A.N

So, here we are again. Time to find out what has happened to our survivors. They are off the ocean and it seems that they have brought some friends along for the ride.

Grounded

(Voyage II)

The mist swirled across the water a hundred yards from the shore. That was as close as any of them dared to go. Any closer and the current would drag them onto the rocks and they would have to jump ship. From there it was only a short swim and climb to the beach...but that did not bear thinking about. That way meant certain death.

All on board the boat had a job to do and the job was the all; clothes, food and weapons, ammunition.

The engine slowed down as the passed one of the more heavily populated areas and all other sounds ceased. No-one dared talk, or even breath too heavily in case they were heard.

The man looked at the mainland through the artificial eyes that were his binoculars.

From this distance he could see everything in clear picture perfect detail...and that was nowhere near a good thing.

He scanned the beach from left to right trying in vain to locate anything that looked even remotely alive. After ten minutes of fruitless searching he lowered the binoculars and let them hang from their strap from his neck. He reached up a hand and absently rubbed his shoulder.

Ever since the 'accident' it had never been the same, never healed properly. The large scar under his winter jacket still itched like crazy at times and it was then that all he wanted to do was dig his fingers into his flesh and scratch until it bled.

But, he stopped himself.

The doctor who had patched him up said he had been lucky the steel cable hadn't taken his head off.

Lucky.

That word had held a hell of a lot of meaning. Millions of others around the world had not been so fortunate.

He sat on the rough wooden side of the fishing boat and put his head in his hands, the rifle that he had strapped to his back sliding forwards. He left it where it was and despaired.

What was the point of these useless trips, the foraging, the endless nights of danger. It was only a matter of time before they were overrun. There were more of 'them' than ever now. The ratio was in the thousands to one against...and that was a conservative estimate, if he thought too much on it then he would simply have to lift the weapon he had under his chin and pull the trigger.

There were only two things keeping him from doing just that and just them.

He and his fellow survivors had gone through too much to give up on each other now.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and he looked up into the face of the young man that stood there.

Trip smiled through a face that may have been handsome once, that was until some long dead thing had tried to get to him. The story went that when they found the boy a year ago he had been in a cabin in the woods close to a lake almost dead from starvation. Both of his parents had been in a the only other room and had been for some time after they turned. The boy had a pistol and was dutifully watched the sealed door. So intent was he on that wooden barrier separating himself from his mother and father that one of the rescuers was almost on top of him before he realised he was even there. He had shot up out of the chair he was seated in and ran straight out the front door which happened to be closed at the time. He had taken a header through the glass panels and shredded his face apart. They picked him up and patched him back together. Someone had written '...life is but a different trip...' on the wall in blood and since the boy hadn't spoken a word from that day forward that was as good a name as any.

The boy, really still only a teenager, nodded and gripped the shoulder he held tighter. A sign of comradeship between one survivor and another.

The man nodded back and put his hand over his.

'Okay people enough sightseeing, it's time we earned our keep.'

The captain; a large red faced gentleman from New York leant out of the wheelhouse and shouted down to them.

The man got to his feet and readjusted the rifle on his back, pulling the thick gloves tighter on his hands.

'Aye aye captain.'

The small boat powered back to full speed and started to follow the curve of the nearby land mass.

It sped on for what seemed like long minutes until out of the mist there loomed a dilapidated jetty. The captain slowed as he neared it and the two figures on deck jumped across eager to tie off the vessel.

The dock was a regular tie-off point having been prepared earlier. The three men gathered what supplied they would need, checked their weapons and set off at a fast trot as quietly as they could. The first thing they had to do was check the fence around the marina. They did it almost without thinking, fast and methodical having done it dozens of times in the past.

The man pointed his weapon ahead of him at all times, his finger just an ounce of pressure away from pulling the trigger.

Everything was a s it should have been though; no breaks since the last time, no incursions.

Martin Phillips looked through the rusting steel at the slowly shambling figures on the other side and let out a deep tremulous breath.

So far so good he thought.