The passageway was noisy and it was impossible to tell friend from foe in the dark. Not that Emi really had friends but when it came to fighting crazies you’d take what you could get. Her eyes finally adjusted and she saw that the crazies were little more than skin and bones and bloated stomachs beneath their tattered and gore splattered clothing. But they were still crazies and her knives would mean she’d have to get too close. Then on the wall she spied what looked like an old-fashioned whaling harpoon, the kind they used when they’d still had to be thrown by hand by men in small boats. It wasn’t great as a hand to hand combat weapon but it would have to do. The weight of the thing surprised her and strained her injured arm but there was no time to look for anything better.
She was shorter than the men and would have to be careful that the crazies didn’t think she was a kid or they’d go into a frenzy. As a crazy would get passed the crew she would do her best to skewer them with the harpoon. If she didn’t get an immediate killing stab she had to take them down, use the knife to slit their throat and then yank the harpoon out so she could get set for the next one.
Finally the passageway was free of crazies and the men had returned to clearing the deck of those that remained up there. Emi hit the deck just in time to harpoon a crazy that was making a jump for Nate’s back. Then she got knocked backwards and Nate returned the favor, throwing the crazy over the railing before the crazy could throw her. Nate, Kiko, and Emi stood back to back trying to exterminate those that were still clever enough to avoid being an easy kill and also deal with the few that continued to crawl onboard.
The battle finally wound down after no more crazies seemed to jump overboard to attack them. The last one had been killed and thrown back into the water where it had climbed up from when Emi spotted fins in the water. “Nate?”
“I see ‘em,” he responded more calmly than some of the crew did after they too spotted the large predators making their way into the area. He gave directions for his men to hurry up and throw the remaining bodies over the rail while others rinsed the deck of standing blood and gore and then to pull back slowly and carefully from the feeding frenzy that was just beginning.
Emi saw some of the men shudder and many draw the sign of the cross or some superstition ward against evil but they did as their captain ordered. Everyone remained silent and that’s when Emi thought to check on the women and make sure they stayed silent. She didn’t need to warn them; they had seen what was going on. Even Barb looked thoroughly freaked out. Emi calmed them and said that the large predators would be at it for a while but as long as nothing else attracted their attention they would move off quickly when they finished doing what the DV in their brains demanded of them. They’d probably go cannibal on some of their own as well, knocking their numbers back.
Emi had seen it before a few times but never with this many bodies in the water. She returned topside and stared but something in her face gave her away. Kiko whispered, “No surprise?”
Nate jerked his head for her to come forward and Emi left Kiko as he was helped below decks so he could have his leg examined.
“Did you do for Ernie?”
Slowly she nodded. “He went after one of the girls and Barb wasn’t strong enough to pull him off.”
She snorted. “Un Latante. He was biting and licking his own lips so hard he drew blood.”
Nate nodded. “Miguel saw. Just wanted your side of it. Miguel didn’t care for Ernie, never had, but I thought it was a … a color thing. Ernie wasn’t obvious but he wasn’t happy when I promoted Miguel as my second instead of him.” After a pause he said, “Miguel said this is also his last voyage. He’s going to stay closer to home, help his brothers with their place. He might be looking to take one of the girls and maybe another one for his little brother.”
Emi said nothing. You learned to not get involved in other people’s business. But she did file the information away.
They both watched the water foam red where the sharks were stirring it up and going their own version of crazy. Nate said, “You seen this before.”
“Yeah. Not quite this much chum.”
“Chum? Those were men.”
“Were. They were also loco como el infierno. Do I really need to explain how they’ve survived five years or more on a ship in the middle of the Gulf?” At the look on his face she said, “I didn’t think so. They weren’t men anymore, not as most people think of them. From the look of them they’ve been cannibalizing their own population for quite a while.”
He looked at her sharply from the corner of his eye. “Cannibalizing their own population? Where did that come from?”
“One of the ways I made enough to get me across the border was as a Nest Destroyer.”
Under his breath Nathan muttered a sharp curse. “Don’t let that out. My men are on the ragged edge as it is.”
“Don’t plan on it. But if you’re going to get that green around the gills perhaps you want to rethink your deal before it gets written …”
“No,” he snapped. “You aren’t getting away that easy. Does Kiko know?”
“Nope,” Emi said with a bit of dark humor twisting her lips. “If you think your crew is superstitious you should have heard some of the historias de fantasmas his crew would tell each other at night. Stupido. There’s enough real scary in the world without making crap up like that.”
“That there is,” Nate said as they continued to watch nature’s horror show playing in front of them. “That there certainly is.”