Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is not mine. Nor do I own the Civil War. If my will could have its way, it would never have happened. But John is my character, just an average soldier. But maybe not so average . . .
"It's only a mile," John told himself. "You can make it." But he wasn't really so sure. It was only a mile, yes, but it was a mile of open land.
He didn't have any time left to think about it, though. They started going.
Cannons fired. Guns fired. John's mind raced. For the first time, the young Virginian was afraid that he might actually be killed.
The fire was close around him. They were all moving as fast as they could towards the enemy's line. But was it fast enough?
The shot seemed to come out of nowhere. John fell to the ground. Blood stained his grey uniform. He closed his eyes, and he was sure he was going to die.
John slowly made his way back to consciousness. He groaned and opened his eyes. "Welcome back, mellon nin," a gentle voice said. John's vision was blurry, but the voice had a strange accent, like nothing he'd ever heard before.
"Where am I?" John asked, trying to sit up.
"You're in Minas Tirith," the voice answered.
"Wh . . . where? Is that in Pennsylvania?"
"Where?" Aragorn asked, confused by this strange young man. He wasn't from Gondor, or Rohan. He wore no armor, only a grey uniform. And he didn't know where Minas Tirith was even though he'd been found only hours ago on the field.
John sighed, lay back, and closed his eyes. "Never mind." He'd sort it out later. He was alive.
"How is he?" Gandalf asked.
"He'll be fine eventually," Aragorn said, "but he seemed very confused.
"Well, he's probably delirious," Legolas shrugged. "He lost a lot of blood. It's a wonder he's alive."
Aragorn nodded. "If just don't know whether he's a friend or an enemy. His armor . . . it's nothing I've ever seen."
"We can find out more later, if we're allowed the opportunity," Gandalf said. "Right now, we have more pressing business."
For days, John slipped in and out of consciousness. But at last, he opened his eyes and found his vision had cleared.
A man was by his bed, smiling as he opened his eyes. "How do you feel?" he asked.
"I'll survive," John replied. "What happened?"
"The others have left for the Black Gate."
"Black gate? What black gate?"
"You don't know? Then it is as Mithrandir thought; you are not from here."
"But the battle . . . the Yankees . . ."
The man looked confused. "Yankees?"
"You don't know . . . who are you?"
"My name is Faramir. I'm the Steward of this City."
"Steward? Is that like a governor?"
Faramir shrugged. "Probably close enough. What's your name?"
"John. John Baker."
"Where're you from, John?"
"Never heard of it."
"Where are we?"
"What's the last thing you remember?"
"We were . . . marching across the open field. They opened fire. I . . . I guess I was shot."
"Then we have something in common, my friend."
John sat up. "I guess I'll never know what happened. We knew it was a long shot, getting to the other side with enough of us left to break through. But General Lee was so sure . . . he made us all believe we could do it."
Faramir nodded knowingly. "That's more than I can say for our charge, my friend. We knew it was hopeless." Faramir closed his eyes for a moment. "'Where does my allegiance lie if not here?' We knew we were riding to our deaths." The Steward opened his eyes. "Perhaps your attempt was more successful."
John shook his head. "My heart tells me it was not."
"Then let us not speak of it. Come, tell me of this Virginia."
"What can I say? It's the most beautiful place on Earth! Fields that stretch for miles on end and every kind of tree, with fruit in the summer and beautiful leaves in autumn. And the ocean! Faramir, have you ever seen the sea? The gulls and the sound of the waves on the shore and the smell of the salt air? And the people are the kindest you'll ever meet. Gentlemen all, and beautiful ladies, and children not afraid to run and play wherever they wish. Or, at least, that's how it was. But now the land has become one battlefield next to another. The houses are burnt and the beautiful fields are gone."
Faramir took his hand. "The world I love has been destroyed, as well. Our fields are overrun. Children weep because their fathers will never return. And now none of us may survive."
John collapsed back onto his pillow. "Why are we still here, Faramir? Why were we spared?"
"Because there's some good left in the world - in both our worlds. And by the grace of some power above us, we may yet live to see it."