-Alright you kids, settle down. I’m trying to tell you a story. Billy, sit down, yeah right there, acting like you never sat on grass before.

-Is this going to be a good story? -Yeah -Yeah -I’m hungry.

-Yes this is going to be good. That’s why I brought you out here, by the Wall of Remembrance. So settle down so I can get started.

-okay (rustle rustle)

-Now listen close. I was there, at the beginning, when everything went to hell.

-Is that why you’re so old? (giggle giggle)

-Shut yer hole, Lacy, or I’ll shut it for you. 

-Ha ha, your in trouble -Ha -Get her Mr. Mitch!

-Alright, alright, settle down. (rustle rustle) We didn’t always live on this island. We used to live on the mainland, living different lives. 

-Really Mr. Mitch?

-Yes Boyd, really. Life was different then. Everyone had cars and went to work for themselves and lived far away in houses and apartments.

-Everyone had cars? -What’s a apartment?

-It’s like a house, only taller, and many people lived in them on different floors. Uh, imagine your house. You know how it has two floors? Apartment buildings had five or ten or twenty floors. 

-Wooow -Did you live in a apartment?

-Yes I did, with my girlfriend.

-You mean Miss Mallory?

-No, not her. I had a different girlfriend then. She didn’t make it. 

-Why not -Yeah, where is she?

-That’s what I’m trying to tell you. This story goes all the way back to the beginning, Day One of the zombie apocalypse. This is when everything went to hell.

-You said hell! -Twice! (ha ha ha)

-I know I did, now pipe down, all a’ ya! This story is part of our history, and you have to know it. 

-It all began on a Saturday. I was First Mate on a party boat, the Maxine. I was twenty-one years old then. The captain was already in the cabin when I got to the dock at four in the morning. Back then he didn’t like to meet any of the people coming on board. That was my job.

-What’s a party boat?

-It’s a boat big enough for a few dozen people. And no, we didn’t go out to party, we went fishing off the coast of New Jersey, mostly for fluke, sometimes blue fish. And before you ask, it’s called a party boat because we would take parties of people out to have a good time. This trip we had about fourteen people to take out. They were all friends and their wives and girlfriends who worked together at some job. 

-What job?

-I don’t know, stop interrupting! So anyway, we get everyone on board and their gear stored when I notice something wrong. I heard a scream coming from somewhere on  the dock. I looked around and didn’t see anyone. By then we had pulled the lines and were heading out to sea. 

So we’re out there, fishing and drinking. I’m making sure everyone’s got a pole and they’re baited up. Everyone’s having a good time. I report to the captain that everything’s going well, and he just nods at me. I should’a known something was wrong then, cuz he usually says something, whether we’re moving to another spot, or staying there for a bit. But he was just sitting there behind the wheel, listening to the radio.  I didn’t hear what was coming over, but what ever it was it had his full attention. So I go back and take care of our guests. 

So we’re out there for a while and I notice that we’re not going anywhere, just sitting here in one spot. Our partiers notice that too, so I head back to the cabin to see what’s wrong. The captain gives me this worried look, tells me we can’t go back, at least not the way we came. I ask him what’s wrong, but he says nothing. Then he orders me to go back and tell everyone everything’s alright. Then he turns the ship back to the harbor anyway, earlier than we should but that’s what he’s doing. 

We get back to the harbor, but the captain doesn’t pull up to the dock. He swings the ship around so that we could see it. There were zombies everywhere. 


-That’s right, oooooh! Some of the other party boats had pulled in not knowing they were there, or they just chose not to believe the reports coming over the radio. The zombies had gotten to them. Some folks tried to make it to their cars. About half did, and they tore out of there as quick as they could. Some were in such a rush the ran into other cars or zombies, or not zombies. We were safe as long as we stayed out on the water. That didn’t stop some of our guests from getting all frantic. I run up to the cabin and ask the captain what’s going on. He was just sitting in his chair, looking out the window, saying to himself it’s all over, over and over he did this. I go back down to the deck and try to calm everyone down, but that didn’t work. Some of them were frozen at what they were seeing, some were crying. 

-I don’t understand. Why didn’t they fight back?

-Well you see Lacy, this was the first day of zombies. No one knew what to do then. They weren’t like us, trained in the art of zombie killing.

-Did you say “fart?” (giggle giggle)

-You know I didn’t Wendell. How would you like to go on watch on the docks tonight? 

-I’m sorry Mr. Mitch, I’ll be quiet.

-Good. Now where was I. Right, so this was the first day. No one knew what was going on, and no one knew about fighting the way we do it now. It was all, “Help, I’m being eaten by zombies!” Everyone was scared and running around like crazy. 

The captain dropped anchor in the middle of the harbor. There were other party boats out there too, and they did the same thing. There was a lot of talking between these boats, mostly folks panicking about what was going on.

