Feedback: Yes please, but be gentle this is my first fan fic, so please donít trash it.
Disclaimer: I donít own the Magnificent Seven some people far more fortunate than I have that pleasure. Please donít sue me Iím not making any money, you probably wouldnít want to anyway the lawyer you hire would probably cost more then Iím worth anyway.
Authors Notes: This story was not betaed, you have been forewarned. Like I said this is my first fan fic so Iíd just like to state once again to be fair; now on with the show.
Virginia, November 1863
Sergeant Chris Larabee and Corporal Buck Wilmington sat at camp waiting for roll call on the cool, damp November morning.
Chris and Buck quickly got up and headed to their posts to aid their squad in taking the roll call. The whole company had been on edge as of late. They had been running into Confederate forces left and right and by all accounts, they were not fairing all that well against the Rebels. While they had been ending the lives of a fair amount of the Confederates they had also lost or had many men wounded. At this point they were waiting to get replacements, so they would be severely outnumbered should they come upon rebel forces.
Chris took the sheet that held all the names of the remaining men in the company and couldnít help but frown at the names that for one reason or another were no longer on the list. Chris began with company A while Buck did company B.
"Anderson, Akerly, Baker, Coffland, Cummings!" Chris began shouting out.
Meanwhile Buck on the other end was shouting to his group in alphabetical order. Within five minutes roll call was done and the group was ready to move out under Major Patrick J. Dunehue. The major was a good man and had earned the respect of every man under him including Sergeant Larabee and Corporal Wilmington, who, due to the severe losses sustained by the group, were currently the third and fourth highest ranking officers, respectively.
An hour and a half later the infantrymen found themselves marching through the somewhat isolated woods by a very dull swampy looking pond that had steam rising off it creating an eerie setting as they walked through what was obviously a former battlefield. This was made apparent in the overcast, pre-dawn day by the crimson stains that seemed to have completely absorbed themselves into the ground and the bodies that were left, shamefully, unburied by both Union and Confederate soldiers.
"Halt!" commanded the Major from the front of the procession. "Men, Get shovels or anything else that can dig a hole. Youíll bury ALL the dead, Union and Confederate." Many of the men complained that they had to bury the Confederate soldiers as well. However Chris didnít complain, he had respect for the dead and knew that they all deserved a burial.
They began by separating the Union and Confederate soldiers; following the superstition that the two groups shouldnít be buried to closely together or the spirits of the dead could never find peace, they decided to bury Union Soldiers on one side of the swamp and the Confederate soldiers on the other side. Chris and Buck had started to head over to the other side of the pond where theyíd begin digging the graves. He walked over and began dragging Confederate soldiers over to where he and Buck were digging. He couldnít help but look at them and to his surprise when he did he didnít see the enemy, he was young men and boys.
Within thirty minutes Chris and several others had gotten most of the Confederate soldiers buried and Chris was looking around to make sure he hadnít missed any. As it turned out he had. On the edge of the bank of the pond, not more than twenty feet away from him he saw the gray overcoat, stained with blood, of a Confederate soldier. He walked over and reached down to grab the young man, when he saw the very young soldiers face. He was just a boy, that much was obvious. However upon further inspection Chris found something that frightened him much more than the soldiers young age. Chris could see the young manís eye lids fluttering slightly, he listened closely and could hear wheezing breaths. Chris was definitely caught off guard. Out of all the dead men heíd seen this one almost looked more dead then the rest, if that were possible. His lips were a dark shade of blue and his face was pale white, you might say it was colorless. His neck was covered in blood and you could see that he had suffered some sort of wound there. There was deep line of exposed, and bloody flesh the span from the young mans jaw line down to his collarbone. Twenty-one years-old, Chris really didnít know what to do, so he yelled out, "Major!" while he continued to inspect the area and the bizarre situation. He wondered why the young soldier had survived when all the others had died. Chris continued to scan the area, forgetting momentarily that he had called for the Major. Then he saw it. An Artillery wagon. One that had most likely carried supplies. It stood, flipped over on itís side, and looked like the Confederate soldiers may have done that to provide themselves with cover. It was adorned with ugly scars from bullets and shrapnel. He turned back to the young man fighting for his life and realized that for some reason he must have stayed behind the wagon by himself, when the others left. That still really didnít make sense though.
