This is some flash fiction.

Everlasting, by Daniel Lobe

    

Nathaniel Johnson continued to march; it became more of a reflex now, almost dreamlike. Shredded and swollen feet left pools of blood behind like a crimson trail. Clothing hung off his withered frame like a child in his father’s shirt. A symphony of coughing played incessantly, as showers of phlegm spewed from infected lungs. The war dragged on like a mulish winter, endless and unforgiving.  The piles of limbs outside of the surgeon’s tent haunted him, terrorizing the mind like a gruesome nightmare.

 

 ”No one is hacking off my feet.” 

 

The soldier directly in front of Nathaniel weakly glanced back, but said nothing.

 

“No sir, I will die first.”

 

Nathaniel lifted his canteen and swallowed the last gulp of Pop Skull.  This was a putrid whiskey made mostly of turpentine.  It burned like acid as it slowly worked its way down his belly. The only thing that prevented the arrival of vomit was the absence of food, but it did send him into a violent dry heave. It lasted for what seemed to be an eternity, but eventually he regained some stability.

 

“This stuff is going to kill me before the Yankees do.”

 

Nathaniel wiped some bile off his chin, then squinted as he looked toward the horizon.  There, once again, was the strange crowd of people.  They were there every day, just before noon. 

 

“Look, the ghosts are here.”

 

The men began to slowly come to a halt as each soldier noticed the people in the distance. Once again, the oddly dressed group wandered around the open field passively.  They never spoke to the soldiers, or even recognized their existence.  They always arrived in an enormous horseless carriage.  The first time they witnessed this colossal contraption the soldiers engaged it. The cannon fire passed through the machine like it was no more than a beam of sunlight. These attacks were no longer attempted; the company had now been accustomed to simply watching the strange phenomenon.

 

The group consisted of different people everyday. Men, woman and sometimes children, they all dressed in unusual garb.  One of the curiosities that startled everyone had been the woman dressed in trousers.

Nathaniel always tried to read the words on the side of the horseless carriage. School was something he had rarely attended, but he could read well enough to sometimes sound out a word or two.

 

He limped toward the great carriage with his hand over his brow to shade his eyes from the sun.  The words were colorfully written across the machine as plain as day. He began reading it out loud.

 

“Get…Gett…Gettysburg.”

 

“Tour… tour… Tourist…Co.”

 

“Gettysburg Tourist Company.”

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