Tuesday, May 11, 2021

GZ Tales: Percival's Tale Part 6


At that last shack, a burly man with a thick beard sat on a chair of branches and logs. His beard hid his mouth completely but that didn’t stop him from spitting some tobacco as Percival and Vicki approached.

“Can I do fer ya?” The man said with a tone that indicated he had little interest in doing anything for them.

“We’d like to use a pirogue to go out to an old sugar plantation. Can you help us?” Vicki asked.

The man stood up with a solemn expression. “That place ain’t right.” He said it with a tone that was cold and flat. It made Vicki’s heart skip a beat.

“It’s very important,” Percival said.

“Folks come sometimes to rent my pirogues. If you want one, it’ll be a hunnert dollars.”

“That’s really expensive to rent a pirogue,” Vicki said.

“So’s replacin’ ‘em when they don’t come back.”

“Why don’t they come back?” Vicki wondered more and more what she got herself into, but was too stubborn to do anything else.

“You got the money?” The man didn’t flinch at her question.

Percival handed him a gold Civil War coin. “It’s authentic and worth enough to buy ten of your pirogues.”

The man raised an eyebrow as he studied the coin. He nodded, put the coin in his pocket and gestured to the dock.

“But why don’t they come back?” Vicki pressed the question again.

“Jus’ you remember it’s his swamp.” The man went into his shack and abruptly shut the door.

Percival walked to the small dock and selected a pole and pirogue. He opened the blanket and put on his gun belt. As Vicki stepped into the pirogue, Percival took her by the arm.

“This is where we part company,” Percival said.

Vicki jerked her arm away. “Heck no! I’m coming with you. I’ve come this far after all.”

“I can’t guarantee your safety. Furthermore, I couldn’t forgive myself if anything happened to you.”

“I can take care of myself just fine! Like it or not, you’re stuck me Captain Louis Percival, and I won’t take no for an answer!” Vicki sat down in the pirogue and refused to move.

Percival sighed in defeat and grasped the pole to push them out on the water. It was no use arguing. He just hoped he could keep her alive. He stabbed the pole into the muddy bottom of the swamp and with a heavy shove, they were on their way.

Drifting into the swamp was fairly open at first, but soon they had to navigate between the wide trunks of the cypress trees. Once they were well out of view of the shack community, Percival paused to set his pistol on the bottom of the pirogue. As it did back at the bar, the pistol spun and finally pointed a direction further south. He holstered his weapon and returned to pushing them across the water. The sun shone through the branches in cascades of bright light that enhanced the natural green beauty of their surroundings. Life teemed around them. Small turtles jumped off floating logs with splashing echoes. Tree frogs watched them go by from tree trunks and reeds. Even the spider webs shined in the scattered beams of sunlight. Vicki flinched as a Copperhead snake gracefully glided by on the water. Percival ignored it, focused on the mission ahead.

They lost track of time as they drifted. It could have been an hour or two when they could see a decrepit rooftop just over some high foliage about a hundred yards ahead. No clear path to it could be seen for land yet. Percival could tell, they would have to circle around in the swamp to find their way.

“You’ve been pushing us a long time,” Vicki said. “Would you like me to take over?”

“I would never put man’s job on a woman,” Percival said, believing he was being chivalrous.

“Oh you really are from the Civil War!”


“You have a lot to learn about the ways of women today! I’ll have you know…”

She was interrupted by a loud splash and the pirogue flipping into the air. Percival and Vicki were tossed opposite directions into the murky water. Even with his head submerged, Percival could hear Vicki’s screams of terror. He struggled to get his head above water and stand on the slick mud below. Percival managed to cling to a tree trunk and pull himself up. He wiped the muck away from his eyes frantically.

Seeing the massive body towering over them, Percival instinctively drew his pistol. As his eyes started focus, he stared in disbelief. It had arms and legs like a man, if any man stood 14 feet tall. It was green and scaled with moss hanging from prehistoric plates going down its back. Its head was that of a giant alligator; big enough to snap an average alligator in half. Its mouth was open to show off rows of dagger sharp teeth.

Monday, May 3, 2021

GZ Tales: Percival's Tale Part 5


In a world where everything was so big and loud, the museum was smaller than Percival expected. It reminded him of a Town Hall he had seen once. When they went through the double doors, Percival paused at yet another bewildering view. Glass cases with relics of the war filled the single room building from corner to corner. Uniforms, sabers, and guns were all on display from both sides of the conflict. In the middle of the room sat a cannon. Seeing it like that, was eerie in its silence. Percival wondered how many men it cut down on its journey to this resting place. For the Captain, it was literally yesterday that these things were active and in use. Now they were displayed with the wear, fading and rust of generations. Percival gazed at the ring on his finger and realized that, he too, was a relic. He wondered if soon he would show his age like these items around him.