-I can’t believe Captain Bern was going crazy.

-That’s because it wasn’t Captain Bern. We met him later, but I haven’t gotten there yet. 

-It wasn’t Captain Bern? -Where was he? -I thought he was with you?

-He was, but I didn’t get to that part of the story yet, so pipe down! Anyway, We sat out there in the middle of the harbor, watching what was going on. Some of the partiers wanted to go ashore to find their families and kids. The captain wouldn’t have it. He was not pulling up to the dock for any reason. We sat there all day, then all night. The next day there were still zombies about, making meals of the unlucky.


-Yeah, it wasn’t pretty, what we could see. The captain had come down from the cabin by then and just watched the shore line. He figured we could just wait it out, but after the third day it was pretty obvious this was it. Some of the zombies had moved on, but there were still a few walking around the docks.

We had run out of water by then so we had to go in and get some from the harbor master’s shack. It was pretty close to the end of the dock, so the captain decides to take a chance. This is when we found out he had a gun. He pulled it out and told the guests to either go get that water or go for a walk. No one was crazy about that idea, but when you’re out of water there aren’t too many options. So me and the captain weigh anchor and start the boat. 

So far so good, the zombies didn’t notice us. We come in slow, ready to jet the second things go bad. We pull up to the dock, but we don’t tie off, captain’s idea. A couple of the guests, Bruce, Gene, and Robbie get off the boat and start making for the shack. They get there and look inside. No zombies. They go inside and find a couple cases of water. They grab them and start making their way back, when two of the couples on the boat decide to make a run for it. On their way down the dock they knock over Gene. He grabs at the case Gene is carrying, while his wife makes a break for their car, making all kinds of noise while they’re at it. This of course wakes up the zombies and they start making for them. So we got two guys who’re running for the boat, and the third guy fighting with the runner over the case, and zombies coming for both of them, and his wife, who had made it to the car and locked herself inside. So, Gene let’s go and runs up the dock, only he’s got zombies hot on his heels. The guy who grabbed the water from him was immediately taken down. The wife in the car, she’s just screaming, while the zombies start climbing all over her car. The other couple made it to their car and tore out of there. 

Bruce and Robbie make it back to the boat with their cases of water. Once they’re on, the captain revs up the engine and takes off. Someone started yelling about Gene, but the captain isn’t listening. Gene gets to the end of the dock and just jumps into the water, followed by several zombies. I have no idea what happened to him, I think I saw him swimming, but we were moving so fast I lost sight of him pretty quick. 


-I know, pretty sad. So now everyone’s mad at the captain for leaving him behind. He don’t care, he has the gun, and he tells us, even me, that we can like it or leave it. No one wants to go on shore, so we shut up and do what he says.

-He sounds like a big meanie.

-He was. He was also as scared as all of us, maybe more. The zombie attack came out of nowhere. No one saw it coming. No one expected it. Sure, there were jokes about it happening, but no one took them seriously. You see kids, when people are faced with the unexpected, you never know how they will react. Someone you hung out with for years and always seemed pretty cool, when faced with danger could step up and handle it, or shrivel up like a daisy and run from it. You never really know until it happens. 

That’s why we have this wall, to remember people we lost, to the zombies, or to whatever. See right here? There’s Gene’s name. I put that there myself. We lost him because of a crazy captain, and some scared folks. 


-Anyway, we leave there and just start floating around, eyes to the shore, looking for places to loot. The other boats in the harbor got the same idea. Some of them even started looking to trade with the other boats, or loot them. And because it was a party boat, there weren’t any beds for anyone to sleep on and only a few blankets, so most of the crew slept on the deck while the captain slept in the cabin. We went south, because it was warmer. Whenever we saw something close enough to the shore and it was safe enough we would venture out. But mostly we stayed out to sea. Did a lot of fishing, this time for food. Never ate so much fish in my life. Sometimes we would run into someone, a survivor, and we would either take them in or leave them. Or rob them. The captain only cared enough if it helped him or not. He had lost hope and his attitude swept through the crew. We lost a few, gained a few, and just kept drifting. In some ways we were as dead as those zombies.

-That sounds sad.

-It was. Very sad. We weren’t sure we were going to make it.

-What was that captain’s name?

-It was John Waters. His name isn’t on the wall because he was someone we all wanted to forget. 

-So when are you going to talk about Captain Bern?

-I’m getting to that. So we’re drifting south, and we come to a beach town with a long dock. We pull up and let a scavenging crew out. Thirty minutes later, they come back with Captain Bern!


-Now, now, listen up. At the time he wasn’t captain. Just this guy the crew brought back because he was looting a store the crew were trying to loot. One thing led to another, and he was captured. They had him tied up and were dragging him along. 

-No way. -Nuh uh! -That can’t be true!

