An excerpt from The Revivers, by Adam Dennis

From Zombies?! Zombies!!

 


 

 

A new member to the group occupied the seat closest to the exit. He looked to be in his thirties dressed in an orange track suit and running shoes. A workout bag sat on the floor at his feet. His spare tire revealed a man that once had been in shape but had let other things get in the way as he got older. He occupied himself with a sugary glazed crueller eying the pastry obsessively while washing it down with a cup of Folgers. Debbie gave him a moment to finish before addressing him.

“And you sir, what’s your name?” She asked. The man snapped awake suddenly realizing his participation was expected.

“Me?” He said. “Oh yeah, I’m Phil.”

“Nice to meet you, Phil.” She said. “And how did you hear about our little group?”

“Um…a guy at work told me about it. I thought I’d check it out.” He said as he gulped down some more coffee.

“Of course, thanks for coming.” She said. “And feel free to participate as much as you like. No pressure.”

“Sure, thanks.” He responded as he headed back to the table for seconds.

“So now that we all know each other, why don’t we get started? Who wants to be first tonight?” Debbie glanced around the room for a volunteer. “Okay, as usual I’m just going to have to pick someone.” She turned to Mark. “Mark, would you like to get the conversation going?” He looked at her like she had a vendetta against him.

“Not really.” He replied.

“Please Mark. You should give it a chance. It might help.” She said biting her tongue. “Why don’t you tell us what you remember about what happened.”

The over-confident, dismissive adolescent attitude disappeared as he responded.

“I don’t really remember much.”

Mark had spent the summer before his senior year doing what most prospective seniors do before they start their final year, packing in as many parties as possible. Unfortunately, he chose to end the summer at the one party he should have skipped. The chosen site for the parents-out-of-town-raid-the-liquor-cabinet bash had been packed with a hundred or so drunken, horny teenagers each doing their fair share of damage to the unsuspecting home.

To avoid the long lines to the bathroom, Mark decided to take the easy way out and water the lawn instead. He was alone, drunk and stumbling around in the back yard as mom and dad’s new Panasonic blasted the neighbors. He found a suitable spot near the tool shed to handle his affairs. The far end of the yard stayed dark beyond the reach of the lights of the back deck. Mark had just relieved himself of the last five beers when someone emerged from behind the shed. A woman, if you could call her that, staggered completely naked into the back yard with one utterly primal instinct driving her…hunger, a hunger that drove her to kill. The medical community called her diseased; everyone else called her a zombie.

The living zombie stumbled towards him muffled by the blaring beats from the house and masked by Mark’s lack of sobriety. She slammed clumsily into Mark and grabbed hold of his arm. The two toppled over to the ground as she tore off a massive hunk of muscle with her teeth. Mark screamed frantically not feeling the pain, only the utter fear and surprise. His sobriety quickly returned as the adrenaline shot to his brain like a bullet. The smell of the woman sickened him, like piss and rotting meat brewing in a trash can for days in an August heat. His arm spouted a geyser of blood raining down on the leaves around the scuffle. He managed to yank his arm from her mouth but nothing more. Once he denied her, she fought harder.

“Holy shit! It’s a Reviver! She’s got Mark!” Mark could hear someone yelling but couldn’t recognize the voice. Seconds later, he heard screams as half of the party spilled out into the back yard.

“What do we do?!” He heard.

“Get her off him!” A female partygoer screamed in response.

Mark was losing the strength in his arms. She was small, but relentless. Suddenly, someone grabbed the woman and flung her off him. He barely looked up to see who had saved him and lay dazed and drunk in the grass staring up at a starry sky. The screams quieted as he managed to lift himself out of the dirt. No one offered to help.

“Oh shit, he’s bit!” A fellow reveler stood five feet from him breathing heavily and clutching a rake like a broadsword. A drunken gang of teenagers pelted the zombie with rocks as she shuffled back into the woods. Mark looked down at his arm. It was soaking wet with blood and dripping down his leg. His pants were drenched where he had wet himself unable to finish his business before the attack. The entire party stood in the yard gawking like they were waiting on orders to turn the rocks on him. Mark clutched his wound and walked to the street not saying a word. Still, no one attempted to help. In their eyes, he was already dead.

That summer marked the end of the epidemic, or so the authorities claimed. Rumors of random attacks circulated nonetheless. As time went on, the media coverage lessened. Theorists say that the government had something to do with the drop-off, but in reality, the public was simply tired of death. People wanted the disease to go away and just forget about what had happened. Denial can sometimes be an effective coping mechanism.

