Shore Haven (Short Story): Leaving Liberty, page 1part #1 of Shore Haven Series
Copyright © 2019
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Cover Copyright © 2019
Lynn Lamb @ Books Banners Etc.
All Rights Reserved.
Jennifer Reynolds asserts the moral and legal right to be identified as the author of this work. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the owner. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding other than that which it is published and without a similar condition, including this requirement being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or real places or events is purely coincidental.
***WARNING: ADULT CONTENT AND STRONG LANGUAGE***
I’m dedicating all the Shore Haven short stories to those who love the novel so much. If you guys hadn’t been so excited about Shore Haven’s world, I wouldn’t have had the inspiration to dive back into it so many times. I love you guys.
Table of Contents
“Damn it. Damn it. Damn it,” I shouted, tossing the stack of irrelevant memos and police reports I’d gathered from the chief’s demolished desk across the room. “How does no one know what the hell is happening on this island?”
In frustration, I propped my elbows on the desk in front of me and put my face in my hands. I couldn’t give up. I just couldn’t. From the moment the outbreak started…how many weeks ago had that been now? I didn’t know. I hadn’t kept count of the days.
I’d been strong. I’d cleared the hotel I was working in of the dead when it happened. I’d fortified it to make it a home for the only two other survivors in the hotel, Samantha and Maddie, sisters who’d come to the island at the wrong time for a vacation, and myself. I’d done all of that while still not believing in zombies.
Our world had suffered. Over a hundred years ago, meteors, tsunamis, and earthquakes had devastated our planet, leaving behind a world mostly covered in water and people suffering through genetic mutations and illnesses, so we weren’t immune to sudden devastation, but zombies? Really? Even in our world, they were the things of fiction…until they weren’t.
“It all happened so suddenly,” Samantha said, breaking into my mental rambling. “Yeah, you had sick people for a week or so prior, but no one expects sick people to suddenly turn into zombies, no matter what the movies say. Police or medical personnel wouldn’t have had much time to communicate with the outside world, once the outbreak started.”
The woman didn’t move from her spot on the other side of the counter to comfort me, thank goodness. I didn’t like the way she looked at me as if I was the helpless one, as if I was the one who was scared, or as if I was the one who’d needed coddling and taking care of these last few weeks. I wanted to strangle her, mostly because I was acting the part and didn’t like that she was seeing me that way.
Thankfully, Maddie was off exploring the bodies in the cells. Samantha’s younger sister trusted me. Had looked to me to take care of them. I couldn’t have her see me falling apart. Samantha probably didn’t like that her sister looked up to me and not her, but she wouldn’t burst her sister’s bubble by ratting me out either.
“True,” I said after taking a long breath to calm myself. I did have to admit that I was acting like the one on the verge of a meltdown when normally that was Samantha’s job. “But if someone survived either here or out there, wouldn’t they have sent word about what was happening?”
“By the looks of the places we’ve explored, we might be the only ones who survived the outbreak on the island. If it happened here first, with as fast as it happened, there wasn’t time for anyone to warn the outside world about the zombies. The sickness, yes, but not its aftermath, and even if someone had spread the word about those that turned into monsters, it was probably too late.
“Maddie and I hadn’t heard about the sickness until we got here. We boarded our plane and flew in with no problems. It wasn’t until we’d settled into the hotel that the city even mentioned closing the airports and it was a day or so later that they raised the bridges. My gut says it started here and spread outward. We might have sent messages to other cities, but everything was over before anything came in, and what was mentioned probably arrived in via the phone or email, nothing with a paper trail we can follow.”
Samantha’s too-calm tone and annoying rationalization of the situation wasn’t making me feel better. I was supposed to be the one keeping her and her sister calm. I was the one in control, but I couldn’t stop myself from overreacting. I wanted answers. I wanted off the island. I wanted a goal, a person to call for help, a place to take us that was safe so that I could stop being the one holding us together and forcing us forward.
I wanted Samantha to shut her fat face and go back to being the helpless one and not the one taking charge. The way she could switch from one mode to the next bothered me. In our new world, there should only be leaders and followers, not people who could be both. Samantha didn’t have it in her to be a willing leader, but she had the strength to step up and take charge if she had to, and with the way I was losing my cool, I was telling her she had to take control. I didn’t like it.
If I didn’t pull myself together, she’d be the one caring for us, which meant we’d go back to hiding from our world and waiting for help to come to us instead of us saving ourselves. I couldn’t be that person who sat by and did nothing. When help arrived, I couldn’t have them finding me cowering in a hotel like a three-year-old who has lost her mommy.
