Cayo Elina 50
Gus didn’t burn. ‘It is a little unfair I suppose.’ He thought after pulling Ambros from to safety from the burning truck. ‘I should have told her.’ More than anything Gus wanted to tell Elina. After dumping Ambros off behind a knocked over concrete bench that lined the jogging path parallel to the beach Gus ran for the buildings and managed to lose himself a few blocks in, away from most of the heavy fighting. It was there that he ran into Darion, the man who had threatened Max after Elina had killed the former leader of the Coronas.
The young man tried to back into the alley where he was peeking out, but Gus wasn’t using his eyes to see him, he was immersed in the twilight world of the future, dipping his toes into the between world so that he could more actively control his fate. This was a risk, of course, if Gus went too far, he would freeze up and that could lead to his untimely demise just as easily… ‘Just as easily as being where a bullet is if I don’t ride this wild mustang.’ He thought.
“Darion.” Gus called out. “Hold up a minute. I need to speak to you.”
Gus darted across the street and Darion was still in the alley looking as defiant as he had when he proposed taking on the super zombie in Max’s place.
“You’re that bitch’s dog, from the bar.”
Darion didn’t use the word ‘bitch’ or ‘dog’, but Gus knew enough Spanish to figure out what he meant. ‘Shit is never easy.’
Without a word Gus punched Darion in the solar plexus and sent the kid reeling back into the alley. ‘I hope I didn’t break him.’ Gus thought worriedly and hurried forward to pick him up.
Darion came back up with a knife in his hand and stabbed Gus in the shoulder, ‘The things I do for my loved one.’ With a grunt he sat back and took a knee, he kept one eye on Darion and another on the threads of the future. He had to keep himself close to ‘now’ and that limited his ability to know what to say to make Darion react the way he needed. ‘It’s almost like I’m fallible again or something.’ Out loud he said, “We ain’t got time for this machismo bullshit. Do you want to talk or do you want to die right here, right now?”
“You’re the one with the knife in him, pendejo.”
“That little prick? I sent him packing when he came sniffing around a few days ago.” Darion said.
Gus looked at Darion, the other man was still gasping for breath and the look of rebellion looked more like fear now. With a slow movement of his hand Gus pulled the knife blade out of his shoulder. Flicking the blood off of it he tossed it hilt first towards Darion. “You can try again if you want to. But I think I know where he is; he took the gang from you, didn’t he?”
“No…I…” The man flushed and rolled to his hands and knees, picking up the knife as he did so.
Gus climbed to his feet warily, “He did, and that’s why you’re alone out here, isn’t it?”
Darion didn’t meet Gus’s gaze.
“You know, you can get them back. And I’ll help you.”
A glimmer of hope shone in Darion’s eye’s tempered by suspicion. “Why would you do that?”
“Because I want Hector and he won’t go if he has a gang to look after, I know him. But I can take him away.”
“Because I need him to look after me, and he trusts me. But I have to find him first. And we have to help against the Cubans. You can help with that, can’t you?”
The young man nodded and put away his knife. Gus noticed he didn’t clean it off first. ‘I’m not doing this poor sap any favors, but the world is probably better off without him anyway.’
“I know where he is.”
“Lead the way, partner.”
Ten minutes later Gus was getting his back pounded on my Hector on the ground floor of what looked like an abandoned building. Hector hadn’t been too pleased to see Darion, but when he saw Gus a smile lit up his face and wrapped his arms around the smaller man in a bear hug.
“I’m glad to see you too. Darion here wasn’t too keen on bringing me here, but he thought about it a little and decided the good of the gang is more important that what he is feeling. He was out there on the front lines, where the fighting is and it was only by chance that I ran into him. I thought it would better if he made amends and convinced the rest of you to help me out and he agreed.” Gus said. The other members of the 14 Coronas looked on Darion a little less contemptuously after that and for his part Darion tried to look humble. He didn’t pull it off too well and Hector cocked his head head sideways and gave Gus a quizzical stare through slitted eyes, as if to ask, ‘What are you playing at?’
Gus shook his head and started speaking, “We’re here with an invasion force, hitting the Cubans from behind, but we need your help. The navy is going to support us in trying to take the bridges and we will throw the Cubans back into the sea. Hector, what can you do to help us?”
Hector looked at the people around him and nodded, “We know where they are, we can disrupt their reinforcements, pin them down and make it harder for them to get to the battle, draw off troops.” He held up a finger before Gus started talking again, “But we can’t stand up to them in a fight. They took hostages and a lot of people won’t help.”
“We could go rescue the hostages…” Gus began; he stopped as Hector shook his head.
