The Boat

The Boat by Christine Dougherty

Book: The Boat by Christine Dougherty Read Free Book Online
Authors: Christine Dougherty
Tags: Fiction, Horror
her eyes, the thankfulness. She put a light hand on his arm. She nodded again.
    Brian and Singer lifted the body into the grave and Jade made a furious, rotating gesture with her hand. Mrs. Allen’s face was in the dirt. They hastily turned her and a small sob escaped Jade’s lips. The front of the body was covered in black soil and pale sand.
    Jade kneeled at the edge, trying to brush away the dirt and then Steve put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed. Doesn’t matter, please hurry .
    Jade sat back and her lips moved in a silent prayer. Then she leaned over and placed a small object on the corpse and stood, turning away, her face in her hands.
    Dave shrugged at Steve: is that it? And Steve shrugged back and nodded. Guess so, yeah.
    They advanced to begin filling the grave, but first, Steve leaned over to look in. A small picture frame sat at the level of Mrs. Allen’s bosom. Three beautiful, tow-headed children were held in the frame. Her grandchildren. Steve felt a wave of black depression sweep over and into him, like cold cement filling every inch of his body. Is this what it had come to? This poor old lady buried in the woods with a picture of her (most likely) dead grandchildren? What were they doing? Why didn’t they all just lay down and die?
    He drove his shovel furiously into the mound of carefully piled dirt and threw it down into the grave. He turned for another shovelful and his felt his throat close with an ache of unshed tears.
    He hadn’t been able to bury Amelia. He had…at the end…when she wouldn’t stop coming at him…he had…
    Chunk! Another shovelful of dirt. He was working like a dervish, the dirt flying in an arc as he turned with each load. He didn’t notice the look of concern in Jade’s eyes, the pity. He didn’t see Dave lowering his head in embarrassed silence.
    He saw Amelia. Amelia of the beautiful, honey-colored hair. Her adorable bare feet now covered in swampy black mud. She was on her stomach, but her head was turned around, facing him from between her shoulder blades. Her head twitched and her mouth worked, opening and closing, but the rest of her was still. Her eyes rolled, searching for him, accusing and alive but still dead. Dead and alive. Then he had…in his panic and disgust he had…
    A hand on his back made him jump and he dropped the shovel. Jade was looking at him; they all were. He ran his hand over his eyes and shook his head. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “Sorry about that.”
    Dave reached forward and thumped him on the shoulder; Jade squeezed his hand in hers. He nodded. “Let’s go, let’s get back to the boats.”
    They were almost to the beach when it happened.
    They had moved quickly back through the woods, making better time on the way out because they weren’t burdened with a body. Steve was in the lead, Dave behind him and then Brian. Singer and Jade ran side by side, holding hands like young children.
    They neared the edge of the woods and Steve felt a rise in his spirits: he could see the pier from here; they were almost home free. He slowed and signaled for everyone to stop as he searched the area around the cabins, looking for signs of undead movement. Singer squatted next to him.
    “Let’s go, what are we waiting for?” Singer whispered, his voice laced with impatience. He, too, had felt a hopeful lift at the sight of the pier, but it was still tinged with electrifying anxiety. On the way in, he’d been bolstered by the fact that they were doing the right thing, the thing that Jade wanted, but now that it was done…he was chafing at the possible foolishness of the act. He wanted everyone to get back safely.
    Steve hushed him with a gesture, his eyes never leaving the cabins. They were squat and spooky, surrounded with black shadows that could have concealed anything. Anything at all.
    The five of them were crouched in a rough line, using the scrub and blueberry bushes for cover, watching the cabins. No movement; no sound except the

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