“Welcome to the Civil War Museum,” said the heavy man behind the counter. He had a bushy mustache that hid his upper lip and thick glasses that made his eyes look bulged. “I’m Reginald. Is there anything I can show you?”

“Actually, there might be,” Vicki said. “Do you have information on officers who were in the war?”

“I have info on the major historical figures. If you aren’t looking for that, I have some files on soldiers who fought here in Louisiana. What’s the name?”

“Colonel Amon Le Fey,” Percival piped in.

“Le Fey, Le Fey,” Reginald repeated as he moved towards a filing cabinet. “Union or Confederate?”


Reginald pulled a thick book from the top of the filing cabinet and opened it on the counter. He leafed through several pages.

“Aha, there is a Colonel Amon Le Fey listed in here.”

“Great!” Vicki said. “What does it say about him?”

“It says; he led a regiment of soldiers away from the Battle of Irish Bend to engage incoming Union reinforcements led by Captain Louis Percival.”

Vicki shot a look of surprise to Percival who shrugged.

“It goes on to say it was a bloody fight that ended with the disappearance of both leading officers.” Reginald adjusted his glasses. “That’s easy enough to believe. A lot of soldiers went to unmarked graves back then; even officers.”

“Does it say anything else about Le Fey?” Percival pressed.

“Yes. It says he owned a sugar plantation a bit south of the battle site. That would all be dangerous swampland now.”

“That’s where I have to go. Thank you, Reginald!” Percival turned and walked out of the building.

“What?” Reginald looked after him dumfounded.

“It’s okay. He just does that. Thanks, sweetie.” Vicki followed Percival out to the car. “What are you going to do?”

“ I’m going the way my pistol pointed and Reginald said.”

“You know you can’t just go stomping through the swamp right? You’re going to need a boat or a pirogue; probably a pirogue.”

“What’s a pirogue?”

“A smaller boat for navigating narrower places in the swamps. Look, I think I know where to drive so we can get a look okay?”


Percival didn’t want Vicki along too far into his dangerous mission. He didn’t want to endanger her. If anything happened to her, he doubted he could ever forgive himself.

They travelled back roads and lesser highways several miles south. The further they went, the thicker the surrounding wilderness became. They didn’t have to go far before any distant view was blocked out by tall cypress trees. Spanish moss hung long from branches and water shined between the bases of the trees. The sun barely shone through some places, making them dark and eerie. Finally, they came to a place where the only driving left was off the road. Swampland stretched out around them for miles.

Percival stepped to the edge of the road to survey his chances of passage. A small alligator splashed into the water and vanished. From where Percival stood, travel on foot was impossible. He could see he would be up to his waist in water with nothing to hold on to but cypress trunks. As he looked around, there were no paths available in any direction. Vicki stood not far behind him.

“Do you have any more of those gold coins?” Vicki asked.

“A couple, why?”

“I saw some shacks near an off road. Maybe someone there will let us use a pirogue.”

Percival nodded and they got back into the car.

The small community of shacks was built on posts over the water accessible by long elevated walkways. Vicki parked the car in a muddy lot with a couple of trucks and another car so they could walk to the wooden docks. The walkways were well built, thick and solid with heavy logs. Percival could tell right away that these were people who could live off their environment. Animal skins could be seen in one area but mostly there were crawfish traps and fishing equipment. There were several pirogues all around. Every shack had at least one and there were seven shacks in all. The shacks were made from various materials of wood and metal. Percival brought out the bundle that held his sword and pistol. Vicki had wrapped them in a small blanket.

The first man they came to eyed them suspiciously from rocking chair. He appeared as old as the swamp with leathery skin and calloused hands. He was thin and sinewy, but he didn’t look weak. When asked about a pirogue, he said nothing but pointed to a shack at the far end of the walk. As they followed his directions, they felt the eyes of the community watching them. They were watched with interest. One woman even came out of her shack to watch them. It was the kind of observation that made Percival and Vicki uncomfortable. Expressions on the people’s faces weren’t the welcoming kind.

Friday, April 30, 2021

GZ Tales: Percival's Tale Part 4


“Your gun going poltergeist on my bar was hard to believe. Try me.”

“I’m not from here.”

“I kind of gathered that, Hon. Unless you mean from another planet, that is.”

“No, not another planet. Listen, the last thing I remember was fighting in battle against the troops of Colonel Amon LeFey. There was a flash of light and I found myself here.”

