Serpent Skull

Andy's Journal Days 5 & 6

Heading East

Day 5: Camp

I had the strangest dream last night. I was in the lifeboat again and Devers, the first mate, was rowing. Except he was dead. The corpse of Alton Devers brought me to the beach; a beach covered with snakes. Not an inch of sand was visible beneath them. Then suddenly, I was on the beach, ankle deep in snakes of every kind, while Alton Devers’ body rowed slowly away, disappearing over the waves. He never came back.

I awoke shaken and dripping with cold sweat. It took the entire day to shake the feeling of dread from that dream. Even now, I don’t think I’m completely free of it.

After struggling to return to sleep, my turn on watch came all too soon. I rose and exited our shelter to find Toshe and Aerys extricating the bodies of two small island goats from a couple of the traps Aerys and Ishirou had set around the perimeter of the camp earlier that day. At least we’d have food for the next day.

A disease seems to be making the rounds of camp. Both Toshe and Mwembe have sprouted red lesions and seem to be feeling weak. I believe one of them said it was the Red Ache. I’ve never heard of it, but it doesn’t sound good. However, both were able to assist in our daily tasks.

The rest of the morning and afternoon was spent exploring the nearby jungle, but nothing of interest or danger was found and we returned to camp, tired and hot, but little worse for wear.

Day 6: Headed East

A little after dawn the next day, everyone convened around the campfire and it was decided that five of us, Mwembe, Toshe, Phee, Jask and I, would explore further to the east. We would be gone for two or three days. If we did not return after three days, the others were to assume the worst and decide for themselves how to proceed.

We packed what supplies we had and started out early in the morning, headed along the cliffs, into the sunrise. Nothing of interest presented itself in the jungle, but offshore we saw two more shipwrecks. One was too far for us to even consider investigating. It is located on the lee of a small island several hundred yards off the coast of the main island. Squinting, I could just make out the name, written in bold letters across the bow: Tears of Grog.

However, the second was, like the Tattooed Lady, smashed at the bottom of the sheer cliffs of our new home. We marked the name, the Golden Bow, and the location for future exploration and continued along the coast.

We camped that night under some large trees near the edge of the cliff, figuring that with the sheer drop at our backs, the denizens of this jungle could only come at us from three sides.

And they did just that. During my watch – why do these things always come during my watch? – I heard movement among the trees to the south.

“Who’s there?” I yelled. There was no answer, but I did hear my companions stirring; my shout had awakened them, as I’d planned. The sounds to the south continued as I edged away from the fire and its revealing light.

A few moments later, I could make out vague, shadowy shapes moving slowly toward the campfire. “Great…more zombies.” I sighed and uncoiled my whip. Fleetingly, I thought of loading my pistol and taking a shot, but I decided it best not to waste my limited ammunition and powder on a few walking corpses.

I heard the others preparing: Jask mumbling a prayer, movement from the other side of the fire and from the trees above. Then I gave full concentration to the putrid thing in front of me. I lashed out with my whip, almost missing, but flicking off an ear. The undead monster swung and missed as I backed away. As it reached for me, I swung again and had the satisfaction of seeing several fingers of its rotting hand drop into the grass between us. It was still looking blankly at the stumps of its missing digits when there was a bright flash from behind it; I heard a cry of pain and smelled charred flesh as the zombie’s skin sizzled briefly. Before the thing could react, I swung again; slashing its neck with the blades of my whip and it fell to the turf and did not rise again.

I looked around in time to see the others – Mwembe and Rarsk, Phee and Phickle, and Toshe – finishing off the remaining two zombies. Oddly, the leopard now sported a pair of horns on top of its head. Toshe seemed particularly fascinated by this and questioned Mwembe at length about the transformation.

I paused as I approached Jask, overhearing the conversation behind me. “Did she just say she experimented on werewolves!?” I asked, awed. Jask just shrugged and returned to his bed. How could he be so disinterested? I’d never heard of anyone attempting such a thing. I mean, how did she do it? Did she capture them in traps? Or just ask them politely if they’d like to be subjects in her experiments? Ha! Well, now I’m just being ridiculous.

I’ll have to gather the courage to ask her sometime.

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