The Turning of Zachary Degaud (A Witch Hunter Saga Short Story)

BOOK: The Turning of Zachary Degaud (A Witch Hunter Saga Short Story)
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Table of Contents

Title

The Turning of Zachary Degaud

About the Author

The Witch Hunter Saga - The Witch Hunter

The Witch Hunter Saga - The Return

 

 

THE TURNING OF ZACHARY DEGAUD

 

The Witch Hunter Saga Origins

 

 

Nicole R. Taylor

 

Copyright 2013 by Nicole R. Taylor

 

This story appears as a part of The Return (Book 2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes. If you are reading this book and you have not purchased it or won it in an author/publisher contest, this book has been pirated. Please delete and support the author by purchasing the eBook from one of its many distributors.

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story lines are created from the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.

 

 

 

 

Petersburg, Virginia

April, 1865

Z
achary Degaud was twenty-three years old, born in Ashburton, Louisiana, recently raised to Captain in the Confederate Army. America was at war with itself and he was tasked with the only thing he was good at; fighting.

Much to the disgust of his father, his first born son had run off and enlisted in the army of his own free will. He had no mind for business and the society trappings the plantation came with. That was for his younger brother, Samuel, to pursue. He was of a much more logical approach, where as Zac; well, he was good with his hands.

His newly appointed infantry unit had been stationed in Virginia, along with ten others. It was a chance to see part of America that they had never laid eyes on before, and to do what they had been trained for. Killing Union soldiers in the name of the Glorious South.

Zac had made it through the entire Civil War until now. If they made it home in one piece, he was guaranteed to make Major and then, perhaps his parents would be proud of his accomplishments. When the Union had attacked Petersburg, it had landed them nine months in the god-forsaken trenches, until the General had ordered the retreat.

The Confederates had evacuated the entire city after the Union had overrun their defenses. All their routes were blocked save for one. Their last remaining option was to retreat west and that's what they had been commanded to do by General Lee himself. Zac thought it was a trap, but they had their orders and they would follow if they valued their lives.

They'd been dogged by the perusing army and had been engaged twice in Amelia County. Now, word had it that Union Cavalry blocked their route to their safe haven in Danville. Their food was gone and morale was almost nonexistent. He had to move his men as fast as they could before they were cut off. But, that's exactly what happened. It was late afternoon when they realized they had been separated from the bulk of their forces. Three quarters in front and clear, but the last remaining quarter behind. Boxed in and cut off.

The Union Calvary line was advancing through the woods and would be in their line of sight any second. All thirty-five men of Zac's unit scrambled to form a semblance of a line, half their number standing and the other half with one knee to the ground directly in front. Zac was in the front and center, one of the only Confederate Captains he knew that would stand and fight with his men. The rest he considered cowards not worthy of their ranks.

As the first of the Unions came into their line of sight, he shouted, "Fire!"

The crack was deafening as the thirty-six rifles went off, white smoke billowing in front of them, the reek of gunpowder in the air. The sharp cries of the men and horses in front of them signaled that at least some of their bullets had found their marks, but the line was still advancing. Their rifles were designed for long range shooting, not close range. Most of the shots had gone right over the Union soldiers heads.

"Reload, reload!" he shouted to his men, who hastily dropped the butts of their rifles into the ground, stuffing their next rounds as fast as they could.

"Arms at the ready! Aim low!" he shouted, as all thirty-five rifles were cocked and ready to fire. They had to split the cavalry's advance so they could retreat. If they couldn't, then it would have to be hand-to-hand until someone was dead or captured.

"Fire!" The crack of their rifles split the air around them as men and horses fell. They were advancing too quickly for another round.

Dropping his rifle, he shouted, "Swords!" Steel rang as all thirty-five men drew without question.

"Legs!" He ordered, trusting his men to understand that they needed to cut down their enemies mounts if they had any chance. They spread out, swords at the ready for when the Unionists would break through their line.

They were thirty-five against a whole regiment of at least fifty, about fifteen had fallen in the wave of gunfire. As the first wave of Calvary came within range, Zac swung hard and true, hamstringing the mount that came up on his right side. The large bay horse fell to the ground behind him, barely missing his head. Its rider was flung headlong into a tree; a quick glance verified that his neck had been snapped.

The next line was seconds behind and this time Zac cut his blade to the left, nicking the horse's knee, but not bringing it down. Cursing, he rose to engage a dismounted Unionist who swung his saber wildly, with no aptitude whatsoever. Zac took advantage and ducked low, bringing his elbow up hard into the mans gut. As he doubled over, he drove his sword through his back, directly into his heart. Not stopping for a moment, he turned to the next man, disposing of him as easily as the first two.

