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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - HORROR
Just in time for halloween, here comes my ode to George A. Romero. Now, just in case the title doesn't give one an adequate idea of what's inside, there will be zombies who eat people, considerable gunplay, and problematic Reavers. I sure hope that is enough warnings. Seriously, though, I wanted to have some fun, and this got more serious as it went along, and i am actually pretty happy with the way it ended. No happy endings, so Joss would hopefully bless it, along with George. (I did try like all hell to figure out how to encompase something like the Dead Reckoning into the story, but just oculdn't figure it out!)
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1277 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
They had simple, easy, legitimate work for a change, nothing sneaky, no smuggling, no thieving, just bring some agro supplies and a dozen passengers to a terraformed moon called Allysin. Jayne was bored, Simon and River were happy to not have to hide in their cabins, and the crew overall was happy to be turning some legal coin to keep themselves registered without any notice.
The whole thing had simple, by-the-numbers transport work written all over it. Not a ton of coin being turned here, but it was always a good practice to be plying your legitimate trade when you brought your boat through a fueling station. Feds might or might not be there, and if they are, you can smile and complain about the price of fuel like any other legitimate businessman. Not that the Feds bought it for a minute, but if there was enough of a gloss put across the operation, they typically wouldn’t be bothered to look too close.
Serenity was running well, the crew was paid from the previous home invasion job, and all was right in the ‘verse. So why was it that Malcolm Reynolds couldn’t sit still?
Everyone saw it, even River, who came up behind the captain in that silent way of hers and almost made him jump out of his skin when she placed a hand on his shoulder. “River!………what?!” he snarled at her.
“The real trouble won’t come for a while, you know. You can relax today.” Like so many conversations with River, it ended right there, and she turned and walked away.
This did little to improve Mal’s mood, and there was absolutely no logic behind any of this, he knew it, but he couldn’t help himself. Things just had their own way of going south on Serenity.
Almost on cue, things began their southward spiral. The comm crackled to life, and Wash’s voice came over. “Mal, you need to get up here right now.”
Here it comes, he thought, Whatever it is going to be, then here it comes. He went at a trot to the bridge, picking up speed as he went along. “Wash, what is it?”
Wash, normally one for sarcasm and teasing, looked dead serious today. He pointed to a radar screen, and pointed at a good sized blip. “See that?”
“I see it. Alliance patrol boat?”
Wash pointed at the screen. “Mal, look at the radiation readings.”
Mal muttered an involved Chinese curse. “Simple little cargo transport and taxi service. Easy-peasy, quick simple coin, right?” He wasn’t really asking Wash directly, he just happened to be looking at the only other person on the bridge. “Gorram Reavers. What in hells sphincter are gorram Reavers doing this far in from the outer rim. Bungers are getting bolder and bolder every day.”
The Reaver ship was still nowhere near close enough for visual. “Have they picked us up yet?”
“Mal, I’m going to say no, or if they have, they aren’t interested. They’re going south, and we are sailing east, and they aren’t making any effort to intercept.”
“Get the crew up here, leave the passengers in the dark as much as we can. Last thing I have room for is a passel of hysterical farmers carrying on about Reavers and what they are going to do to us.. Jayne should do that enough for everyone, I ‘spect.”
Moments later, the crew was assembled on the bridge. “People, here we have it. There’s a Reaver boat, or what we figure to be a Reaver boat, right about out here,” Mal said, pointing at a radar screen.”
“But it ain’t Reavers, right? We all know it ain’t Reavers, Reavers don’t come so far in from the Rim,” Jayne sputtered. Mal knew this was coming, the big man damn near soiled himself at the mention of Reavers. Some one of these days I will get that man drunk and find out what happened to put such a fright into his heart.
“Jayne,” Zoë said. “If you go all panicky again and frighten Kaylee and River, you know I’m going to have to shoot you, right?’
Jayne just looked at her petulantly. “Do we have a plan, sir?’
“Well, so far, they don’t seem to have taken notice of us, which means they are on their way to rape and pillage, of they just got done. Either way, we’ve don’t this before, and I don’t conjure I would like to wait for them to change their minds.”
“So what do we do?” It was Simon this time. No matter what the situation was, he always worried that Feds would be involved, and his sister would be endangered. Mal found it hard to take a liking to any man who still had yet to trust him, but he did make allowances for the Doctor.
