Friday, January 18, 2013

Delirium Jane: Part IV

Continued from Delirium Jane: Part III

“Skip! I’ve been looking for you all over town,” I yell to the sailor who is sitting at picnic table next to the fence.

He looks up from a notebook and puts down his pen. “It’s nice to know a pretty girl like you is looking for me.”

I flush at his flirtation. “Have you had any luck with finding your crew?”

“No, no takers. We will head north. I spoke to the Captain and he tells me that there is a small group of survivors not too far from here. Some might be will to come and the rest might be willing to assimilate.”

I nod, knowing the group of which he speaks. Nice guys but they had been too liberal to sign up to the Captain's code of conduct, so they chose to live on the outskirts.

“I want to go,” I say.

“North? Do you have business with them?”

“No. I want to join your crew.”

His eyes sparkle, his grin grows wide and he lets out rumbling belly laugh. “This ain’t no day sail. No picnic with dock shoes and salmon pants.”

“I’m serious.”

His brow furrows and deep creases appear in his forehead beneath his shaggy bangs. Instantly he looks years older and his face shows the true impact the last two years have had on us all.  

“I have nothing here. No family, no husband, no boyfriend. Not even a lover. I have no useful skills other than hauling the dead to a burn pile.”

“Why would I want you then?

“I have no useful skills here. I know how to sail.” It wasn’t a complete lie. As a kid, I had spent hours at my uncle’s camp on Sebago sailing a little sunfish. I had also dated a boy in college who had been on the varsity sailing team. I knew the basics. 

His brow knit tighter until I thought it might merge, never to separate.

“I can learn and work hard. I know hard work. I haul dead bodies.”

“What do you carry for a weapon?”

I point to the knife strapped to the inside of my left calf. “That and a double ended steal tipped spear.”

“How are you with guns?”

“I’m shit with a pistol but I’m OK with a rifle. I was good enough to get myself here with one.”

“You don’t have it anymore?”

“No, all firearms were conscripted for the armory. We are allowed to keep and carry all of our other weapons though.”

Skip raises an eyebrow. “Population control?”

I shrug. “No, I never got the feeling that it was about controlling us. The Captain is all about the greater good and so far it has worked. Besides we have far better shots that put my gun to better use. In exchange the Captain lets us use Kyle, the machinist, to repair and make our own weapons, within reason.”

“So your spear –“

“Is custom for my height, strength, and abilities.”

Skips nods and seems to approve of my interest in my weapon of choice. “Where did you come from?”

I swallow hard. I don’t like to remember. “Portland.”

“You made it out of Portland?”

Sure it’s not as impressive as Boston or New York but as Maine’s largest city in the most populated part of the state, it is a red zone of infection. Or at least it was, I have not met another survivor from Portland so I don't know it's current status. “With a will to survive and a whole lot of luck.”

“And what brought you this far north?”

“I was headed to the County. Figured I would have better chances with the moose and potatoes.  Just south of Augusta I ran into a small group that had heard about the Captain. When I got here and saw what he was doing, I decided I would stick around.”

“You know it’s considered bad luck to have a woman aboard.”

“The dead are walking. How much worse can our luck get?”

“The crew is going to be  . . . salty . . . misfits and mongrels. I won’t always be there to protect you. I can’t guarantee your safety.”

“I can handle myself and any dickhead that wants to fuck with me.”

Skip lets out a deep sigh of resignation. “When can you be ready to go?”

“Fifteen minutes?”

He smiles. “We’ll leave first thing in the morning. Say good-bye to your friends and cash in any chits. Bring everything you can carry and don’t forget your attitude, you’ll be needing that.”

Continue with Delirium Jane: Part V