Thursday, October 3, 2013

Midnight Riders by Pete Clark


Enough with the Fucking Werewolves

August, 1758. Several miles away from Fort Duquesne.

“Oh sparkling lights of luminescence. How thine glowing eyes doth dot the midnight landscape and smatter your dust upon the earth. The stars are a billion tiny time machines. Their light reaches us from thousands of miles off. Some of that light, the very starlight by which we ignite our pipes, could be hundreds of years old. Ye glittering time machines of the blackest ocean. Oh to be among the stars, to drink the swirling mists of the endless realms of space, to whisk beside you, oh stars, pathways to eternity. Sweet blinking whisper of time, ye which-”

A musket ball whipped by and nearly knocked his eye out of his skull.

“Get down, Revere.” Daniel Boone reached up and pulled him down into cover. What an ass, thought Boone. Who the hell stares out into the night sky in front of an enemy rifle battalion? And he doesn’t even have a pipe. Boone was not one for speeches and waxing poetic. And he sure as hell wasn’t into carrying all the water by himself, which is what was going to have to happen if this silly bastard got himself killed.

“Which way did it come from?” Revere had not bothered to lift his head and he was still face down in what Boone hoped was dirt, but was pretty sure had been donated by the local horses.

“From straight ahead. Right where you should have been looking.” Revere may have been a fine silversmith, but he was dumb as hell on a battlefield.

“Ah yes. But then how could one keep watch when the sky beckons? Oh silver twinkle -what magic I could work with your gleaming metal.” He rose once more to his feet; Boone pulled him back down again.

“Stay down. You cannot be this stupid. It isn’t possible.”

Oh, but it was. All too possible. But what Paul Revere seemed to lack in common sense, he made up for in genius. He was a master craftsman. Although just a young man, he was already a famed silversmith and proud volunteer in the British army, the most powerful army in the world. Revere was also a very talented weapons designer, although this was more of a secret talent. All these skills would do him no good, however, if he kept sticking his head up into the night sky and got his skull popped by musket fire. Well, at least Boone could grab his three-corner hat. Sure, his raccoon skin hat kept him warm, but it smelled like ass. I mean, it was made from dead raccoon; why the hell had he decided to make a hat out of it? Alas, that was a mystery for another time.

“Listen Paul, my boy,” Boone began. “We have to crawl across the gap on our stomachs and drag the canteens behind us. If we stand, we’re toast because of all that damn starlight you’re so fond of.”

“Right, crawl. But it’s muddy,” Revere whined.

“Your face is covered in horseshit and you’re worried about mud. Listen, we crawl and we live. We stand and we die. So I say it’s time to get a-crawling.” Boone did not wait for a response; he simply tied half of the canteen cords around his leg and started to crawl. They were a good 400 yards from the western lines where the water was needed and probably at least a mile from the creek. They couldn’t stay here so they had no choice but to try and reach the western blockade. If they were caught out at sunrise, they would be screwed. Maybe they would get lucky and it would be the French. The French often took prisoners. But if the war party was primarily Indians, their chances of keeping their skulls well coated in flesh would be pretty low.

“Come on Revere, speed it up.”

Paul Revere preferred horseback riding to horseshit crawling but Boone had a good point. They had to get moving. The army needed water and they needed not to be shot. So it seemed all the logic pointed to crawling. Still, what a shame to waste such a beautiful night without at least writing a song. He started to whistle.

That was when twenty to thirty lead balls embedded themselves in the men’s immediate area.

“You whistled?”

“Uh,” Revere responded. “What do we do? Can we call a time out?”

Boone was already cutting the canteens from his leg as another volley of musket fire sizzled over their heads. “Run, you songwriting jackass!” Boone was up and sprinting. He was a young man in his prime, used to living in the woods and hunting for survival. He was fast and the musketeers, whomever they were, were terrible shots. Against all odds, he managed to run about fifty yards and dive down a slight incline that took him out of the line of fire. He again began to crawl, this time much faster, toward the aforementioned western lines.

Revere, meanwhile, simply stood up. It was when he went to run that he realized he still had the canteens tied to his legs. In less than half a step, he lost his balance, hopped briefly, and fell sliding into the mud. More horribly inaccurate gunfire flew in his general direction. The sliding motion dragged the canteens past his body and, due to the excess of mud or horse manure, they picked up speed in the direction of Boone, pulling Revere’s prone and flailing body behind them. As he hit the incline, he realized that it was cool the way stars looked as he glanced quickly at them while moving. More like streaks of lighting than individual dots. He also realized that this incline was a hell of a lot steeper than he thought and he was starting to slide at an astonishingly rapid rate. He passed a large lump that he realized was Boone. “Hi,” Revere said as he went tearing past him.

“You jammy bastard!”

Somehow, Revere kept accelerating right toward their desired location. “Man, this guy has got some kind of lucky horseshoe jammed up his ass,” Boone whispered poetically. He increased his crawl speed and started to wonder if the guards on the line would think Revere was some kind of new secret weapon and shoot the hell out of him. Nah, I never get that kind of luck, thought the future frontiersman.



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Genre – Alternate History

Rating – PG13

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