The closest piece of stone to us right now without changing our course and making a spectacle of ourselves is a deadrock called Minerva.”
“I’ve heard of Minerva,” Kaylee piped up. “Wasn’t there some sort of an accident there with the terraforming?”
“There was,” mal said. “This was one of the earlier terraformed moons, and they could be a mite tetchy. Minerva was being mined iron pretty heavily, and something under the ground reacted with the terraformed atmosphere, and it was pretty disastrous. I’ve heard tell the stories, and some are wilder than others, but no one get off that rock once things went bad.”
“Captain, could I trouble you for a word?’ Shepherd Book asked. The Shepherd did this rarely, and he obviously didn’t want to bring whatever was on his mind up in front of everyone else. Mal had little choice but to say yes.
They stepped off the bridge and stood by the crew’s quarters. “G’on and speak your piece, preacher.”
“Captain, that’s a Banished Rock for a reason. I’ve heard those stories, and they all have a central theme. We are facing cannibals in the sky here, but we would be facing the same thing down there.”
“First of all, Shepherd, you are going to need to try very hard to keep this to your lonesome, y’hear? No good will come of us panicking these people any more’n we need to. And besides, if the stories are true, they won’t be able to get into the ship, unlike our friends up here in the sky with us. We just are going to park somewhere nice and hidden, shut it all down, and disappear for a few hours, and let those bungers go off and get to whatever devilry they have in mind, wherever it might be.”
“Captain, you are right, but you need to keep this ship locked up tight down there. If they are not all dead…….well, dead-er, then they are bound to be hungrier by now.”
“Thanks for that happy thought, preacher.”
“I will keep my mouth shut, Captain, I promise you that, but I think you may want to prepare our passengers and crew for what might be waiting down here for us.”
“Let’s wait and see what we see, what do you say? Because I have very little doubt about what is waiting for us up here……..do you?”
“Some one of these day you will have an easy set of decisions to make, Captain.”
“Won’t that be a shiny day for me?”
Wash put the ship into atmo, all the while watching the Reaver boat and what she was doing. To this point, they had shown no interest in Serenity, or in Minerva. Could be they new it was a banished Rock too. Mal never had any doubts about how bright Reavers really were. They knew how to take simple ships and make attack ships out of them, and how to stay hidden from the Alliance up to this point. Reavers probably had no specific fear of the Alliance, just a cautiousness given to a bigger predator than themselves. An Alliance cruiser would be too big to board, and would blow any Reaver boat out of the sky, and Mal was quite positive that they knew it.
And that was right about the time the ship turned. “Mal?’
“I see it. Seems they took notice of us after all. How long for them to hit atmo?”
“Fifteen, maybe twenty minutes,” Wash said.
Zoë looked at Mal. “We can be nice and tucked away in that time.”
“You’re absolutely right, Wash, find a structure to tuck us under and shut it all down. Let our friends search all over for us. Maybe they’ll even try on foot, get themselves a nice surprise.”
“You believe the stories about this planet?” Wash asked.
“I don’t especially know how much I believe or don’t believe,” mal said. “But I reckon if you hear the same story enough times from enough different people, there might be something to it. Let’s go and talk with the Doctor, see what he thinks.”
Simon was sitting in his quarters with River, who was explaining to him why the pattern of her blanket was upsetting to her. It wasn’t moving in a logical manner that she felt comfortable with, and therefore would keep her awake at night. Simon, to no avail, tried again to explain to her that it was the same blanket she had been sleeping with for months, but she insisted that it had been switched by “insidious forces”. Mal considered just keeping on his way, and let the good doctor enjoy himself for a while more, and then scolded himself for such mean-spirited thinking.
“Doctor, I do wonder if I could interrupt you for a moment?”
Simon looked up at Mal as one would look at their savior. “River, I have to go talk to the Captain about something……very Captainy. Will you be ok?”
River looked at Mal. “Will you bring him back again?”
“’Twouldn’t think of doing anything other.”
“Then you can have him.”
They walked towards the infirmary, and Simon mouthed a silent “Thank you.” As they entered, Mal said, “She sure does keep you on your toes, doesn’t she?”
“She does, but for the most part, this has been a fairly good day for her.,” Simon said.
“Good. How has she been since……?”
“The hypnotism? Amazingly good, better than I could have expected, really. She is still seeing something in her dreams, she moans and mumbles, but nothing so intense or horrifying as before.”
