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Cayo Elina 10

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“Did either of you bring a gun?” Ramon asked.

Elina thought he knew the answer to that before he had even asked, “No, unless you brought yours, Gus.”

Gus shook his head, “I left it for the village. I thought I could get by.”

“I didn’t think to bring one along, I should have.” Elina confessed, “Actually I thought you would grab a rifle, Ramon.”

“I only brought the pistol. Gone now, thanks to Gus.”

“Better that than the alternative.” Gus said.

“Why do you ask, Ramon? You think one gun would make a difference against a boat full of Cubans?” Elina asked. In her view, it looked like the Cubans were not going to be able to bring their ship around fast enough to beat their motor boat to the shore.

“It’s just…well going without a gun is a bad business. I like to have backup.”

“We’re your backup. Or should be. I might not like you much Ramon, but I would never have killed you.” Elina said, mentally adding, ‘Though I might after what you pulled this morning.’

“That is good to know Elina. I…”

“Don’t say you wouldn’t kill me either, we both know that isn’t true. Tell me something, did you kill Mary or did you have one of your people do it?”

Gus perked up and followed the conversation more closely. Ramon was slow to answer, he glanced at Gus, then at Elina and opened his mouth to answer before finally shutting it.

“If you’re worried that I can prove it, well, don’t be. We didn’t find any evidence. But I know it wasn’t a zombie and I can’t see any reason for anyone else to off her.”

“It could have been the zombie. You let one get away.” Ramon offered.

Elina shook her head, “No. Nothing was missing, usually when a zed kills someone they at least snack a little. And she had been dead a while, probably since just after the last check in call, so it’s not like I scared the thing away when I approached. That gives the zombie, if it was one, about ninety minutes alone with the body. The body we found with no bite marks, no missing blood, nothing.”

“You can’t prove it wasn’t a zombie, it could have been one of those spirit ones.”

The ‘spirit zombie’ type had only been seen once, it had evolved to the point that it no longer fed on the flesh and blood of the living, but just siphoned off their spirit instead. The one they had run into still had to release the victim’s spirit, by killing them, didn’t actually feed. Admiral Perry had warned Elina about that kind of super zombie, he said he had word that some didn’t need to kill the victim overtly, it just stood next to the living and slowly absorbed their life force until the living person keeled over dead.

Elina shook her head again and said, “I doubt it, those seem pretty rare.”

Ramon sat back and smiled, “It could have been then.”

“We’ll never know, by the time we make it back they will have found it and killed it again.” Gus said.

“Are we going back?” Elina asked him.

“I plan to.”

“After a year?”

“Maybe, it depends on if they need me or not.”

“The council said a year.” Ramon said, sitting up more straight.

“I thought you would be ready to return sooner.” Gus said, a small smile playing at the corners of his mouth.

“I’m going back as soon as we drop you off. You have to stay away the full year.”

“Oh Ramon. I’ve seen this. There are several paths ahead of us three and in every one of them the only way you make it back to the cay is if I am with you. Otherwise…” Gus let his sentence trail off with a shrug.

“You kill me? Do you kill me?”

“I only know you don’t make it back. I can only see things that affect me. You know that. I have to guess at the events which tie me to certain places. In the future I can see myself going back to the Cay and after I am there, in all those possible mixes, I never see you unless you arrived with me.”

Ramon shook his head and bit down on his lower lip, “So you can see the future? It’s not just a trick?”

“I can see my future. But you have to understand the future isn’t set. It’s like the roots of a plant growing out in front of me. I can see the roots, if I look at them. I can follow them down further and further away from me, when I get so caught up in it, sometimes, I freeze up here. In each root I can see what is around me and look over my shoulder at the path that brought me to where I am. But the roots are constantly changing based on what I do now. Every decision I make from the seemingly innocuous to the most important changes the pattern of roots, sometimes dramatically. I can’t see very far ahead…well, not very often.”

“So you are tied to certain actions? That is sad. I would rather not have such a gift, knowing what was going to happen would take the joy out of living.” Ramon said. Gus and Elina were not fooled; it was obvious that Ramon would like just that sort of power.

“Whatever, Ramon.” Elina brushed him off.

“Don’t dismiss what I say so easily. I am worthy of respect and the fact that you are not giving it to me is an indication of how far we have fallen.”

“Respect is earned, no given. Think on that for a little while and keep your cake hole shut, if you can.”