Mark stared at his forearm and shook his head. “As soon as everyone saw that I was bitten they looked at me like I was some kind of freak.” An air of sympathy fell over the group that had not been there before.

“After about a week I came back as one of them. It’s weird how there’s still a part of you that is aware of who you were. I went after a girl that I had had a huge crush on for forever. I ended up at her house…why would I go to her house?” He pondered aloud.

Scientists never had an explanation for what caused the memory overlap. There had been scattered reports of infected hosts wandering to their workplaces, schools, or locations that they frequented in their normal life. It was not uncommon for friends or family members in neighboring towns to be attacked.

“So, who was she?” Beth asked. Mark looked at her a moment before responding.

“Her name was Jennifer Lane…and I killed her.”


 

Read the rest of the story and more in Zombies!? Zombies!?

 

Zombies?! Zombies!! is now in print

Just in time for Halloween, Zombies?! Zombies!! An Anthology is live and in publication!

While sites like Amazon won’t have the book or ebook for another month, you can order it now via the new order page located here.

Zombie fiction, zombie poetry, zombie comic; everything for the zombie lover!

And here’s a sample, an excerpt from PJ Oubre‘s excellent story Caesar’s First Zombie War

Two of the legions with us had fought the lemures previously, however, the third legion had no idea what they were about to face.  Caesar rode his horse at the front of the train of soldiers; he always believed that he was responsible for leading and inspiring the soldiers under his command.   After two hours, we could smell the stench of decaying flesh emanating from the town.  This odor managed to rattle the third legion and I remember seeing smoke rising into the sky as we approached.  We found a city in ruins.  The town was ablaze and only a small portion was protected as the appointed leader of the city appealed to Caesar for assistance and described the account of what had happened.

Four months earlier, a family returning from the south had fallen ill and died.  A day later, the pale, reanimated family began to shamble in the direction of any living being and attacked them.  These walking dead began to bite anyone near enough and stupid enough to allow him to get close.  Within days, the western half of the city was consumed by thousands of lemures that the city leadership did not know how to combat.  They built a temporary wall to contain the undead, but not before losing several thousand citizens.

Salamanca was a significant town for the Romans since it contained a massive aqueduct that brought water to many camps and villages.  It was strategically and economically important for control of the entire Iberian Peninsula.  Salamanca was located along the Roman road (Via de la Plata), which was paramount for control of the northwestern portion of the peninsula.  This road gave the Romans access to the ocean and made transport of merchant goods vital.  Caesar knew that he had to liberate this city from the undead as quickly as possible or the water supply might be disrupted and fail to support the forces under Vetus.  He called together his troops and planned to invade the western half of the city at daybreak.  The night before battle, I had not seen him so nervous, for he was about to command troops in battle for the first time.  All of his studying and preparation led him to this moment.  He only had 8000 soldiers at his disposal and for many this was the first significant engagement against a true horde of the decomposing undead.  The moans of the undead trolled on for hours and the smell of decaying flesh tickled our nostrils.  The first sight of shambling former Roman citizens and blood soaked streets and walls must have been a disconcerting sight for the new legion.

Caesar kept 500 soldiers in reserve and utilized the remainder to fight.  He designed his troops to walk in tightly packed formations, shoulder to shoulder, with shields in front of them and swords poking between the front rows of shields, grinding their opponents into pulp.  He ordered his soldiers to march in formation five rows deep on each street and to rotate every hour to combat battle fatigue.  He knew that the best way to combat the walking dead was in slow systematic units that decapitated each undead.  He emphasized the need for each unit to work as a whole and that the only way to defeat their new enemy was by decapitation.  The challenge for this army was the fact that the undead moved slowly and did not always coordinate into groups.  Occasionally one would be overlooked and manage to bite a soldier, which caused the disease to spread into our ranks.  In effect, they had to break formation to combat the shambling individuals aimlessly walking the streets.

These miniature armies systematically walked each street and let the undead walk toward them and they severed the heads as swiftly as possible.  Caesar had ordered his soldiers to shout and bang their shields together in order to attract larger numbers of lemures making combat easier.  Apparently, we had noticed that the lemures were attracted to loud noise, which suggested that their hearing was more acute than under normal living conditions.  The idea that Roman soldiers had to alter their training to attract the enemy and let them come to them was a new and unusual concept for them to grasp.  Roman soldiers were accustomed to walking slowly in formation towards their enemy and devastate their opponents with methodical precision and destruction.  Caesar ordered them to remain calm and stand in formation and make every effort to draw the walking dead to them.  This required a great deal of patience and many soldiers did not possess the patience required.  Often, a pair of soldiers would break formation and go out in search of glory, only to receive a bite and quickly turn into one of the lemures.  Those soldiers stationed behind these street units, Caesar ordered to remove the decapitated bodies to the side of the streets for removal at the end of the day.