-Yes, it’s true. The crew didn’t know what to do with him, the captain didn’t know what to do with him. All he had on him was his two magic machetes, which one of the guys were carrying. 

-No way, no one’s allowed to touch those! -How’d they capture him? -You’re making this up!

-No, it’s true! They said they captured him because they had guns!

-Boooooooooo! -Where’d you get guns? -That’s not right!

-I know, I know. But guns can be useful in some cases. That’s why we keep an arsenal. And we get them from dead zombies who were cops or soldiers. The captain kept them with him mostly and only let them out for scavenging. But we don’t use them on zombies, do we?


-That’s right! Anyway, they brought him on board and sat him down in the back of the boat. Then the captain sent the crew back out because all they came back with was Captain Bern. At this point the captain is a sullen, surly mess. He was mean to everyone, for no reason. We were all pretty surly, and unwashed, wearing the same clothes we had since day one, and getting real tired of eating fish. Some of us were switching between being sunburned or being sick from sleeping outdoors all the time. But no one was as surly as the captain. He didn’t like people that much, only did the job as a way to pay the bills. Now he was stuck with us, and he decided to make it our fault, like the guys who came back with nothing but Capt. Bern. So he sends them back out there. Fifteen minutes later, they come running back because they’re being chased by zombies. Somehow the zombies cut off they’re way back to the dock, so the crew runs into a store front and blocks the door. Now we’re standing there on the boat, not knowing what to do. I turn to the captain but he’s just as confused. We should leave, but that was half of the remaining crew. 

So we’re standing there not knowing what to do when I hear a thud behind me. I turn to look and almost miss Captain Bern leaping over my head and onto the dock. It was that fast. Bruce, who was holding the Captain’s machetes, was down on the deck, rubbing his head from the thumping Captain Bern gave him. I turn back to the dock and there he is, standing tall, a machete in each hand. He looked strong, magnificent. There should have been trumpets blaring, ya know, like ta daaaaa!!!

-(giggle giggle)

-Anyway, the captain was livid. He pulled out his gun and was ready to shoot Captain Bern in the back. He called for him to get back in the boat, but that’s when Captain Bern began tapping his blade on the dock post. Just a gentle tap, like “ting ting ting”. 


-Yeah, he was pretty cool. Of course we’re standing there wondering what the hell he was doing.

-You said “hell”. (ha ha)

-Yeah I said it. Now listen close. He began to walk down the dock, really slowly. And he never stopped tapping his blades on the dock posts. And he’s going, “zombies, come out to play”, really sing song like, and every time he says it he gets a little louder. “Zombies, come out to play!” At this point the captain had enough. He was angry that he got away, and he was even more angry that he was making all that noise, like he wanted to be zombie bait, or had a death wish. He makes for the cabin, saying if this guy wants to get himself killed that’s his business. I grab him before he can go and I tell him we still have men out there. The captain pauses for a second, turns to me and says they’re screwed too. There’s nothing we can do. Untie us and let’s go. I tell him we can’t just leave, and he pushes me down and points the gun in my face, says either I go and untie us or he’s leaving me here too! I scramble back and get on my feet. What can I do? So I turn and jump off the boat to untie it. 

I look up at this foolhardy man who’s egging on the zombies. By then he’s close to the end of the dock, banging his machete against a post and screaming “ZOMBIES, COME OUT TO PLAY!!!” And the zombies notice, and went for him. Now here’s where it gets exciting. 

-Oh boy! -Yeah, yeah! -Cool!

-Captain Bern stands there at the end of the dock and points the machete in his left hand right at the zombies. I stopped to look at him, to watch him die. But he didn’t, did he?


-That’s right, he didn’t. The zombies went straight for him, and when they reached him, it began. I’ve never seen anything like it before, it was like watching  light dancing. Captain Bern started swinging those blades like fire. Arms, hands, heads were flying everywhere. He was chopping them up into little pieces, before they could touch him. It was like magic, the way the zombies just seemed to fall to pieces the moment they got close enough. There were a lot of them so they forced him back, one step at a time. But I think he planned it this way, because when he stepped back he left the bodies on the dock for the zombies to trip over. And when they did that he would chop off there heads before they could get up, leaving more bodies for them to trip over. One had actually made it through without tripping. Captain Bern sliced him right down the middle and then smacked it’s face with the flat of his blade, making it turn around. He then kicked it right in the middle of it’s back making it’s guts fly out of the slice.


-Eeew is right. But when he did that he made the dock slippery with the zombies guts, so now they’re slipping and sliding around. Like this!

-(Ha ha ha)

-So this goes on for about ten minutes, and Captain Bern doesn’t even look like he’s breaking a sweat.  When the last zombie was killed, he stood there, looking at the mess. Then he looked up and whistled to the crew who had locked themselves in the store front. They had already come out and were standing there, watching Captain Bern work with there mouths open. When they heard the whistle they made for the boat. I looked back at the boat, and everyone there was doing the same thing, standing there with there mouths open, even the captain. That’s when I realized I was doing the same thing. I was still on the dock with the tie ropes in my hand.

