Chapter 5

Eventually, the desert came to an end and a cargo ship came into view, leaving the dock I now entered. An LED sign declared the departure of cargo bound for Mercyship.  I had found a window of opportunity. The ramp which was used for loading cargo lay just ahead. Pushing the engine as hard as I could, I mounted the ramp as the bike reached its top speed. Within a matter of seconds, I was airborne. My heart was in my throat. The arc the bike made was as thin as the line between life and death. The deck of the ship hurtled towards me. I threw myself off the bike, fell into a barrel roll and stopped safely, while the bike kept sliding, skidding across the deck and crashing into the side. I ran to the bike, salvaging the bulletproof cases from the compartment before pushing the beautiful Honda overboard, the helmet tumbling soon after.   It was hard, watching the bike descend to its doom, but I needed to destroy the evidence. I hoped that the skid marks would be viewed as a remnant of a botched cargo delivery. Holding everything I needed, I found a hinged door hidden within the deck and took refuge in the belly of the ship. I found a space between two of the cargo containers and slipped inside, risking discovery for a small dose of shuteye.

When I awoke, feeling a little more refreshed, and examined the contents of the briefcase. I clipped a small GPS system onto my arm, shoved a few clips of ammunition into my weapon belt, and slipped a leather purse into my inside jacket pocket. A few boxes of indeterminate contents also found their way onto my person, for later examination. I discarded the briefcases, deciding that any amenities could be acquired once I reached Mercyship. I crept out of the enclosed space and lifted the trapdoor, emerging onto the deck. I tucked up my legs into my knees and clambered out. I stood and examined the horizon.

Mercyship appeared, about five miles into the distance, its appearance confirmed by the fluorescent glowing on my GPS. I smiled, guessing that the ship was moving at an extreme rate of knots. My hair was whipped about my face by the wind, and I winced, remembering my nightmare once more. This nightmare, that was all too real. I hated my echo, this half-voice that I wished would either disappear completely or become whole. I preferred remaining silent to gasping, it allowed me to melt into the background and allowed me to feel some normality. Many people, through their own choice, did not speak - it gave me alternatives, and a fading shadow of normality.

Suddenly, I became aware of footsteps hitting the deck. I darted around the corner, leapt over a crate and withdrew my handgun, sheltering behind the crate. The steps came closer, each footfall abusing my ears; my heart was thumping. The man turned the corner and carried on walking, oblivious to my presence. Myra, I thought, pull yourself together. You’re getting distracted - if you don’t pay more attention to what you’re doing, you’re going to end up lying on this deck with a bullet firmly lodged in your brains. Now, concentrate.

The sudden clarity of my mind came with an increased awareness of my surroundings. I still held my gun; it provided comfort, despite it being made of cold metal. I crept along the deck, aware of the smallest sound. I came to a halt as another man appeared; I pressed my back against the wall, remaining silent and still. The man stopped walking, turned to face me and drew a pistol from his belt. But he was too slow in his movements; in a matter of seconds, he lay on the floor, a bullet through his chest. He was in great pain. I came and knelt by his body, and breathed,

“I’m sorry.” My feeble attempt at an apology puzzled him; it reminded me of another problem which arose from having half a voice. With an intelligence quotient of 135, I was no idiot. However, my inability to articulate well meant that I was viewed as dim, suffering some sort of retardation. In this lay the substance behind that age-old saying - Never judge a book by its cover. As the man gasped for breath, I felt a pang of pity. Killing fellow humans was hard, but I consoled myself with the fact that he would have shot me had I not acted first. In this twisted world, the mantra ‘Kill or be killed’ rang true, the threat of death was always nearby. I placed the barrel of my gun to his temple, repeating my apology. As soon as the glimmer of understanding grew evident in his eyes, I took it away, his eyes dulling with that pain. 

I closed his eyes.

Standing up, Mercyship was almost within touching distance. I heard more footsteps. Avoiding another bloodied confrontation, I sprinted to the side of the ship, pushed myself off the deck and plummeted gracefully into the Atlantic. I swam quickly, hoping that I had gone undiscovered and that I would not end up firstly as target practice, secondly as shark food. Thankfully, no gunfire ensued, and I was allowed to swim the mile between the ship and the island in peace. I decided, while submerged in the blueness, to find a less obvious way onto the island, perhaps by swimming a little further to a small cove that I began to make out on the left-hand side of the island. I decided that a furtive approach would be best, and risked the extra quarter-mile for a stealthy advantage.

Eventually, worn out by my swimming, I lay upon the sand of the cove, breathing heavily and completely drenched. I waited in the sand, a shimmering black slug beneath the baking sun, drying quickly; I ran my fingers through my sandy hair, examining my reflection in the water. Satisfied that I had regained some normality to my appearance, I stood up, and climbed the rock face until I reached a grassy slope. Standing up, I inhaled deeply, the scent of Mercyship filling my nostrils and my lungs. My mission had begun, and I had some rebellious pathogens to deal with. In eager anticipation of whatever lay ahead, a thought, a challenge to the disease filled my mind.

Bring it on, waking coma, I'm sure my immune system can take on whatever you throw at me.

Another voice, a whisper, seemed to fill the wind.

 “Try me.”

The End

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