The sequel to a bestseller.
Unusual, but not unread of among writers, I am writing two sequels to my Amazon bestseller "Holding Richmond www.amazon.com/dp/B007CJKK84"
The soldier rose from the ground; his body racked with pain and his mind confused. He had no idea how long he'd been unconscious or where he was. He pushed his body into a sitting position and looked around to get some idea of his surroundings, all he could see was a mass of bodies torn apart from shells and bullets.
There was something else that he could feel; something not of this world had been here of that he knew, but his mind could not recall what had happened. Then he glanced at the closest body and saw the face of a man who had been burned alive. At this point, he had a vague memory that made him retch; "Oh Lord, we were fighting a force greater than man has seen, and I hope never to meet them again. They were evil beyond my worst nightmare."
He slowly got up and began to walk around, after a few steps he fell, his legs too weak to support him as he stumbled. Glancing around he saw a broken rifle on the ground; he picked the gun off the ground to use as a crutch, and he began to walk among the bodies.
He stumbled across the torn bodies of young men whose legs and bodies had got torn apart; it was plain to see that many hadn't died from the bullets but the loss of blood from the savage wounds of broken limbs and stomachs wounds.
Through tired eyes, he cried at the loss of these young lives. Before he could think what was going on, he was sick. Wiping his bloody hands across his face, he cried out "Lord, what happened? What have we done? All I can recall is endless fighting; we'd been fighting for so long I forgot what the war was over. One thing I am sure of is that it wasn't worth the deaths it caused, Lord. Why did you save me? There must have been more worthy men you could save; I was only a farmer before the war with no money to show for my years of struggling to feed the family. I doubt they are alive now."
Leaning on the gun he began to rise, his body aching as he fought to keep his balance and move. Through the foggy light, he saw a group of men wandering; from this distance, he couldn't see any uniform details, but the men appeared not to care about whose side they had been on only a few days ago; all they wanted was to get away from the horrors on the field.
The damp fog began to seep into his aching body despite the rising, and he sought a coat to cover his body. As he viewed the masses of bodies on the ground before him, he thought "It is not right, but they won't mind if I take a jacket as they do not need the coats."
All the bodies were so covered in blood from the battle it was impossible to make out what the coats got designed for, you could as easily chose a military jacket as you could select from a man of the cloth. All he wanted was a long coat, the nature of the former owner was not significant. Officers were issued thick jackets whereas a soldier got a thinner jacket that was waterproof. The soldier didn't care, he picked the one closest to him and put it on.
On the battlefield, the few survivors wandered picking the clothes of the dead off their bodies and trying to get some direction, but the war had taken men from their homes and forced them to fight in a strange land.
Men who days ago would have killed each other now walked side by side like the walking dead, none of the men seemed to know who they are, or where they were.
Without thinking, he crossed himself and said, "Will the country come back from the dead, Lord? All this death and destruction and for what? Are we better people now than before?"
He watched as the group gathered, and then as if by some message the men walked into the distance. He followed from a distance, he had no home or family, so any town would be better than living with the mass of dead he was standing in.
The men strolled, their minds trying to come to terms with the carnage they witnessed around them; in many places, streams ran red with the blood of the dead. Men gazed at the hills in the distance as if they some force pulled them to the limit of their endurance.
Days passed as the troupe walked to the hills, nobody knew what was beyond the hills; all they wanted was to get away from the carnage.
One man called to the crowd, "Does anybody recall where we are?"
Another voice answered, "The last place I remember being in is Richmond; we ended the battle fighting a force of demonic beings."
He stood for a while thinking what he could do after seeing so much death and destruction; those images would never leave his mind, the problem was how to cope with what remained of his life?
The soldier was far away in thought, so far that he almost missed a man asking him, "Can you save my soul, Father, after all this death?"
He blinked, and replied, "I am sorry, I'm not a priest, I only picked the coat as its warm and not to ripped by shells. I know how you feel, I was seeking a reason to all this death for myself, and I doubt I'll find one."
The stranger wiped the blood from his hands and yet on his way; rejoining the rest of the travelers. The longer the journey took, the fewer men would end it as thirst, injury and disease took their toll on the band. Finally, they made a town, walking down the street most of the men headed for the saloon to drown out the pain and misery. One of the men called over to the soldier, "If you're not a priest do you want to join us?"
The soldier thought for a few seconds, then he replied, "Thanks, but I'll pass; I don't think beer will ease my pain even if I spent my life drowning the pictures I see when I close my eyes."
The soldier turned to walk down the street; he had no plan in mind as to where to go, or what to do, then a lone voice called to him, "Do you think our paths will cross again?"
The soldier blinked in the heat, then replied, "Of that, I have no doubt. We will part company here, and you may take up arms to try to fight evil, and I may choose another way to fight the evil we have witnessed, but I am sure we'll cross paths again as I feel another path is opening for me." He strolled down the street thinking, "We saved Richmond, but at what cost? What did we unleash that was so evil we needed to band with the Union to hold back the forces of evil?"
At the edge of Richmond, the soldier came to a church; for some reason, he paused to cross himself and walked in. Shell holes scarred the old wooden doors, and the hinges bent from the force, but he pushed hard and slowly found his reward; the doors opened, and he saw the inside of the church bathed in the glory of the new dawn light.
