The War of the Rebellion: South Carolina, 1865


He screamed as he came rushing up from the depths of the trench.

It was not the rebel yell, nor any other sort of war cry which issued forth from his blood-flecked and foaming mouth.

No, this was a scream of pure terror and agony, his eyes wide with a fear few men have ever survived, and one he was certain not to.

I had both Colts drawn and leveled on him as he came to a halt, his bare feet skidding on the dirt. He looked past me, through me, as though I wasn’t there. Perhaps, at this point in his life, nothing existed save the pain. I watched as he ripped up his shirt and clawed at his belly, and it was then that I saw his stomach. It writhed and undulated as if there was something sinister beneath the skin, and in a moment, the Secesh in front of me proved there was.

Blood exploded from his mouth as he gouged out a space in his stomach, reaching in and pulling out a handful of his own entrails. He collapsed backward as an unknown creature snapped and howled within the confines of his belly. There was a brief expression of relief on the Secesh’s face, and then he was dead.

But his stomach did not cease.

In fact, the unseen creature redoubled its efforts, and I knew it would be a matter of moments before it chewed through the dead man’s entrails.

I stepped forward and unloaded one of the Colt’s into the dead man’s belly, only to see the creature’s head appear.

It had more eyes than a spider, and it had legs reminiscent of a crab. The damned thing shrieked when it saw me and tore itself a wider hole in its attempt to escape its now rotting prison.

With the other Colt, I blew it to pieces. Then, as it lay twitching half in and half out of the dead man, I stepped forward and crushed it beneath my bootheel.

A foul stench escaped from its carapace, and as a last act, I set man and beast afire.

Standing upwind from them, I loaded a pipe, lit the tobacco, and wondered how the in hell I would clean my boot.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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