“A cruise ship?!” Kiko asked incredulously after taking the view in. “Gotta be a trap Nate.”
“Maybe. Maybe not. There’s still quite a few ships on the List of the Lost. One or two get found and salvaged a few times a year.”
Emi was on deck with the others. Nate didn’t object but he did tell her to stay close. And she was more than willing after getting another look at Ernie. She was beginning to get an idea she didn’t like. She whispered so that only Nate and Kiko heard her. “Put a tag on Ernie.”
“You see something?” Nate asked back just as carefully.
“His mask is slipping. Reminds me how people would get right before DV went stage 4.”
Both men stiffened but luckily everyone assumed it was from being tense about the disabled cruise ship they were drifting near. There weren’t that many new cases of human DV these days but it did happen.
One of the men asked to no one specific, “You think it’s already been salvaged?”
Emi could see with her own eyes if it had been salvaged it had been a pretty sloppy job. There were still deck chairs visible and sheets hanging from some of the balconies.
Suddenly Emi felt or maybe had seen something only her brain registered and grabbed Nate’s arm. “Don’t go any closer. Move …”
But it was too late. Some of the crew, in their eagerness for one last salvage, had ignored Nate’s orders and had taken the boat too close.
“Jumper!” someone yelled right before a body crashed onto their deck.
Several more followed that one and there was a deadly fight as Donner Virus infected crazies tried to swamp the smaller vessel. Emi heard a scream of both pain and anger and turned towards the passageway that led to the cabin where the women were still locked in. Or were supposed to be locked in. She sprinted that direction but then skidded to a halt when she saw the door standing open and heard Barb screaming, “You sick ****!”
Earlier, Nate hadn’t said a word as she got dressed though he’d had to have found all of the knives and shivs she’d had hidden. Which was a good thing as she pulled her last flensing knife and told Barb to move where she’d been trying to pull Ernie off one of the weaker girls. She opened his throat before he could open the girl’s gut with his own knife.
Barb was screaming curses as she asked, “What the hell is going on?”
“Someone let their greed get ahead of their commonsense. Pulled in too close to a cruise ship that still has some live crazies on it.”
“That I figured out from watching out the porthole. I’m talking about that sick **** you just put down.”
“I think he might have been a latent that has been able to hide in plain sight until now. It was all our female pheromones that sent him over the edge. Maybe. Or, he could have just been a sick ****.”
Barb got a feral smile and said, “But your explanation will sound better to a judge so that’s what we’re going with.” The smile disappeared though when fighting could be heard in the passageway. Barb snarled at the girls still whimpering, “Stop being crybabies. Pull your shivs and go down fighting girls.”
Before turning to rejoin the fighting Emi noted that even the weakest among the girls obeyed Barb and took a fighting stance. She told them all, “Shut the door and shove something in front of it. I’ll keep ‘em off as long as I can.”
No one objected or cried for her to stay where it was safer. Life was just that way. But before she left she took Ernie’s side arm and the knife he’d been carrying.