He walked down the aisle to the altar and sat in the front row, only one thought crossed his mind, "Why me, Lord?"
The soldier glanced at the floor and saw an old battered Bible, picking it up, he saw the blood-stained edges of the pages; he thought "The people who came here for help in time of need were desperate and now they are gone. I can't imagine the horrors they knew, all I know is there has to be another way, Lord."
As he sat looking for a guide to where his life could go, a tiny bird flew in through the shattered window and rested at his side, the bird's wing got broken in the escape, and blood oozed from its side. The soldier tried to pick the injured bird up, but it fell to the floor and died, in his sadness, he cried out "Why, Lord? The poor bird never harmed anyone."
He sat in silence thinking of what to do next, outside he could hear the noises from the bar. He looked at the image on the wall, and said, "I know it isn't the right thing to do, Lord, but after all we witnessed I cannot blame the men for getting drunk as they need something to forget the horror. Their way is not my way, that's why I came to you, Lord. I need to find a way to help people cope with the horrors of war, not go on the rampage. I wish I could lay my gun down but this is a lawless land, and some men will take advantage of a man with no weapon. I realize this goes against your word, but you can see into my heart, and you know from now on I won't kill with no cause as I've seen too many lives lost in the war."
The man walked to the place where the broken altar stood and crossed himself before turning to step out of the broken doors and onto the street. Stepping outside he was met by the heat of the day, and a group of men fell through the doors of the saloon, as they landed one of the men shouted, "Are you coming with us?"
The man shook his head and replied, "No, I have my way to walk, but I am sure that we will meet again."
With aching legs, the man stumbled down the street to the makeshift shed that had once held the horses; the horses had long since gone to the war, but there was one remaining. One poor animal was in the shed; he was not in good health, so the soldier took pity on the beast and gave him some water and hay to try to aid his recovery. The two companions rested together while the soldier took a sip from his canteen as he thought what lay ahead for them. He was tired, and the horse was not up to traveling for distance anymore, so what he had to do had to start nearby.
The soldier raised his body and strolled to the door as the last of the other men poured from the saloon. One man called out, "Have you changed your mind; we're heading to Atlanta to join up with some stragglers from the war to fight the last of those creatures we saw here?"
The soldier smiled and said, "You have a destination in mind, and I have a destiny. I think the Lord is calling to me to do his work that's why I went to the church not the bar when we arrived. We are heading in different directions, but I feel we shall meet later; whether for good or evil is to be decided at a later time."
The soldier watched as the group headed out of town, a band of men with a destiny that nobody knew where it would lead them. He looked to the distance and said, "Lord, I am your servant now. Your work is my destiny; I will go where you wish if you will guide me through this unruly land. I understand your desires, but many won't see your light, and more will not want to see the light of your goodness. I will carry my gun, but only to defend myself, Lord, I've seen too many men die to wish to add to the cost of our freedom. One day, I hope to build a mission house to bring worshipers to your existence, until then I am at your service."
The hot sun beat down on the soldier as he walked to the stable to greet his horse; "I'll call you, Pedro, my friend; we have a hard and treacherous road to tread so we'd better get on our way."
The tired soldier and his aging stead slowly walked out of the town; they had no idea where the Lord would take them on his travels, the soldier knew that it would be to bring light to the darkness left after the war. The road became rocky and dried the more distance he put behind them, from this point, he realized there would be no looking back until his work got done.
The friends took to the road at a slow pace, the journey ahead was long, and they were tired; for now, they needed to find a place to rest as the sun beat down relentlessly on the parched earth around the travelers. It was a long time before the soldier saw what he sought, in the distance there appeared to be a small cavern that he could defend if necessary, not that he thought they would come under attack out here.
"Pedro, from here I have no idea where we'll go, other than where the Lord wishes us to travel. Before us is a wilderness of lost souls, I hope to bring some light into their lives; we've all lost a lot that we cannot replace in the last four years. The one thing I don't understand, and I probably never will, is why did the Lord choose me for this task?"
The sun beat down on the soldier and his new friend as they traveled across the country.
Sweat burned his eyes with salt and the heat dried his mouth, but he wasn't going to stop doing the Lord's work for a moment; he had found a purpose that he found worthy at last.
The track was broken and it drained their energy as they fought to maintain their balance, and to keep moving.
Day after day, the pair went on, days passed with no sign of life other than their constant companions - buzzards - waiting for them to fall by the wayside. The soldier blinked and felt the salt crack on his eyelids, but he looked into the sun and yelled: "You'll have to wait I won't give up, the Lord has given me a task, and I will do his work."
The soldier crossed himself and thought "I hope I'm worthy of the Lord's work; I don't think we can keep on much longer." Day after day, he stumbled on, the rest periods had become more often and longer as the journey took its toll on the friends. One night, the soldier poured out the last of the water he'd gathered during the cold nights and he said to Pedro, "If we don't come to a town by nightfall, today will be our last, Pedro." Noting the sadness in his tone, Pedro snuggled his master, as if to say, "Thank you for the journey, my friend, it's been a nice time."