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Rising Before Dawn
by Sumiko Saulson
The plan had been simple… to eliminate the undead by dumping cargo containers full of them to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Cargo vessels docked at the shipping ports in the San Francisco Bay in Oakland and Alameda. Cranes lifted cargo containers that looked like brightly colored Legos. Crowd cheered. We drank champagne and toasted the end of the undead rebellion.
Then, we found out in the worst way… the undead had begun to evolve.
Gills, we imagined. But it was worse, they simply had no need to breathe at all. Perhaps their skins were nourished by nutrients in the air and the water through osmosis, the O in H20 absorbed through their rotting epidermis.
I was in my cabin below deck when they first resurrected. Along with the waterborne dead, I was rising before dawn on the morning it happened.
Angry fingers grasped at the side of the vessel for purchase. I heard their bony talons screech as they tore at the steel cargo ship in desperation, fingertips drenched in blood, fingernails ripped from the nail bed. Members of the crew sat on deck with high-powered rifles, shooting them in the skulls to knock them off of the vessel. From the round window in my quarters below deck, I saw their bodies drop into the water. Hungry eyes stared at me from the other side of the portal, as a fresh batch of zombies used its ledges for purchase. They clung to seams and steel girders as they attempted to board.
Behind them, I saw the Golden Gate Bridge rise in the distance. On the towers above, trained snipers took shots at the zombies, knocking them back into the water. It was mayhem!
I’d been above deck on watch for four hours now. My job had been to shoot at the undead, blowing their brains out before they boarded. I handed my semiautomatic rifle off to the next watchman as I walked below deck.
Haunted by the image of a single hand protruding above the water, hungry fingers splayed, I retired to my cabin. Uneasy sleep bestowed upon my troubled mind dreams tinged with imagery that best remained in a Mary Shelley novel. The souls of the angry men and women who once occupied those undead bodies crackled overhead in the lightning. I heard their voices croak sour and malignant in the thunder. Ghosts wandered the decks in search of their reanimated corpses, dropped to the bottom of the sea.
Some of the zombies were too tired to launch their bodies into the ship. Instead, they patiently walked apace with the vessel. Their rotting bodies shielded by our shadow, cast against the sands of the Bay They followed our as it guided them ever towards the shore, a silent army, staging their invasion.
Fiction © Copyright Sumiko Saulson
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Author Sumiko Saulson:
A collection of articles, essays and interviews with and by African American horror writers on black representation in horror, horror diversity, reviews of African American horror films, horror novels, weird fiction, dark fantasy and more.