I remember when the feet started washing up on shore. Everyone had heard about it. It was global news at the time. No one even knew where they were coming from. It wasn’t long, though, that no one was concerned about it anymore, because the feet stopped washing up on shore; the bodies started to. If there was a news agency hadn’t already reported on the story they sure were now. It was impossible for the forensics teams to be able to identify these bodies. The time they had spent in the salt water had caused them to bloat and rot. Some of them had been decomposing for so long that the build up of gasses had caused them to violently explode as they made landfall. Rotten green tinged flesh and congealed blood stained the shore. At least these bodies never got up. The first was found in Tofino, but soon they were washing up in Victoria, Seattle and Los Angeles.
There were whispers of pandemonium in China. It was hard to get anything definitive, but there were unconfirmed reports of the Chinese military burning down their own hospitals, and opening fire into huge crowds. What we did know was they had completely closed their borders, both physically and electronically. China cut itself off from the Internet entirely overnight. The Hong Kong stock exchanged had been shut down. Stock markets around the world plummeted as the money behind Chinese investments dried up. At the time these reports sounded barbaric. But, in retrospect, they were pioneering a way to battle the infection. The government had clearly lost control of the situation, and rather than risk losing everything, they turned to drastic measures.
All we did know was that North American authorities were tracking hundreds upon hundreds of refugee ships trying to crossing the Pacific. The strange thing was that very few of them made it. Most of them were found just drifting. Some showed no signs that there was life on board at all while others showed signs of a bloody and violent struggle. The news cameras, along with the military, were hoping to find an answer for the mass exodus of Chinese refugees but instead provided our first glimpse into what our future was to become. They boarded one of the derelict ships, barely seaworthy, that had attempted to cross the Pacific. The outside of the bridge windows were absolutely covered in smeared bloody hand prints but inside the bridge was the body of the captain. He had taken his own life. The handgun was still clutched in his left hand. A single shot to the head.
The cameras were still rolling when the American military personnel had opened up the cargo hold below deck. The stench that rushed out must have been overpowering. One of the reporters vomited mid-sentence. The power and ventilation to the compartment had been completely isolated; The cargo hold was pitch black, but you could still make out the sound of fingernails scratching metal hull and a dull, quiet moaning. When the bright lights on the cameras finally panned down into the space they found nearly two-hundred people covered in blood all clawing at the bulkheads to escape. Every single one of them was infected. With nowhere to run, the refugees didn’t have a chance. If even just one infected had boarded the ship but was not yet symptomatic everyone would have be doomed. It was up to the North American authorities to decide how to deal with these infected ships. There were hundreds of them just drifting out there. At first they were being towed into dock and quarantined, but later, once the enormity of the situation was apparent they were being sunk, en mass, without inspections of infection at all.
It wasn’t long that governments from around the world starting going into hiding. The American government was one of the first to publicly announce that all major political and military officials were being herded into “secure and undisclosed locations.” The President began making daily T.V. appearances though. Evidently he felt it was important for the terrified and quickly shrinking number of registered voters to know he was still in power. It didn’t make any difference to these people. The infection had reached nearly every corner of North America by this point. Nowhere was safe.
It’s been weeks and we’re running out of everything: food, water and most importantly, fuel. We need those supplies that we so hastily left behind on the terminal. So here we are making our approach in the middle of the night using only our searchlights. There are no lights left on the shore, the grid has been down for a couple weeks already. It doesn’t look good, those things everywhere, but what choice do we have?
The rain is pounding against the bridge windows. It sounds like it’s getting louder by the minute, as if it’s a warning to us, begging us to abandon the plan. Other than the sound of the rain, the bridge was silent. I can feel my heart pounding in my chest. It’s reassuring to know that I am still alive.
I gave the order to launch the Strike Teams. Two rescue boats were lowered to the water, each containing a military strike unit of 4 men. I stood on the bridge wing and watched as the boats disappeared into the night.
The next stage of the plan was to make as much noise as possible to draw the infected away from the insertion points for the Strike Teams. I blew the ships whistle. Many of the infected were now on their way to where we were sitting just off the main car deck Berth 4 ramp. In fact, some of them ran right off the end of the ramp and straight into the water trying desperately to make it onboard.