“Are you trying to tell me you were in the real Civil War?”

“Yes. It was April 15, 1863. You speak as if the war was a very long time ago. How long?”

“It’s 2012.”

“The year?”

“Well, yes! How do you think you got here exactly?”

“Le Fey is a sorcerer. I’m afraid this is where my story becomes even harder to believe. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time. LeFey is sure to be here somewhere too. I have to find him. He has Excalibur.”

Vicky fell against the bar in wonder of the story. “Wait a minute. Excalibur wasn’t in the Civil War. Wasn’t that from the story of King Arthur or something?”

“We, descendants of the Knights of the Round Table, have been protecting the sword for generations. Under my Grandfather’s watch, the sword was taken. We have been pursuing it ever since.”

“So, you almost got to it and wound up here?” Vicky said it slowly as she tried to piece it together.

“I know. It’s impossible to believe.”

“Honey, you don’t know what kind of a world we live in now. I’ll get my things so we can get out of here.”

“I don’t understand. Really, if you could just tell me what direction my pistol was aiming, I’ll take my leave.”

“It was pointing South, but you’ll never make it dressed like that.” Vicky grabbed Percival by the arm and led him to the back door.  Just before she opened it, he pulled away.

“Le Fey is dangerous.”

“Hon, I’ve been waiting for something exciting to happen around here for far too long. Besides, you’re alone here. You need someone to help you. Now let’s get going!”

Seeing the argument as futile, Percival followed Vicky to the parking lot. She led him to the side of a dusty blue, two door car. Percival hesitated a few feet away.

“What’s wrong?” Vicky asked.

“A larger one of these tried to kill me today.”

“Oh, you were probably in front of it.”

“It’s like a bull?”

“No. It’s a car. We get inside of it and ride around places. It won’t attack you and they don’t move by themselves.”

Percival stepped closer and peered in the window.


Vicky opened the door for him. “You should try sitting in it.”

Percival climbed in and Vicky closed the door. As she walked around to the driver’s side, Percival was lost in wonder. He ran his fingers over the aged and cracked interior of her car. He tapped his fingers on the window and shifted back and forth in the seat. He had never experienced saddles like chairs before.

Vicky climbed in and pulled her keys out of her purse. She put the key to the ignition and paused in thought.

“Okay, this is going to make some noise. It won’t hurt us, I promise you.”

Even with her warning, the sudden roar of the engine made Percival jump. He reached out to the dashboard again and felt the tremble of the machine running. Vicky put the car in gear and slowly drove in order to avoid shocking him too much. Percival was in awe.

“Are there still horses?” Percival asked after a moment.

“Oh sure. People have them out in country. They don’t bring them into towns much anymore.”

“Ah. Well, I’m glad to hear there are still horses.”

Vicky could tell Percival missed what he knew as home. She changed the subject.

“So, your gun points toward the sword?”

“Yes. Since it pointed south, I will need to head that direction immediately.”

“You can’t just go stomping around south of here. That’s all Atchafalaya Basin out there. It’s all alligators and snakes.”

“Do you have a better suggestion?”

“I have an idea, but we’ll have to wait until morning.”


“Because that’s when the museum opens. Besides, we need to get you into different clothes. You attract way too much attention like that.”

After a few more minutes, Vicky stopped the car in front of a small house with a white wire fence across the front yard.

“It’s not much, but it’s home.” Vicky said. She led Percival inside quickly with concern for nosy neighbors. “Come on, Soldier, let’s get you inside.”

Percival took three steps into the little house and stood staring. Vicki’s home was not luxurious by any means. It was quite plain, but Percival had never seen the like of it. The cushioned furniture, ceiling fans, and even the style of the walls were alien. Vicki disappeared into another room as Percival ran his hands across the cushions of the sofa. He pressed down on them, marveling at how soft they were. Vicki came out, saw him and shook her head.

“It’s like you were just born or something.” She took his arm and led him to the bathroom. She put some clothes in his hands.  “They didn’t have plumbing in your time, I’m sure. I’ll show you how to work the shower, but you undress on your own.”

Percival stood in the shower for a long time, letting the water cascade over him. He knew Vicki was right. This world was so far beyond him in all its wonders. He worried he may never catch up. The sights of the day spun with chaos in his mind. The soothing shower did little to ease the troublesome thoughts.

Percival came out of the bathroom in a black ‘rock and roll’ t-shirt, blue jeans and white socks. Yet another amazing advancement of the future; comfortable clothing, put his stiff wool uniform to shame. Percival sat down on the sofa and gazed around the room some more.

“Your time is so incredible,” he said.

