Below is a copy of one of my recently published short stories. Feel free to read. If you do like this story, then I would recommend reading my novel: The Space Between, once it gets published later this year.
ON CEMETERY HILL: By Shawn Brink
Posted on February 24, 2013 by Lori on http://www.flashesinthedark.com
Behind them was Gettysburg. Before them was Cemetery Hill. It had been thirty years since blood spilled down that slope. Yet, after all that time, the bloodshed still haunted Samuel.
He alighted from his carriage, and glared at the land before him. In one hand, he held an aged Bible while his other caressed his wife’s delicate arm.
“I must do this alone.”
With those words, he parted from her and started up the hill. She let him go. But her tears flowed in evidence that his departure was not her desire.
As he ascended Cemetery Hill, old memories descended upon him. It had been thirty years, but he could still smell the conflicting combination of gunpowder and wildflowers. Through his eyes, the air was smoky. In his ears, boomed cannons that had not fired for three decades. His skin tingled with fear just as it had in 1863.
In 1863 he had been one of many pawns in a game of chess. Lincoln and Davis had been the players. Many men served as game pieces. Many game pieces paid with their lives.
He looked back briefly and saw his wife in the distance. He almost turned back. But he resisted. He needed to do this. He had to stop his nightmares.
He ascended further and heard the screams of men. And when he looked down, he saw them just as he had seen them in 1863.
Some were slithering like wounded snakes. Others were struggling in tangles of their own entrails. Still others were too near death to slither or struggle. And for a lucky few, death had already arrived.
Perspiration soaked him as he navigated around these apparitions. He ducked as the pale form of a horse jumped over him, ectoplasmic blood pouring from its bullet-riddled chest. Then, with one final squeal, it collapsed and moved no more.
These were his demons. They had tortured him for three decades. But there was one that haunted him more than all the others. It was for this one that he had returned.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” he quoted from memory.
The war was not his fault, nor was the draft. He had killed out of duty, not pleasure. But this demon of all demons, this horrific manifestation that he had come back to confront was the direct result of his actions. He had molded it from nothing. He had given it life. Today, he would destroy it.
The Bible glistened from his sweat. Thirty years ago, he did not have this book. Thirty years ago, he had not known God.
“I will fear no evil,” he continued reciting.
Through the godlessness of war, he had found God, or perhaps, God had found him. How he had received such a great gift out of war’s horrors had always amazed him.
Ahead of him, through the haze, he could see the silhouette of the great elm. This was where the demon had been born. This was where it must now die.
“For thou art with me.”
Tears formed as he neared the elm. His heart pounded. His breathing quickened.
“Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”
At the base of the elm, the dreaded apparition appeared in the form of a man. He had never learned his name. Nameless, he had tortured Samuel for thirty years.
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”
Samuel looked down at him, a wounded enemy soldier. A piece of shrapnel had gutted him like a fish. He had propped himself against the trunk of the elm with his arms stretched out. His hands were grasping for something just beyond his reach.
Just beyond the man’s reach was Samuel’s Bible. But thirty years ago, it had not been Samuel’s.
“Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over,” Samuel whispered.
Samuel’s body shook as his sobs multiplied. He remembered what had happened next so many years ago. He remembered the moment that his demon came to be.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,” he was now crying through the words, slurring them as if drunk.
The man coughed up a mist of ghostly blood from his bluish lips. Then he spoke words from the past. “Sir,” he said with barely a whisper. “Let me die with God’s word in my hands.”
Samuel wailed. This was the origin of his haunting. This was when it had all started.
Thirty years ago, he had maliciously denied this man a dying wish. This was when he had stolen the Bible and simply walked away. He left the enemy soldier to die alone, utterly alone.
Now, he looked upon the Bible that had been his for three decades. He looked at it and could see upon it his tears and the blood of a dead soldier.
Samuel knew now that God had worked his treachery for good. That stolen Bible had become his road to salvation.
Still, he had sinned. He needed forgiveness. He needed to make amends.
With eyes closed, he handed the Bible to the soldier.
The soldier received the gift, thanked him, and said, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Samuel opened his eyes. He was alone. All the demons had disappeared. Even the gun smoke and the sounds of war had evaporated. All was as it should be.
The carriage ride home was silent except for his wife’s repetitive inquiry. “Where’s your Bible Samuel? Where’s your Bible?”