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Cayo Elina 51

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“So you’re the guys that are going to try and keep any more reinforcements from getting to us?” Elina asked the haggard youth crouched in the doorway with her.

The young woman didn’t nod; she just shrugged her shoulders noncommittally.

“Well, do what you can, okay?” The battle to join up with the others had cost the islanders several casualties and they didn’t have the chance to take out the armored car which had been resupplied and was once again keeping them held down along the beach.

‘Inland though, they can’t hold us back.’When it came to house to house fighting and clearing the old buildings the islanders held all the cards. In hand to hand fighting no one could beat them. Elina’s new plan of action was to burrow through the buildings one by one until they were level with the armored car, then draw it out and, hopefully, take it out with Ambros’s grenade. If that didn’t work Elina was going to try firing weapons through the firing ports.

“That car is killing us.” She muttered for the third time in as many minutes, listening to the screams along the beach. The Cubans were smart enough to realize they needed to protect it with infantry to keep the main body of the islanders off of it.

Ambros appeared at her side, he had on a new shirt and fresh bandages. “Here.” He said pulling a bundle off of his back and thrusting it into her hands. “And I brought you this gift too.” With his other hand he rummaged inside of a hefty looking back and pulled out a fresh bayonet. “I asked for digging tools, to help with the walls in the buildings. They should be here in thirty minutes with the boats. He is splitting it in two, just in case. Last two boats coming ashore.”

Elina immediately realized what that meant; no more reinforcement of their own, they had to get a solid beach head established or they could very well be pushed back into the sea themselves. “Did they say if Perry is counterattacking?” She asked.

Ambros shook his head and then used one finger to clear sand out of his ear. “No. No word. We go get that truck now?”

Elina outlined her plan to him and he nodded agreement. “Good. Good!” He said, pulling more of the tubes from his back he passed them out to the people who were closest, including one to the rather surprised young woman who Elina had fought to minutes before. “These are disposable rockets. Old, not so good, the captain had them in the hold. But I think the Cubans, their car, it is not so good either, eh?” He laughed and demonstrated how to use the device. “Now we have six shots to take it out. Let us get through the walls!”

The islanders had not been idle; they already tore through the first building and into the ally beyond. When Elina looked down both directions she saw Cubans huddling near the beach side.

“Soldiers, that way.” She gestured. “Rafael, you deal with them. The man could leap like a human grasshopper and was second only to Gus in hand to hand fighting.”

“At once, captain!” He gave her a mock salute, before turning and leaping down the alleyway. Elina didn’t even watch, but ran across the short distance and smashed in a door on the other side.  It gave easily, in today’s Miami the doors either gave easily, indicating the building had already been looted, or they didn’t give at all as the people inside had barricaded them shut. Inside the building she crossed the room and waited for several more people to come in, gesturing at them to take up positions to watch both ends of the building.

It was at this point she decided to fundamentally change her plans. Grabbing the nearest volunteer she told her, “You, Jeanie, isn’t it?”

The girl nodded.

“Jean, you go back and tell them to make a big commotion in this alley, treat it like it was gold, defend it, make the Cubans think they have stopped us here, the rest of us are going to go through alone and try to take out the car, then we will circle back around to the front and crush the soldiers on the street. Got it?”

Again Jeanie nodded, but before darting off she threw Elina a salute and said, “Yes, Captain.” As she left and darted to the hole in the brick wall across from them Rafael came in.

“All taken care of, Elina. They’ll be back though, the car is moving slowly this way, loads of infantry ahead of it.” He handed out the rifles he had taken to the others. There were nine of them in the room and Elina took a moment to look each of them in the eyes. Then she explained her plan and asked how long the block they were in was.

Rafael shrugged, “A little longer than some, why?”

“Let’s go through the second story maybe we can get above and around them, then they won’t know we’ve gotten past their lines.”

The group nodded and searched for a stairway. Near the back they found one and bustled up a double set of stairs to the third story. Elina didn’t waste time checking the building; she just punched a hole in the wall on the north side to gain access to the next compartmentalized row, which turned out to be a hotel. The room was empty of living, but a zombie lunged towards them and Elina swatted it down with her bayonet, dicing its head with one blow and opened its chest to the sternum.

“What the hell is a zombie doing here? And a slow one too?”

No one answered, and no one slowed down. The ganger girl was first out of the door and busted through the one across the narrow hallway from them.  They all followed one by one, not drawing attention from the three men at the end of the hallway on the east side who were looking for targets.

Shutting the door the crew got to work passing through to the next building. They ran into some fairly new construction, poured concrete reinforced with metal fittings. Two of the men had sledge hammers and they all had bayonets or bars to help dig. None of them were strong enough to break the metal reinforcing bars, but eventually they pulled enough concrete out so they could bend them out of the way and pass through to the other side.

