Rob Does Words
Treating fiction poorly since 2019


The boat was anchored a hundred meters or so from the wharf. For whatever reason, those things wouldn’t go into the water.

The plan was still to move the other three off the wharf too, but a lack of people had so far prevented any real progress in doing so. For now, finding resources - and staying alive while doing so - was the priority.

Still, the survivors had plenty of time to do nothing, especially at night. First of all, those things weren’t as active at night as they were during the day and secondly, the port facility was, by and large, secure so they rarely saw any of them anyway, and the few that did breach the fence were easily dispatched.

It was a little after midnight and David was wandering up and down the wharf slowly. He was technically watching to make sure that the wharf, and by extension the boat, was safe. He, along with everyone else who lived there, never expected there to be any danger so whoever was sent to check the wharf usually just wandered through the buildings on the wharf and the other boats. The crews, whoever they were, were gone, along with most of any provisions that had been onboard when the outbreak, or whatever it was, happened.

David had explored the boats enough times to be bored with them, though. He was currently standing atop the building that sat at one end of the wharf which contained a whole bunch of conveyors and other machinery which he knew nothing about and was looking over the water. The moon was nowhere to be seen and the whole harbor and the islands that sat just offshore were bathed in darkness. If he stopped thinking about it, he could pretend that there was nothing out there and he was at the end of everything.

A bat flew over his head and the spell was broken. He sighed and walked through the building, exploring all the belts and other things that were in there, vaguely wondering what part they played in the ship loading process.

“Aren’t you supposed to be guarding the wharf?” a voice said behind him, making him jump.

“Shit, dude,” David said turning to see one of the team which had been sent out into town a few days back to gather resources. “Don’t sneak up on people like that.”

“Sorry. I guess I should be thankful we don’t have any guns to share around.”

“Heh, I’d hate to shoot you. Where’s the rest of your group?”

“Wish I knew. We got separated. They’re either back here or on their way, if they haven’t been, uh, delayed,” he said euphemistically.

“Is there much activity out there?”

“A bit. Down at Bunnings there’s a mob of about a dozen of them.”

“Wasn’t Bunnings where another bunch of survivors had holed up?”

“That’s what I thought too. If they had been there, they aren’t anymore. But there’s no way into the building right now to check.”

“Well, that’s not good news.”

“You’re not kidding. I’m afraid I haven’t brought much good news at all back. All the spots where we heard there were others are empty, some have signs of a fight but there’s no people. There’s less and less of us around.”

Half a dozen boat people stood on the wharf next to one of the boats that was still tied up. Their discussion had been going on for a while now, but the general idea was to untie the boat and let it drift off the wharf and then drop the anchor as it came alongside the other ship.

“There’s no way we can do that without starting the engines,” one of them was saying.

“Well, how do we do that?”

“Give me, like, an hour on the bridge and I’ll see what I can do.”

“We tried that! None of us can figure out how to turn it on! We should just let it drift.”

“Letting it drift means leaving it to the currents. There’s no guarantee that it’ll end up where we want it. We should have as much control over that as we can. Until we can, the boats should stay where they are!”

“I agree,” a third person said. “Especially this one.”

“Why this one?”

“It’s empty. See how high it’s sitting? We'd have more control over it if it were full.”

“So let’s try the other ones first.”

“The other ones. The ones which are another three or four hundred meters further up the wharf? That gives us even less chance of getting the result we want.”

The argument went round in circles for a while before it lost steam and they all went back to their boat. A few of them would board the berthed ships every so often, to see if anything had changed since the last time they had done that; like seeing if the fridge had gained any new food in the half hour since the last time you checked.

The argument over the ship sort of simmered underneath the surface of life onboard the boat that was anchored off the wharf. Ultimately, the other boats stayed tied up and while some people had taken it upon themselves to read the operating instructions in a more sustained effort to move the boats, nothing of any substance changed.

A team had been exploring more and more of the town but with each passing day, there were fewer and fewer resources available and more and more of those things lurking everywhere. The priority had changed and they were now looking for an efficient way to go across the harbor to the islands to see what had been left there. They hadn’t seen any people on them from their ship, but they also hadn’t seen any of those other things either so investigating the islands seemed to be a safe project. Before they could set foot on any of them, though, a loud foghorn sounded across the harbor and everyone onboard rushed out to the deck to see three tugboats cruising slowly between them and the wharf. A couple of people waved excitedly as those on the larger ship could only gawk in amazement.

The tugs were tied alongside the larger boat and the guys who got them were explaining that the tugs were a better idea than moving the cargo ships.

“We use the tugs as ferries. Now it doesn't matter if the cargo ships end up away from this one. We can use them to get between here and shore and the islands.”

“And the other islands. The resorts and such.”

“And further up and down the coast. We could even find somewhere proper safe or other survivors.”

“I'm sold,” David said, when no one else made any decision. “Take one and head north. See what you can see. Get some idea of the range of these things. Stop off at any coastal towns, have a look around. Come back when you can.”

David watched almost sadly as the tug disappeared over the horizon. “Good luck,” he muttered knowing he would probably never see those poor souls again.