At the end of the first day, they had slaughtered 500 lemures and Caesar ordered the citizens of the city to erect movable walls to barricade each street recently cleaned up.  The reserve troops hauled the corpses to the camp outside the city and built massive pyres for corpse removal.  Caesar understood the need for sanitary conditions and conducted the pyres outside the city for this purpose.  I oversaw hours of burning corpses upon these pyres.  I also overheard some of the standard soldiers weeping in their tents (either out of fear or shame for being a part of such a scene).  War is a crazy spectacle and men react in ways as various as the stars in the sky; in addition, all of these soldiers had never before seen the reanimated corpse of the dead and this second shock caused many men to run in fear.  Luckily for us, Caesar had an inhuman ability to inspire the most uninspired soldiers under his command.  Caesar had gained two legions assigned to him that he had not recruited from his private army.  That first night was the longest of my life.

Remembering Return of the Living Dead

When I was six I went with my mother to a friend’s house.  This wasn’t unusual as the house belonged to her childhood friend who had twin sons my age who were now my friends.  I spent a significant chunk of my youth with and around that family, so being over at their house was business as usual.

What was not business as usual was the movie playing on this particular day.  Return of the Living Dead had come out the year before and their father had bought a copy of it on VHS just the night before.  And because he was kind of a sick twisted dick, he decided that playing the movie for a group of children ranging from three to 10 would be tons of fun.

The movie terrified me.  I mean, run out of the room screaming into my mother’s arms terrified.  And yet, it was also fascinating.  I’d never seen anything like it, literally.  I’d never seen what I now think of as typical 80s punk look:

A few years later I would try - and spectacularly fail - to replicate some of these looks in an attempt to look radical

A few years later I would try – and spectacularly fail – to replicate some of these looks in an attempt to look totally gnarly

I’d never seen a fully nude woman as Linnea Quigley’s character Trash does about 19 minutes into the film.

I’d never seen zombies or vast amounts of blood and gore and destruction.  I’d never seen a good guy, as I thought of dopey protagonist Freddy, turn bad and proceed to try to murder anyone around him.

The movie marked a lot of firsts for me, but perhaps it is most notable for being the movie that began my fascination with zombies.  Without seeing this movie 27 years ago, would I be working on my Zombies? Zombies! anthology today?  I really don’t think so.

And so when I saw today on Youtube that the entire movie is available streaming on the site, well, I couldn’t resist a walk down memory lane.  I watched the movie for a second time about 10 years ago and after watching it for a third time today I must say it holds up surprisingly well.  In my mind at least, but in my mind it’s been a hokey, silly experience since I was old enough not to be terrified of zombies anymore.

There’s really nothing hugely special about this outside of the morbid humor used at times, “Send more police” but it will always hold a special place in my heart.  It changed my life, which is kind of sad because it’s such a ridiculous movie, but I’m okay with that.  And so here it is in its glorious majesty, Return of the Living Dead

The Daily Ditty 4.8.13

The year 2005 is one of my personal favorites.  I started the year by traveling to Ormskirk, a small market town about a thirty-minute train ride east of Liverpool, England.  Liverpool, where the Beatles were formed!  I spent four months living there, going to school and traveling often to Mathew Street to visit the Cavern Club and its neighbor the Cavern Pub.

cavernpub

About a month after getting home I found myself working at Books-a-Million for the summer, and it was from there that I discovered the band featured in today’s Ditty.  Thanks to a mutual love of alcohol and live music, a small group of us meshed together that summer and became more than co-workers who were acquaintances.

One of those co-workers was the drummer for a local cover band called Two Way Radio, and the bassist in the band was married to another co-worker.  Over the course of the summer they would play weekly or bi-weekly shows around town and the B-A-M crew would always show up in force.  It was a very fun summer, full of what I grew to call three-day “drinkends” where my fiance and I would go out drinking with our friends every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night.

We drank a lot of alcohol, spent a lot of money and had a ton of fun.  And we got the majority of our youthful exuberance out in one final blast, as that September we would discover my future wife was pregnant with our first child.

