Tag Archive: War

Fever Dreams

The sharp copper tang filled his nostrils, and the entrails set his breakfast churning.  His uncle knelt by the corpse and checked the brand.  Edmond strained to see what had been written in the dirt with the blood from where he stood.  ‘N*gger Lover’

“Get on back to the house now, boy.  When you get there, saddle up your horse and wait for me.”

Tears fought their way past his resolve into his eyes.

Edmond lowered the telescope and glanced at the compass.  “Signal to the ground: Cavalry advancing from the south southeast.  Bring the ship around to-” The explosion threw a whirlwind of splinters and pain.  Had the hot air bag been hit?  He looked up-

The brown canvas was there above him, lit by smoky oil lamps.  There were shapes above him, and a dull feeling that something was gone.  He tried to ask them- but his tongue was too heavy.  They were leaning over him, putting more weight on his heavy head.  Why were the lamps going out?

He was standing at attention while Sherman explained how the airship corps would be refueled and resupplied so far from safe landings in the Mississippi.  Their target, the city of-

“The air corps would be an excellent place for you to serve!  The federal government understands that many feel a duty to their country as well as an obligation to follow the peaceful commandments of God.”  The recruiter was explaining how Quakers could serve in the army.  “The air corps serves in a purely scouting and reconnaissance capactiy, most airships are not even armed.”

The deck was growing slippery, despite the sand.  “LOAD!  Johnson, take the sergeant below.”  The whole gun crew was being unnerved by the bloody body.

“No-” Edmond pushed feebly against the straps holding him down.

“More morphine.  We’re almost finished.”

Edmond turned his head to the side, but the nurse held the mesh over his mouth and drowned him again in darkness.

Sweat ran into his eyes as Edmond looked down the long gun.  The air above the gun was hot and wavy, but he could still make out the distance markings and the front sight.  He coaxed the grinding gears into movement and when the gun had swung in front of the enemy airship he yanked the firing cord.  The cannon should have fired.  He had an instant to realize that it had not, and then look at it, before-

Now there was only the beetles.  Their sharp pincers deep in the flesh of his arm and leg.  Slicing and pinching.



Edmond opened his eyes.  Brown canvas flapped somewhere above him.  He opened his mouth to speak.  Dry.


“You’re awake, Captain!”

The room came into slow focus around the scratchy, blue, wool covered arm holding a shining tin cup.  Edmond tried to sit up and pain lanced through his left arm.

“Just take it easy, sir,” said blue wool as he lifted Edmond’s head to tip the cup against his lips.

Edmond swallowed. “Where am I?”

“Atlanta, or what is left of it, sir.” He said as he lifted the flaps of the tent to let in more light.  Edmond raised his right hand and rubbed his eyes.  The man had a box with bars in it embroidered on his coat. The lieutenant sat down in the chair to his left.

“Sean McIntire.”

“Yes sir, thats me!  Good to see you awake sir.” Lieutenant McIntire said as he pulled the blanket back up over Capt. Drake’s arms.

“What happened to me?”

“You don’t remember, sir?” He looked quickly to the entrance of the tent and then back to Edmond.  “The doctors will be back soon, I’m sure that a bit more rest, and something for your pain-”

“I’d like to know why I’m in pain, Sean.”  Sean opened his mouth and then closed it.  “At least help me up so I can itch my foot.”  Sean stood and moved to Edmond’s side, but did not help when he reached for the tent pole to the right of his bed and slowly hauled himself up.

“Captain,” Sean rushed to the tent opening and bellowed for a doctor.  Edmond grabbed the thin wool blanket and began to pull its great weight back.  He slowly uncovered his right foot, and the stump of his left.  He stared at the protruding shin bone and the bright metal pin that stuck grotesquely from the bottom.  His heart pounded as the stump filled his vision.  He reached blindly for the cot behind him, and realized his left arm was going through the cot.  Confusion turned to revulsion when he saw the stump of his left arm.  He reeled backwards, gasping in the dusty air as he lost consciousness.