I sat there on edge of the bed in the boat's cramped cabin. I wasn't looking at anything in particular; just staring into space. I knew I should eat something, since I hadn't eaten in more than twelve hours, and most of that had gone over the side of the boat when I got sick. I couldn't stand the idea of eating though; I could barely stand breathing.
Every time I close my eyes I see her, surrounded by those things. The media called them all sorts of things: “ghouls”, “undead”, “zeds”, but they're always going to be zombies to me. She was trying to fight them off with the handle of the Excursion's jack while I stood by, too scared to move.
Too scared until one of them came after me. Then I panicked; I ran. The last vision I had was of those things closing in on her. I took the boat, and left. I figured that the storm I found myself being tossed around in was the least of the punishment that I deserved.
It should have been her that lived. The boat was her idea, she's the one that knew how to sail. I knew that I was just going to drift around until I finally die.
“Some storm out there, huh?” A woman's voice asked, causing me to jump.
“C-carla?” I asked, looking up to see her looking down at me, “But how? I thought....”
“That you left me at the marina?” she asked, “You did.”
“How are you...?”
“Here?” she looked up at the cabin's ceiling thoughtfully, “Well, I suppose I could be a ghost, but probably you're having a teensy weensy little mental breakdown.”
“I'm sorry,” I said, looking down at the floor.
Carla reached down to cup my chin, pulling my head up so that our eyes met, “You don't need to be sorry.”
“I left you behind,” I said, pulling away from her hand.
She shrugged, “You did what you had to do. It was either that or get yourself killed.”
“I could have tried.”
“You would have been killed, and neither of us would be here now.”
“I left you with those things.”
“Knock it off,” she said, sounding annoyed, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself!”
“Why shouldn't I feel sorry for myself? The only person that mattered to me is dead, and it's my fault!”
“Well,” Carla said, a wicked grin spreading across her face, “I may not be dead exactly. I could be shambling around right now-”
That was too much for me. I pulled myself up, and stormed past her up onto deck where the cold rain drenched me instantly.
“Come back!” I heard her call, “It was a joke!”
Up on deck the storm felt more violent than it had when I was below;. I staggered a bit from the wind and the rocking, and grabbed the boom to steady myself.
Carla came up the stairs, seemingly immune to the boat's movement, although the rain did instantly plaster her hair to her face. “You need to lower the sails,” she called to me, “If they rip, you're screwed.”
“I'm already screwed!”
“The point of doing this was survival,” she said, stepping up next to me.
“And we failed. You died.”
“Maybe I did, maybe not. Maybe I got away; maybe I'm back on land hoping that you survive in this storm because you're the kind of idiot that leaves your sails up in a blow! Whatever happened to me, I still want you to survive.”
“I don't believe that.”
“Yes you do,” Carla answered, brushing her wet hair out of her face.
“I don't even know how to do this!” I cried, motioning to the sailboat all around me, “This was your thing. I'm just going to get lost at sea and die alone!”
“You know how to sail; I taught you myself. Now furl the damned sail, and get below before you catch pneumonia! I'll help you.”
“ I'm just hallucinating you, how can you help?”
“You have a very vivid imagination, now move!”
I didn't move, “Do you forgive me?”
“Honey, there's nothing to forgive. If it'd come to it, I'd have left you too. You know that because I'm... what's that word you always called me?”
“Yeah! You did the pragmatic thing. There's no profit in us both dying, but if you need to hear me say that I forgive you so that you can salve your wounded soul, then fine: I forgive you for not throwing your life away, and I forgive you for surviving when I didn't. I forgive you for living. Now please help me get these sails down before the boat capsizes.”
“Okay,” I started to say, but then a swell slammed into the side of the boat, tipping it sharply to port. The world spun, and the ocean enveloped me. The salt water stung my eyes, and filled my throat as I looked back up onto the boat, and saw Carla reaching for me.
“Grab my hand!” she yelled to me as the sea pulled me under.
I surfaced again, desperately trying to reach for her, but just as my hand should have closed around hers, everything went dark.
I was confused when I woke up. I was warm, and dry, and it was bright. I forced my eyes open to see a clear blue sky. My clothes felt stiff and scratchy as I sat up.
I found that I was lying on deck, and that the sails were neatly furled; somehow I had survived the night. I looked around for any sign of Carla, but I was alone. I was left wondering how much of what I remember really happened.
I went down into the cabin, finding it exactly as it had been before except for a folded piece of blue paper sitting on the table. I picked it up, unfolded it and found a single word written on it in Carla's handwriting.
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