Captain Barney McBarnacle surveyed the harbour. All seemed quiet—but you could never tell these days. Ever since the start of the zombie apocalypse there hadn’t been much demand for fresh seafood, so he and the crew of the trawler Stuttering Cormorant survived these days by scavenging in small coastal outports, trading goods, and ferrying the occasional survivor. Captain McBarnacle liked to help people—he was a kindly nautical humanitarian at heart.
The Captain recently made radio contact with one such group of survivors—apparently, a group of doctors and patients from a nearby government medical facility. He had arranged to meet them here, at Moose Cove. McBarnacle turned to his crew, First Mate Fergus O’Flotsam and Second Mate Seamus C. Shanty. “Look alive, you two–we’ve got passengers to pick up. We could do with some fuel and parts for the engine, while we’re at it.”
Doctor Nina Putin turned to the children in exasperation as they clambered over a long-abandoned ice-cream truck. “We’ve no time for that—we need to get to the pier!” Her two colleagues from the Moose Cove Asylum for the Criminally Insane looked at her in exasperation. “I say we ditch them, the murderous little psychopaths,” whispered Doctor Myles Boffin. Professor Horatio Theorem nodded in agreement. “No,” replied Doctor Putin, “they’re useful for now.” No one, after all, was as handy with a gun as Claire, even if she was often off in her own imaginary world. Johnny had particular skills at breaking and entering, and Annie could certainly wield the knife she kept hidden behind her back. As for little Lucy, she seemed to have a sixth sense for danger. “We’ll lose them later, in town—they’ll do fine as zombie bait.”
The children heard none of this. They were hungry, and were hoping to find some food in town before meeting the trawler. They didn’t much like the scientists. All those genetic experiments back in the lab—they said they were necessary, but they were excruciatingly painful, and there was never ice cream. “Is it time yet, Lucy?” asked Johnny as he toyed with his Glock. The little girl shook her head. Not yet. She had powers. Powers that had been awoken back in the lab by the drugs and electrical shocks and gene-splicing and radiation treatments. She could get inside people’s minds, you see. Make them do things. But it wasn’t time. Not yet….
On the docks, Fergus finds supplies, engine parts in a nearby warehouse—together with a skunk. Everyone will avoid close company with him for the next several days. After that, it won’t much matter.
Inside the Tim Horton’s, a hungry Claire spots a box of Timbits. Before she can eat, however, Professor Theorem scoops them up and puts them in his briefcase. “We don’t want you becoming hyperglycemic!” he says in an admonishing tone.
Claire screams in white-hot rage.
Outside in the street, Lucy watches as every single zombie in Moose Cove heads towards them.
Johnny throws a molotov cocktail at the undead, and then the children and scientists alike rush out the rear doors of the doughnut shop. All except Professor Theorem, that is. As Lucy stares at him intently, he hands Claire back the Timbits.
“Stop that, child—I know you’re causing this!” he growls when his head clears, slapping young Lucy.
Moments later, he clutches his head again, and runs towards the horde. He is quickly devoured. What strange behaviour for a man of science!
Doctor Putin guns down a zombie cheerleader, then calls to Myles Boffin. “I see the boat! Run! We need to get there before the children do!” Myles starts to run, but his asthma acts up and he can’t manage much more than a quick stroll. But then he too hears a voice inside his head.
As the children watch, Myles starts to walk towards the zombies too, just like Professor Theorem did. How funny it is! The zombies tear him apart and eat his brains!
Johnny is especially fascinated by all this. A bit too fascinated. A zombie catches him, and pulls his young head off as well. Dangerous things, zombies. The other children will miss Johnny, but it was quite amusing to see the undead squabble over his intestines!
With survivors and zombies alike headed towards the pier, Captain McBarnacle orders the crew back to the Stuttering Cormorant. “Make ready to cast off!” Doctor Putin is waving at him, signalling something about the children. Captain McBarnacle seems to think she wants him to wait for them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“Do we really need these men?” Claire asks Lucy as the boat reaches the open sea. “They take up so much space, and one of them smells like a skunk.” Lucy ponders the question.
Two weeks later the Stuttering Cormorant would reach a survivors’ colony with no crew aboard, only three orphaned waifs—and one very frightened penguin. Tragically, its frantic squawking would be misunderstood as a plea for fish rather than a warning of nightmarish horrors to come…