"What!" Major Dunehue yelled back cutting through and effectively ending Chrisí ruminations of what had actually happened there. The Major was somewhat peeved that the Sergeant would be yelling for him, it was disrespectful and he expected more than that from Larabee.
"With all due respect, sir, I really think you should come over here and see this!"
"Alright Larabee, Iím coming, but this better be damn good!"
It didnít take long for the Major to make his way over to Larabee. "So what, Larabee, a dead body thatís all weíve seen all day..." The Major had planned to continue chastising Larabee for bringing him to see the young, dead Confederate soldier when Chris did something very unprecedented, he interrupted the Major.
"No, Major, heís alive!" As if on cue the young man in question awoke and bolted into a sitting position upon realizing he was surrounded by union soldiers, again.
"Holy Hell," the Major stated almost in a whisper.
The young man began a coughing fit. Blood was making its way out the young mans mouth and he was choking on it. At this point, the scene had garnered the attention of all the soldiers and they were all watching to see how the major would deal with the wounded enemy.
Surprisingly, the Major firmly, but at the same time gently began slapping the young confederate in the back to help him stop choking. Which, even more surprisingly, worked and the young man slowly began to regain his breath.
"Get back to work, men!" the major shouted, "This isnít your entertainment! Larabee, help me get this guy up and over to that tree. Everybody else back to work! Iím not gonna say it again! Letís go!"
Chris and the Major picked the still dazed and confused soldier of the ground by the arms and half carried, half dragged him to a tree he could sit against.
"Whatís your name?" the major asked the young confederate.
"Standish, Ezra Standish," he answered curtly.
"Alright Standish, Whatís your rank?"
"Corporal," his voice was quiet, his neck wound taking a toll on the soft southern drawl.
"How old are you?"
"I donít have to answer that!" Ezra answered as defiantly as he could.
"You do, if you know whatís good for you," the Major quietly admonished.
"No I donít!"
"If you donít Iím gonna bury you with all your dead comrades," the Major stated in that same quiet, threatening tone. Both Chris and Ezra paled but the Major was surprised that his threat didnít immediately get Corporal Standish ready to answer any question.
"Major, you caÖ" Chris started, but the Major quickly cut him off.
"I can and I am, if he donít start talkiní, and Larabee, you will not question my authority, is that understood?"
"Yes sir," Chris answered.
"Now, Standish, youíre age?"
"15," came the hoarse, pain-filled voice.
"15," the Major sighed, he had been afraid of this, "Well, tell me what happened here."
"Iím not sure, it all happened very quickly, one minute we were marching, whistliní Dixie and the next we were under heavy fire. We returned the fire and got the cannon shootiní. Iím in artilery so I was behind the cannon settiní the level so it would fire straight. The next thing I know thereís blood gushiní out of my neck and everything went black. I guess the cannon must have blocked some of the shrapnel from hittiní me. I also remember us flipin over the artillery wagon for cover. We used it fer cover fer awhile, then I got hit. After that all my memories of the fightiní are a blur, the last thing I clearly remember is back when we were marchiní. But I reckon they musta figured I was dead, so left me behind with everybody else," Ezra quietly finished, finally becoming oriented enough to look around and notice the crimson blood stains on the ground all around him. Normally, a soldier wouldnít have devulged so much information to the enemy, even if the information was of no use to them. However, at that moment Ezra wasnít a soldier, he was a fifteen year old kid who had almost died, got left behind for dead to almost be captured by a feared enemy, and now he was just scared, and rightfully so.
"Larabee, get something to bind him up with, ropes or handcuffs I donít care but weíre takiní him prisoner so go and find somethiní!"
In about ten minutes Chris came back, with handcuffs. "Major, I got these to bind him up with and Corporal Wilmington here brought some water to clean his wound with, is that alright Major?"
"Yes Larabee, Wilmington, thatíll be fine. Bind him, and clean him up."
"Yes sir!" the two answered in unison.
They handcuffed Ezraís hands; he gave them no resistance. Then they cleaned his wounds; this garnered little more than a moan of pain from the young Corporal.
When theyíd finished the Major told them to go and get back to helping the others. Heíd keep an eye on their docile prisoner.
Forty-five minutes later Buck and Chris had returned from their work to report to the Major.
