The War of the Rebellion: Bull Run, 1861


The Secesh gave us a sound beating, of that there was no doubt. Nor was there any doubt that something came up through the blood-soaked earth of the battlefield to feast on our comrades in their hasty graves.

I slipped through the picket lines and made my way toward the battlefield late one night, armed with little more than my Colts and my knife. I wore my uniform because I’d be damned if I was going to be hung for a spy.

It was near midnight, and a small watering hole when I first heard the grating sound of chewing. The noise was offensive, and a sure sign of what I had feared to find.

The graves, which had been close to the surface, had been excavated, and not by human hands. What had done the deed were ghouls, brazen and blood-drunk, as they draped themselves across corpses, sodden uniforms pulled aside to reveal vicious wounds and the marks of inhuman teeth.

There were three of them, and when they caught my scent on the shifting wind, they did not run as their kind are wont to do. Instead, they licked their lips and peered at me with insatiable eyes. It was plain to see that they were considering whether to kill me, deciding if it would be worth their while to butcher me and set me aside for later.

I disabused them of any such notions, though it was difficult.

I put a round through the head of each and drew my Bowie knife to hack off the heads. But the damned things were a sight stronger than I had suspected, and no sooner had I decapitated the first than the other two were regenerated enough to attack.

In the end, I repeated the process twice more and was worse off for it. My clothes were torn and one Colt needed to be reloaded.

As I threw the heads into the water and left the bodies where they lay, the baying of Secesh dogs reached my ears.

I spent the remainder of the night, making my way back to my own lines, stinking like something far worse than death.

It was, I realized, going to be one hell of a war.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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