For the life of me, though, I didn’t know what to do. The hospital was gone. Most of the clinics we’d come across in that day’s trek into our newly infested world were in shambles, and the ones that weren’t didn’t hold any information just like the police stations. I hadn’t honestly expected to find the military setting up base at any of those places, but I had hoped that I’d discover something telling us of quarantine zones or somewhere we could get help and maybe some answers.
If I were telling the truth, I wanted to find a place to drop Samantha and Maddie off so that they were no longer my responsibility. They hadn’t been a huge burden, not like I had initially thought, but Samantha was holding us back.
When I’d searched the hotel in the days after the initial outbreak, I’d known I’d find the two of them still alive. They hadn’t been on the island long, and on the day of the outbreak when we looted the hotel’s kitchen and decided to hide out in our respective rooms until it was over, they hadn’t been sick. I’d also known that Samantha, at least, probably wouldn’t be much help to her sister and me when it came to trying to survive, but the fear of being alone had overruled the annoyance I felt at having to care for someone other than myself in the middle of the apocalypse.
Weeks had passed since then though, and whereas she was helpful with cleaning the hotel, and she hadn’t been that much of a hindrance in our search for help, though her being out of shape
Samantha broke me from my thoughts again by putting a hand on my shoulder and saying, “Sadie, let’s go to the bridge while we’re on this side of town. If we can’t get across or get it down, we’ll hit the other three over the next few days. One way or another, we’ll get off this island soon.”
I merely stared at her in stunned silence. I couldn’t believe she of all people was suggesting we stay out in a world crawling with zombies longer than five minutes and suggesting we go back out in it in the days to come. No, I couldn’t have her being the strong one. I had to get my shit together.
So what if there wasn’t any information, nor was there help. That was fine. We’d have to get off the island on our own somehow. We’d leave and find a safe place to wait out the new apocalypse. There had to be safe zones out there somewhere. If it’d happened here first and we’d managed to let the outside world know what was happening, then the government would have places for people to go where they’d be safe.
Taking in a deep breath, I nodded, pulled away from Samantha, and started for the door. Samantha called to her sister, and the two of them followed me out of the station without saying a word. Thank God. I don’t think I could have listened to Samantha’s voice anymore at that moment.
Yeah, I was acting petty. I knew it. Under normal circumstances, Samantha could be a great woman, but right then I was tired, scared, and frustrated, and if I weren’t careful, I’d take out all those emotions on her.
I knew fuck all about bridges, so when we got to the one on the west side of the island, after only encountering a dozen or so zombies, I just looked up at the raised, island-half of the bridge. There was no way we were lowering that son of a bitch.
Anger built in me. Frustration reddened my face. Fear had my body trembling.
We were stuck on the damned island: three women, all city girls. We wouldn’t survive long after the food went bad or if one of us got sick.
For a brief second, as I turned to look back at the city, wondering what we were going to do next, I glimpsed Shore Haven and thought maybe we should go there. Word on the street the first day or so into the outbreak had been that the virus started there. If it did, the compound might have answers, but we also might expose ourselves to the virus. I wasn’t willing to risk that yet. Maybe in another month or so if the government hadn’t rescued us.
Forcing myself to turn back, I took in another deep breath. I looked at the bridge for a long moment before walking to the median to the right where Maddie and Samantha stood gaping at multiple pillars of smoke coming from the small city of Edge Borrow nestled on the other side of the island.
“That doesn’t mean anything,” I said, knowing that the sight would cause Samantha to rethink leaving the island. “Anything could’ve happened.”
The smoke meant that the turned had infected the outside world. That didn’t change the fact that I wanted off the damned island. The site also told me that Samantha would want to stay right where she was, and if she stayed, Maddie would stay. I liked Maddie. She was a fighter. She could help me stay alive in our new world. The two of us had a better chance of finding others if we were together, but Samantha would hold her back.
Maddie loved her sister, but maybe in another week or so, and if I could find a way off the island, I’d pull her aside and talk to her about leaving. With the number of zombies on the island decreasing on their own through simple decay if they went long enough without feeding, though, Samantha might have a better chance of convincing Maddie to stay and let the infected burn themselves out or be killed off in the rest of the world before leaving the island.