“I’m glad to hear it, Doctor, I really am. I told you once before, you’re on my crew, that goes for your sister too, and I told you too I tend to be protective of my crew.”
“Captain, I get the impression you didn’t come down here to discuss my sister’s well being.”
“Why Doctor, such a thing to say……what have I ever done to deserve such suspicion?”
“You opened you mouth and words came out?”
“Do you know what one of your big problems is, Doctor? You just don’t understand the lubricating quality of small talk. Even Jayne understands the value of such, and he’s…….well, he’s Jayne.”
“I make small talk with my sister and my head starts to spin, Captain. You’ll have to forgive me.”
Mal actually felt for the boy for a moment at that statement, but the moment was quick to pass. “Doctor, what do you know about Minerva?’
“As in the planet Minerva?”
“The very same.”
“We studied it in med school, something went bad with the terraforming from the mining operation, and things got…..weird from there.”
“Well, see, that’s just the thing, Doctor, being as how we are in atmo on Minerva, and there is a boat full of Reavers heading into atmo with us in mind,” Mal said. “Just how weird did it get?”
“Well, weird as in the unburied dead on Minerva started to get up and walk around, and they ate the living, and the ones that got bitten became like the ones that bit them in the first place.”
“Doctor, you surely defined weird, I will give you that. Medically speaking, is such a thing even possible?”
“Honestly, yes, it is. The human body is a series of electrical signals going back and forth, all centralized in the brain. Electrical signals tell the heart to beat, the eyes to blink, and tell you to tap dance and sing.” Mal let that pass. “Re-introduce that sort of electrical autonomy to a corpse that is still fairly fresh, and it could get up and walk around, though it would have no intelligence at all. The brain and the mind are two different things, remember, Captain. Spend time with my sister, you will see that.”
The comm system crackled, and Wash’s voice came over. “Mal, we are near a good sized city, there is a roadway I could put us under for the time being.”
“Do it,” mal said. “I’ll be right up. Shut us down to air and emergency lights, and get all of our passengers into the hold. Time to tell them all something.”
“Doctor”, Mal said, walking back towards River’s quarters. “I appreciate all of your insight here today, let’s hope we don’t have to find out if you are correct.” As they passed River’s doorway, Mal just couldn’t help himself. “Hey, little darlin’. Is that a new blanket?”
The hatred on Simon’s face was just to precious to have missed.
Mal, the crew, and the assembled passengers were in the cargo hold of Serenity. The ship was tucked safely under a highway overpass in the middle of a large city, one of 20 or more cities across the planets. The Reaver ship had failed to get a lock on them, and was searching in an expanding grid pattern, determined not to miss their hunt.
“People, we have run into a smidgen of trouble today, and I am hoping that I’ve found a way to pull ourselves out of it. The news I have isn’t good, and I’m not going to bother trying to sugarcoat any of it for you.
“We got picked up by a boatload of Reavers.” Mumbles and words were exchanged at hearing that. “But we would appear to have evaded them. We have slipped planetside on a dead rock and shut it all down until they decide to go looking for easier prey. I have every reason to believe they will do just that.”
“What planet did we land on?” a voice called up.
“Minerva,” mal said. “Now, I know you’ve heard stories, we’ve all heard them, but that was a long time ago, I’m sure there’s nothing left here but old buildings, and even if there are, no one is coming through that hull by hand.”
“What about the Reavers?” another voice called.
“If the stories are true, then even Reavers won’t want any truck with the inhabitants of this here rock.” The murmuring and whispers were getting louder. “People, let me be very clear about something. Anyone of you chooses to enjoy a screaming and hysterical panic is going to be rendered quickly and roughly unconscious, with a strong possibility of being rendered dead.” That shut them up, Mal thought. “What those Reavers up there cannot see, they can hear, and we want to try very very hard here no to even exist. I’ve heard plenty a tell of ships hiding and waiting them out. Reavers are bad, to be certain, but they don’t hold interest forever, and slow action makes them lose interest mighty quick, so let’s just relax ourselves, enjoy one another’s company, and just wait this thing out.”
Mal turned, and walked back to the bridge. “Who ever told you about Reavers giving up and leaving?”
“Lot’s of folk!”
“Would you care to name one of them?” the Shepherd asked?
“Well, specific names just aren’t quite coming to mind right now, but I’ll be sure and let you know as they do.”
Wash looked at Zoë. “Which way do you want to go? Reavers or dead people?”
