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Cayo Elina 11

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“Nothing we can do for him now. Nothing has changed. I don’t see him anywhere I get back to the island without him. Let’s not worry about it right now.” Gus said. He was discussing what he saw in the future with her while they sat along the river, just out of sight of the ocean, they were still close enough to hear the breakers coming in.

“Moley…do you see me with you. Back at the island?” Elina asked.

“Not yet.”

“So something happens to me?”

“I’m working on it. I need a good think, to see what happens.”

“You never see me? Not even later?”

“I can’t go that far. I mean, I’ve never gone that far before.”

‘He’s lying.’Elina couldn’t understand why he was lying to her, but she knew he caught bits and pieces of the future, sometimes years ahead. “What happens to me? I mean, what do you see the most often?”

Gus sighed and brushed the hair back off of his face with one sandy hand. “Elina, I can’t…” He looked at her face and then looked away before he started to talk in a low voice, “I see you getting shot in a bar. We’re fighting. It’s a three way fight or maybe a four way, it’s hard to tell.”

“How’d we end up there?”

“It’s a place in Miami. I don’t see any way for us not to end up in Miami and not to end up in that bar. The place is called ‘Casablancas’, by the way, just so you aren’t worried about every bar we have to go in.”

“Like the old movie? With Garbo and...Bogart?” asked Elina.

“Ingrid Bergman and Humphry Bogart.” Corrected Gus. “But yeah, otherwise, like the movie. I think it is a movie themed bar, or was. Some of the décor seems pretty old, plus it’s been retrofitted to use lanterns and candles. Power is spotty, but they have a decent menu.”

“Forget the menu Gus! What happens?”

“It’s not set. You get shot. A lot. Sometimes I try to get you out, that doesn’t solve the problem. The place is a magnet for trouble and when the shooting starts everyone is rushing towards it. I’ve led you out the back, out both street doors, even out the second story window once. I’ve seen what happens if we go to the roof.” Gus shuddered, “Stay off the roof, Elina.”

“What happens to you?”

“Me? I make it. I always make it.”

“Always?”

“Well, Elina, I see a series of paths for me. I can look up them only so far, but if I see a particular path dead ending I chose a different route. I can’t do that for you. I can only see you where you run into me along my path. I don’t see you on any of my paths after the bar, no matter what I do there.”

“That’s not good for me. Maybe I should just sit this one out, maybe we shouldn’t go to Miami?”

Gus shook his head. “All paths end up at Casablanca. Sorry. The only question is, do we want to go there the hard way or the easy way?”

“I think I’d rather go the hard way.”

“No, we still end up there, but a lot worse for the wear. How are you feeling Elina?”

“You mean from your blood?”

“Yeah, you don’t look so bad. I was down almost two days recovering after I was infected.”

“I was only a little under the weather last night, it wasn’t a big deal.”

“Maybe you didn’t get infected.” Elina was convinced that Gus didn’t think that was the case from how he  emphasized the words.

“It’s like I have a telescope in my head now, Gus. I can see at night. My eyes compensate quicker and I feel stronger and tougher. I think you got me. I can’t be the first one you’ve infected accidentally. I mean how many times have you been injured on the island? If anyone touched your blood they would have changed too.”

“Or died, like I said, the price of admission for this one can be pretty high. But I have been very careful on the island.”

“What were you like before?”

“You mean, my abilities?” Elina nodded, “They were very short ranged. I was good in combat, but I couldn’t have told you what the weather would have been two hours before it was raining. After I got infected I was sick for a couple of days; headaches and muscle cramps and, Elina, it wasn’t all good. My eyesight got worse. I didn’t have any troubles before, now I’m lucky to be able to read in full daylight.”

“I haven’t noticed anything bad so far. Maybe it will happen later.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes, Elina rose to check the beach again, the ship was putting on sails and heading north along the coast again.

“They’re gone.” She said, sitting down once more.

“For now. Let’s head inland a little, there is a subdivision up here and I think we might be able to find a place to crash tonight. Oh, and it is going to rain too, so we might as well get under a roof.”

Elina and Gus made their way inland, keeping along the river. At one time it must have been a popular fishing spot because there were trails along both banks and most of the vegetation had been cut back. The path was chocked with weeds but the bushes and trees had not had time to grow back over the trail yet, so the way was passable. At what seemed like random to Elina, Gus said to head right along another weed filled trail away from the river.

 Following that up a steady rise they found themselves on a bike path, Gus directed Elina to the right again, taking them north. The only thing they saw was an alligator sunning itself on the trail. It was a huge specimen, well over eight feet long.

“Would you say that is an alligator?” asked Elina to Gus when they came upon it.

“Yeah, see how we can see the top row of teeth? With crocs you can see both rows when the mouth is closed. Plus the snout is wide and ends like the letter ‘U’. That’s a gator.”

“Should we leave it?”

Gus looked at her like she was crazy. “You’re kidding. Look at the size of him. That’s a lot of meat and I forgot to grab my bag of hamburgers when I bailed out of the boat.”