But oh, what a summer.  Because many of those nights were spent at a Two Way Radio show, the songs they played now remind me of that summer.  They played a superb, eclectic mix of covers – from David Bowie and The Talking Heads to Ryan Adams and Modest Mouse.  This week the Ditty will be a miniature Two Way Radio playlist and it starts with Uncle Tupelo.

There were three Uncle Tupelo songs that made appearances throughout the concert and I’ve included them all here.  “Gun” is a fun song that reminds me of Mentos for some reason while “I Wanna Be Your Dog” is surprisingly good to dance to… but then again when you’ve had too much to drink almost anything is surprisingly good to dance to.  “I Got Drunk” could certainly serve as our anthem that summer, but regardless it, too, was surprisingly fun on the dance floor as well.

The Daily Ditty 4.4.13

I’ve been to a lot of concerts, seen a lot of bands both good and bad.  Between the ages of 16 and 22 I went to as many as I could with my friends, with my brothers, with anyone that wanted to go with me.  I loved, and still love, seeing live music.  Live music from a band I greatly enjoy?  It’s superb.

My first concert was a festival called Rockstock 96, thrown by Chicago rock station Rock 103.5.  Rockstock 96 was kind of a downer concert; one-hit wonder Candlebox and old terrible band Cheap Trick were the two headlining acts.  The station got it right the next two years as Rockstocks 97 and 98 were great experiences that I remember fondly, though Rock 103.5 would be dissolved in November 1998.

June1997 to August 1998 was probably the best extended year of concerts for me, personally.  It started with Ozzfest.  I’m not a huge metal fan, or really a fan at all, but that was a great show.  Black Sabbath and Pantera were amazing, and even Marilyn Manson – whose pathetic gimmick I despise – put on a fun show.

Rockstock 97 was two months later.  There were no huge bands at that show – I believe Megadeath and Faith No More were the headliners – but there were enough good bands and good friends with me to make it highly enjoyable.

Two months after that I went with one of my best friend’s boyfriends to another Pantera show that was one of the most insane experiences of my life.

In February of ’98 half of my high school turned out at the Aragon Ballroom for the Black Crowes.  We waited outside in line for about 8 hours in the cold Chicago winter and it was worth it, because we all got front row… most of us also got ridiculously sick, but it was so worth it.

Rockstock 98 was the cherry on the cake.  Another concert where there weren’t any huge major bands – Black Crowes, Creed and Rammstein were the headliners – but still so much fun.

The highlight of the year, however, was seeing the Rolling Stones in September of 1997 at Soldier Field.  Despite crappy nosebleed seats and the weather progressively getting chilly as the evening went on, it was amazing.  The music was amazing, the band was great, even the crowd was awesome.  And eclectic.  There were the college frat boys sitting to the right of us, in front of us a couple of old bikers in leather jackets and beards passed joints with a couple of businessmen in suits.  Behind us an elderly couple would get up and slow-dance every so often.  All around was a motley collection of humanity, and all of us were entranced for a couple hours by one of the best bands the world has ever seen.

Today’s Ditty is a clip of that very same concert at Soldier Field in 1997.  The music doesn’t start until the 4:30 mark and watching a concert via youtube video is nothing like being there in concert, but looking at it brings back memories of how absolutely amazing that night was.

The Daily Ditty 4.3.13

As a young teenager I had what I now consider to be piss poor taste in music.  I listened to pop station B-96 out of Chicago and pretty much whatever my older brother listened to, which was usually gangster rap.  Not that there’s anything wrong with pop music or gangster rap… but who am I kidding?  Pop music is an abomination unto man and gangster rap is mostly made up of guys trying to prove how tough they are through poetry.  But I ate it all up.

I’ll never regret owning Dr. Dre’s The Chronic as it’s a classic but there are some real stinkers in there that I am embarrassed to say I proudly owned as a 13-year-old.  All-4-One, Bryan Adams, Boyz 2 Men, Kriss Kross, Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer (not their one hit wonders, but their follow ups).  I cringe to think of some of my voluntary musical selections back then, but hey, I was a kid.  I dare almost anyone to look back on their middle school music selections and not cringe.

What saved me was a new town away from the ghettos where I’d grown up, and new friends.  One in particular seemed to take it as his personal duty to educate me in the ways of classic rock.  It started with The Beatles.

I was resistant at first, because I felt pretty set in my ways.  But then I listened to the music and something amazing happened:  I liked it.  These guys weren’t just good, they were amazing, and I quickly devoured everything of theirs that I could.  I bought as many of their CDs as I could afford and for a while in my house it was all-Beatles all the time.