“Dead don’t go raping anyone,” Jayne offered.
Zoë looked at Wash. “The man does have a point”
An hour passed, and then two hours. The Reaver boat had not moved on to any other cities. They knew Serenity was here, somewhere, but couldn’t pinpoint her.
“Why can’t they pick us out……we’re good for a fast scan, but they are looking too close to be missing us.”
“That ain’t necessarily so, Captain,” Kaylee said. “Them reactor coverings they like to remove must play hell with their sensor equipment. I got a feeling they need to rely more on visual and straight ahead radar then you might think.”
“Mal?” It was Wash. “You really ought to come up here right now, Mal.”
Now ruttin’ what? Mal walked to the bridge, and Wash pointed out the starboard window. “I think we have some company.”
The figure shuffling across the empty lot had once been human, no question, but even at the distance it was, anyone could say it’s human days were long since over. It’s left side, as a whole, hung lifeless, while it’s right leg seemed to be doing all the work. Its skin was a dark grey, and its once white shirt was covered in black, crusted blood. Its mouth hung open, and it seemed to be reaching for them with its right hand.
“Well,” Mal said. “Ain’t that just right? I guess the stories were true.”
“Yeah, but look over there, Mal,” There was a large crowd of zombies shuffling towards Serenity from the same place the first on had ventured. “Think they might be happy to have visitors?” Wash asked.
“I’m a lot more concerned about them Reavers seeing a commotion, and coming down to have a look of their own,” Mal said. “Jayne, go grab a couple of rifles, let’s see if we can’t disperse the crowd.”
The two men climbed onto the top of Serenity’s bridge, and were first struck by the noise. The computer had already told them that the atmo and grav were Earth normal, so neither had a helmet on to muffle the sound. The dead things shuffling to Serenity were moaning, a hollow, awful sound, making Mal’s skin crawl. He looked at Jayne, but the big man seemed to have it together, though he looked to Mal and said “Ain’t no human make a sound like that. Betcha even them Reaver sumbitches’d find that unsettling!” Jayne smiled as this cam out, and that was good enough for Mal. At least he was holding it together. ‘Keeping his calm’ as the mercenary liked to say.
“Put a couple of rounds in the dirt in front of them,” mal whispered. Both men took aim, and put slugs into the dirt not three feet from the lead figures.
“Well, that sure impressed them!” Jayne hissed
“Let’s drop a couple of them!”
Mal took aim and put a bullet into the lead figures chest. It stumbled back a few steps from the force of impact, and kept coming. “Mal, you can’t shoot for shit!” Jayne chided.
“The hell I can’t! I took him right in the chest!” Jayne was a better shot than Mal at long distance, both men knew that, and Mal was a vastly quicker draw than Jayne, and both men knew that too, but on average range rifle shooting, they were roughly equal.
“Just watch how man shoots, ok?”
“A man with a name like Jayne?”
“That is not a girls name!” Jayne hissed. That one could always get under his skin.
Jayne took aim and put two rounds into the leader, one in the belly, the other high in the chest. They had the same effect as Mal’s. The force of impact knocked him back some, but he kept coming. Jayne looked to mal with bafflement across his face. “That’s how a man shoots?”
“Mal, I hit him both times!”
“Sure, just like I did. They don’t seem to pay much mind to our artillery, do they?”
“You thinking what I’m thinking?”
“Yeah, let’s get the hell inside!”
“Yes sir, Captain sir!”
Grouped back on the bridge, Mal and Jayne recounted their story. By this point, several of the creatures had reached the ship, and begun scratching and pounding on the hull. No one had any concern that they could actually breech Serenity’s hull, but the sound was disconcerting to say the least, and was doing little to help their passengers remain calm.
Simon offered his opinion. “All electrical impulses and instincts generate from the brain. You might try a shot to the head.”
“We might, if we were of such a mind to go back out there,” Mal said. “There’s hundreds of those things out there, and let’s not forget about the little matter of a passel of hungry Reavers searching all over for us.”
“Well, Mal,” Wash began. “That might be about to come to an end.”
“Are they leaving?’ Mal asked this as he turned, before he saw out the forward windows. The Reaver ship, being what looked as though it had once enjoyed life as a medium sized freighter. “No, that would be just way too much to ask, now, wouldn’t it?”
“Now what, sir?” Zoë asked.
