The War of the Rebellion: Virginia, 1864


We had been told the house was abandoned, and so we had brought our wounded there following a skirmish between ourselves and a Secesh skirmish along the Virginian border. While I went about the business of establishing pickets, the men discovered that the house was still occupied by a sole young woman. She helped treat the wounded, giving up her home to the most severely injured of our unit.

It wasn’t until I returned almost an hour later that I discovered the men in the yard were in a stupor. It seemed to me that they had been drugged, and no matter how I prodded or provoked them, I could not obtain a reaction.

The air stank of magic, a bitter, biting scent that clung to the back of the tongue and stung the eyes.

With my Colts in hand, I entered the house, moving slowly and listening. It took me several moments to realize I could not hear the cries of the wounded, and in a house filled with men suffering the wounds of shot and shell, the foundations should have shaken with the sounds of hurt.

What I heard instead was a terrible sucking, as though some animal was feasting on the last dregs of a wet meal in a trough.

I passed by unconscious men, stepped over the near-comatose bodies of others, and crept up the stairs. I followed the noise to the far end of the house, and when I peered into the last room, I found the source.

The young woman was crouched over the body of a sergeant, his shirt torn open to reveal the wound in his breast. Her lips were only a few inches above it, and some hideous proboscis protruded from her mouth and was buried in the heart of the injury.

She noticed my presence almost immediately, but it was still too late.

My Colts thundered, and I blew her brains out along the fleur-de-lis wallpaper of the room. As she sank to the floor, the back of her head splattered across the wall, the sergeant died.

I’m not certain what she was, nor do I really care. I called in my pickets, and we extracted our wounded, and before we left, I dismembered the body and threw it down the well.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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