Two By Sea

For Rona

      Trina scraped the last can of beans into a pot and lit the sailboat’s tiny antique stove.  Alan came down the steps and shook his head.  "No fish.  Again."  He sighed.  "There should be fish." 

     He hung his fishing pole on its hook, under one of the harpoons that the ship’s former owner had collected. 

     Trina stirred the beans.  "We have to land for supplies." 

     "Starving might be better," Alan said. 

     "We can’t just give up.  What if we’re the last ones?  Maybe we’ll get lucky.  Maybe the zombies have moved on.  Or eaten each other." 

     Alan sighed and pushed both hands through his hair.  "You’re right.  I’m sorry."

     Trina handed him a spoon, and they ate their beans in silence. 

     "I’ll go get us turned around," Alan said. 


     Dinner was a can of peas and a chocolate bar that Trina had been saving for a special occasion.  They sat on the deck, watching the sunset.  It was a beautiful evening. 

     She ate her chocolate slowly, despite the empty ache in her belly. 

     "One of us has to stay with the boat," she said. 

     Alan shook his head.  "Hell no.  We’re not splitting up.  We only have one gun." 

     "You’ll sail back out once I’m off, then come back for me when I’ve got the supplies." 

     "No.  We stick together." 

     Trina knew he was thinking about his girlfriend–they’d been separated in the first wave, and he’d never seen her again. 

     Trina had watched her family torn apart.  She’d seen her son’s broken body stand back up.  She thought Alan had it better. 

     "We have to be smart about this," she said. 

     "You need someone to watch your back." 

     "I need a guaranteed escape route." 

     "Fine.  But you’re going to stay on the boat.  I’ll go for supplies," Alan said. 

     "You’re the better sailor."  She’d never even been on a sailboat, before the zombies came. 

     Alan frowned and turned away.  "I’m going to fish."  He grabbed his pole and thumped over to the starboard bow. 

     Something slammed against the front of the boat, and the deck rocked beneath their feet.  Alan stumbled, started to fall.  Trina screamed his name. 

     A huge shark exploded out of the calm water.  It lunged at the edge of the boat, and its huge mouth chewed at the wooden railing.  Huge chunks of flesh were missing along its cheeks, exposing jagged rows of teeth that glistened red in the fading light.  Its black eyes were dull, and oozing bite marks marred its silvery flank. 

     Alan threw himself back, away from the shark, and scrambled back to Trina’s side.  The shark splashed back into the water, then lunged out again.  The railing splintered, but held. 

     Trina ran into the cabin, grabbed the gun, and sprinted back up the stairs. 

     The shark fell back into the water, and Trina waited for it to try again. 

     Instead, the deck shuddered under her feet.  Wood creaked and groaned.  "Can it break through the hull?" she asked. 

     "I don’t know. I have no idea how much of this the ship can take," Alan said.  "We need to outrun it.  I hope we’re faster than it, at least over distance.  I’ll adjust the sails." 

     Trina thought of him scrambling around on the deck, his eyes on the sails, exposed.  She imagined him losing his footing, falling straight into the shark’s waiting jaws.  "Wait.  I can do it." 

     He shook his head.  "I’m the better sailor."


     The pounding stopped as they picked up speed. 

     They sailed all night.  They stayed as far away from the railings as possible, and neither of them slept.  Trina kept the gun on her person.  Alan grabbed a harpoon and strapped a second one to his back. 

     They caught sight of land as the sun rose behind them. 

     Trina looked back as Alan slowed the boat and scanned the shore.  A flicker of motion caught her eye, and she watched in horror as a fin emerged from the water.  "Alan!  It followed us!" she shouted.  She pulled the gun to her shoulder. 

     The shark swam toward them.  Trina could see its huge, battered body through the clear water, then it was flying through the air, straight at Alan. 

     She didn’t know where its brain was.    

     Alan spun, his harpoon braced in front of him. 

     The shark landed on the point with a wet thunk.  Alan went sprawling, but he managed to keep the harpoon between his flesh and the shark’s snapping jaws. 

     Trina aimed at one of its eyes. 

     Its tail slammed into her stomach, and she dropped the gun.  A bullet bit uselessly into the shark’s flank.  It rolled from the impact, and the deck tilted.  Trina grabbed the splintered railing to keep from falling into the shark, and the gun slid under its writhing body. 

     "Shoot it!" Alan screamed. 

     She couldn’t get to the gun.  But she could get to Alan.  She ducked under the thrashing tail and pulled the extra harpoon off of Alan’s back. 

     The shark smelled like seawater and decay. 

     She thrust the harpoon into its dead black eye with all of her strength. 

     It went limp. 

     Alan pulled himself from under it.  He examined himself–he was covered in dark, angry bruises and bleeding from a dozen scratches, but there were no bite marks.  "You–you saved us.  Thank you."  He ran his hands over his legs.  "Are you okay?" 

     Trina nodded.  Her stomach hurt, but it was bearable.  "How are you?"  

     Alan pulled himself to his feet.  "Surprised and relieved, I guess.  Tired.  Hungry.  I guess we’d better put in so you can get the supplies." 

     Trina nodded.  "You’re okay with me going, now?" 

     He shrugged.  "You killed a zombie shark with a harpoon.  If that’s not a sign that you can take care of yourself, I don’t know what is." 

     Trina helped sail to shore.  "I’ll be back.  I promise." 

     Alan kissed her cheek.  "Be careful."  He handed her a harpoon. 

     She watched him sail out toward the rising sun, then turned inland.  She had work to do. 



About Jamie

Jamie Lackey lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and their cats. She has over 160 short fiction credits, and has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Escape Pod. She has a novella and two short story collections available from Air and Nothingness Press. In addition to writing, she spends her time reading, playing tabletop RPGs, baking, and hiking. You can find her online at

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