The wind slinked around the hollow, somber trees, whispering warnings to us in a foreign language. Winter was on our heels and uncharted frontier lay before us, bringing an end to our momentum. Our column moved into the clearing without a sound. We ached for a stretch, to lie down, to walk straight, but experience taught us better.
An encampment lay ahead. The captain spoke with the commander, warning him of the enemy. Soldiers ate and laughed under the tent. My nose savored the smell of roast beef and gravy, my stomach groaned for it. Gwen shook her head and muttered under her breath; Carlos eyed the camp long enough to not get called out for it. But we did as ordered and marched around.
We were only fourteen now and that company looked like they could spare a few. When the captain caught up, I said as much.
“Not taking that chance.” His catchphrase. He was right of course. In Vermont, every soldier looked out for himself.
Gwen glanced back, turned and pointed. I spun.
They swarmed out of the woodwork, like hornets from a nest.
I looked to the captain. “Americans?”
“Some are,” he said, “and some are not.”
They sprinted from the trees, these ghosts from my hometown, lacking fatigue, sweat, and emotion. We drew our rifles, the soldiers in the campground scrambled around like ants. Mr. Carson, our frowzy old mailman who always stopped for a toke, charged directly for the camp commander. His arms flailed like a puppet jerked about by its master. He disappeared into the hysteria. My ex-girlfriend screeched my name, her voice like an eagle tearing after a groundhog in its sights. It cut through the clamor, and crashed into my chest. She stood stock still, so much that she looked like a mannequin. She wore an awfully mismatched outfit: a pink dress, green pants and her rain boots. I opened fire.