Liberty's Run
Part 8 Volume 2 of the Liberty Schoenhauer series

By: Walter G. Esselman

With an alien bird chasing them, our heroes—Liberty, Uncle Danny and Smalls—had to abandon the liberated medicine onshore and escape to sea in their tiny boat.

Looking back towards shore, Uncle Danny reached down inside the boat.

"What…?" started Liberty as she twisted around.

On the beach, the bird–thing had gotten upright. It suddenly jumped into the air, big wings spreading and flew straight towards them.

"Faster!" ordered Liberty.

"It can't go any faster!" said Smalls, who was purposely not looking back.

Almost on top of them, the bird–thing screeched. "HAJAT!"

Uncle Danny lifted his shotgun. The noise was thunderous. The deer slug slammed into the bird–thing's chest and it dipped to one side. Plowing into the water, it quickly slid under.

"Is it?" asked Smalls.

The bird–thing surfaced and glared at them for a moment. But then it sank back under, eyes unfocused.

Smalls kept going, just in case.

"Rit Rit Rit!" cried a voice from the shore.

Back on the sand, two more bird–things looked like they were ready to take flight.

"Veer right!" ordered Liberty.

"What?" asked Smalls.


Smalls turned starboard.

Liberty lifted her rifle and leaned over the edge of the boat. Firing twice at the shore, the bullets struck the sand between the two things. Both of the aliens jumped away and retreated.

"That'll make them think twice," said Smalls.

"Tsk. I was aiming for them," grumbled Liberty.

"It got the job done mija," said Uncle Danny proudly.

Liberty vacillated for a moment, but then she nodded. "True."

Once the boat was safely away, Smalls turned around to look back at the shore. The birds were starting to move back towards the shopping carts.

"But we can't just leave Bordeaux there," fretted Smalls.

Liberty aimed her rifle.

The two bird–things glanced briefly over the ex–Bordeaux. But then they looked back out to sea.

"Looks like we'll have to fight when we get back," said Uncle Danny.

"And we still have to get the medicine in here," said Smalls.

Straightening back up, Liberty dug around the small boat.

"What're you looking for mija?" asked Uncle Danny.

Liberty did not answer, but instead brought up a map. The Big Mexican leaned over as she opened it.

"Smalls said it," replied Liberty at last. "We need a bigger boat."

"And Malibu harbor is close," said Uncle Danny.

"Which way is it?" asked Smalls.

"We just need to follow the shore that way," said Liberty, and she pointed away from the Malibu pier.

They followed the shoreline until they reached the harbor, but it was not the answer to their problems.

"Call me crazy," said Smalls. "But shouldn't a marina have boats in it?"

The few boats that were left, did not look like they'd make out of the marina, much less back to the pier.

Liberty looked around thoughtfully.

"Well, that's okay," said Uncle Danny encouragingly. "We'll just have to find another way to get that medicine back to the Fleet."

Liberty suddenly leaned over and pointed her sniper rifle out to sea.

"Mija?" asked Uncle Danny.

"Not…sure," said Liberty. She looked back at Smalls. "How're we doing on gas?"

Smalls tapped the spare can, which sounded full.

"You want to check it out?" asked Uncle Danny.

"I'm not in any hurry," admitted Smalls. "I've been below deck since the outbreak, so it's really kind of nice to see the sun."

Turning the boat, they went further out to sea. Soon, they reached their destination.

"Well," said Liberty. A smile growing across her face. "Is that big enough?"

Uncle Danny gave a mock shrug. "Pequeñito. I've had dogs bigger than that."

They stopped at the rear of a large anchored yacht.

Liberty turned to Smalls. "We should check out the ship. Can you stay here?"

"Just in case we need to leave," said Uncle Danny.

"At top speed," added Liberty.

After a quick round of roshambo—with rock breaking scissors—Uncle Danny smugly climbed out of the small boat and onto the yacht.

Immediately, he scanned the area—shotgun ready—but all was quiet. Without looking back, he made a quick gesture behind his back.