-(giggle giggle)

-So I close my mouth and ask the captain what now? The captain’s just looking at Captain Bern. The scavenger crew made it to the dock and were walking around him, giving him plenty of distance. Some of them even told him nice job. Captain Bern just stood there, kicking body parts off the dock. Then, once the crew was past, he looked back at the boat, right at the captain. You could feel the cold look he gave him. I shivered and he wasn’t even looking at me. Then he came walking up the dock, right to the boat. The captain started talking about how he would make a fine crew member, about how living on land is dangerous and that he should join us. So Captain Bern got on the boat, ignoring the captain, walked right past him, turned, and with a flick of his wrist lopped off his head.

-No way! -Really? -Wow!

-Yep. That’s what he did. Then he turned to the rest of us and said “I’m the captain of this boat now. Anyone gotta problem with that?” No one said a word. “Then let’s get moving! Now!” So I untied the boat, hopped aboard, and the rest is history.

-Wait, you were going to tell us more! -What happened after that? -Don’t stop, tell us!

-Tell you what? That once aboard he made changes? How he went through the whole ship and decided we needed a bigger one? How he started training us? You all know that. You want more?

-Yeah! -Please! -Tell us!

-Well, there really isn’t much more to tell. He actually let himself get captured so that he could take the ship. He gathered us up and turned us into a real crew. He made me the pilot and first mate, as I was the only one who knew how to steer the boat. Then he made us look for a bigger ship. We found a cruise yacht and took that, which meant more room for sleeping. And then we found a sail boat, which meant we didn’t have to stop for gas anymore. We ran into the other party boats that were out there doing the same thing we were doing and he got them to join us, which meant getting an even bigger ship. We even had room for supplies, which was really good. He taught us how to scavenge in teams. One team would go out and act as distractions for the zombies. They would go ashore and hoot and holler until the zombies took notice, and then they would take off once the zombies went for them. After all of the zombies were gone, the second team would then go ashore and do all the looting they wanted. We began looting bigger stores too, and got food, clothes, blankets, tools, guns, books, you name it. Once they were back aboard we would pick up the first team down the shore. We got really smart about it too. We would send a guy out on a jet ski trailing a banana boat, so the first team could just run into the water and swim for the banana. After a while Captain Bern decided we needed dry land under our feet, so we took this island. That took some doing, but the captain had trained us well in the art of killing zombies. He had us set up a ramp on the ship. Then he would slide a mannequin down it, and all you had to do was stand at the bottom of the ramp and hit it before it touched you. We had crafted a bunch of new weapons to do this, spears, long axes, some hammers. You hit a zombie in the head and it splatters all over the place. Messy. Anyway, when we took this island we worked in teams. The distraction team would lead the zombies on a chase around the island, and then lead them back to where the captain had rigged a sort of giant weed whacker. Once the distraction team led the zombies there, the weed whacker finished them off. We didn’t use guns too much, can you tell me why?


-That’s right. So here we are, on Bern Island, living the dream. Captain Bern did a lot more than give us a home. He gave us life. Before we were just a bunch of guys living day by day, not knowing what was in our future. When he showed up he put us to work, which made us not think about what was going to happen next. He made us fear him and not the zombies, which shifted our focus from ourselves to him. You may think this is a bad thing, but when you’re wallowing in self-pity for as long as we were, this was actually a welcome change. He also made the zombies not so fearful. When you understand them you can always defeat them. Think about it, they’re mindless beings that only want one thing. Which means you can lead them about to anywhere you want them to go. He lifted morale. He made us think positively. He made us who we are. 

-But what about the other captain? Didn’t he deserve to come here too, instead of being killed by the Captain?

-Well Lacy, that’s a tough question. Tough because it’s a real answer. What do I mean? Well it’s like this. The old captain had lost his spark. He never liked the guests in the first place, and when they became the crew he was even meaner. He didn’t have Captain Bern’s vision, and made sure we didn’t have any visions either. He was always putting us down, and had that nice big cabin all to himself. No one liked or trusted him, and he didn’t trust us. He kinda’ had to go. He was the kinda’ guy who wouldn’t take to sharing his boat. You know what I mean?


-Well the important thing is that it all worked out for the best. That’s why we have this island, and we have homes, and farms, and even livestock. If it weren’t for Captain Bern none of this would be possible. We owe him a lot, and don’t any of you ever forget that, you hear me?

-Yes Mr. Mitch.

-Good. Well story times over. Go play.

-YAAAY!!! -Come play with us. -When are you going to tell us more stories? -I’m hungry! -Race you to the swings! -Wait for me! -Mr. Mitch, come with me! -No, with MEEEEE! 

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