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27 At Night They Come

    The night slowly takes hold of the 'Moonlight' cruise ship. Like a Roman emperor watching a gladiator enter the colosseum, from the bridge, I sit and watch the people on the deck. Only slightly over half of the people actually left on the lifeboats. I expected more, but if I had to guess the ones that stayed probably have friends, family, or loved ones who didn't escape.

    'Maybe they're holding out hope they aren't monsters or eaten by now? I think they don't understand how bad the situation actually is.'

    I look around, finding the two girls with the wheelchair and walker seem to have left along with most of the other women and children. Of the approximately 300 people left, I'd say around 250 of them are men while the 50 others are adult women.

    They have set up a barricade of deck chairs, tables, and anything else they could get their hands on. For something that was just thrown together haphazardly, it's not actually that bad.

    They've armed themselves with things like kitchen knives, tiki torches, chair legs, a few have makeshift spears, and one fool has pool noodles with knives stuck through it.

    'I guess pool noodle guy was going for something like a morning star? I'm sorry, pool noodle guy, but I have a feeling it's not going to work as you think.'

    I look to my left, where Eden is standing, "Eden, you know you probably shouldn't watch what's about to happen."

    "If I shouldn't watch it, then why are you watching it?"

    "Because I'm the one who set this in motion. What kind of girl would I be if I can't even watch the consequences of my own actions?"

    "...I'll stay."

    "Whatever you're too stubborn, just do what you want."

    I don't know if its a very good idea for Eden to watch, but I'm not going to stop her if she is determined. As for me, with the memories of Callista, death has lost much of its meaning.

    There is so much death in the memories given to me that it's a bit overwhelming at times, but it's to be expected, gods live for a very long time. That being said, witnessing it and having memories of it should still be a little different, I assume anyway.

    A few minutes before the sun completely goes down, the people light the tiki torches. They set up a perimeter, and in the distance, I can hear the sound of thunder. Finally, the last bit of sunlight dips down behind the ocean.

    Everyone holds their breath, at first the people stare at the door to the inner ship, but no noise comes from it. Then the calm is broken by the sound of shattering glass. Between the sound of breaking glass is the sounds of shrieks and screeches.

    'They came from the rooms, but none from the doors. Was it intentional or just a coincidence?'

    The Crawlers quickly climb down from the balconies and rush toward the people before slowing down. From the shadows, I see pale appendages reaching out toward the lights of the torches.

    Throughout the gloomy night, dozens of dark red eyes are reflected in the light of the moon. The two sides stare each other down the Crawlers are oddly cautious while the people seem jumpy.

    Seemingly tired of waiting for the Crawlers, one of the more jittery men steps forward and launches a makeshift spear.

    "You bastards! You took everything from me!" the man screams.

    The spear flies through the air with a distinct arc and pierces the eye socket of a Crawler. The Crawler shrieks and drops to the ground motionlessly. Like someone pressed the world's mute button, total silence takes hold of everyone. The Crawlers look at their fallen companion and then toward the man who through the spear.

    **Boom***

    A single bolt of lightning streaks across the sky, and the low sound of thunder breaks the silence. All at once, every Crawler on the deck lets out a bloodcurdling howl and charges toward the people.

    The Crawlers slam into the makeshift barricade, but unfortunately for the people, they are called Crawlers for a reason. Using their spider-like appendages, they shuffle over the barrier. Some of the men in front step forward and start beating the Crawlers with whatever weapon they have. A few Crawlers heads are smashed in by the blunt weapons and congealed blood like jelly leaks from the wounds.

    The people who chose knives are less lucky. They stab at the Crawlers, but the Crawlers ignore the pain and use the opportunity to drag the people into the crowds of other Crawlers where their screams are quickly muffled.

    **Boom**

    Another bolt of lightning streaks across the sky, highlighting the events taking place on the deck. One man steps forward with a torch and swings it at the Crawlers. The Crawlers, naturally afraid of the fire, take a few steps back. Unfortunately, a Crawler comes from behind the man and rips at his ankle. The man yells in pain and drops the torch. The torch burst open from the impact, and oil spills out across the deck. The Crawlers jump on the man, and the oil is smeared across the deck. The burning wick ignites the oil, and a fire begins to spread.

    The Crawlers and people both back away from the flames and continue their battle. The Crawlers are reluctant to attack with the burning fire and act cautiously. The people are putting a dent into the Crawler's numbers, but as time goes on, more and more Crawlers emerge from the ship.

    I glance across the ship, 'Amazingly pool noodle guy is still going although I think that is probably because he isn't seen as much of a threat.'

    **Boom**

    Another bolt of lightning flashes, and raindrops begin to fall. The rain mixes with the blood spreading it and dying the deck red. The torches and flames dim, and the Crawlers become more fearless and restless. Realizing they are in over their heads, a few people immediately make for the remaining lifeboats.