Liberty climbed onboard and stopped next to Uncle Danny.

"It'll take longer," she said. "But we need to stay together."

"Said no white girl ever," piped up Smalls from behind them.

"Quiet you!" hissed Liberty in mock anger.

And Smalls grinned.

Moving forward, the two of them started going from room to room.

"I've got blood over here," hissed Uncle Danny. He moved over to one of the VIP staterooms. But there was no body. There was, however, a large pile of stuffed animals on a small bed.

"Well, that's not spooky at all," whispered Liberty.

"Or heartbreaking," sighed Uncle Danny.

After a thorough search, they headed above deck.

"I got someone!" hissed Liberty. They went to the port side of the ship.

There—facing away—was a man standing in a long blue robe and a captain's hat.

"Hello? We meant no harm," she said and lowered her rifle a bit. "We didn't know any people were onboard."

Slowly, the captain turned around with a low moan.

Uncle Danny sighed. "And no person is."

The zom wearing the captain's hat regarded them for a moment. But it didn't charge. Instead, it opened its hand, and something fell to the deck.

Suddenly, it lurched towards the edge of the boat. Its legs smacked into the rail.

The zom captain pitched forward and tumbled off the side of the boat.

As it hit the water, Liberty and Uncle Danny ran forward.

Below, the zom sank slowly out of sight, leaving only the captain's hat bobbing on the surface.

"Is it weird that I wanted to help him?" asked Liberty.

"Yeah," said Uncle Danny softly. "But, then I'm weird too."

Liberty glanced around and started.

"We got keys," she said.

"What? Is that what he was holding?" asked Uncle Danny in surprise.

Liberty picked up the ship's keys attached to an orange floaty.

"Okay, this is just weird all over," said Liberty. But she shook it off and looked at Danny. "These are going in a zippered pocket for now, but I say we go over the ship, one more time."

"Agreed," replied Uncle Danny.


Once they were satisfied, Smalls came on board and headed for the Pilot House.

"And you're sure there're no zoms onboard?" asked Smalls again.

Liberty saw Uncle Danny gritting his teeth, so she answered quickly.

"We're safe," she said. "Really!"

Smalls stopped. "I know. It's just…it just almost sounds too good to be true. I mean…this is a luxury yacht. Like, the kind Warren Buffett would buy."

"We've checked the ship from top to bottom," said Liberty.

"But neither of us have driven a boat before," continued Uncle Danny. "So, we were hoping that you could help."

"Absolutely," said Smalls.

Between the three of them, and a little trial and error, they figured out how to make the ship go.

"GPS is still working!" said Smalls excitedly.

"I wondered if those satellites were still up there," said Liberty, and she looked skyward. "Okay, let's head back and hope that the drugs are still there."


After anchoring near Malibu Pier, Liberty lay on the deck of their newly acquired boat. Through her sniper scope, she scanned the shoreline.

"Anything?" asked Uncle Danny. He was standing at the rail and trying to see with the power of squinting.

"Bordeaux's still there, and he looks intact," said Liberty.

"Well, that's something," said Uncle Danny with relief. "And it's a nice day to be at the beach. Perfect Saturday trip, or whatever day it is."

"Yeah, who knows what…," began Liberty with a chuckle, but then she froze. "Wait, what day is it? What month?"

Uncle Danny looked back at her. "What's wrong?"

"Did we miss Christmas?" asked Liberty with rising panic. "This would be the first Christmas we celebrate with Colin. If we missed it…"

"No," said Uncle Danny firmly. "When we were at that science facility, it was almost November. So, we're probably coming up on Thanksgiving."

Liberty sighed loudly. "Oh. Thank God. That would've been terrible. We would have been such bad…well, whatever we are to Colin."

"I'm a Fake Uncle," said Danny firmly. "Being an Uncle is a lot more fun than being a parent."