“Oh no. I have incredible right here.” Vicki held up the television remote control.

When the screen flickered to life, Percival completely lost his breath. He stared wide eyed at the talking box with moving pictures. Vicki didn’t want to say so, but she enjoyed showing him the technologies of the age, just to see the look on his face. Percival watched late into the night until he passed out from fatigue.

When the morning sun shined on his face through the window, Percival sat bolt upright. A quick glance of his surroundings told him it was not a dream.

“Hey, you’re awake,” Vicki said, walking in with a plate of sausage and eggs. “After you eat we can get going. The museum is open.”

“How long have I slept?”

“It’s almost noon. I bundled up your sword and gun in the trunk of the car and I sprayed your boots. Those things stunk to high Heaven.”

Percival sniffed at the boots as he chewed a mouthful of food. “There is perfume in my boots?”

“Not exactly,” Vicki said. “Don’t worry, no one will notice.”

After swallowing his breakfast nearly whole, Percival pulled on his boots so they could leave. Vicki watched with interest but had to intervene.

“Don’t tuck your pants into the boots, Hon. People don’t do that anymore.”

“Oh. Well, alright.” Percival stood up and looked over himself. “Will I fit in?”

“Well enough. Let’s go.”

Saturday, April 24, 2021

GZ Tales: Percival's Tale part 3


The couple in the corner decided to leave quietly, but Vicky and Scat were too busy to notice. Percival’s mind spun as he considered all he heard so far.

“So, what can I get you?” Vicky asked.

“A pint of lager will do, thank you.”

“What kind?”

Percival’s mind spun again, “Surprise me.” As long as they thought he was an actor, Percival felt a bit safer. Finding out the rest of what he needed to know still looked tricky. The last thing he wanted now was to scare anyone. It would require him playing along with their thoughts of him and letting them do the thinking.

Vicky served up a mug of beer, “That will be six dollars.”

“Ah.” Percival dug into his pocket and pulled out an assortment of folded bills.

Vicky took them and paused on sight of them, “What is this?”

“Oh!” Percival realized that his money may not be any good in this weird world. He took the bills back with apology and dug frantically for what he hoped would work. He put a gold coin in her hand.

“Oh boy.” Vicky said, “You guys take this stuff seriously don’t you?”

“You don’t take gold?” Percival asked with a knot in his throat.

“What?” Vicky’s jaw dropped open.

“Hey! You mean that’s an authentic coin?” Scat nearly spat all over the bar, “Nowadays, those things are worth a fortune!”

“Um, great.” Vicky said as she pocketed the coin. “That will do nicely.”

“Good.” Percival took a drink of his beer. “Oh my! This is cold.” He noted the strange expressions, “And very good! Just what I was hoping for.”

“So you were saying that you’re lost?” Vicky asked, finding herself more curious with this man than before.

“Yes. I am lost. I know it will sound strange, but I don’t even know what town I’m in.”

“You’re in Franklin, Louisiana, Hon,” Vicky said.

“Is this the town you’re supposed to be in?” Scat asked, wondering if he had any more gold coins.

“Maybe,” Percival answered hesitantly.

The door to the bar opened and two policemen stepped in. One was tall and the other stout. Both appeared muscular and athletic with modern military haircuts. Percival had never seen such uniforms, but he still recognized authority figures.

“Hello, Officers!” Vicky said brightly. At that moment she noticed that the couple in the corner was gone. In the pit of her stomach, she knew why they were there.

“How are you folks doing tonight?” Officer Stone, the stout one asked. His chest was broad and his neck was thick. Vicky thought he must be a body builder.

“We’re doing great. Would you boys like some coffee?”

“We got a call about a man with a gun,” the stern looking Officer Yates informed them.

“Looks we have him right here,” Officer Stone gestured towards Percival. “Not what I expected though.”

“It’s okay, Officers,” Scat said, “He’s one of them reenactment people.”

“Is that a real gun, Sir?” Officer Stone asked.

“It’s one of them replicas,” Scat interjected again. A stern look from Yates turned the old man back to his beer quickly.

“As he said, Sir,” Percival reached for the pistol to show the officer.

“I’ll do that,” Officer Stone said as he reached out and took the pistol from its holster. He studied the gun with intense interest as Yates peered over a shoulder.

“Well, that has to be replica. I’ve never seen a black powder pistol in such good shape.” Stone put the pistol on the bar, “Now I need to see your I.D.”

“I.D.?” Percival didn’t recognize the term.

“Yes,” said Yates, “Identification.”