It was through the Beatles that I re-educated myself and my taste in music.  Without them, who knows, I might still be listening to I Swear for the hundred thousandth time and sighing over long lost girlfriends.

In honor of the Beatles saving and refining my musical tastes, today’s ditty is my favorite “song” of theirs which really isn’t a song.  Technically its 9 songs put together in one awesomely glorious medley, the Abbey Road medley.  You Never Give Me Your Money, Sun King, Mean Mister Mustard, Polythene Pam, She Came in Through the Bathroom Window, Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight, The End, and Her Majesty.  All decent to great songs alone but together they are simply amazing.

For the ultimate listening experience, set the video to 720 resolution.  And Enjoy:

The Daily Ditty 4.2.13

I’ve been in love with the music of Arcade Fire since I first heard their debut, Funeral, back in 2005.  A friend handed me a burned CD of theirs and raved at me about needing to listen to them.  I declined at first, because the name of the band sounded really stupid.

A few days later I popped the CD into my old 95 Le Sabre’s CD player and they were okay.  The first song, Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels), was unlike anything I’d ever heard before.  It was different and just really really good.  I quickly found myself listening to the album over and over again, and to this day Funeral is one of the few albums I can listen to over and over again.

I’ve been a huge fan ever since, eagerly looking forward to anything they produce.  My wife and I finally saw them in concert back in 2011 and it was like a religious experience.  Just superb.  Enjoy:

The Daily Ditty 3.28.13

In my continuing attempt to make this the most eclectic blog possible, I’m going to start including a song that I find particularly awesome.  While my musical tastes run to a preference of classic and indie rock, I do enjoy all sorts of music, so I’ll try to be as varied as possible.

For the first Daily Ditty I’ve decided to use one of my favorite bands.  Some may think they’re overexposed and even overrated, and while those people are entitled to their own opinions I’m entitled to call those opinions stupid; except the part where they’re overexposed because that’s sort of true.

That’s also okay, because if any band deserves to be overexposed it’s Mumford & Sons who are one of the best bands around today.  Outside of classic rock, there simply aren’t many albums I can listen to all the way through over and over, but both Sign No More and Babel qualify.  And here is one of my favorite’s from their new album, a cover of the Simon & Garfunkel song The Boxer.  Enjoy:

Plum Grove, a short story by Lowell R Torres

From Hoosier Writers 2012 by Lowell R Torres

I spent the spring 2005 semester studying abroad at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, a tiny village right outside of Liverpool, England.  My favorite class that semester was the creative writing class, as it was different from every other CW class I’d participated in before or since.  One very different activity was a field trip to the Tate Art Gallery in Liverpool, where our assignment was to find a piece of art and write a short story about it.

The piece I eventually chose was Plum Grove, by Peter Howson and it depicted a brutal scene from the fighting between Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990s.  My story changes that setting to somewhere in the south during the US Civil War.

Plum Grove by Peter Howson, courtesy of tate.org.uk

A crow pecked and pulled at the man’s left hand.  The appendage was purple and bloated, but that didn’t deter the crow any.  It ripped off a piece of flesh and gulped the prize down with a quick motion of its head.  The bird went about securing itself another morsel in a business-like way.

Fran’s rock missed the bird by a good six inches and proved to be more annoyance to it than a threat.  It ruffled its feathers and cocked its head her way, one black beady eye glaring at her with what her mind’s eye considered malice.  Don’t try that again lass, or may be I’ll dine on you next; the look seemed to tell her.  Isaac’s rock was much bigger, and while he missed as well, it was enough of a threat to send the crow off with a disdainful caw.  Fran followed its progress to a nearby tree before her eyes were compelled to return to the man.

They had come upon him strung up to one of the plum trees as they played and raced through the grove.  Fran nearly ran right into him as she risked a swift glance over her shoulder to check how close Isaac was, and only her brother’s look of shocked surprise had saved her.  When she turned around to see what it was that had Isaac gaping, she gave a panicked yelp of surprise that quickly turned into a shriek of horror.

The rope started at the man’s right ankle, tied tight so that his leg hung up awkward behind him while the other one dangled on the ground.  Up and across his stomach it went, securing him to the thick limb of the downed tree.  After looping around his chest it went under his armpit and stopped at his left wrist, secured to a branch.  His whole left arm was sticking up behind his head in such a grotesque way his shoulder had to be broken or dislocated.  But the arm wasn’t the worst, nor was it his lumpy face, all cut up and bleeding and bruised.  The worst was his lower.  His trousers were pulled down, and instead of his man parts there was just an ugly gaping red hole.  Trails of dried blood ran down his thighs.