"Well, I'm definitely a… 'Something'," said Liberty. She twisted to look at him seriously. "But we do need to start planning for Christmas. Even if it's just to make something."

"We will," he assured her.

Liberty nodded and then she went back to her scope.

"I think we should just go," she said.

"Can you shoot something from here?" asked Uncle Danny curiously.

"Range is good," said Liberty thoughtfully. "What're you thinking?"

"Let me and Smalls go in the little boat," said Uncle Danny.

"Dangerous," commented Liberty.

"That tiny boat's too small for Bordeaux, the drugs, and all of us," said Uncle Danny. "So, me and Smalls go in, you cover us."

"I don't know," said Liberty uncertainly. "I did miss earlier."

"Then you miss," said Uncle Danny. "If me or Smalls stay on board, we'll be sitting around, twiddling our thumbs."

"True," admitted Liberty.

"You'll be fine mija," said Uncle Danny warmly.


The moment the small boat hit shore, Uncle Danny jumped out and grabbed it. It was not that big, so he was able to tug it partly onto the sand. He held it steady while Smalls climbed out and lifted his rifle.

The carts were about ten feet from the water.

Bordeaux still sat in his cart, knees to chest. He looked like he was headed to some ancient burial plot.

Saran wrap covered the carts with the prescription meds, though one was still knocked over.

Shouldering his shotgun, Uncle Danny began to move forward. After a moment, Smalls followed.

"Hey," said Uncle Danny to Smalls. "Can you get that cart upright?"

Moving forward, the Navy Engineer lifted the cart. Once done, he looked around and saw something.

"Looks like Liberty scared the feathers off of one of them," he chuckled.

Uncle Danny looked at the discarded feathers and saw that—near them—the sand was slightly mounded.

"Ya te cargó el payaso," he breathed.

The sand exploded in a half circle around the carts. Uncle Danny involuntarily closed his eyes as he was pelted with sand.

"Get back!" cried Uncle Danny as he tried to move away. His mind raced.

They had been waiting in the sand. And if even two of those things are here, they will be on him in a second. He should've checked for traps.

The sand stopped and he opened his eyes, ready for a razor–sharp beak to slice him up.

But there was nothing. A quick glance showed that Smalls had fallen back, but he was trying to blink the sand out of his eyes.

Turning around quickly, Uncle Danny did not see any aliens, ready to pounce on them. He crept over to the carts and saw a bird–thing, partly buried. It was trying to get its wings free.

"What's going on?" asked Smalls.

Uncle Danny found that each of the aliens had dug a hole to hide in. But those holes had filled with wet sand, effectively trapping them.

Leveling his shotgun, he aimed it at the closest one. The bird–thing saw and struggled harder to get out of the wet sand.

"Are they trapped? Shoot'em!" cried Smalls. "They killed Bordeaux!"

The Big Mexican made a quick movement and pulled the trigger.

The bird–thing looked surprised. The deer slug had hit the sand right between the first two aliens.

Swiftly, Uncle Danny pointed the shotgun back at the bird–thing.

Without taking its eyes off Uncle Danny, the alien stilled.

Stepping back, Uncle Danny lowered his weapon.

Another of the alien birds began to struggle against the wet sand.

The Big Mexican was there in an instant, pointing his weapon right at the alien. It froze. After a moment, Danny stepped back again and pointed the shotgun downwards, once again.

"Smalls?" hissed Uncle Danny.

"Wait? What just happened?" asked the Navy Engineer.

"I think…I just bought us some time," said Uncle Danny. "I need you to get Bordeaux back to the boat and onto the ship. Then, come back with Liberty."

"What're you going to do?" asked Smalls.

"Dunno. Hang out. Have a big fruity drink with an umbrella in it. Maybe the guys and I will play some beach volleyball," said the Big Mexican. He was almost drunk on the idea that he was not dead.

Smalls quickly left with Bordeaux's body and Uncle Danny found himself standing guard over four bird–things. The sun was not too bad, so that was good. He looked at the bird–thing on the left, which had a red ruft coming out of its head.

