The War of the Rebellion: Virginia, 1865


The war is over, but I believe the killing isn’t done.

The Secesh graveyard is small, the markers made of wood rather than stone. At some point, someone will come and make these markers permanent.

I am not that person.

Tonight, while the rest of the nation celebrates, I wait.

My Colts are loaded and beside me. The Spencer rests across my knees, a round in the breech and waiting. My Bowie knife is still in its scabbard, but it is within easy reach. Henry, the dog I liberated from George Custer, sits beside me. He waits, as do I, for this one last act of killing.

Something has been rising from this graveyard, though I am not certain as to what it is. Word has been passed down to me, reports of the dead leaving.

As the sun sets, I light a lantern and wait.

My wait is not long.

The dead do rise. They climb up from their graves, and they bear their wounds. Yet these men do not seek the flesh of the living, they do not turn on me or Henry. Instead, they walk.

There are perhaps thirty of them, and they fall into formation easily, as old soldiers are often want to do. They travel perhaps twenty feet before they stop and face me.

It is clear they want me to follow.

I holster my Colts, shoulder my Spencer, and Henry, and I follow them.

We walk for a short time, to a field of battle that has since been passed over. An old sergeant stops, and so to do I. In silence, we watch his detail spread out across the field. Singly and in pairs, they stop, and when they do, they are joined by others. Men and boys steal up from the undergrowth, tired and worn and as dead as the men who found them.

I look at the sergeant and nod.

Without a word, Henry and I leave the field.

I must find some living Secesh who will help me bury the forgotten dead.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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