If you are ever under the impression that you have escaped some form of judgement, you are wrong in every sense of the word. All that I learned while fighting in the civil war had led me to make the conclusion that by doing something that is immoral you have pay back in kind, be it through punishment or redemption. Most villains and cruel men smile on their deathbed as they realize this cruel twist of fate. If you ever wonder if someone will find out what you did, buddy, they know already.
Now, being in the civil war, I had seen many horrible things people did to even their own brothers. I was enlisted by my father and I am pretty sure he expected me to die at the hands of these cold men. However, death was better than being seeing with me in our town. Locals would cut him looks and shun him for raising a coward, but in truth all I was, was a man that wanted some peace from trouble like this. In the end, I didn’t care who won, as long as the mass bloodshed had ended.
It is for this reason that I abandoned the fort I was enlisted to guard. I rode out during a break in the shifts, between nine and eleven in the evening. Two hours was plenty of time to steal a horse and ride as far as you could. The only thing difficult about my escape was the fact that it was so dark. I know I would have made it further if I had left during the day, but that was not an option. I would be spotted and a party would be sent out just for me with the express intention to kill me before the enemy did.
However, I was lucky. There weren’t any great trackers in the fort that could find my tracks let alone figure out where I was going. The next day I abandoned my uniform and rode as far as I could. Being on the run had given me such and exhilaration that I cannot describe. I knew that I would now be labeled a traitor to my country, although that was still in question depending on who would win the war. In the end, like I stated earlier, the only resolution I would desire most was a truce, a general forgiving nature on both parties.
That being said, I still fled. The horse grew tired on the second day so I decided it would be the perfect time to make camp. I set up a small campfire and waiting in the forest. Recalling now, that may have been the worst mistake. The army encampments were many and the forests watched closely as they would be ideal areas for ambush. Me, lighting a campfire in the dead of night, must have been lit up like a beacon.
The first shots were close-by, but the rifles were as inferior as the people using them, so I dove to the ground and crawled amongst the leaves, sticks and stones, watching sadly as my horse broke free from its lashing and ran for the hills. My situation was far from ideal, because it was then that I had soldiers after me. Luck kept me from being caught by one red-handed, but I was spotted leaving the forest and I could hear the pursuing shouts identify me.
I ran as fast as my legs could carry me, abandoning my uniform didn’t seem to matter, but once more in retrospect, that made sense. I could have been a traitor on either side of the army, therefore, as a grown man in casuals fleeing the battle-zone, I looked like a cowardly target. Running across a field and then over a hill I had soon broken line of sight between me and the pursuers.
Once over the hill I spotted a small house that had been set up in the wilderness. I ran towards it in the hope that I could hide myself amongst the civilians. I first saw an elderly man, he worked outside the house doing the laundry which I found most unusual. With him I saw another man, younger and most likely the older man’s son. I was hopeful at the sight of this, knowing that if the man could keep his son from war he could do the same for me.
I scrambled up to the old man and explained my situation. I told him that my father had forcibly enlisted me. The old man seemed to consider my unfortunate situation and help me inside the house. His son smiled warmly as he fetched food and water for me. For the briefest of moments I felt I was out of the woods until the man resumed his laundry. Amongst the clothing was a grey uniform that he scrubbed with care.
The son laughed as my face drained, losing colour till it was the same hue was the old man's moustache. He stared at me now with a hard stare and explained that there was no mercy for traitors. If he was another general he would sympathize since I left the enemy and not his affiliation, however, he believed in the old ways.
The young man was not his son, but lieutenant in the army that the old man led. I did not know his name, but he told me to write my story. A story that they would pin my hanging body for all to see. I will be dressed in civilian colours as well as the two colours of the army.
For those that find my body by you heed the message that the general leaves you all. If you believe that you have escaped judgement, that cowards prosper, that the unjust have a space in a higher place, you are wrong. You fight with who you fight, you stand where you stand. Only through punishment and redemption will you ever escape judgment.
To my father, you were right. It would be better to die in battle than die anywhere else.
Be sure to follow!