Percival looked at the silver ring on the middle finger of his left hand. It had his name and rank inscribed on it. Percival couldn’t help the feeling that this would not satisfy these officers. Few men in the ranks had any better to be identified by in the war, so Percival had nothing else. He could only think of one thing.

“I am Captain Louis Percival of the…”

Suddenly the pistol on the bar moved and startled everyone but Percival. It spun in place on the bar rapidly and then gradually slowed. When it stopped, the barrel aimed towards the door.

“You know, Officers,” Vicky piped up with desperate earnest, “He’s with me. He’s a friend of the family and, Lord, we’ve been looking out for him since he was a kid. He’s always gotten so lost in anything he does,” Vicky tapped the side of her forehead, “that it’s hard to get him out. It was a mistake to let him bring that here. He just wanted to show us. I’ll take care of it, I promise.”

“Ookay,” Stone said slowly as he stared at the gun. “That might have been good to know when we first got here.”

“Yeah,” Yates nodded, also staring.

“I’m so sorry, Officers. But, you know, I take full responsibility for Louis. Do you need my I.D.?”

“You know what?” Stone stepped backwards. “I don’t know what we just saw here, but I don’t think it’s illegal. I think we can go now.”

“I agree.” Yates started heading for the door. “You folks have a good night.”

The officers left without another word and an awkward silence fell over the three left behind.

Once the officers were gone, Vicky couldn’t contain herself, “What in the world was that?” She pointed at the gun. “You know what? Never mind. Bar’s closed. Scat go home. Mr. Percival, you stay right there.”

“That’s not fair!” Scat protested, “And hey, Frank’ll fire ya for closing early!”

“Scat,” Vicky looked the old man dead in the eye, “Scat!”

“Well, you don’t have to be like that about it,” Scat muttered as he made for the door. “No tip for you.”

“You never tip!” Vicky  followed Scat and locked the door behind him. She turned off the neon signs in the windows and turned off the main room lights. She glanced out the windows a couple of directions twice and then walked back to Percival.

By this time, Percival had holstered his pistol. He watched Vicky’s bustle of activity with curious interest.

“Okay.” Vicky held both hands in front of her as if trying to catch an invisible ball or at least his attention. “What is the real story with you?”

“You may find that hard to believe.” Percival couldn’t help but fear how she may react.

“Your gun going poltergeist on my bar was hard to believe. Try me.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

GZ Tales: Percival's Tale Part 2


“Weirdo,” said a man in leather and chains passing in the opposite direction of the business woman.

Percival only knew of mohawks on native Indians. The short purple one on the man in leather was ghastly. Percival blinked several times, but all the sights remained. It was so much to take in that he quickly felt dizzy. He didn’t even realize he had holstered his pistol, but had his hand on the handle.

“Must be one of those reenactors,” said another man walking by.

“Reenactors,” Percival muttered.

“Hey, is that gun real?” another woman asked.

Captain Percival moved his hand away from his pistol and realized that he was the one who didn’t belong here. He had to find someplace to think. He had to find someplace to learn about where he was. With several nervous glances around himself, Percival turned and walked quickly down a street less busy.

Not far away, down that same street, Vicky washed down the bar in bored slow motion. Only 3 people were in Frank’s Bar that late afternoon and Vicky didn’t expect many more. She tied back her reddish blonde hair as she gazed at the loving couple in the far corner. It would be nice just to have someone to talk to. Sadly, the only person who wanted to talk to her was old Scat. Vicky wanted nothing to do with Scat and usually tried to avoid eye contact. Inevitably, this never worked, and Scat would always wind up at the bar. Just the lint in his beard made her wonder if he ever looked in a mirror. Scat drank too much, smelled terrible and was always far too interested in Vicky for her comfort. He reminded her of some bad cheese she found behind her refrigerator once.

“Hey, Doll,” Scat said with a toothy grin as he sat at the bar. He rubbed his grimy fingers on the beer mug, smearing it. Vicky never looked forward to touching anything Scat touched.

“Doesn’t look like you need a refill yet,” Vicky looked away hoping for someone new to come in the door.

“Aw, you know I love talking to you, Doll. You know, we should go out sometime.”

“You’re really killing me, Scat,” Vicky moved a few feet down the bar and pretended to see something out the window.

“Well, I’ve warned you before; I am a lady killer.”

Vicky tried to ignore Scat. Seeing the man outside seemed like a sudden dream come true. Even with the man’s Civil War attire, she thought he had to be safer company than the old coot. Vicky couldn’t take her eyes off him. He looked lost and kept staring at the bar. Vicky thought he was gathering courage to come in. Maybe he’d never been in a bar before; Vicky had no idea. As he finally came toward the building, Vicky felt elation that someone, anyone, was coming in.

