Dead in the Water


Story Submitted by “Uncle Pete” of Craven Manor, Summer ’22

Dear The Living,

If you’re reading this, then you’re one of the lucky ones. I was thinking of who to address this letter to, but I don’t know if anyone will ever find this. It was supposed to be a normal underway period, just out for a few days for workups, in preparation for our upcoming deployment. I heard on the news over the past few days, about a new virus that was getting people sick. To be honest with you, I don’t pay that much attention to the news lately, it’s just one side telling you why they are right and why the other side is wrong. I guess none of that matters anymore. Can’t believe we wasted all that time and energy on nonsense.

But let me get back to the matter at hand. I’ve been on board the USS Parker for just over a year. Doing well for myself, I was Chief Petty Officer, and had a division of 18 Sailors under my charge. Damn, I wish I could have saved just one of them. We got underway at 0900, the fog from the early morning had cleared up, and we set course for San Clemente Island to begin our training evolutions. I heard that there was a sick Sailor, Petty Officer Cage, in the medical bay. He wasn’t in good shape when I passed him in the passageway. He was stammering, about being bit by someone on the way to work this morning.

We were about 25 miles outside the harbor when I heard Petty Officer Cage died. Doc had called the Commanding Officer and told him what occurred. From what I can gather, when Doc was on the phone, Petty Officer Cage got back up and bit him in the neck. It’s unclear what happened next. I was on watch in CIC ever since we secured from Sea & Anchor Detail. Word has it, the Commanding Officer went down to medical, since he heard a commotion on the phone with Doc. I think that is when things pretty much went to shit. Sailors who were bit went onto the Mess Decks where Sailors were eating chow. 200 Sailors in a small, confined space, it was a disaster. Whatever this was, this disease, spread faster than we could react.

Before we knew it, the Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, and most of the upper Chain of Command were bitten or dead. It spread into the armory, so getting weapons were out of the question, it also spread into the engine rooms. With no one to maintain the engines, well, they will stop working, and that they did. We lost power to everything. It wasn’t long till we were Dead in the Water, pun intended. We had to bar ourselves in CIC, but some Sailors could not take being locked inside a room for so long. They opened the hatch to get out, but all they did was let them in. I was able to lock myself in the vault with our classified publications. Only Chief Grieve was able to make it in there with me. Little did I know she had been bitten already. I was able to avoid her attack after she changed. Those dogging wrenches came in handy, just heavy enough to crush a person’s skull. I never wanted to know that information. I’m out of food and water. I can hear them outside the hatch, scratching, and moaning to get in, Damn, they won’t stop. I know I can make it to the escape hatch, it leads outside, but there is nowhere to go from there. I think the ship is covered with them. The emergency lighting won’t last much longer.

I’ve been in here for 3 or 4 days, I think. I have just enough light to finish this letter. I believe this is it, I know what I must do. If you’re reading this, please know that I tried and that I could not go out as one of them. As soon as I am finished writing this, I’m rolling this letter up and placing it in a water bottle. I’ll secure the cap tightly, and then take it with me, as I go over the side.