By the time they made it to the next street they had a system going, where the strongest would get through the walls and the weakest would shore up the holes behind them.  The only soldiers they fought were in the last building, they killed six men and Elina didn’t think any got away to carry warning to their friends.  Eyeing the drop to the ground and the distance to the next building Elina said, “We’ll have to go down. And they have a guy on the roof over there. Maybe a few more.”

“Through the floor or do we look for stairs?” someone asked.

“Let’s check the stairs. Ambros, you have that grenade?”

“Yes, right here.” He pulled the ugly looking thing out of his pocket.  He had taken it off of one of the Soldier’s bodies.

“Don’t use it, but keep it handy, we might need a distraction.” She told him.

“Distraction, yes.”

The stairwell to the second floor was empty.

Rafael stopped at the landing, “We can drop from the windows outside if we need too.” The stairwell was close to one corner of the building, opening up their chances of being seen from multiple directions.  To make matters worse, it looked like a fire exit, increasing the chances that the ground floor was subdivide into multiple shops as was the norm in what used to be the heavy tourist area near Miami Beach.

The second story was up fairly high though and Elina had at least three non-islanders to worry about, Ambros, the girl and another guy that Elina thought she recognized from the 14 Coronas.  Finally she nodded, “We’ll drop from here, find a rope or something for those who need to climb partway down.”

The fire doors had already been broken into on this level, not recently either and there were no soldiers in sight. Choosing yet another hotel room door, they barged in on two men having what looked like consensual relations with a scrawny young woman. They all yelled and one of the men disengaged from the woman’s head and reached for a weapon. Elina killed him with a stab through his chest. Her companions stood there for a moment and then butchered the other two before they could yell again and raise the alarm.

Elina stood transfixed, staring at the man on the end of her bayonet, watching him die. ‘It feels…good.’ She shuddered as the man toppled away from her and fell through the open window to the street below. “Shit.” She said, belated reaching for him.

Cautiously she looked out the window through the rags that were hanging there as curtains. If any of the Soldiers saw anything to be concerned about they were not raising the alarm. With some relief Elina noted two other bodies in the street below. “That was close.” She said, keeping herself from facing her crew.

Ambros approached her, “Elina. It is okay. It is okay. We have to go. You sort through feelings later, when we are finished fighting. But I am telling you now it is okay.”

‘Probably not, for two reasons, first they were not the enemy and second…I liked it a little too much.’  There had been a few incidents on the island of humans who became a little too enthralled with killing the living. Usually it was the best and brightest of the zombie killers who snapped. Two of them had thrown themselves into combat and died there without doing any harm, but the third man…they had been forced to kill him and he thanked them for it as he died.

‘Is this how it starts?’she wondered.

“Elina, we must keep the plan going. We must go and destroy that vehicle.” Ambros said, pulling her to face him.

“I know. I just…feel bad, they weren’t the enemy, they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” She told the group.

“At least they died happy.” Rafael quipped, “Or close to it.”

“Who does this when there is a war raging outside your window?” asked the ganger girl.

Elina shrugged, fixing the girl with her eyes, she said, “I don’t even know your name.”

“Wanda.”

“I’m pleased to meet you, Wanda, I’m…”

“I know who you are, the ‘captain’.” Wanda gave Elina a salute, “But I know who you really are already too. Hector told us. Said to look for the strong woman leading the attack. I figured I could do worse than staying by your side.”

Elina snorted derisively, “Shows what you know.” She gestured around her, “Not one of these guys, well except for the German, was with me on my boat when it landed. Everyone else is dead or wished they were. Those aren’t good odds.” Realizing that this wasn’t a good morale speech to the troops she softened her tone and said, “They all did the best they could and we wouldn’t have gotten this far without their efforts. I’ll keep going until I fall, then I expect one of you to pick things up and keep the momentum going.”

Ambros cleared his throat, “Yes, going. We will tie the sheets into ropes, tie one end on the bedframe and climb down the other. We should go.”

Elina nodded and asked Rafael to come to the window to scope out the men across the street. After a few minutes of looking he shook his head, “I don’t know if I can do that. I mean it’s all the way across the street and up a story too. And I don’t have any room to get a running start.”

“Will you try? Or is it not worth the chance?” Elina pressed.

He looked at the distances again and nodded, “I’ll try.”

They cleared the furniture out of the way and Wanda took down the curtains at the last possible second before Rafael jumped. Without looking to see if he succeeded or not Elina tossed the makeshift rope out the window, which was followed by two of the other islanders just jumping down themselves, confident that they could make it without injury.