“I’m not entirely sure, to be honest with you.” mal said, with a far off sound in his voice. “I’m wondering if they will make a run at us.”
“You can’t be serious, with all of those things out there!” Wash said.
“Not a lot of saying for sure if the Reavers know what they are dealing with out there,” Mal said. “I’m hoping they make a nice hard run at us, and contend with the new neighbors on their way.”
“Captain?” It was Kaylee’s voice, from down in the cargo hold. “You’d best get down here, we have a little bit of a problem.”
Mal reached it at a run, with Zoë and Book on his heels. “Outer airlock down is coming down, sir,” Kaylee said, breathless. “Gorram Reavers are overriding our systems.”
“How can Reavers be overriding our systems?,” Jayne demanded. “They ain’t nothing but animals!”
“They’re animals can fly ships and modify them. They’re animals that can stay out of the way of the Alliance all these years.” Mal ran his hands through his hair. “I never thought they were stupid. Wild, yeah, sure, but never stupid. Kaylee, how long we got here?”
“Twenty minutes, maybe, the rate they are getting control.”
“Doctor, Preacher, get the passengers up here.” Within minutes, they were assembled. “People, you know we are in a bit of a situation. Well, the situation has turned somewhat worse. Reavers seem to have found us, and are overriding our airlock systems to open the front doors for them. And,” mal paused for effect. “It would appear that the stories about Minerva are true. There are roughly 300 dead thinks milling about Serenity, trying to get in.
“Now, none of my news is good, but we are still going to make a fight of it. Reavers want to get from there to here got to come through a bunch of dead folk to do it, and I shouldn’t expect they are any more familiar with them than we are. So I want to know now: who here has military experience?” Half a dozen men and women raised their hands.” Good. Follow Jayne, he’s going to arm those of you who didn’t bring guns of your own. These doors come far enough down, we need to make a fight of it, because I For one have no intent of ending up as someone or something’s diner today!”
Of the six people with military training, four men and two women, all but one man had their own weapons and ammo. Jayne set him up with a carbine and a pocket full of rounds.
“Two of you,” he pointed at two of the men. “Are staying here, Get everyone down to the engine room, and secure every hatch behind you as you go. Doctor, you and your sister stay with them, keep Kaylee company. Wash, Inara’s shuttle isn’t here, but get the other one prepped up for flight. Remind me to have a talk with Kaylee about modifying that thing one of these days,” he said to no one in particular. “The rest of you, we make a line here, inside the airlock, and we hold. I don’t care what you see, you hold, you all hear me?”
People heard him all right, but not to his liking. It was time for him to be Sgt. Reynolds again, to whip his troops into a fighting ready. “You see something ain’t one of us, you put a bullet in its brain. I mean to bring every single one of you to your destination, just like you paid me for. Just remember,” he said with a smile. “We don’t get off this rock, none of you are getting a refund, so don’t even ask!”
That got a few laughs. “here’s how this will work. The first line will consist of me, Zoë, Jayne and Wash. When we run out of ammo and need to reload, Shepherd Book and you four step forward until your run out. We will hold out line and keep our fire laid down on these bungers. I mean to walk away from this affair, people, and I aim to bring you all out with me. I am hoping that our new friends outside with take one look at the Reavers and see a dinner trough.
“Now remember, head shots only! Don’t waste time or bullets on body shots, we know those aren’t going to work.
“Stand ready, people. It’s time to get to war.”
Aboard the Reaver ship, there was confusion, a state of mind completely unfamiliar to them. Reavers tailored their ships to strike fear and chaos into the hearts of their intended, and these things walking around outside their ship showed no signs of fear. To Reavers, things were simple. You were a Reaver, or you were a thing to be used and destroyed. They didn’t take a lot of notice of the fact that the things outside of the firefly that had made such a pest of itself were not like other humans they hunted.
Malcolm Reynolds was quite right about the Reavers. They were anything but stupid, but they were so close to the culmination of the hunt that the blood frenzy which dominated them in this moment that they couldn’t think of much else but what they were going to do to the things outside. Only the Alpha Reaver of this boat felt something wrong about the things outside, but even he was too far gone into the blood frenzy to pay his thoughts much mind.
They would get the airlocks open, that wasn’t so difficult to do, even though the ship seemed to be fighting them on this. No matter, the longer the hunt, the harder the kill, then the sweeter the flesh, and the more musical the screams.