That brought a smile to Elina’s face, “You said the ‘h’ word. That’s just mean.”

“I bet we can find a way to make some gator burgers, if we can kill that thing.”

“How do we kill it?”

Gus pulled his knife out of his belt.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“I’ve got mad close combat skills. Stand back and prepare to be amazed.”

“You don’t have to tell me twice. Try not to get killed before we make it to ‘Casablancas’.” Elina cautioned.

“The worst that can happen is it gets away.” Gus turned and trotted towards the alligator, which turned towards him and opened its mouth, letting loose a low hiss of warning.

Gus leaped up onto the reptile, which immediately tried to back off into the swamp behind it. It thrashed and rolled temporarily dislodging Gus, who grabbed it by a hind leg and spun around, raising the whole thing off of the ground before slamming it down onto the concrete where it lay stunned. After that it was quickly over, Gus’s knife peeled through the beasts soft under hide as if were merely paper instead of a tough leathery armor.

Elina was impressed, she had seen Gus do more in close combat with the zombies, but she had expected more of a fight from the alligator.

“Very nice, Moley. You did good.”

“Not a scratch on me either. I’m not a butcher, which parts do you think we should eat?”

“I’m not sure. The tail? The legs? Can’t we just gut it here and drag it all with us?”

Gus thought for a moment before nodding and starting the cuts to clean the carcass. “You know a year ago I wouldn’t have known where to start.”

“We’ve all changed. Killing what I eat? Before I’d have been a vegetarian if I would have had to kill a goat or even gut a fish. Thankfully dressing meat is something that tends to lend itself to multiple species; just get the guts out and clean up the meat.”

“Maybe we’ll find some spices in one of the houses.” Gus ventured.

“You can’t see that?” Chided Elina.

Gus paused for a moment, nodded and said, “I know just where to go now.”

Elina laughed and they finished the fairly messy task of cleaning the alligator in silence. They hauled the body with them to the house Gus had picked out. It was a two story home with a stone finish. The front door was propped open, as was the two car garage door. The weather had not been kind to the dwelling and the walls of the garage were already sloughing off under the pressure of the constant humidity and sea breeze, which could be felt even this distance from the shore.

“This is the place?” Elina asked, eyeing the dwelling with distaste. She pointed to a home further down that looked more intact.

“I’ve already seen what we find in those places. Nothing of consequence. Have a little faith.”

“I do. I do.” She assured him, “It just looks so run down.”

All of the yards were overgrown, most had knee high grass and a few yards had been taken over completely by vegetation from the nearby wetlands. This house looked worse than the others by far.

“You see, I think it’s because it looks so bad that we’ll find good stuff here. Everyone takes one look at the place and assumes it is cleaned out. Heck, just looking at it, I can’t believe what we are going to find. Help me haul ‘Paul’ here around back.” Gus had named their alligator ‘Paul’, he said he didn’t like calling the alligator ‘it’.

They lugged the animal around to the back of the house and found an extensive deck and patio in lieu of a yard, the cornerstone of the patio was a massive built in grill with an outdoor sink and a built in refrigerator.

Elina knew the fridge wouldn’t work, but the grill, yes the grill had possibilities. “Gus, you don’t think there is any propane for that thing do you?”

Gus smiled mischievously. “No. But it so happens I know where you are going to find one. Check out the fridge.”

“You’re kidding. You just want me to get a breath of rotten food, don’t you?”

He shook his head, “Would I do that?”

Nodding Elina said, “Yes.” She opened the fridge to discover the owner had kept the spices for grilling inside of it. Someone had rifled through them, but there were several plastic spice bottles that were almost full and a full tub of 100% Sea salt.

“Oh, Moley! This will do nicely. Now where is that propane tank?”

“In the house, just head towards the garage until you find the laundry room, the tank is by the door, under a load of dirty laundry. Don’t worry the laundry isn’t too gross.”

Elina dropped ‘Paul’ and headed towards the house. “What are you going to be doing while I seek out the propane?”

“Hey, I killed the beast and found the house, I thought I’d check inspect the lawn furniture for usability.”

“Really?” Elina asked with an arched eyebrow.

“Okay, I’ll find us something to drink and then inspect the furniture.”

A few minutes later Elina had the propane tank outside and was getting it into place. Gus was coming back from the edge of the marshlands carrying a half dozen coconuts, he dropped them by the countertop next to the grill and went inside without a word. Elina had the grill working by the time he returned with pitcher, two glasses and a bag of sugar that had seen better days.

“The ants have been at it.” Gus explained apologetically, “But I can clear enough of them out of it to make us something worth drinking. Why don’t you go grab us some dinnerware and I will get some steaks on the barbi?”

“Wow, we’re going all domesticated, aren’t we?”

Gus laughed, “Best of all we don’t have to split it three ways. Fucking Ramon.”

“Ramon. Yeah. What do you think will happen to him?”

“I don’t…” Gus froze up, staring off into space.

Elina shrugged and went into the house, leaving him lost looking into the future.

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