“They took the hostages back to Cuba on the boats, there is no way to force them back into the sea, they can’t leave. They don’t have any way to leave. But well help, I think they don’t want to be here and we can win, make them surrender.”
Gus knew the Cuban’s couldn’t leave, not with the Feist out on the coast.
Hector continued, “Joe, Estiban, Luke, go around and get people who will fight, each of you lead them to where they can do the most good and start harassing the soldiers. Gus, may I speak with you a moment so you can fill me in on what has happened?”
“Yes.” Gus answered, wondering what bad news Hector didn’t want to mention in front of the others.
Together they went to the back of the building where there was a water jug set up, Hector grabbed two chipped coffee cups and filled them from the jug, before gesturing for Gus to step outside.
Gus stopped near the wall and eyed the alley entrance.
“Don’t worry, Gus, they won’t come here, they crossed over the north bridge this morning and most of them are tied up trying to hold that ground. I know they’ve made some good progress trying to make it to the port. But there’s more you need to know.”
“Is it that bad?”
“Worse. The Cubans bombed the Boone, they didn’t sink it, but a lot of people were killed and more were hurt. Worse, they lost their ability to shoot down incoming aircraft. The Cubans dropped tanks with their planes, Gus. Tanks. What can we do against tanks? We only have three rifles, two shit guns and a Miami special.”
“I thought the gang would have taken a few guns from the Cubans by now…”
“We did, those three rifles we got. Problem is after we killed the patrol and got those guns, the Cubans rounded up thirty citizens and killed them all. Every hour after that they took five more people and killed them too. They said they will keep doing this until the rifles are returned and the murderers are turned in. It’s been ten hours Gus. The youngest one they killed was six. Six, Gus.”
Gus swallowed, “And then we landed.”
“It’s been…difficult, Gus. I’m really glad you’re here to take over.”
“Wait, take over? I…I can’t take over, Hector, these are your people. I just wanted to get you moving. I thought you wanted the gang?”
Hector laughed, “I only went because you told me too. Perry says you’re a natural leader.”
“He wasn’t onboard when the bombs hit the ship. He was away with Ricardo, talking to the Zombiemaster or something. “
“Did…did the helicopter make it back?”
Hector shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know, I have a radio, but the Cubans can track it somehow, I have to move right after I talk to avoid the patrols they send, they almost caught me the first time. I didn’t know that was even possible. Perry clued me in to keep moving.”
“When is the last time you spoke to him?”
“Before the tanks dropped. About a day ago.”
“What did he say then?”
“To keep moving and support you when you landed. He told us you would be getting here today, which is why we ambushed the patrol this morning to get more weapons, so we’d be ready when you got here.” Hector said.
Gus looked at the young man, he was worn out, deep, black circles lined his eyes and he had a bandage around one arm that Gus hadn’t noticed before; it was black with blood. Hector caught him looking at his bandage and said, “It’s not as bad as it looks; it just bled a lot. But I’m okay. One of the citizens gave me an energy drink when he bandaged me up. It was old, but still good.”
‘This is our medicine now? Two year old energy drinks and dirty bandages?’
“I’m okay, really. Where is Elina?” Hector asked again.
Gus signed heavily and said, “She’s fighting her way to Max’s. Is Max okay?”
“I haven’t been able to get in touch with him. I heard he had a bunch of zombies in his basement or something, word came to me from one of the cells we set up.”
“Perry again, we just started it, we’ve only had a few days, but we’re getting organized to fight a monkey war or something.”
“Guerilla warfare?” Gus prompted.
Hector nodded, “That’s it, a classic insurrection, I guess they did it in the last war or something, it’s supposed to be pretty effective when the weak are fighting the strong.”
Gus would have laughed if thought he could do so without hurting Hector’s feelings, ‘Did it during the last war or something.’ The feeling of amusement left him quickly as the realization landed on him with both feet that he was now, more than ever in a war. Not a war with undead, but where the living were fighting other living over…what? ‘Why the hell are we fighting? Don’t we have a common enemy now?’ He shook his head and caught Hector frowning at him.
“Perry said that type of fighting would work.”
“No, it’s not that. I’m just…thinking, I mean this is real, Hector we’re fighting other living. I thought when the zombies came that would be over.”
Hector looked at him without understanding.
“Never mind, my friend, we’ll just do the best we can. I say we start with the guys who were killing the hostages.”
Hector nodded, “I’ll get the rifles, it’s about time we brought them back to the Cubans. But two guns aren’t going to take them all out.”
“That’s okay, we’re guerilla fighters, we’ll hit them and retreat…then hit them again. But we need to send some people towards the beach and let them know we are here.”
“I have just the people for that.” Hector said, nodding.