I glanced at the monitors on the bridge. One of them had been rigged up to wirelessly receive video from a camera mounted to the side of one of the Strike Team leaders helmets. They both were making land-fall, fairly unimpeded. The plan was for them to land back behind the majority of the infected, reestablish the military checkpoint on the Causeway and then clear the terminal. We didn’t have a clear idea of just how many infected there would be though. The last scouting party that we sent out here yesterday came back saying there were only a couple hundred infected. That’s still a lot but far fewer than when we first thought about coming back to Tsawwassen. There were thousands then. Only recently had it become feasible.
I’m sure the ships whistle could be heard for miles. Nothing else was making noise out there. There were no more cars on the roads. There no more planes in the skies. There were not even any more sirens in the distance. If there was anything we had started to become accustomed to in the weeks after the initial infection it was the sirens. There were constant emergencies. The emergencies ranged from “random group violence” to looting and simple fires. It turns out that when the world is falling apart, fires just seem to flare up by themselves. If there were any other survivors out there right now, I wonder what they thought about us blowing our whistle. Maybe they would think we were trying to get their attention to evacuate them. God, I hope not. We wouldn’t be staying that long. We were probably going to get some innocent people killed. They made it this far, only to die because we blew the whistle as a distraction? A simple push of a button and an unknown number of people will die. I can’t think about it anymore.
I could see the green flare of muzzle flashes in my night-vision goggles, but not much else. The teams radio chatter as well, although hurried, was calm. It seems like everything is going according to plan. Bravo Team had successfully taken the checkpoint and, with it, control of the entire Causeway. Likewise, Alpha Team was moving efficiently through the terminal compound. They were getting ever closer to supplies we so desperately needed.
The commotion of the Strike Teams collective fire had seemingly grabbed the attention of the infected at the end of the ramp. Many of them had turned to face the incoming Strike Team. Only about 30 remained fixated on the ship. That meant though that the remaining hundred or so had begun sprinting in the other direction. straight for Alpha Team.
I could see on the monitor from the wireless camera that Alpha Team was making their way into the terminal tower. From there they would have a fairly good view of the terminal, and with that, an advantage over the rushing hordes.
The remaining military personnel on board were sent down to the car decks because I had just given the order to dock. I needed to know that when we opened up the bow doors that we weren’t allowing in any infection. The huge, hydraulic controlled doors were slowly opening. The doors had just barely separated when a head and an arm were clearly visible on the monitor. An infected had made its way onto the outside of the ship and was trying to get onboard. Instead of shooting him though, the men thought it would be funnier to close the doors on him. They might not be human anymore, but they can still scream. I could hear the blood curdling, pained screaming from on the bridge.
With the doors finally reopened, the infected that remained on the ramp could see the men on the deck, but we were still too far for them to jump onto the ship. They just stood there, at the end of the ramp, as if they knew we had to come to them to achieve our goal. The men took aim and began to fire. The infected began to drop, but the rest of them continued to stand and wait either for us to move closer, or for the men to kill them. It didn’t take long for the entire group to be “quarantined.”
Alpha Team had successfully cleared the terminal. Well, they had cleared it enough that it was reasonably safe to begin the transfer. We’re going north, up the Canadian coast. I’ve always wanted to see the Queen Charlotte Islands, I just wish it was under different circumstances.
In the early days of the infection, social media played an interesting role in how we viewed the situation. It started slowly, and impersonally. Twitter was initially being used by government agencies to issue mass warnings and to help people find “safe zones,” whatever those were. After the warnings increased and the safe zones messages had stopped, it was used more and more by individuals to issue desperate pleas for help. Sometimes it was about an infected loved one, but more often than not it was used as a suicide note platform to the world. 140 characters, thats all you get. That’s what it boiled down to these people. Some were saying they were looking forward to seeing their dead loved ones in the afterlife and others were begging for forgiveness after they killed or got separated from their families. Sometimes those meant the same thing. But the most disgusting ones were the ones who claimed to have a cure. They asked for various things in return, food, water, medicine, and perhaps most ridiculously shortsighted of all, money. There was no cure, but desperate people with infected family members were willing to try anything, it seemed. Even the uninfected were preying the uninfected. Good and honest people never stood a chance.
The rain sounds like it’s letting up. The sun would rise soon, but I want to get out of here before it does. I don’t want to see the carnage we’ve caused here tonight in the light of day.
God, I wish it was still just feet washing up on shore. I would give anything for that.