boat. My grandson Richard jumped from the gantry into the water and then brought over one of the life rafts and we quickly got the survivors into that boat. I saw Kevin take over that boat and Richard dove into the water to get another one. Three lifeboats were tasked with collecting survivors as they escaped from the ship while everyone else would gather up lifeboats and stand off at a safe distance.

Stubborn Love

As I was making one last trip with the final group I happened to glance down the port causeway and that’s when I saw her. She was walking away from me, slowly, but seemingly with purpose. Her hair was a bit unkempt but still flowed like light straw blowing in the wind of the air conditioners. She had on her blue shawl and was wearing those tan slacks that showed off her figure so well. She was still an attractive lady even at 60. I wasn’t sure why she was walking toward those other zombies but it didn’t really matter, I started to run toward her. A hand fell on my shoulder but I brushed it off and kept going. Someone shouted something behind me, which I didn’t think was wise since it might attract the zombies gathered beyond her but luck was with us and none seemed to hear over the music. My heart was pumping hard as I ran down the hallway, more with happiness and anticipation than with exertion. I reached up and turned her and my pumping heart gave a lurch as I saw the blood that was caked on her peach and white blouse, but relief flooded me as I saw her mouth curl up in a grin. She was happy to see me. I gave her a quick hug and then held her at arms length to double check that she was OK. I couldn’t hear what she was saying over the music playing on the speakers. She was struggling with me, her hands pawing at my shirt, unbelieving that I was alive as well. I could tell that she was as desperate as I was to just embrace and hold on but this was not the time. She was alive and I needed to get her back to the others.

I turned and started pulling her toward the cargo hatch. She was trying to keep up but she was obviously tired from her ordeal and was having trouble keeping up. I was relieved to see my new friends running forward to help. I would carry her if I could but I knew that with all that had happened I would not be able to without help. Grim was in the lead and he was pointing and gesturing behind me but I just kept going, pulling her along with me, her hand grasped mine tightly, she knew I wouldn’t let go.

Grim charged up to me raised up his spear and thrust it past me. I turned as her hand was torn from my grip. I knew as I turned I would see Candy being pulled away from me by the unthinking creatures that we feared, and I was ready to rend and tear these creatures that were taking her from me. I finished my turn and fell to my knees as I saw my wife Candy skewered with a spear through her left shoulder. Grim used his momentum to pin her to the wall. Her right arm was hanging loosely at her side, her shawl thrown to the side revealing the horrific gaping wound on her upper right shoulder, the bones of her shoulder joint clearly visible, held together with only a few bits of tattered flesh and tendons. Her eyes, which I had thought were filled with longing were only filled with…nothing. There was nothing there. She stared unblinking at me. I could see that her eyeballs were dried out and cloudy. She was dead, but she was still moving. Her left arm fluttered ineffectually against the spear pinning her to the wall and I could faintly hear her mindless moans as her mouth worked almost as though she was already chewing my flesh. Even pinned to the wall she still tried to lurch forward. I felt something brush by me. I stared into her blank cloudy eyes as Kevin Cole’s Aztec looking baseball bat axe swung down in a viscous arc and splattered my wife, Candace Newbach Barclay’s head like a pinata full of gray pudding…

My understanding is that the rest of the evacuation went as well as could be expected. Tabitha used the klaxons to move the zombies around on the ship somewhat so as to give trapped survivors more clear paths to escape. Some people made it to the cargo hatches on deck 1. Some made their way to the main embarkation gantries on decks 4 and 5. Some enterprising people lowered themselves down from their balconies or even jumped from the lower decks. All in all we rescued the 40 or so people that we had gathered in the engine room and approximately 250 more. Once the others were sure that no more people were coming they tied one boat to the deck one gantry. This was just in the hopes that more people might escape later. I don’t remember any of that. I was placed at the wheel of one of the life boats and my training took over and I kept formation with the other boats. I am thankful that I was not myself as the Disney Magic moved below the horizon. I am not sure if I could have left those things that were so important to me if I had been in the right mental place to choose…

Howard Barclay Journal #8 Top Howard Barclay Journal #12

Howard Journal 11

Rise of the Dead kettle Irky