Elina would be the last out and she stood by the window to gauge how Rafael had done. He had hit the wall on the other side, just shy of the top and was holding on to the edge with both hands. As she watched he swung his feet over and slithered over the lip onto the flat roof. One of the guards let out a yell, which was cut short by a bayonet which seemed to sprout in the man’s throat like a flower from a magician’s wand. However other men saw the first go down and the alarm was being raised. From her position Elina could see one of the men and she took a shot at him with the Cuban rifle she had taken earlier, the three round heavy burst forced her back, but at least one of the bullets struck her target, who fell below the roofline.

‘That has to do. I gotta get out of here.’Looking down she saw that Wanda, Ambros and the other gang member were already racing across the street.  Ducking through the window Elina cut the bed sheet rope and gathered it up as she fell. She ran across the street into well looted novelty store where the rest of the team was sequestered. Ambros was checking one way while an islander watched the other.

“We’re clear, let’s get moving. Good job on taking the rope, Elina, we didn’t even think of that.” Said the islander, named Roberto.

Elina flushed and didn’t tell him she hadn’t thought of it until the last second either and really she only took it to prevent the soldiers from seeing where they had come from. With a nod she said, “I almost didn’t. Let’s see if we can go up to the roof and help out Rafael.”

The back of the shop opened into a dark, debris filled common corridor where there were doors to all the other businesses and one to the alley behind them. “Look for a fire door and get through it.” Elina said, checking the first door she came to. The others quickly located the fire door, it was the closest to the alleyway and they scrambled up until they came to a heavy metal door with the words ‘Roof Access  - Employees Only’ emblazoned across it in yellow paint. The door was propped open by a rock set close to the hinge.

Elina looked through the slivers of light around the door, trying to discern any danger, but couldn’t see anyone or anything. Slowly she pushed and the door swung open. Ahead of her Rafael was sitting heavily near the edge of the roof. A sweaty smile on was on his face and he swayed slightly from side to side, his rifle was held in one hand with its barrel resting on the gravel.

As Elina moved to step towards him he raised his hand slightly and gave her a toothy grin, stopping her in her tracks. His teeth were coated with blood; watching him she saw a pale red bubble form on his lips and slowly grow to impossible size before popping and creating crimson droplets that rained down on his saturated shirt.  

“No!” Elina shouted spinning out from the doorway as the rooftop echoed in rifle fire. At least three bursts hit Rafael where he was sitting, knocking him one way, then the other, until finally he fell backward, his hand never left its grip on the rifle and Elina thought she heard him laugh. She was not standing idly by; she was moving and moving fast. Twitching sideways she threw herself onto a gunman firing at Rafael, crushing his skull with the barrel of gun, with a spin she tore the man’s rifle from his hands and slammed the butt of it into another soldier nearby.

Now the bullets started to track her, the next soldier was too far away to strike with either of her guns, but she solved that problem by simply shooting them. Almost in slow motion she watched the barrel of her original rifle split, giving her arm a violent jerk forward. The other weapon, in her off hand, was neither accurate, nor lucky, but two of the soldiers it was pointing towards threw themselves on the ground out of sight behind a low parapet the next building over.

By then the people who had followed her up the stairs were in action. Ambros was on one knee, taking down two soldiers in short succession with accurate fire and Wanda’s inaccurate waste of ammunition resulted in one casualty as well. The other islanders quickly made their way around the side of the low stairwell hut, firing as they went. Leaving the area behind her to her allies Elina ran towards the two Cuban’s who had gone prone on the nearby building.

She dropped the useless rifle in midair high over the alley and came down behind the two suppressed men. Twirling sideways she kicking the feet out from one of them and punched the other as he rose to a crouch, both men toppled as if pole axed, before the man with the broken legs even started screaming Elina dashed away towards the next pair of men.

“Ambros! Take out the car!” Elina screamed, hoping that the vehicle that was such a thorn in their side was still close by this block and that Ambros could hit it. There was no time to wait and see if he heard her, more men were pouring onto the roof from the next building. Elina fired into the crowd and knocked many of them down, forcing the rest back down the stairs. She leaped to that building and rushed the stairs like a hobo running for a train and landed at the top of them. The men inside were heading out at the urging of their commander and two of them fired on full automatic as Elina stood in the doorway, she was thrown back down onto the roof top, skidding on the thin layer of gravel from the momentum until her head came to rest upon one of the wounded soldiers still lying there.

‘So this is it. It doesn’t even hurt. Gus was wrong I never made it to Max’s at all.’She smiled at the thought and drew a sharp breath as the pain finally started.

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