Captain Percival couldn’t steady his nerves as he put a hand on the door latch. All the strange lights were like no tavern he had ever known. Still, he always learned about new places at taverns and pubs. It seemed like the safest idea, or he hoped it was. With a deep breath, Percival opened the door and stepped inside.

At first, he found relief in the fact that the place was not crowded. Then he felt their eyes on him and knew he still stood out as odd in this strange new land. The couple in the corner shrugged and went back to their conversation. Vicky and Scat still stared at him in wonder.

“Can I help you?” Vicky finally found her voice as Percival approached the bar.

“I hope so. I’m afraid I’m lost.”

“Well, I don’t know where they are doing any Civil War reenactments right now.”

“Reenactment,” Percival said slowly, “I’ve been hearing that a lot today.”

“Well sure!” Scat said, “That’s what they call it when you fellers get all dressed up and act out your battles and stuff. Can’t say it’s real popular around here though.”

“Act out,” Percival repeated again, “Do you mean like a play?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Scat said, “I’m sure you would know better than me.”

“A very loud play,” Vicky interjected, wondering about Percival’s state of mind. “Maybe you should have a drink?”

Percival stepped closer to the bar, thinking that would be a fine idea. That’s when Vicky noticed the pistol on his hip.

“Uh, we don’t allow guns in here.”

Percival paused, “Oh. I’m sorry.” To the surprise of everyone in the bar, Percival drew the pistol and offered it to Vicky handle first. Vicky had no idea what to do or say.

“You know,” Scat said, “It’s probably just a replica. All them fellers have ‘em. I’m sure it wouldn’t be any problem.”

“Yeah. Right.” Vicky said, “Why don’t you just leave it in the holster?”

“Okay,” Percival holstered the pistol and decided not to correct them on its status as a replica or not.

The couple in the corner decided to leave quietly, but Vicky and Scat were too busy to notice. Percival’s mind spun as he considered all he heard so far.

Monday, April 19, 2021

GZ Tales: Percival's Tale Part 1


Mist floated across the southern battlefield like ghosts of the fallen. The horse shifted from hoof to hoof nervously under its rider, Captain Louis Percival. Captain Percival ignored his horse as he stared across the wide field toward the enemy. His Union uniform was more brown than blue, like the rest of his men. Even the brass on his hat carried the spattering of combat. Captain Percival’s men held their ground in a long arrangement of dugouts lined with debris and bodies. On the other side of that wide field in Louisiana, Captain Percival could see the forces of Colonel Amon LeFey. Those forces outnumbered the Union soldiers 2 to 1.

            For either side, the field would be a long charge to get into effective rifle range. Percival’s troops were weathered and tired. LeFey’s troops looked too comfortable for Percival’s liking.

            Captain Percival was proud of his men. None of them ever mentioned retreat and all of them wanted to end Confederate control of Louisiana. Percival was even more proud of them because they had no idea how much more risk they faced that day than any other in the whole war. They had splintered away from the command forces under Major Nathaniel Prentice Banks for something greater than any battle the Civil War had.

            Percival looked to his Sergeant who stood ready nearby, “Make sure every man’s rifle is loaded and ready to fire.”

            “Yes, Sir!” and the man with thick mustache turned to other men, “All right, you louts, have those rifles ready!” The Sergeant stomped away shouting at the other men.

            Captain Percival removed a glove and scratched away some debris from his reddish brown mustache and beard. Then he put the glove back on and drew his sword for examination. He didn’t carry the standard issue cutlass, rather a blade passed down for generations. A family crest decorated the center of the hand guard. It was a crest older the United States could ever dream. Percival wiped away some blood staining from the blade and stared at his reflection in the metal.

            “Sir!” The Sergeant had returned to snap Percival out of distant thoughts, “The men await your orders. Every last rifle is primed and ready. If I may, the men do wonder what your idea is this time; with us being out of range and all.”

            “Have I ever not had an idea?”

            “No, Sir!”

            Colonel Amon LeFey sat on his own horse with his Lieutenant on a mount next to him. LeFey’s bushy white mustache and goatee did little to hide the amused smirk on his face. Unlike Captain Percival, LeFey’s uniform was crisp and clean. Not a drop of blood or sweat showed anywhere on the man.

            “It appears there’s movement in the Union camp, Boys,” LeFey scoffed, “Maybe they think they’re ready to try again. Stand ready!”

            His men formed lines awaiting a Union charge. Their rifles were also primed and ready to fire.

            “What are they doing, Sir?” Lieutenant Levar asked as he mused over the situation.

            “It appears they aim their rifles into the air,” LeFey answered. “They must know they are out of range.”

