Pinioned

Our Chinook settled on the deck of the South Korean carrier as an engorged crimson sun set behind Tokyo’s darkening skyline. Men, women, and children were on crowded on the deck, watching as thick columns of smoke rose from the blushing city.

A Korean guard armed with an AK-47 approached our helicopter, ducking the wind, and gestured for us to get out. The caged zombie howled as he approached. Telders lobbed an empty canteen at the cage. “Fuck off, you.”

The zombie growled in response and slammed his head against the bars of the cage.

Michael slapped me on the back. “Alright, hang back for a moment, Robertson,” he said.

“What’s going on?” I said.

“It’s cool. Just hang back,” he repeated, and got out.

Telders had a few indistinguishable words with the soldier, then pointed directly at me. The guard nodded and handed him a pair of silver handcuffs. The pilot looked back from the cockpit and mockingly pressed his wrists together.

“Goddamnit,” I mumbled.

“Alright, Robertson,” Telders said, climbing back in. “Assume the position.”

“This really isn’t necessary, is it? C’mon, Michael, we’re friends, right?” I started to get up.

Telders stiff-armed me in the chest and grabbed me under the jaw. “We were friends, Wayne. And we can be again… if you cooperate.”

I shook free from his grip. “This is ridiculous. You’re not cuffing me.”

“Turn around.”

I glared at him. “Go to hell.”

The North Korean with the NY baseball cap drew a pistol and leveled it at my head.

Michael nodded at the soldier and smiled. “You first.”

“Christ.” I said, turning my back to him.

Telders wrenched my arms backward and clasped the handcuffs on my wrists. The steel bit into my flesh. “Not so goddamn tight!” I shrieked.

“A lot more substantial than those zip-ties, huh Robertson? Though, I must admit that was a pretty good trick you pulled back in Hokkaido. You’ll have to teach me that sometime.”

“Oh I’ll teach you, alright.”

Telders laughed. “You’ve got spunk, Wayne. I’ll give you that.” He nodded at the Koreans. The soldier in the cap holstered his pistol and hefted a green duffelbag over his shoulders. The others followed suit and began climbing out of the chopper. “Let’s find you a nice place to relax, shall we?” he said, and yanked me out onto the deck.

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,” a voice shouted. “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”

I scanned the crowd for the source and spied a tall European man dressed in clerics with an open bible in his left hand, and making the sign of benediction with his right.

The priest locked eyes with me. “The end times are upon us,” he said, hurrying over. “Do you have Christ, sinner?”

“Get bent,” Telders said, shouldering past him.

“This is serious!” the priest warned. “The day is coming when human pride will be ended and human arrogance destroyed! On that day the Lord Almighty will humble everyone who is proud and conceited. He will level the high mountains and hills. He will sink even the largest and most beautiful ships. Human pride will be ended, and human arrogance will be destroyed!”

There was a horrible noise from the helicopter, screaming, and the sound of clattering metal. A crew of men in bio-suits were off-loading the caged zombie, poking at it with cattle prods.

Telders grinned at the priest. “I’ll tell you what,” he said, reaching for his Beretta. “You and me go in that cage. You take your precious bible and I’ll take this.” Telders cocked his pistol dramatically. “Then we’ll see who gets saved.”

The priest straightened up. “But the end times are upon us!” he repeated.

“Yeah, you said that,” Telders barked. He grabbed the bible out of the priest’s hands and skipped it across the deck. “Now scram!”

The priest gasped and went running after it.

“Those bible thumpers never give up, do they?” Telders said, shoving me forward. “How about you, Robertson? Have you accepted Jesus Christ into your heart?”

“Not Christ,” I mumbled.

Michael scowled at me. “I don’t even want to know.” He pushed me through the crowd until he found a thick, steel door that led into the ship.

Telders escorted me inside and slammed the door behind us.