Cayo Elina 58
Elina crossed the kitchen in a flash, not heading towards Ambros, but towards the door she was supposed to be watching. It was moving, not being pressed inward, but being pulled slowly open from outside. As she watched a rifled barrel pushed through the door and took aim at Ambros. In complete silence Elina threw herself at the door and knocked the rifle out with her as she tumbled out of the kitchen.
She wound up on her feet crouched low enough to gain some cover from the bar and facing into the room. Behind the bar, which she could see clearly the Cuban soldiers had set up and were trading shots with islanders outside of the beach entrance. On the street side more soldiers were taking cover aiming at anything moving in front of the bar. Elina had her off hand around the rifle barrel and with her pistol she fired one shot into the woman holding onto the butt. Her second shot found the first man behind the bar and the third pull of the trigger resulted in nothing; she had fired it dry.
However she did have the rifle. The men behind the bar were not completely unaware and their too slow movements had them taking aim at her even as she stepped towards them over their wounded companion.
From the beach door a voice cried out “Elina! Elina!” and a cheer went up outside as the Islanders recognized her. Elina leaped at the first man in line behind the bar, even as he threw down his rifle and attempted to raise his hands. Elina snapped the butt of the rifle around, crushing in his cheek and breaking the bottom half of the stock off the gun. The third soldier both dropped his rifle and fell prone onto his back raising his hand high and screaming out for God to have mercy on him. Elina somehow pulled her punch and left him alive as she gestured for the other to drop their weapons and fall prone, they complied without hesitation. When the armband wearing warrior from the doorway saw his troops surrendering he turned his gun on his own troops firing at the bar indiscriminately. Elina returned fire but her gun was damaged and her shots flew wide. The man in the doorway did pull back, however and that was enough.
“Grenades, next, as Ambros would say.” Elina said propping her rifle on the bar and taking careful aim. Her attention was distracted and she didn’t the man step up behind her from the hallway Gus had come down. Her shot and his sounded simultaneously as the soldier popped around the doorway to throw the grenade. Elina’s shot struck the doorjamb near his head, but somehow the man’s head exploded in a shower of gore anyway. The grenade dropped at his feet and shouts of alarm sounded from outside the building. Ambros popped into the room for a moment, took one look at the grenade half a room away from him and ducked back into the doorway from which he had emerged.
“Darling, where would you be without me?” Ricardo asked, rifle poised for another shot.
“Pah! That was nothing, you shoulda been here earlier when they were really throwing grenades.” Elina said with some bluster.
Ricardo laughed and pointed at the soldiers on the floor cowering behind the bar, “Looks like you’ve made some new friends.”
The grenade exploded outside and a fragment caught Ricardo in the cheek as it went by; he didn’t even flinch and the wound healed before more than a trickle of blood marred the man’s cheek.
“Someone’s been eating well.” Elina remarked.
He nodded, “But it’s all Cuban; leaves you hungry after an hour.”
“I thought that was Chinese food?”
“Darlin’ Cuban is the new Chinese.”
Behind Ricardo, Hector appeared and behind him stood more reinforcements, undead and alive. Outside the Cuban soldiers were driven from the corner where they had been hiding and a moment later the islanders swept by, two of them stopping in to stare at Elina.
“We heard you were caught in that bomb that hit the roof!” said the older woman, Elina recognized Julianne Lollar, one of the former council members from the island.
“I heard you got blown up on that transport that got hit.”
With a short bitter laugh Julianne said, “Up and up, but still in one piece. You?”
“I got down just in time, with Rafael.”
“Shot up, but still alive last I saw him. He’s tough, for a grasshopper.” Elina said.
Ambros appeared at the doorway and several rifles pointed up at him, before Elina said, “He’s with me!”
With a wave Ambros took up position facing the street door of the bar. More gunfire sounded from outside as the islanders pressed the Cubans back to the next block. Julianne shrugged, “Well, I’m sort of in charge. We’ll catch up later.” She said apologetically before she ducked out past the German.
“Fighting ain’t over ‘lina.” Ricardo said in an exaggerated drawl.
“Will it ever be? I figure it’s gotta be close to done, we got you, Perry and us, all pressing them further north on a spit of land that doesn’t have too much more north left. What do we do with these guys?” Elina asked gesturing towards the prisoners.
“Oh, don’t you worry about them.” Ricardo said, gesturing to a couple of the men with him. They stepped forward and started picking bodies up off of the floor, when the prisoners realized the people picking them up were dead they implored Elina to save them. Saying they had surrendered to her, not the zombies.
Elina looked at Ricardo, who stared back for a moment before shrugging his shoulders, “Fine, you captured them, you deal with them.” He gestured to the zombies, who immediately let the soldiers go.
“Hector, can you split a few people off to watch these guys?” Elina asked.
He nodded, “Yeah, I’ll find someone. Probably won’t lack volunteers, it’s hard fighting when you hardly have any weapons. Have you seen Gus? He left me high and dry back there.”
Remembering him Elina nodded and pushed past Hector into the kitchen, forgetting the table Ambros had set across the door when they entered, it clattered out of the way with a loud noise. Hector and Ricardo followed her across the room to where Gus was still laying on the lower shelf near the floor. She gently knelt and picked up him, setting him on top of the stainless steel food preparation counter.
“What happened?” Hector asked, kneeling beside Gus.
“I don’t know for sure, other than the guys in the bar shot him before Ambros and I came in.” Elina answered.
“Is he? Is he dead?”
“He wasn’t, but he’s…different, something’s changed. He kept saying everything is different, but we didn’t have time to talk.” Elina put her hand tentatively on Gus again feeling for a pulse. A very fast, weak pulse greeted her fingertips. “He’s alive. I knew he would be. I think unless something kills us outright, we won’t die easy.”
“He’s tough.” Hector said, beaming. “Should we leave him here?”
“Can you tell your guys to check on him from time to time while they watch the prisoners?”
“Okay, then let’s leave him be.”
“Elina.” Gus croaked, eyes squinted shut.
“Are you hurt, Gus?”
“I’m going to be okay.”
“On that, my friend, you are wrong, as soon as you’re better, I’m going to kill you. Why did you let me think you were blown up in the truck?” Elina said tightly.
The man smiled and shook his head, “I did what I had to do, Elina. I got here first. I drew their fire away from you.”
“Me and Ambros would have been fine without your help, we had already cleared a dozen buildings.”
“I don’t know about that.” Gus said.
“Can you see? What’s wrong?” Elina asked.
“My eyes…” Gus’s voice trailed off and he lost focus.
“What, Gus? Are you blind? That’s okay, Moley, I’ll still love you, it doesn’t matter.”
“Elina, things have changed, I can see…I can see so much now, things I wish I could explain, but I can’t make you see them with my eyes, so it loses value when I try to explain it. But my eyes, Elina, don’t be scared.” Gus said softly, the gunfire outside provided a musical backdrop to his words.
“Let me see.” Elina said softly, fearing the worst.
Slowly Gus opened his eyes. Elina gasped and turned away, Hector and Ricardo both stood slack-jawed at what they saw.
“I dunno…I dunno..” Ricardo said, all trace of a ‘good ole boy’ accent gone from his words.
“What’s it mean?” Hector asked, looking at each of them in turn.
With the three of them speechless Gus found he couldn’t break the silence either, he merely stared at them with the opaque eyes they had all seen a thousand times before; the eyes of a newly made zombie, freshly risen from death.