Seeing the burning cities could almost convince me she might be right, but I couldn’t fight the need to get off the island. I couldn’t let fear of the unknown frighten me into hiding out on Liberty. I felt my expression harden with my resolve, and I turned away from the burning city, the bridge, and the two women. I couldn’t look at either of them at that moment.
I let myself wander off. I didn’t have a destination in mind. Warehouses lined the shoreline, so I aimed for them, trying to look as if I had a purpose. Samantha and Maddie didn’t follow me. Good, I needed time to think about what my next move would be.
“We’re stuck here, aren’t we?” I heard Maddie ask Samantha.
“For now. Even if we can get the bridge down, I don’t think we want to do it until whatever is happening out there settles. Remember, we don’t just have zombies to worry about. We have assholes to watch out for.”
I slowed my pace for a bit to listen to their conversation. Samantha’s words had made me curious. Zombies had been the main thing I’d worried about over the last few weeks.
“What do you mean?” Maddie asked.
“You know what I’m saying—men and women who are going to use the outbreak to their advantage. There are going to be people who revert to the raping and pillaging mindset because there isn’t a government to stop them. We don’t want those kinds of people on the island. We don’t want anyone whose goal is anything other than killing zombies and rebuilding humanity. You’ve heard some of the stories that came after the floods. Our world was seconds from imploding in on itself due to people like that. The three of us haven’t let this outbreak turn us into monsters, and if we can survive it without it doing so, we’ll be lucky.”
“Do you think people will turn that quickly?”
“If some men can turn into rapists after a couple of beers, they can turn into worse things days into a situation like this. There were plenty of people in the world before who were merely waiting for this type of situation to come along to allow them to become the animal they hid inside.”
“I hope we’re better than that,” Maddie said.
“I hope so as well,” Samantha replied.
I hope so too. I didn’t say it aloud.
I don’t know where the two women wandered off to after that, but I continued toward the warehouses. We had plenty of supplies back at the hotel to last a while. The surrounding homes, businesses, and the like would replenish what we needed as we needed it, but it would be nice to know if there were warehouses of stuff at hand as well, especially if they held canned items or things with which we could start a garden.
There was no way for us to know if we were the only ones left on the island, and we had to assume we weren’t, so we needed to prepare to ration what we could. The perishables were already gone. The boxed stuff wouldn’t last much longer once the rodents and insects got ahold of them unless we could get them to a secure storage area.
I hated mentally preparing to stay on the island. I hated thinking that Liberty would be my home for the rest of my life. The island was huge, but knowing I would most likely never leave it made it feel small and made me feel claustrophobic.
Ten years ago, being on the island with the bridges up wouldn’t have been an issue. The water level was high enough then that we could cross by boat, but now passing that way would involve lowering said boat hundreds of feet to the water, scaling down the side of a cliff to said boat, and sailing downriver to the nearest dock or across the river only to climb the opposite cliff. If we got desperate, that would be an option for later on down the road.
The first couple of warehouses I explored I either couldn’t get into or were full of stuff that we couldn’t use without electricity.
The further away I got from Samantha and Maddie, the more I started to think of ways of disappearing. On an island as large as Liberty, I could hide from them if I wanted. Samantha wouldn’t look hard for me. Maddie might if she could get away from Samantha. I could fake my death. But did I truly want to do all of that to get away from the last known two people on the continent? Samantha got on my nerves sometimes, yes, but not all of the time, and I knew most of it was because we were always on edge.
No, I wasn’t thinking rationa
Being as lost in my thoughts as I was, I didn’t immediately realize that the last warehouse I’d come upon was different from the others. I’d been able to walk through the building’s main office door and straight back to the storage area without any issues. There were no locked doors, no debris or bodies to stumble around, no crates or boxes stacked on pallets to catch my attention.
The gun barrel shoved into my back woke me from my musings and froze my steps. I tried to spin around to see who was behind me, but a deep, male voice told me not to move, so I froze mid-turn. I scanned the room the best I could without shifting my body in any way.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that a middle-aged, balding, black man was behind me. A young Asian woman was to my left, and a teenage boy of mixed heritage was in front of me. I felt more eyes on me, and I sensed movement throughout the warehouse, so I knew there were others. How many, I wondered. Were all of them armed?
“Well, I guess if I had your numbers I wouldn’t be excited to see another human being either,” I said. My voice shook with nerves, and I didn’t try to hide it. “Have you all been together since the beginning?”
“I think she’s alone, Don,” an older woman said from the front entrance.
“Are you?” the man with the gun on me asked. I took a leap and guessed he was Don.
“How many are with you?”
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