    With the human's number now quickly dwindling, some of the Crawlers turn their attention toward the bridge. At first, they don't seem that interested until they notice me watching.

    First, a few and then dozens break away from the remaining humans and start crawling up the side of the ship. They gather around the windows screech, scratch, and bang their heads against the glass. As if they recognize me, they howl signaling the other Crowlers. Before long, the entire window is just a moving wall of pale and ugly faces.

    I stare at the wall of flesh, "It's useless."

    My words seem to infuriate them even more and as they increase their intensity attacking the window even more furiously. These aren't average windows; these windows are thick reinforced plexiglass. Scratching and clawing won't make much of a difference.

    Suddenly I hear something unexpected, "Mother. Why don't you come outside?"

    "hmm?" I can't help but be confused.

    The wall of faces opens up, and four somewhat familiar faces poke their way through. They each have a single word scratched into their foreheads.

    '...Talk? Since when were they able to talk? Something's wrong, they shouldn't have intelligence. This could be bad.'

    "Mother, come outside. We want you to join us.", Justice says.

    "Yes, Mother. We want to tell you how much you mean to us.", Judgment says.

    "We want to show you how much we appreciate what you did to us.", Revenge says.

    "It'll only take a second, Mother.", Punishment says.

    I look at the family of four and the hundreds of other faces, "If you have something to say, go ahead and say it. I'm willing to listen."

    "You...you...you!" Punishment yells.

    "Don't speak to Mother that way! She'll come outside right, Mother? We just want to make our Mother perfect, like us!" Justice looks at me with expectation.

    "I will not, and please stop calling me Mother," I respond.

    "What!" Judgment slams against the window in a rage.

    "Just tell us, Mother! Just tell us, do you hate us? If you don't hate us, you'll come outside right, Mother?!", Revenge roars.

    All the crawlers stop and stare at me; the ship grows quiet.

    I look from left to right at the horrible faces, "No, I think I'll stay here."

    The Crawlers roar so loud at once that I can feel the vibration through my seat. They start pounding on the windows with renewed intensity.

    I turn my head and look at Eden, "Eden, are you sure you want to stay?"

    Eden stares at me for a moment, "I'll stay."

    "...Okay."

    Eden and I spent the rest of the night watching the enraged shifting wall of faces and listening to the cursing of the Crawler family. When the day finally came, the Crawler family moved to the bridge door and continued their enraged shouts. Ignoring them and looking out the window, I find the rest of the lifeboats are gone, either some humans escaped, or the Crawlers cut the ropes.

    **Sigh**

    Seemingly hearing my sigh, the Crawler family yells even louder. Like this, the Crawler family continued their cursing throughout the day and returned the next night. Again they banged against the windows until the sun came up. We are now a little under a day from Anchorage.

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    "The night was long again," I whisper and lean back in my chair.

    "Ca...Captain...can we come out now?" I hear the sound of the Staff Captain from the closet.

    "Oh, yeah. I almost forgot."

    I shoved the crew and Audrey into the closets, so they wouldn't get anymore traumatized than they already are. The ship is usually fine on its own, just running on autopilot.

    The Staff Captain walks to the ship's controls with a confused look, "Eh?...Captain, someone in the engine room is trying to contact the bridge."

    "How can you tell?" I ask.

    "See that little light that's blinking on and off. That means someone is pressing the communications button, but there's no sound because you destroyed the phone we'd usually use."

    "Oh."

    "...but it seems like the pattern is deliberate, is it Morse code, maybe?"

    "Do you know Morse code?" I give him a slightly intimidating smile.

    The Staff Captain gives me a conflicted look, "Of course I do...just give me a second."

    A short while later the Staff Captain hands me the translation, it reads, "H.E.L.P__E.N.G.I.N.E__A.T.T.A.C.K__S.T.O.P__S.H.I.P."

    I stop reading and realize I haven't heard the Crawler family this morning.

    I frown, "The night was long, but the day will be longer."

    ___________________

    "Admiral! Report."

    I look toward the young sailor, "At ease, sailor, give me the report."

    "Yes, Admiral. We should intercept the Moonlight cruise ship within the day. She is moving at her maximum speed, but we should be able to cut her off."

    "Very good. Dismissed." I sigh and look toward the report.

    This whole thing has been a total ** show. Originally the plan was just for us to assist the coast guard in apprehending a strange and dangerous girl, but then for some reason, the Japanese government got involved complicating things and turning it into an international incident.

    Later, to everyone's surprise, we got word the Moonlight went off course, and the crew isn't responding. Some passengers were able to get in contact with people onshore, and some lifeboats with survivors were picked up by other vessels. What we got from them is something about monsters and a virus.

    "Everything about this is just weird, and I'm told to keep it all top secret. I don't know what to make of any of this."

    I gaze out over the ocean through the porthole and can't help but wonder what awaits me when we find the Moonlight.
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