GothikAmerika by hockart
The man in the gray soldier's uniform steers his horse through a darkening valley. The winding ride has taken the better part of a day and exhaustion is clearly visible in his face, but the anticipation of seeing his family for the first time in weeks keeps his spirits buoyant. His mount crests the hill and he hears the delighted squeals of his sons before even seeing them. They spring off the porch as he finishes tethering his horse and tackle him to the ground. The horrors of the war are briefly dispelled from his tortured memories as he laughs with his boys.
He eventually rises and hoists the boys up by their belt hoops, dusts himself and his sons off and, arm-in-arm, the trio make their way up the cobblestone path to the house. Alarm crosses his wife's face when she sees her husband's tears, then immediately relaxes at the broad smile, knowing they are tears of overwhelming bliss. She immediately bursts into laughter and, following the boys example, leaps into his arms as he tops the porch steps. The boys chase each other around the porch, mindless of the passionate, giggling embrace of their parents.
A sumptuous feast is consumed and the family adjourns to the massive living room hearth that criss-crosses the father's face with flickering shadows, giving his face a devilish quality. The father regales his wide-eyed sons with a series of ghost stories, each more terrifying than its predecessor. He is a gifted storyteller and has the two boys tightly coiled around each other for protection by the time he finishes the gruesome tale of a Voodoo sorcerer, who - in his native lore - is the embodiment of Death itself. The sharp crack of the fat log in the hearth punctuates the end of the night's festivities and causes everyone to jump.
With a playful swat, his wife chastises him for getting the boys so wound up before their bedtime. He manages to keep a straight face as he pleads forgiveness on the grounds of the Hallowe'en holiday. Stern pronouncements are made of cruel and unusual punishments to be meted out after the boys have been put to bed, finished with an eskimo kiss.
As the wife disappears into the house to put out the lamps and lock the doors, the father marshals his two young Confederates up the stairs, reminding them what the Voodoo sorcerer does to little boys who don't do what their fathers say. He grins when the boys suddenly become silent as he lowers the flame of their ensconced lantern and wishes them a good night's sleep, clicking their door shut behind him.
At the other end of the hall, the backlit silhouette of his wife is languidly draped across the door frame to their bedroom, crooking her finger slowly to draw him to her like a piece of iron to a magnet. His approach is deliberately slow, and as he stands before her, the delicate surgeon's hand languidly slides over the swell of her hip, teasing the camisole open. The flimsy garment drifts to the floor as the husband nudges the bedroom door shut behind him with his heel to accept his "punishment" as a man.
The first thing the husband feels is blinding pain. The rear of his skull, which is wet and sticky to the touch, blossoms into inconceivable heights of agony. After what feels like eternity and with immeasurable effort, he is able to bring his sight and his thoughts into something that loosely resemble focus. But what his eyes tell him makes him wish he'd not regained consciousness.
The smear of impossibly vivid colors resolves into a tableau of deprivation: a group of drunken Union soldiers crowds around his wife's half-naked body, enthusiastically cheering on the labors of the one who was clearly their commanding officer. He doesn't need to hear her to know she is screaming through the stocking stuffed in her mouth. He reaches under the bed for his pistol and fires off a shot at one soldier, exploding his skull like a melon. The headless soldier drops in a pile to the floor as the husband quickly cocks the hammer and takes aim again. In spite of the fact that they're completely inebriated, the remaining soldiers, except for the one still raping his wife, whirl around and are on him in a flash, knocking the gun from his shaking hand. They hold him up, yanking his head around by fistfuls of blood-soaked hair and forcing him to watch the officer continue on his wife. But they're too drunk to maintain a firm grip and he manages to wriggle free. As he bounds across the room, the officer unsheathes his sabre, and in one swift flick of the wrist, slices his hand clean off without so much as a backward glance. The Union officer re-buttons his breeches and adjusts his hat, not knowing, nor particularly caring, whether his victim still lived.
He barks to his underlings to get their besotted asses outside and on their mounts, and the soldiers beat a hasty, albeit staggering retreat down the stairs and out of the house. The commander picks up his whiskey bottle and takes another long swig, then uses the woman's dress to wipe her writhing husband's blood from his precious officer's sabre, which snicks into its gleaming silver sheath. He uses the side of his victim's bruised and swollen face to light the match for his cigar, and then, almost as an afterthought, spits on her before trudging downstairs, whiskey drizzles lazily from the bottle.
He exits the house, dropping the still-lit match on the trail of alcohol before mounting his horse and riding off with his companions in the direction of the rising sun, a thick cloud of black smoke rising through the pines blanketed in morning mist.
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