And this was going to be a symphony.
The Firefly wasn’t armed, clearly, or else it would have defended itself instead of his futile hiding. The Alpha Reaver made the decision to release his wild dogs, strike some terror into these troublesome evaders as they watched what Reavers did to the things on the ground.
Aboard Serenity, they saw the massive side door of the Reaver ship slide open, and dozens of wild Reavers come streaming out into the crowd of the dead. They evidently didn’t have a Simon Tam on board to figure out head shots, and they also made the mistake of wanting to take their prey alive, something having been long since made impossible. Mal and Wash together watched as individual Reavers were grabbed by groups of the dead and dragged to the ground, and heard the howls of bloodlust change to screams of pain as they were eaten alive. Neither mal nor Wash wanted to see it, but they couldn’t tear their eyes away as a Reaver with a few long tufts of blond hair and no lips or eyelids left, was torn, literally, limb from limb, and eaten on the spot.
Other Reavers fired harpoons and spinning buzz saws, to no avail. One Reaver cut the legs off of one of the dead. As he turned to laugh to one of his comrades, the victim pulled itself by the arms, wrapped its arms around the Reader’s left leg, and bit into the Reaver as it laughed.
A low pitched horn sounded on the Reaver ship, and the remaining Reavers retreated to their ship. As it lifted off the dirt, its outside comm crackled on, and a voice that sounded both wild and controlled at the same time said, “Firefly, you have evaded us well, but when your doors open, will you evade them?”
With that, they Reaver boat was gone. “Reavers just talked to us?” Jayne asked no one in particular?
“It would seem that way,” Shepherd Book said to him.
“Ain’t that just neat? Dead people walking around on this rock want to eat my ass, kicking the piss out of Reavers, and they pick today to talk to us. Let’s just get these damn doors open, I fell the need to kill something right about now.”
Jayne’s request was answered quickly enough. The outer airlock door was fully open, and the inner airlock was halfway there. “Stand ready, people, here we go,” mal called. “Kaylee, we surely would like it if you would be kind enough to get these damn doors shut!”
“I’m working mighty hard on it, Cap’n. Gorram Reavers made a muck up of it here!”
“Kaylee, get it done, don’t make me feed you to the dead people!”
The throng of the dead were approaching Serenity’s open airlock doors. “Here we go, people, I believe it’s time to start shooting!” He sighted a head, and pulled the trigger. The dead thing stopped moving and collapsed to the ground. “son of a bitch if the prissy little bastard wasn’t right!” Mal mumbled to himself. “Heads! Shoot for the heads!”
The shooting didn’t stop and only began slowing down as the pile of de-animated dead started to pile up and slow down the onslaught. “Kaylee? How about my doors?”
“Captain, I’m almost there, I promise!”
“Kaylee, you’re gonna find yourself up here with our guests, I promise you!”
“Captain, the less you talk to me, the sooner I can get this done!”
One of the passengers, a woman named Felicia, didn’t see two of the dead come alongside her. One grabbed her right arm, and the other grabbed around her waist. The were already biting her as they dragged her out of the ship. She screamed and reached out to Shepherd Book, who grasped her hand and pulled her free. He turned, shot three in the head, and saw to the injured woman.
Jayne’s rifle was out of clips, and he had a pistol in each hand. Zoë was still working a pump shotgun, and Mal had a pistol drawn. This was going badly, and he knew it. They would have to fall back, and do so soon, and start putting as many locked bulkheads between them as possible. Mal heard a scream to his right, and saw a passenger named Jessup go down to the ground with four of the things on him, biting at him as he fell. Mal turned quickly and put a bullet through the top of Jessup’s head. At least make his passing quick.
“Cap’n, door’s ready to go, tell me when,” Kaylee’s voice squaked.
“Now, Kaylee, now would be a fine time if you don’t find yourself too busy!” mal yelled.
“Consider it done, Cap’n.” And with that, the doors began to close. The dead paid no attention to this, their attention was focused solely on their intended feast. Jayne was still shooting, as was everyone else, as the doors came closed, and the dead were shut out. The last ones left walking were thinned out.
“Wash, take us about two hundred feet up. Zoë, get the mule out and put the plow on the front. Zoë!” Mal yelled into her face. “Get it together for me and get the mule out. Doctor, get yourself down here, we got wounded.”
