Survivor

It had been seven days since they’d slammed two torpedoes into our hull, breaking the back of our vessel and sending us scampering into our lifecraft. Seven days is a long time to float, lost and listless in an endless ocean. As supplies ran low, each of us started looking to the others, all too aware that the first to reach the edge of starvation would be the first to break.

Midway through the seventh day, that was when Hell broke loose.

The sounds first started near the back of the craft. I don’t know why, but that seems to always be where it starts. First it was low moans, followed soon by that horrible screaming as one of the more desperate turned on his fellows. Clawing and biting, the poor crazed fellow fell upon his nearest neighbor, no longer seeing the one who had pushed him aboard as the ship died, but only a source of the food he craved. The fight didn’t last long, but the sounds of it heightened tensions among all the survivors. Now the bunch of us knew that soon it would be one of us that became no more than so much meat for the rest. The smell of blood filled our nostrils, making all of us that much more desperate.

Soon the sounds of fighting filled the craft, and blood and torn flesh littered the deck. It was horrible, the craft became a charnel house as we all fought to get what we had to have to live. Some of the more sane, or at least crafty, waited, knowing that when those weakened by wounds or exhaustion lay panting and undefended, it would be their turn at the trenchers.

All too soon, the survivors had been reduced to less than half of what had started the journey. And now the cruelest part of the grand jest lay before us. Disease brought on by the festering dead would soon start claiming all those who were not in peak condition. The smell would become horrendous.

In two days most of us were crawling with vermin that had been battening on the gore that lay around us. The first signs of the horrors that lay ahead were starting to appear as those who had been just lightly wounded in the fighting now lay panting and gasping, their wounds starting to ooze and rot. Now we all knew that unless some miracle happened, we would all die a horrible death, very soon as the disease leaped from one to the next, borne by the vermin that infested us.

Three more days have passed. I am one of just a pitiful few that survived the attack and subsequent escape. Even now I feel the first burning fingers of infection crawling through my veins. I’m dead, but still move among the living.

As I lay amid the muck of the nest I had scraped for myself on the floor of our craft, I felt a shudder as something bumped the outside. Oh, the unkindest cut if salvation comes to us now, as I lay among the dead--still breathing. Another bump, sharper, to be followed by a grinding as our floating tomb scraped along the side of some larger vessel. A sudden lurch as this sepulcher is lifted from it’s watery host. A thump as it is set upon a wooden deck. With much creaking the hatch is forced, letting air and light in for the first time in almost two weeks.

As the hatch falls away, several of the stronger, more enterprising of the survivors scrambles out. They seek cover as the large alien creatures outside raise their voices bellowing disgust and anger. They pick up the battered craft and heave it over the side, back into the sea. As the craft fills with water and death finally claims me, I grin a rictus of pride. Once again, we’ve shown the humans just how tough it is to kill a bunch of rats.

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Editor’s Corner

nelilly.greententacles.com

Alive.