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Irradiated: The Destination

Fiction (Part 7) Finale

Geovanna Ollivierre - Williams

Geovanna Ollivierre - Williams

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WEB EXCLUSIVE

The Destination

It had been a full day of steaming towards the smoke over the empty sea before any sign more was seen. As morning finally clawed its way over the horizon, the faint, slow pounding of drums was audible.

“Well, Akane will have to function as a translator for sure, and they should accept her because she’s Japanese like them, but how will they react to us foreigners?” James questioned from the only seat in the bridge

“We don’t really know, but we’ll just have to hope for the best. Also, who knows if they’ll even accept her?” Liam was deep in thought on the matter, lying flat on his back. “We might be able to float the ship in, and hide in the cargo storage area in the lowest level.”

“That might work, but what will they do to a ship that looks unmanned? Won’t it crash into the shore or something?”

“That’s true. What if Akane drove it in and talked to the people, then came and ‘unloaded’ us if it was clear?”

“What if it’s not?”

“Then we wait, sneak out, and rendezvous later.”

“I don’t know. I don’t like any of this.”

“I don’t either, but there’s no real options in the matter.”

Akane was sitting against a wall, looking questioningly at the other two, trying to comprehend what warranted the so frequent use of her name.

“Japan bad. War. Kill you-us,” she struggled on even basic words.

“I’ll drive us in close and surrender to them if they attack us. You two hide and I’ll get you if it’s safe. If I don’t come, wait on the ship then try to run away with it if they don’t search it, which they probably will. Ugh, I don’t know.” James dipped his head down into his hands, and wiped his eyes. He looked back up, out of the bridge, and froze. “Oh my god.” He whispered, pointing.

Liam stood up from the floor and saw the monstrous ship on the horizon, with nine distinct pillars of smoke rising in groups of three from across the length of it. It was traveling almost perpendicular to them at a very slow speed, but seemed to be accelerating.

“What type of ship is that?” James asked. “What’s causing the smoke to be separated like that? It’s not burning, is it?”

Akane struggled upwards and focused on the new craft. She stopped, then began to cry.

“What is it Akane?” Liam turned to her.

“Dead. We’re dead.” She finished her first coherent sentence in English.

Liam’s mind surged forward suddenly. Death, groups of three, smoke, the drumming sound…

“Oh my god, it’s a battleship. The smoke is from the cannons, and so is the drumming sound. We need to turn around and get the hell away!” He leapt at the wheel and spun it hard to starboard, turning away from the warship.

“It’s turning towards us!” James shouted.

“Can we say how far away it is?” Liam asked loudly.

“Why?”

“Just tell me!”

“It’s just on the horizon, so if the bridge is about 200 feet out of the water, that’s about… 16 to 17 miles out.”

“Are we sure that there are nine pillars of smoke?”

“Yeah for sure”

“Coming out of 3 places on the ship?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s too many guns for a Kongou or Nagato and too few for a Fuso or Ise… that means it has to be-” Liam was stopped by a deafening clap of thunder. “Get down!”

Half a minute passed before another ground-shuddering boom.

“What was supposed to-” James started. A streak of bronze light flashed down into the water just ahead of the cruise ship, sending a plume of water a hundred feet high crashing down into the craft.

“It’s shooting at us.If I’m right, we’ve got about thirty seconds between shells. Because of its distance, the air time of a shell is about fifty seconds. It’s also about seven miles an hour faster than we are, so we can’t run away. We might as well turn straight towards it and flash all of our lights. Maybe they’ll think we’re surrendering and stop shooting.” Liam spoke quickly as he thought.

“What? What is it?” James asked angrily.

“It’s the Yamato, the largest battleship of WW2. They must have been rebuilding some of them. We’re completely defenseless, though we’re outside its effective range. We’re still within its maximum range, however.”

A massive explosion rocked the ship and sent Akane, who was still crying, onto the ground. Liam gripped the wheel and tried to turn it port, but found it stuck.

“They must’ve hit the rudder. All we can do now is shut off the engines and flash the lights.” Liam started to flip a switch multiple times up and down, toggling every light bulb on the ship off and on in quick sequence. He continued for a moment, listening. “There was no new shot fired, was there? I think we’re safe for the moment-“

Liam awoke with a boiling pain in both his ears. His back felt like it was immersed in molten iron and he couldn’t feel his legs at all. He moaned; the pain grew more intense. His eyes were locked in place, staring into a creeping mass of crimson flowing away from him. There was no sound except for a persistent dripping, and the far call of waves. What had happened? A third shell must have been fired in the moment the second had hit, masking the sound. It had hit near the bridge, if not the bridge itself. Liam strained to lift his arm, but managed only to bring up the broken heap of flesh and bone splinters into his vision. He couldn’t feel that pain in his arm. He tried in vain to correct his position, but only succeeded in causing a painful re-adjustment of bones and organs in his chest. He wasn’t going anywhere.

The sound of tearing metal awoke him again and whatever was just past the puddle he lay in fell away, revealing the sun. The air around it swirled and danced, and he felt light. All that was audible was his own heartbeat, which had ceased to be even, segregated beats, and was now a constant rhythmic thumping. Wait, that wasn’t him, was it? The sun sank suddenly, then slid to the left. What? That doesn’t happen. Does it? Was he delirious from the blood loss? Was that what was around of him? Blood? It made sense. Oh that beating, it was annoying now. A helicopter. That’s what it was. He sighed. How were the other two? James? Akane? Four strikes of thunder sent his mind reeling. His vision spun.

Liam’s eyes remained closed this time, but he was moving. Someone was carrying him. Each footstep jostled the loose internals within him, but the pain he felt could no longer be amplified, so he suffered silently.

That smell. He wasn’t moving anymore, but he could feel a slow rocking from left to right. That smell… it was familiar. A deep, gruff voice whispered distantly.

Dad.

Liam opened his eyes. The smell was gone. His dad was no longer at his side. Rotating his eyes the little he could, he identified his blank surroundings as some kind of medical room. He found himself able to roll his head, and rocked it sideways. Beside him lay two beds, presumably like the one he lay on.

On top of each, a hidden mass.

Each was covered completely in a single, white sheet.

Liam shut his eyes and cried.

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Irradiated: The Destination