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SINGLE TREE: Afloat

LATITUDE 32.511639, LONGITUDE -130.589518

 

“Stop being such a little bitch, Kimosabe. Get on with living.”

Victor’s voice echoed about in Corbett’s head as he lay on the single stateroom’s narrow bunk. There was no port hole in the room’s side, so the chamber was as dark as a crypt. He knew where he was, and he was aware of the vague noises of a ship at sea—pumps, air, machinery, running generators—but the only sound he could pay attention to right then existed only in his head. Victor Kiruk’s deep, robust, dignified voice telling him to grow a pair and go on with his life.

Get out of my head, Victor. You’re dead.

You will be too, Kimosabe, Victor replied. Sooner rather than later if you can’t let go of Single Tree.

Corbett snarled to himself in the darkness. While he had slept aboard Norton’s yacht, with its well-appointed forepeak stateroom, cherry wood joinery, en suite head, and bright lights, he’d never heard Victor speak to him. But after moving aboard one of his own vessels, which were infinitely darker, much more cramped despite their size, and general institutional design, the voice of Victor Kiruk had come alive. Speaking to him in the man’s usual rational, measured cadence. Counseling life over death. Sage words of wisdom, especially since Barry Corbett had spent no small fortune trying to defend his birthplace from the dead hordes, only to have it all ripped away at the very last moment. Victor, had he still been alive, would have advised these same perceptions. But Victor was dead.

So Victor’s ghost spoke to him instead, using the veil of sleep as its medium.

Corbett switched on the bunk side lamp and blinked against the sudden flood of LED brilliance. The small stateroom was now fully awash in harsh, sterile white light. The shadows had been vanquished in an instant; and with them, Victor’s voice disappeared as well. Corbett was left alone in his own head, which was just how he liked it.

He pulled on his clothes. Jeans, t-shirt, denim work shirt, sturdy boots, and finally his battered USMC cap. Victor’s ruminations could be entertained another night. According to his watch, it was dawn. And dawn meant work.

Though he might be as old as a dinosaur, Barry Corbett still had a town to liberate.

It was time to get to it.

 

As always, this is presented unedited and unproofed, and no guarantee what you read here will make it into the finished product.

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