The gunfire caught me completely by surprise. The gillies had been randomly firing on us all day, but never had I been so openly vulnerable. At least in the lines there were others around you. Out here in the open, I had no protection. My horse danced beneath me when the first bullet whizzed by, and my companions shouted to their own mounts. Our heels dug into their sides as we made for the cover of the forest.
I did not realize I'd been shot until my shoulders slammed into the ground. The force had sent me tumbling backwards, off the back of my faithful horse. My head thumped against the dirt, leaving me out of breath and light-headed as the pain rippled through me like fire. Surprised, I stared up at the crystal blue sky. Clouds drifted aimlessly with a carelessness that I envied.
There was a pounding of heavy feet a moment before a dozen dirty faces peered curiously down at me. I thought that I was seeing demons. Every one of them held a gun, some even sporting a second. Metal gleamed in the bright sunlight. They kept coming, until nearly thirty men and boys were crowded around me, all staring over each others shoulders, trying to catch a glimpse of the "lobster."
Pain and fear sent tears to sting my eyes, and I silently cursed. My mouth was dry as sand paper, and sweat beaded my flushed face. Bruises on my back, head and legs throbbed dully, though they came in last next to the other worries and aches shoved onto me. My eyes slid shut as the tears started to trickle down my cheeks, wetting my lashes and carving paths through the fine film of grime that had settled on my smooth face. Why wouldn't they kill me already? I tried to look death in the eye, like a man. But I wasn't read to die. My fear was overwhelming.
When the first hand touched my uninjured shoulder, I nearly expired from terror. A million horrors passed through my disoriented mind, making me shiver despite the warmth of the day. Who knew what kind of tortures the heathen barbarians could concoct?'
Please let me die quickly,' I prayed. When nothing happened, my eyes snapped open, and I saw that a young man of about sixteen was crouching behind my head. For a moment I believed he meant to spit on me. A grimace twisted my lips, and blood ran from a cut in my bottom lip. I must have bitten it when I fell. The coppery, salty taste filled my mouth, and I gagged.
Instead, the boy spoke softly to a red headed man, one of a surprising few who still stood around me. The others had spread out to share their water, food and stories. I could not hear their words, but a low murmur of human voices drifted to my ears. It hurt when the boy lifted me up, but by this time I didn't so much feel it as recognize that I should. The red head that had directed the boy crouched down and prodded at my shoulder. Again, I knew that it hurt, but I was above it, floating somewhere on my confusion.
The Yankees bandaged up my gunshot wound. After talking among themselves quietly for a moment, they decided to move me to a family called Dunn's household. Four of them carried me a ways to the house. The widow and her son were still loyal to the crown, and promised they would look over me. I wasn't interested when I arrived. My eyelids were so heavy all I wanted to do was sleep. When the Yankees left, I did fall asleep, but my thoughts were haunted by thoughts of the lives lost, and suddenly I couldn't help feeling guilty about the gillies I had killed.