            “Perhaps they’ve lost their minds?”

            “That would be nice, but don’t underestimate Captain Percival. He always has a reason for everything he does.”

            “A distraction then?”


            Rifle fire echoed across the field as Percival’s men fired at a high angle. LeFey could see them rushing to reload. He considered ordering a charge, but then the first of the metal balls came down. From the high angle of fire the heavy metal balls from the black powder rifles fell like hail stones. They didn’t hurt but a few men, but it did force them to move.

            “Charge and fire!” LeFey shouted, but the Union soldiers were already doing the same.

            All either side needed was a 30 yard advance to be in better firing range. Percival’s men made it first. The first row of men dropped to one knee while the second aimed over their shoulders.

            “Fire!” the Sergeant shouted, and they did.

            This time more shots found their marks as Confederate soldiers fell while preparing to aim. The Union troops charged with their bayonets, hoping to close the gap before taking too much return fire. They didn’t quite make it, but close quarters combat joined next anyway. Bayonets, knives, and swords clashed with the occasional sound of gunfire, painting the field with blood.  Lieutenant Levar took a bullet to the skull and fell from his horse. LeFey stayed ridged in saddle. He glared at the Captain, fighting through the crowd from horseback.

            “Die! Come on! Die in the crossfire!” LeFey growled as he peered through the mist and smoke.

            Captain Percival charged through the bodies on his horse with sword held high. Any enemy within swinging distance caught a mean slash as Percival went by. Through the smoke, Percival could just see the outline of his target. Percival wanted more than just an outline. He wanted the face of LeFey within fingers grasp. His horse gave a cry of pain as it suddenly crashed to the ground. Percival rolled clear and fended off another Confederate soldier quickly.

            LeFey could see Percival clearly now, emerging from the battle with an expression of fury.

            “Kill him, damn it! Kill him!” LeFey growled.

            Percival would not be stopped. Any who got in his way were dispatched by sword with ridiculous ease. It was as if Percival had training above that of the common soldier.

            Colonel LeFey drew his pistol, more than willing to shoot through his own men. A rifle shot sounded and the pistol flew from the Colonel’s grip. Percival’s Sergeant stood nearby, ready to charge with his bayonet to finish the job. Colonel LeFey glared at the Sergeant with eyes that shimmered. Without any strength to stop himself, the Sergeant brought his bayonet up under his own jaw and thrust it clear into his brain.

            Colonel LeFey turned his attention back to Percival who now stood only ten feet away.

            “You’re going to pay for that!” Percival shouted, “You and me, LeFey!”

            “You’ll never have the sword, Percival!” LeFey shouted back, “Never!”

            Colonel LeFey raised a hand as Percival drew the revolver and aimed it. As the weapon fired, there was a great flash of light that blinded all who were nearby.

            As the bright flare faded, it was replaced by a blaring noise. Captain Percival rolled across the ground as the speeding car nearly hit him. From the curb, Percival stood up slowly as he took in the impossible sight around him.

            Buildings of brick and mortar surrounded him on the city street. Roaring carriages without horses went past him in various colors. Tall metal poles loomed overhead with light fixtures that he didn’t understand. People walking past wore the strangest clothing he had ever seen. There were so many styles of odd clothing; Percival thought there must be a costume ball.

            “Is he drunk?” A woman in a business suit asked as she passed him by.

A woman not wearing a dress was a confounding sight, and there were many of them.

“Weirdo,” said a man in leather and chains passing in the opposite direction of the business woman.

Friday, April 16, 2021

GZ Tales: Imaginary Enemy Part 2


“I have an imaginary friend, but he's not very nice. Is yours nice?” The table next to the bed shook slightly.

            “Yeah,” Larry replied, feeling a tremor in the floor, “I have a very good friend. Maybe you'd like to meet him.” He eyed the table suspiciously.

            “Oh no. No, no, no.”

            “What is it, Isa? What's wrong?”

            Her eyes welled with tears, “You should run.”

            A shadow grew and loomed in the corner of the room.

            It's not the child!” Nyhtwulf's voice boomed in his head.

            Ow! Too loud.”

            It's a secondary entity.”

            Can you tackle it?”

            I will do my best.”

            I'll grab the girl.” He turned his attention back to Isa, “Okay, this is very important. I need you to listen to me. You listening?”

            She nodded and sniffled.

            “This is not your friend. Friends don't hurt people. This is one of the bad guys and I'm here to help you escape. But you have to be brave for me.”

            She shook her head as the shadow grew closer, “You can't. No one can.”