Muttering under his breath Ramon sank back down to the edge of the boat, glancing towards the Cubans. Elina looked that direction and it was clear they would reach land well before the sail boat would be even close.

“It makes me wonder why they are even trying.” Elina asked rhetorically. As she watched some smoke rose from the deck of the ship. “Hey do you think they have an engine…” That was as far as she got before the water exploded just off the port side. The boat almost foundered from the shock and the wave that were thrown up from the shell that had just missed them.

Ramon was tossed into the bottom of the boat and cursed as he tried to right himself. Gus, at the tiller, turned into the shower of water.

“Away from it! Away from it you fool! They just dropped a shell there!” screamed Ramon.

Gus held steady and another shell crashed into the empty ocean where their boat would have been had he steered the other way. With great deliberation Gus pointed the boat at an angle towards the beach. He took a strand of rope off the seat beside him and tied it to the tiller. Another explosion blew up the water behind them. Elina looked at Gus, he seemed to be moving slowly, as if considering his options.

“The next shell will land beside us, when it does we have to bail out. The water will hide us from them while the boat continues on. After that…no boat.”

“What?” yelled Ramon.

Elina steeled herself, watching for the next puff of smoke off the deck of the ship. When she saw it she hunkered down into the boat, as if taking cover. Gus did the same and Ramon was hardly visible from where he was sitting in the bottom of the boat. The shell landed just short of the boat and threw up a wall of water  that started to rain down upon them.

“Now!” Gus screamed. He tied off the rope to the seat in front of him and dove over the side. Elina was in the water before he was. Ramon stood as if to jump out of the boat, but a wave hit it from the side and sent him falling backward, his buttocks connected with the far side of the boat and for the briefest second it looked like he was going to end up in the bottom again. Finally the boat crested the wave and rocked down the other side and Roman toppled out into the sea.

Elina swam to Gus, she had lost sight of Ramon and found herself hoping he had opted to stay in the boat.

“We can swim for about a minute, no more or we might attract some attention.” Gus told her. He set off at a diagonal away from the angle the boat was moving, but still towards shore.

“We’re not that far out.” Elina said when they finally stopped swimming and started treading water.

“No, but there is a current carrying us south, it hugs the shore and we’ll have a hard time getting their without drowning.”

“Can you see Ramon anywhere?”

Their boat exploded as an artillery shell landed almost on top of it less than a football field away. The shock wave carried to them through the water hit them like a sledgehammer.

“No.” Gus answered, “We need to stay still for a little bit.”

“No, I mean can you see Ramon anymore?”

“Oh.” Gus paused and sunk downward for a moment. “He’s still alive, somewhere.”

“Should we call for him?”

Gus shook his head, “Probably kind of risky, if they don’t spot us, they might hear us yelling at the top of our lungs.”

They opted to stay silent, but Elina kept glancing around to see if she could spot the man. The ship wasn’t leaving and Gus reluctantly voiced the opinion that they must have been spotted. Elina concentrated on the ship and saw the sailors lowering a long boat, which was similar to the one she had been in a fifteen minutes before.

“They’re coming.” Elina said.

“We swim for it. We’re not too far from getting out of the current.”

“I don’t think we can make it to shore before the boat gets here, if it has a motor.”

“Does it?”

Elina looked closely, riding the surf a few times to be sure, then shook her head, “Oars. They are rowing in.”

“We can beat that. Let’s go!” He set the pace, again angling towards the beach instead of driving right towards it.

Elina followed easily and before long they were not battling a sideways pull, but being driving towards the beach by an endless series of waves.

“There’s a river or stream ahead, if we push to the right a bit more.” Elina said.

Gus shifted course slightly and soon the two were able to stand on the sandy bottom and walk towards the shoreline.

Elina cast a glance back and the boat had already reached the place where their boat had been destroyed. Gus caught her hand and pulled her up the stream to the weeds growing above the tide line. He pulled her down with him behind the first mound of tough march grass and said, “Stay still, I think we might have gotten lucky.”

Poking her head through the grass Elina watched as the boat zigged and zagged through the water. Incredibly the crew was communicating with the ship using flags. One of the boatmen had a pair of binoculars and was using it to scan the debris. He gave up a cry and the boat shifted a little further out to sea where a piece of the boat was still floating. Elina watched for a moment, before sighing, “They got him.” It hadn’t been a piece of the boat, it had been Ramon.

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