The area was thick with flies.  The air hummed with their buzzing.

“What happened, Sissa?” Isaac asked, his voice full of awe, but not fear.  Isaac was very brave for a four-year-old.  Almost too brave.

“He got lynched, you dummy.  What do you think happened?”  She didn’t mean to be cross with him, but her nerves were quite frayed suddenly, and she felt jumpy.  Her stomach fluttered dangerously, but she told herself she wouldn’t vomit.

“But he’s wearing the grays!” Isaac pointed out, as if she couldn’t see the Confederate uniform for herself.

“I don’t know,” she admitted.  How a soldier on their side could have been lynched, especially down here in friendly territory, was beyond her.

“Was there a battle?”

“I don’t know,” she said.

“Maybe it was a battle,” he said, though it was more of a question.

“I said I don’t know!” she shouted, and then shrieked again as the man’s eyes opened.  Fran was sure she was going to drop dead of a chest seizure at that very moment.  Even though nine-year-olds were too young to drop dead, she was positive there were some exceptions.

“He’s alive,” Isaac said dumbly.  He didn’t even jump, but his eyes were real wide.

One of the man’s eyes was so filled up with blood you couldn’t make out the color, but the other was a startling hazel.  Even though the eye was dull and glazed over with pain it struck her.  There was something about the color that was familiar, but she’d never seen this man before.  His gaze moved from brother to sister with a quiet desperation.  He opened his mouth, but only a dry click came out.  He cleared his throat loudly, and grimaced in pain.

“Water,” he finally rasped.  “Please . . . water . . . dying.”

“Was there a battle?” Isaac asked and stepped forward.

Fran was too stunned to act at first.  Her heart still felt like it was in her throat.  The man seemed confused by Isaac’s question.  He shook his head, like he was trying to clear it of cobwebs, and then repeated his plea for water.  Fran noticed two his two front teeth were missing, the gums bloody.

“What happened, mister?” she brought herself to ask.  She wanted to run away, run home.  The smell of him and the sight of the flies crawling in and out of the hole in his crotch made her feel faint, and even more sick.  But her curiosity overwhelmed those feelings.

“It was a battle, wasn’t it?” Isaac asked again, and Fran contemplated punching him in the nose.

“It weren’t no battle, you stupid!” she spat at him.  “There would be bodies everywhere and we would’a heard it.”  Isaac just rolled his eyes at her, and then looked at the soldier again.

“Please . . . water,” he pleaded, voice full of pain.  “She . . . she wanted to . . . was willing . . . swear . . . God!”  This last word he said with vehemence, as if invoking the name of the Holy Father explained it all.  Fran didn’t think it explained anything.  “Please . . . water . . . please.”  She understood that much.

Fran turned to go, then remembered her brother.  She grabbed Isaac’s sleeve and tugged, but he resisted her.  The dying man entranced him.  Fran had seen all she wanted to see of the man, but she pitied him so much she would get him some water.

“Come on, Isaac,” she urged, but her brother ignored her.  To her complete and utter horror he reached out a hand and touched the man’s outstretched leg.

That was when their father arrived.

“What are you children doing?” he boomed in his angry voice.  Fran turned to look at him in helpless mute appeal.  Isaac jumped back so fast he tripped on a root and fell onto his bottom with a teeth-rattling thud.

“Francis made me!” he wailed, and then started crying.

“You rotten lying little!” she shrieked and kicked him in the leg, which made him start bawling even louder.  He looked at Father as if that proved his point.  Fran was relieved to see that Father didn’t seem to believe Isaac’s lie.  He marched forward and pulled Isaac to his feet.

“You both get home right this instant, or I’ll be tanning both your hides!”

“He wants water,” Isaac said as Fran tried pulling him away.  Father glowered at them for a moment, and then his face softened.

“I come to bring him something better than that,” he said, and Fran noticed the big bayonet sticking out of his waistband.  “You children get on now.”

Fran obeyed her father and drug Isaac after her.  She was still mad about his blaming her, but he was a little devil like that.  At the end of the row she turned back for one last look.  Her father was talking to the soldier, who was nodding his head slowly.  The man said one last thing, and then her father drove the knife into the man’s heart.

The soldier’s body gave a shudder, and was still.