            “We can. My friend is right outside. He'll help us. Now, we are going to have to run, okay?” He held out his hand.

            A tall humanoid shape manifested from the shadow. It's raspy voice filled the air, “You mustn't touch the children.”

            A savage roar echoed as Nyhtwulf flew into the room and tried a flying tackle. Since both of them were intangible it worked. The two of them went through the far wall. Blacktide snatched up the surprised girl in his arms and ran out the door.

            “Out of my way now!” he shouted as an orderly almost stepped in front of him. The rest wanted nothing to do with the situation and were glad to stay out of it.

            “He's not my friend?” Isa asked as she clutched tight to his shoulder.

            “No. He's not.”

            “Is he the Boogey man?”

            “I don't know, Isa, but we're going to find out. Did he ever mention having a name?” He raced into a stairwell to avoid being caught in the elevator.


            “Wow, that's a big word for a little kid. I wonder why he calls himself that?”

            At that moment, the shadowy creature came through the door behind them, but Nyhtwulf was on him again and they spun out a nearby window. As the two struggled with each other they rolled and flew through walls of patients’ rooms and doctor's offices. People fled and screamed at the sight of them. Since this place was a psychiatric hospital, matters were worse. Patients suffering anxiety disorders were in total panic. Much of the staff were too busy dodging for themselves to contain panicking patients.

            I am having difficulty containing him. Do you have a plan?” Nyhtwulf's voice came again into Larry’s mind.

            Get him outside. That's where I'm going.”

            Knowing that Nythwulf and Silhouette weren't far behind, he found the first door on ground level he could and burst outside. Alarms blared but they were the least of his worries. He ran across the green lawn to a small grove of trees and bushes. He set Isa down.

            “You hide in there. We'll deal with this guy now.”

            Isa didn't argue. She crawled into the thick of the bushes and curled up tight, hugging her knees. “He'll burn you.”

            “Not if I burn him first. Now close your eyes tight until I tell you to open them.” He didn't want the scene to terrify her further andcould think of nothing else to protect her.


Nyhtwulf and the Silhouette spun out into the air, snarling, swiping and clawing at each other. Even though they could connect somewhat, they didn't seem able to hurt each other very much. Blacktide raised the intensity of his disintegration field around his body. The ground at his feet began to smoulder. He had no idea if his power could work on such a being. He had never tried before. He raised his hand and took aim. He didn't want to hit his partner. Could his power hurt Nyhtwulf? This thought caused him to pause. He didn't want to hurt another friend with his power ever again; especially not his best friend and partner.

            “The child, the child!” it snarled as it finally broke free and lunged for Blacktide.

            Now! Have faith my friend and strike now!” Larry  hated it when Nyhtwulf shouted in his head, but this time it was for good cause. It shook him back to reality and he fired his power just as the beast was within inches of him. Disintegration makes kind of a low coughing “whump” noise barely audible to human ears. The energy beam hit the shadowy Silhouette and actually threw the entity backwards a few yards. The Silhouette dropped to its knees, clutching what appeared to be its chest. Its red eyes opened wide as if it were as surprised. Nyhtwulf flew up behind it and ghosted a hand through its head. Nyhtwulf’s unique power to disrupt mental and life energies took effect. The entity gave a terrible shriek that rattled windows and made everyone cover their ears. Then it exploded in all directions like shadows running from rays of the sun.

As the ringing in his ears wore off, Blacktide stood back up from one knee and looked around.
            “It is gone,” Nyhtwulf said as he shook off the effect by rattling his big head back and forth. “I no longer sense it.”

            “Guess we won't know what its deal was then,” he looked back to Isa and knelt near the bushes. “Hey, you okay? Come on out and meet my friend. I promise you he's nice.”
            Isa accepted a hand to help her out of the bushes. She looked up at Nyhtwulf in wonder.

            “Are you a dog man?”

            He chuckled softly, “I look like one don't I?”

            “Do you sense any reason that thing was interested in her?” Blacktide asked.

            “I sense dormant psychic ability in her. It is possible it was drawn to that, particularly because she is a child.”

            “Will he come back?” Isa asked.

            “I don't think so. And if it does, we'll send it running,” Blacktide said. “But how would you like to go to a much nicer place than this?”

            “Is it a hospital?”

            “Kinda, but way cooler than this one. You can even have a ride on my motorcycle.” He spoke of a hospital for people with powers. It was a place that existed to study developing powers in people and help them with control if needed.

            “That would be nice,” she looked up at Nyhtwulf, “but I'd really like to fly. Will he carry me?”

            Larry smiled, “Ask him.”

            Nyhtwulf was too happy to oblige, for the joy of a child.