Returning to the Sea

Everything about the human body has evolved to live on land. We walk on 2 feet, breathe oxygen from the air, and drink fresh water. Even so, there is something so wonderfully primal about bobbing around the ocean's surface, as if some vestigial remnant of our animal ancestors still longed to swim. For me, in particular, the water means something even more.

A few years ago, there was an outbreak of an unusual plague that extended to every society known to man. Unlike ordinary diseases, this one did not merely kill its victims. No, it haunted them even into the afterlife.

Its first symptom was something akin to leprosy, where human flesh would start to sag before falling off completely. After that, the infected would experience an insatiable desire to eat other humans. Finally, they would stop breathing altogether; however, even without breath, they could still walk and transmit the disease to others. It was nothing short of the zombie apocalypse.

At first, there was nothing humanity could do to protect themselves. They huddled in their houses, waiting for the hordes of zombies to overtake them. Soon, certain societies made a fascinating discovery: the zombies, like moths, were attracted to light. This lead to the Great Extermination, where citizens of all different countries banded together by creating giant bulbs of light and casting them just beyond the shore.

Eventually, every single zombie left the land and turned to the sea. Although this did not kill them, it did allow humanity to return to living life as they once did in relative peace and luxury.

Over the next few centuries, a cure was developed to partially treat the zombie outbreak. In particular, it solved the patient's insatiable hunger by preventing them from ever being hungry again. It cured their decaying flesh by preventing them from aging further and allowing them to regrow the skin they once had. After a few years of therapy, zombies were later re-integrated into society as immortals, also called "the Cured."

The Cured existed as strange outcasts to modern society. They did not understand technology and had no need to work to eat. Even after therapy, they were often still unable to act as humans normally would. Their speech might be slurred or gait slightly askew. In addition, almost every single Cured suffered from an intense form of PTSD from centuries of drowning and decay.

I had recently taken up a new job to fill the Cured hospitals to capacity by swimming out to the ancient bulbs with a floodlight on my waist. I would then set the bulb on a 20 second timer and turn on my own floodlight before swimming back to shore. A few of the zombies would follow, and I would trap them in a cage to be transported to the nearest hospital.

This was why the ocean was so special to me. It was more than just a body of water. It was the home to millions of people, counting on me to save them.

I knew my family was out there somewhere, lurking in the depths of the ocean, slowly making their way to shore, and it was my duty to guide them home. After all, I was Cured from the same disease, myself. I wouldn't rest until they were found.

Prompt: Zombies cannot swim. But they will attempt to follow targets in boats by walking into the ocean. Centuries after the cure was found, groups of zombies are surfacing on the other end of the atlantic. You are one of the first to be cured, and have to adapt to this new society.

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