The War of the Rebellion: Virginia, 1865

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Sometimes, the only monsters I find are men.

I came upon the encampment shortly after noon and found no enlisted men, only officers, a lady, and a dog.

When I had first entered the encampment, I had heard laughter and raised conversation. As I passed along the center road, glancing at the various structures, I had seen a great deal of fresh supplies. Meat, fruit, casks of wine, and a healthy selection of liquors. There were even barrels of beer and kegs of tobacco.

Yet there were no soldiers that I could see.

I suppose that is why the officers and their guest fell silent when they saw me approach. When I reached them, I came to a stop. When I did not salute, an officer in a ridiculous hat demanded to know my business.

“I’m passing through,” I explained.

“Then you best continue, sergeant,” the man ordered.

“Where are the men?” I asked.

The officers snickered, and the lady let out a pleasant laugh.

I didn’t smile.

“There are no men here,” the man replied, patting his dog. “We are the only ones.”

“You’ve enough supplies for a brigade, at least,” I remarked.

“For the right buyer, yes,” the man stated. “However, no one has been willing to meet our price yet, so the food will sit where it is and rot.”

“There’s an artillery unit back a ways that needs fresh food,” I told him, lowering my hands to my Colts.

None of them noticed my movements, and the woman pointedly yawned.

“Yes, we’re well aware of that,” the officer in charge replied. “Their colonel refuses to pay the price, so his men and his horses will starve.”

“No. They won’t,” I told him and drew both Colts.

The group burst out laughing and only stopped when I blew the woman’s brains out. The men went for their weapons, and I put them all down as their dog ran away. When the echoes of my Colts faded, only the officer in charge was still breathing. I had shot him in the groin and he knew he was dying.

“Do you me to end it?” I asked.

He nodded, sweat standing out on his forehead from the pain.

“Hm. Those boys wanted to eat, too.”

I cleaned my Colts and watched him bleed out.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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