"You guys don't speak English, do you?" asked Uncle Danny hopefully.

The bird–thing with the Red Tuft looked at him without responding.

"¿Hablas español?" asked Uncle Danny. "No?"

Red Tuft said. "Tass V Da."

Uncle Danny sighed. "Wish I could understand your language."

So, the Big Mexican just stood and waited. He figured that it would take a few minutes for Liberty and Smalls to come back, and he was getting thirsty.

Carefully, he moved over to the carts. On top of a cart was a bag full of bottled water. He opened one and started to drink.

One of the bird–things started to watch him intently. Its purple tongue began to stick out.

Uncle Danny stilled.

All the other aliens were watching him as well.

"Do you guys drink water?" asked Uncle Danny. He glanced back at the yacht, but their small boat had only just reached it. By the time they got all the medicine offshore, it was going to be another hour or two. Then the aliens would have to lever their way out. He looked up at the sun and felt its warmth.

Uncle Danny shrugged and took a new bottle. "Well, there's nothing else for it."

Stepping towards the bird–thing with its tongue out, he saw it freeze. He noted that it had a green tuft on its head. Squatting a little way away, Uncle Danny poured a little water out, to show what it was, and then offered the bottle to the alien.

Hesitantly, the bird–thing stuck out its long tongue. It made a little gully in its tongue, right down to its mouth.

Carefully, Uncle Danny began to pour water. But when Green Tuft looked like they needed more, the Big Mexican tipped the bottle higher. When the bottle was empty, Danny leaned back.

"It's okay? It's not poisonous, is it?" asked Uncle Danny.

Green Tuft made a little hoot, which sounded like a good noise.

"Ung lak?" asked the bird–thing with the Orange tuft. And Red Tuft made a similar noise.

Uncle Danny got the bag of water and opened one in front of Orange Tuft. The alien made a similar gully with his purple tongue. After Danny had given each one a bottle of water, he found himself in front of Red Tuft. He opened another one.

After taking a big gulp, he held up the bottle in front of him.

"Water," said Uncle Danny. "We call it water." Then he pointed to himself. "I am Danny. Danny…" And then he pointed to Red Tuft, who watched him cautiously. Finally, Danny smiled genially and looked back towards the yacht. "That's okay. Never mind."

"Rakduson," said a voice.

Danny turned in surprise.

Red Tuft spoke again. "Rakduson."

Uncle Danny grinned. "Rakduson? Pleased to meet you. Well…"

Behind him, the Big Mexican heard the sound of an outboard motor. He quickly stood and moved a little to the side, so that he could watch the aliens and incoming boat.

"Sorry!" called out Liberty before they were even close. The moment the boat hit sand, she jumped out with her sniper rifle. She was ready to rumble. "I'm sorry it took so long."

Uncle Danny smiled. "We're all good."

The librarian came to a halt. She looked between him to the alien birds, stuck in the sand. "We are?"

"If you want to start loading the boat, I'm good," said Uncle Danny.

"O… okay," said Liberty slowly. As she backed away, she slung her rifle across her back. Maneuvering one of the carts of meds, she pulled it towards the water. Smalls looked confused, but Liberty nudged him, and they started dumping the drugs into the small boat.

In the end, Liberty and Smalls had to make two runs to the ship before they could come back for Danny and the last few meds.

"We're all set," she called from the water.

Danny began to back away when he stopped. He saw that the aliens had now settled pretty good into the wet sand. Turning, he went to the boat but did not climb in.

"What?" asked Liberty.

"I just…," started Uncle Danny, but he already knew what he had to do. Placing his shotgun in the small boat, he looked at Liberty. "I'll be right back."

"Where're you going?" asked Liberty.

"Got something to do," said Uncle Danny and he jogged back towards the aliens.

"Is he crazy?" asked Smalls.

"Jury's still out on that one," murmured Liberty.


To be continued in May's World Of Myth!


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