Affording himself a quick glance about, he knew that they were going to be overwhelmed. But they were from the South. All the men in his unit were. They would all fight to the end, even if that end meant death. In that moment, he thought about his parents and his brother Samuel. They meant to world to him, but he wasn't good at anything else. He was only good at killing, the army his life.

He'd dispatched of six more men before he felt the biting pain of the bullet that imbedded itself in his chest. But that was only the beginning of his problems. Falling back limply onto the bloodstained ground he gasped for air, the bullet having passed through a lung. Then his second, Bragg, was above him, his palm over the wound, trying desperately to stop the bleeding. As he tried to speak, he saw his friend and comrade-in-arms' face shot off in a shower of blood and bone.

At some point Zac had passed out, but was brought around when he felt himself being dragged along the ground, none too gently, and heaved up onto something soft and lumpy. Weakly, he managed to turn his head, the blood that had begun to pool in his mouth running down his face. Then he realized two things. One; he was as good as dead and Two; he was in a pile of corpses that used to be his men. He didn't bother trying to figure out how he felt about that; he had maybe twenty minutes left and could probably spend his time pondering more favorable things. Like the beautiful lady he'd danced with at his parents ball the night before he left to come to Virginia. Raven haired with skin like milk, eyes like the bluest sky. He could ask a lady like that to marry him. He thought about his brother, Samuel. And his parents, even though they had discouraged him from joining the Confederacy in the first place. What were they doing now?

It was then that he saw a woman looking down at him, her chestnut eyes gleaming in the darkness. It had to be a hallucination. He didn't believe in god and angels, only life and death. She was straddling him as he lay on top of his dead comrades like some macabre devil.

"Dear Captain," the woman murmured into his ear. "Do you want to live?"

He could only cough, blood gurgling in his throat. The woman seemed to take this as an acceptance and to his horror; she sliced open her wrist with his bowie knife and forced the open wound over his mouth, flooding it with their mingled blood. He was forced to swallow several times, groaning as pain shot through his chest.

Then, as far as he could tell, he died. Just as he should have. But, the problem was, he didn't stay that way.

Zac's eyes snapped open and he found himself gazing up at the clear night sky, thousands of stars sparkling through the trees that sheltered him. Rolling over, he coughed loudly, blood splattering on the ground. He'd been dragged away from the pile of corpses to a clear patch of grass. How the hell was he alive? The gunshot wound was enough to kill him or he should have choked on his own blood at least. Realizing there wasn't any pain, he clutched his chest, ripping his shirt where the bullet had passed through. He was covered in blood, but there was no wound.

Looking wildly around, he found he was alone except for about eighty-five corpses. Everyone was dead. The Union soldiers who had survived lay haphazardly all around the clearing like they had just been flung there with no regard at all.

The woman he had hallucinated sat at the base of a tree across the clearing, watching him, and he gasped in surprise as his eyes met hers. For the first time he took in her appearance. She wore a plain green dress that billowed around her waist as she sat, her long curly auburn hair falling around her shoulders, drawing his eye to her cleavage. He looked away, conscious of her modesty.

He caught the low sound of her laughter, even at this distance. Pulling himself up, he dragged himself backwards, propping his weary frame against a tree. His heart skipped a beat in surprise as the woman was suddenly beside him. He realized she couldn't have possibly closed that distance in a mere second, it was as if she'd appeared out of thin air.

"Who are you?" he managed to rasp, his throat dry.

The woman smiled at him, smoothing his hair back from his brow. "I'm someone who's going to take care of you." Her voice was soft and musical, her touch reassuring and very real.

His brow furrowed, confused, "Ma'am?"

She laughed again, grasping his arm, "Come, I have a gift for you."

The woman helped him to his feet, but he felt perfectly fine, like that whole day hadn't happened at all. The dark forest around them seemed clearer, the wind through the leaves louder. He felt better than he had in a long time. It didn't make any sense.

She led him to the opposite side of the clearing, where a Union soldier sat against a tree, eyes staring vacantly ahead, the rise and fall of his chest the only indication that he was still alive. "I saved this one for you," the woman said, coaxing the man to stand. "He's the one who shot you."

The soldier was standing rigidly, staring straight through him. Zac waved his hand in front of his eyes, but there was no response. He didn't even blink. His eyes flickered warily to the woman who was now standing behind the man, their heights even. As her eyes changed into two black pools of nothingness she sunk her teeth into the soldiers neck. Zac gasped in horror as she began to drink the mans blood. Pulling back, she smiled wickedly at him, her mouth and chin red with the soldier's life.

BOOK: The Turning of Zachary Degaud (A Witch Hunter Saga Short Story)
8.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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