Wash brought the ship to it’s altitude, and Zoë brought the mule around. “Zoë, get them off my boat. Just push ‘em right out, get as close to the edge as you want to dare. Wash, any signs of our friends in orbit?”
“None, Mal, they pretty much left us for the locals.”
“Gorram Reavers got chased away and then they talked to us. What a day, huh?” Mal said to anyone who was listening.
“Captain, would you please come over here and take a look at this?’ It was Shepherd Book.
The woman named Felecia was sitting on the deck, nursing her arm. She had been bitten in three different places. She looked up at the captain with hopelessness in her eyes, knowing what had happened. “Preacher, go see what keeping that doctor, this woman needs seeing to.”
“I’m going to turn into one of them, ain’t I?” she asked of the Captain.
“Now you don’t know that for any sure, darlin’.” mal said.
Simon came in inspected the wounds, He cleaned them as best her could, warning her about how bad this would hurt each time he did it, and each time she cried out as the disinfectant made contact with her open wounds. He wrapped her up, and told her to try to relax.
He stepped away with Mal. “Captain, the infection is already spreading from the bite points. It’s faster than anything I’ve ever seen before.”
“Is she going to become one of those……things, doctor?”
“Judging by precedent and by what I am seeing right now, I would say yes, she is.”
“I don’t know, two hours, maybe three. She has three different bites from three different points, so it will spread that much quicker. I’m sorry, Captain. I can prepare an overdose of morphine for her, make it at least painless, send off into the clouds, but she will come back. Make no mistake, she will come back as one of them.”
Mal placed his face down into his hands. “Y’know, Doctor, there’s days I just get so tired. Just so fucking tired.”
Mal walked back to the cargo hold and squatted down next to Felecia. “I ‘spect you must’ve conjured the news ain’t too shiny?”
“I’m going to turn into one of those things, ain’t I?” She was a pleasant looking enough woman, darkish red hair, with a healthy, farmer look about her, maybe in her mid-twenties. And that was as far as she was ever going to go.
“We can do this two ways, darlin’. The how is up to you. Doc conjures you have two, maybe three hours. No way to say how bad it will be. The other way is a big shot of morphine, don’t feel nothing at all. Either way, this will end with you coming back, and a bullet in your brainpan.
“I’m sorry to put it so hard at you, but there ain’t no nice about any of this. You tell me how you want this to go, and I’ll see you through this, You got my word on that, ma’am. I promised you safe passage on my boat, I can at least see you all the way through.”
Felicia held her face in her hands and cried a little. “I’m so scared, Captain,” she said.
He smiled wanly and told her to call him Mal. “Good God knows my crew call me worse.”
“I’m down to such short time, I’m scared to lose any.”
“I understand. I’d be feeling much alike in your position, I’m sure. Let’s get you to one of the guest dorms, at least keep you comfortable. It’s just down this way,” Mal said, falling into step behind her. She never heard his gun come out of its holster, and she never heard the hammer come slowly black. He silently apologized to her in his heart, and brought his gun up quickly and blew her brains out. She fell forward, no more decisions to make.
Simon was standing in the hold, watching him. He walked silently over to Mal, and without a word helped to collect her. “I’ll carry her, Doctor. “Twould appreciate it if you’d clean that up, though, ‘fore anyone sees it.”
Simon nodded yes, he would.
“I was going to have to do it no matter what, you know. Either way, she would have come back, and get a bullet in the brain-pan. She couldn’t make the choice to end it quick, so I made it for her.”
“I’m sure it would have been an awful death, Captain.”
Mal looked at him nakedly. “I did the right thing, here, didn’t I, Doctor? I just blew a young woman’s head off her gorram shoulders, but I did the right thing, didn’t I?”
“When I was coming up through my residency and internship, I had a doctor, she sort of took me under her wing, and she told me that sometimes, there was nothing you could do to keep the patient alive, short of putting them in a new body, and when that time came, when you knew death was inevitable, that you had a responsibility to make the passing as quick and painless as possible. She told me that was as much a part of ‘do no harm’ as saving lives, but that it was 1000 times harder.”
“You did just fine, Captain, if it helps any. You did what most doctors wouldn’t have the nerve to do. That won’t help you when you put your lights out tonight, but yes, you did the right thing.”
Wednesday, October 25, 2006 1:53 PM
Thursday, October 26, 2006 4:11 PM
Friday, October 27, 2006 12:02 AM
Sunday, October 29, 2006 3:30 AM
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