"Major," Chris began, but he stopped when he saw the obviously startled Majorís pale pallor. Although it was somewhat hard to see the majorís face because he had his back to Chris and Buck and he held his arms in front of him. "May I ask sir, whatís wrong?"
"Yeah sir, is everything alright Major?" Buck quietly seconded, feeling extremely uneasy that his normally calm, levelheaded, downright unshakable commanding officer looked so damn pale.
"Do you hear that?" the Major quietly, almost hopefully asked.
"Hear what?" Chris asked.
"Dixie, those damn Rebs whistling Dixie?"
"Sir, I donít hear anything," Chris stated suddenly wishing heíd never found the Reb named Ezra Standish, because his gut told him that Standish was at the heart of Major Dunehueís strange behavior.
Buck was looking around and couldnít find Standish anywhere. "Major, if I may ask, whereís the prisoner?"
It was then that the Major turned around and Chris and Buck could see the pale face of their commanding officer more clearly. However it wasnít his face that surprised them the most. What surprised the two young men even more then their commanders pale face was that the handcuffs that they knew to be the ones that had bound Standish now bound the Majorís own hands.
"Jeez, Major how in hell did that happen?" Buck asked, forgetting momentarily he shouldnít talking to his commanding officer that way.
However at this point the major really didnít care he had to tell his story before he went completely insane. "Well Boys, Iíll tell ya what happened. I was standing here when this strange feeling came over me and the sounds of all you boys talking went out of my mind and all I could here was the faint sound of them damn Rebs whistling Dixie. So I turned to Standish to tell him to shut his mouth but he wasnít sitting there anymore and I looked down and I was wearing his handcuffs. I looked up to try and find him and I saw him walking away through the woods over there," the Major gestured with his still handcuffed hands towards the woods in the opposite direction, "and I saw him, I yelled to him, and he turned, he was so pale, his lips were so blue, and the blood stains on his uniform were so red. The whistling of Dixie became a little louder, it sounded real weird like it was coming from the ground and he looked at me awhile then he started singingÖ"
At that moment the strange feeling that had encompassed the major earlier now took not only the major but Buck and Chris as well. They could all hear the whistling that rose from the ground filled with all the rebel soldiers. Then they heard the quiet, ghostly singing:
"I wish I was in the land of cotton,
Old times there are not forgotten;
Look Away! Look Away! Look Away! Dixie Land."
Four Corners, 1879
Chris Larabee awoke with a start and in a cold sweat. He had been reading a book outside the saloon when he awoke. Due to the jerk his body had made when he awoke so suddenly the chair beneath him tipped and he fell to the boardwalk hard. In common Chris Larabee style he quickly regained his composure from both his fall and flashback that came in the form of a dream. Damn, was that kid back in Virginia really Ezra, we were all convinced he was a ghost.
Chrisí musings were put to an end when he heard that familiar soft southern drawl that could easily be the one from so long ago. "Mr. Larabee, are you uninjured?" Ezra asked with a smirk on his face.
Chris got up to face the smart mouth gambler ready to threaten him with severe bodily harm if he didnít get that smirk of his face, momentarily forgetting the possibility of their shared past, when he noticed a very light, almost unnoticeable scar that ran across Ezraís neck. He recalled the wound that he himself had cleaned on the young Confederate soldier. Then he remembered the bizarre happenings. The Majors insanity, which Chris had heard the Major had recovered from (although he never would listen to Dixie again). Then he thought about when that same feeling came over Buck and him. When it happened he really did feel crazy. It was hard to explain but just thinking about the ghostly sounds of Dixie made him feel crazy. It sounded like the singing and whistling was coming right out of the ground, almost like the dead and buried Confederate soldiers were the ones singing and whistling.
"Ah, Ezra, er, um were you in Virginia during the war? You fight? I mean you ever whistled Dixie? Ahh, never mind!" Chris stated, very frustrated, and mad at himself for even saying anything. He always looked and sounded so stupid when he talked about it and now he had said something to Ezra of all people. Oh, Larabee, sometimes you are such an ass.
Ezra didnít say anything, but slowly turned and walked away. Whispering the words to Dixie quietly and once again thanking his fallen Confederate comrades for the back up as the quiet whistling of Dixie once again assaulted Chris Larabeeís ears.