Hours passed before I thought I saw a smudge of brown on the horizon. It seemed to curve upward slightly. Standing now, I walked to the bow and squatted. Before the boat fish of all sizes could be seen swimming, diving, and leaping for insects. It felt mesmerizing to experience things that reminded me of the place where I lived as a child. A place now devastated by a global pandemic.
I didn’t even know if the virus infected and killed wildlife and again wondered as I, and others did a year ago if it was created in a human lab as a bioweapon. Time didn’t heal wounds as treaty makers and signers expected it would. It seemed that every new generation — once in power — had new or slightly different reasons to keep the anger and hate festering oozing the slime of discontent, the longing desire for wealth and power human life and dignity be damned.
What difference did all that matter once some fool released the virus?
My grandmother often told me that people don’t really change. They just learn new techniques to camouflage their darkest desires and feelings. Given the right set of circumstances and the disguises drop revealing a seething rage or awful betrayal.
I was still studying the horizon when I felt the ship move as if someone walked in my direction. I glanced back and saw Margaret as she approached. She held two bottles of beer bleeding condensation. I took one as she sat alongside me.
“What do you think that is?” She pointed the neck of the bottle in the direction of the growing brown.
“Likely mountains,” I said and drank. “This is good beer.” I held up the bottle.
“It is.” She drank more, which was when the current shifted and the boat tilted enough for her to slid to starboard. I grabbed her left arm, almost went with her. I had wrapped my leg around the mast in the center of the bow. That was enough to stop her from going overboard.
Now, once we were stable, we could clearly see the brown mountains directly in front of us. The current felt like it was pulling us toward land rather than sending us into the lake.
Carefully, we worked out way back to the cabin area and shut off the autopilot. I took the wheel and lowered the power so the boat slowed substantially. Not far off I spotted a small bay cut into the land far from whatever the brown curved line might be.
“I think we should try to find a place to tie up for the night.”
Margaret nodded agreement.
It took at least another hour to get that far. A long narrow dock jutted into the bay. This dock had a boat already tied to it. A boat that looked menacing, military with projectile weapons along both sides and the bow.
Apprehension chilled my blood, but we needed to stop so I took the boat along the opposite side of the dock and as close to land as the rising lakebed allowed. As I jumped after Margaret onto the dock, I heard a whizzing sound, and watched pieces of the dock explode skyward.
“What are you standing there for?” Margaret shouted and grabbed my sleeve tugging me after her.
“Trying to understand what they’re doing.” I told her.
“They want to kill you and me,” she cried now running toward land.
Bullets, I thought like Jim used to kill himself with that ancient gun from his grandfather. Which was when one kicked my right leg from under me. I crashed to the wet sandy ground at the end of the dock yanking Margaret with me.
When she hit, her hand slammed hard. I saw her eyes rolled back so all I could see was the whites. Then they closed and I felt sure she was dead. That happened in the second or two required for me to reach the ground. I managed to break my fall with my hands and arms, scrapping flesh from both. The bullets didn’t stop screaming angrily over us. I saw several were illuminated red and desperately tried to crawl to safety, pulling Margaret’s body with me. I lifted me head slightly, and felt a slash of heat burrow along my scalp.