Skip navigation.
Write - Share - Read - Respond


This is one bit from a much longer story that I'm going to work on. The background of the overall project:
The setting is historically identical to the real world. In the outer corners of the world though- at the edge cases- bugs show up. Jonas is one of those bugs. When a firearm is aimed at him, it will never fire. When he holds a firearm, even an unloaded one, it will always fire.

The segment that follows is a confused recollection of his part in Pickett's Charge, during the battle of Gettysburg, roughly 20 years before the main part of the story takes place.


The memory smelled of hell; sulfur and blood. The wails of the damned were nothing compared to the roaring fury of the Devil’s own thunder. All thought fled before the pandemonium. Like Sisyphus, Jonas was at the bottom of a hill in Hades. A pack clawed at his back, dragging him back down into the abyss. At the top, the Host of Satan rained fire and blood down upon him.
Around him, the damned shrieked out their suffering.
He screamed with them.

One foot forward, another inch closer to the top. Someone shouted an order. Jonas was compelled to obey; thoughtlessly, he took another step forward.

At the top of the hill was a tree. Old Scratch himself dangled from a rope; his feet kicked out a giddy jig and each twitch called down another cascade of fire, thunder and blood. With the rope around his throat, he still managed to sing out his taunt: “Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!” The word meant nothing to Jonas. Not here, not in this pit. But he felt the sentiment well enough. The hate and spite drove the thunder into his ears.

In his memory, he climbed. At some point on the hill, he stumbled. Face first, he landed in the gore and viscera of those that had gone before. Before his mind identified it, he was again on his feet, struggling with the hill. He charged up, part of a swarm of the damned, become a red faced demon of his own.

“Take the hill,” he cried, caught in the madness. They were all mad to try.

“Take the hill,” his commander echoed, “or we’ll all be damned.” A bolt from above ripped the lower portion of the lieutenant’s face off. He fell to the ground, blinking and confused.

Jonas kept climbing. The shallow slope was itself a monster. The noise, the heat, the fire and blood conspired against him.

The screams faded. The thunder changed tone. Jonas stumbled again. This time, his shins struck a low stone wall, hastily cobbled to provide a modicum of cover. It was the top of the hill. Satan still danced from the tree, giddy and singing and only a stones throw away. For a moment, he felt tears of joy banking against his eyes. He had made it!

He stood, unreasoning, at the wall. The purpose of his fight was forgotten. Surely, he had done enough. What more could be asked of him after that?

One of the men on the hill saw him. He shouted something, but Jonas was beyond language. The man raised his weapon at Jonas, and Jonas stared down into the cave of its barrel, fairly certain that he should do something about this. Detached, confused, Jonas watched the hammer fall onto the cap. He saw the spark that would ignite the powder, and send a lead ball through his skull. In that last instant, he knew this was the moment of his own death.
But it did not come. The hammer fell, the spark came, and then nothing. No gout of flame, no lead ball, no death.

Behind the man, Jonas saw the Devil, still dancing and still cackling.

Jonas raised his own weapon. Now, he had a clear sense of purpose. A reason. He pulled the trigger of his own weapon and gunned the man down. The battle still raged around him, fearsome and unholy as it ever was, but it ebbed out of his awareness. Mindless, he turned to the next man on the hill, and pulled the trigger again. That man died, and joined the first.

The Devil laughed.

A third man aimed, and Jonas fired again. The third man died. Jonas began to feel giddy with his power. Behind it, some part of him was confused, and knew certain things were wrong. Man after man raised their muskets and aimed at him. Each time, the hammer fell, the spark came, but there was no gout of flame, no lead ball, and no death.

Jonas responded by pulling the trigger of his own musket, again and again. There was no pause, no reloading. It seemed that, as a reward for reaching the peak of the hill, he was gifted with the powers of the Angel of Death. He was free to take life and none could gainsay him. What power had bestowed this force on him?

Old Scratch laughed as he danced.

There was a scrabble of footsteps behind Jonas. While he reveled in bloodlust, another one of the men on the hill had slipped up behind him. Not a man- a boy. Blond, pale, streaked with combat, the boy had sneaked close. Jonas whirled, and fought to bring his musket to bear. The boy was faster. He used his firearm as a club, and struck a vicious blow against Jonas’s left hand. Bones crumbled, and Jonas lost the grip on his weapon. It clattered, no longer the angry sword of an avenging angel, but a broken toy, impotent in the face of true glory.

The boy’s face glowed with a golden radience. Satan’s laughter died in Jonas’s ears. Jonas fell to his knees; he crumbled in the face of that light. There was something pure about it. It was enough to strike him dead. The boy raised his weapon as a club. The polish on the wood caught the sun. The golden rays of the summer sun mingled with the inner light, amplified it and muliplied it and focused it down on Jonas.

He felt like an ant beneath a lens, and his last moment stretched out into an eternity. The light poured into him. It burned. It stripped away the last hold he had on his mind.
Before the boy could bring down the weapon, Jonas fell. Consciousness joined all the other virtues that belong to man, and fled Jonas. He fell, covered in blood and gave all appearance of death. He never knew what became of that boy.

That was the last thing Jonas knew for that day and many more to come.