The Civil Dead (Their Dark)  FINALE!!!

The Civil Dead (Their Dark) FINALE!!!

A Story by Colton Warr

The Battle of Antietam gets a visit from the dead. Our four characters collide. The finale has arrived!


The Civil Dead 

A Short Fiction Series by Colton Warr

“Their Dark” 

The Prelude

Addison Belle stumbled as she tried to grip what had just happened as well as  grip her surroundings. A dense, dark fog hung over Antietam. A combination of fog and smoke. It hung and stayed where the gore was taking place as if it were trying to conceal it from the rest of the world. Addison was shoeless for the first time since the dead beached themselves outside of her families farmhouse. Her feet were caked in both blood and dirt. The adrenaline from the battle still pulsated throughout her veins. She could not feel her various wounds. Blood slowly ran from her temple. It was partially dried to her face and partially still oozing. She trudged on, slowly, through a wide open field. The sounds of the continuing battle surrounded her, yet she could not see a thing. Nor was she trying to. Dark figures passed by her several times. Some running and some limping. She knew not if they were alive of dead. Nor did she much care. She loosely held a pistol in her hand. It looked as if it was ready to slide out at any moment. Bodies littered the blood-soaked ground. Addison stepped over them as she slowly trudged onward to an unknown destination. Finally, by chance, something was in her aimless path. There were two dark figures, mostly concealed by the fog. One was laying on the ground while the other knelt over it. She continued towards them as she slowly tightened her grip on the pistol. She could still not make out who they were. It looked as if it was one of the dead feeding on a man who was just recently alive. She cocked back the hammer and prepared her gun to fire. As she stepped closer it was clear. She was either about to end an already dead man feasting upon a body or kill a man scavenging from a dead man's purse. And what did not startle Addy Belle….she did not care which scenario it was. She raised her gun and took aim at the center of the figures back. She took aim at where the heart could still be struck by her bullet, just in case. The figure suddenly stopped what it was doing. It began to scan the area in front of it. Addy knew she had to do it quickly. She put her pretty little finger on the trigger. Just as she was about to squeeze it she stopped. A sight froze her. She exhaled deeply as a tear fell from one eye. And with that, a trigger was pulled and a bullet sent from the powder in its revolving chamber….  

September 17th, 1862. Just North of Sharpsburg, Maryland. 5:30AM.   

Joseph Ferris and Addison Belle lay asleep on a wooden floor. In their escape from Annapolis they had taken refuge in a small church. This was their first night here and would likely be their only. The two had been oddly numb about Annapolis. They had seen so much in just a short amount of time. Perhaps they were becoming used to everything? Addy tossed and turned as she slowly opened her eyes. The inside of the church was dark but she could remember it being crammed. She and Joe were laying in between the seats in case someone or something happened to come across the church. She peered through one of the windows and could tell that the sun was close to rising. The darkest point of the night had passed. She sat up and looked at Joe. He appeared to be sound asleep. She began to think back to their journey. A bloody and confused one, indeed. She tilted her head as she began to wrestle with her feelings for him. In a normal life, it would be crazy to carry such feelings toward such a crazy man. She slowly smirked as she thought back to him at Annapolis. Her thoughts were quickly stopped. 

“Don’t let the dead keep you awake, missy.” 

Joe Ferris had not been asleep either. 

“Who’s to say it ain’t the living that’s keepin’ me up?” 

Joe Ferris slowly opened his eyes. He sat up and faced her. The two gazed into each other's eyes. Joe leaned in and thought about kissing her for the second time in the last two days. She didn't look away. Her hand slowly reached out towards his leg. She wouldn’t look away. She couldn’t. Their two dirtied and bloodied faces had never been this close. Joe grabbed her hand and brought it up to his face. As her cold skin touched him he felt the warmth. He closed his eyes and for a moment he was not himself…he was everything he wanted to be. He envisioned the two of them on a beach on a nameless island. They laid in the sand as the moon hovered above their fire on the beach. Before he could stop his vision, something emerged from the woods on the beach. it was the dead. They slowly started to walk towards their fire and their place of romance. The vision ended with a fine scream. Joe Ferris opened his eyes. Addy could tell the vision did not remain happy. 

“What is it. What do those eyes see?” 

Joe shook it off. He shook everything off. He took her hand from his face and placed it back towards her. 

“We should get some rest. We’ll be movin’ in an hour.” 

And with that, he laid back down. Addison Belle was confused. 

“May I ask you somethin’?” 

Joe Ferris did not answer. 

“What is a man so good at killin’ doin’ runnin’ from a war? Why were you trying to leave it?”   

No response from Joe. 

“And somethin’ else, why did you stop at my families farm? Why did you agree to take me with you?” 

Joe Ferris tried to block out her soothing voice. He could not ignore her. He sat back up. 


He struggled to form his thoughts. Addy looked on at him. 

“I will not oblige you with an answer at this time.” 

A look of rage came over Addy. She raised her voice as she continued to battle for answers. Joe’s attention went from her to something else, however. He had caught a sound right before she started. He leaned forward and put both of his hands over hers. Fear quickly took hold of Addy Belle. They both were silent as they listened. A faint sound became a dull roar. And that dull roar quickly became thunder. The sound of cannon fire rang out in the slowly lightening sky. Joe sprung up from their position and cocked back the hammer on his pistol all in one motion. He moved over to a window and slowly peered out into the early morning. He saw clouds of smoke rise up from various positions on the ground. Finally, several batteries went off right next to the church. The sound shook the wooden foundation and shook Joe and Addy. Joe began to frantically collect what little the two of them had. 

“We need move. Fast!” 

Addy was caught in a confused daze. 

“Were those cannons? What are cannons doing beside us?” 

Then two finished their collection and then began moving towards the entrance of the church. Joe stopped them. 

“You remember that I am a runaway, now don't you?” 

Addy nodded. 

“You don’t stop for nothin’ or no-one. You hear? These men, if they mean to inquire about who we are, who I am, they will not allow us to leave here peacefully.” 

Addison was on the edge of the answers she had been searching for. 

“You remember the woods out here and to the left? We make for those. With haste. Don’t stop for anything. Tell me you hear me.” 

Addy nodded again as the two then frantically made for the door. Just before they arrived at it, the two wooden doors swung open. A group of Confederate soldiers stormed through. They carried with them several men who had already been wounded. The two parties quickly caught sight of each other. The soldiers took aim at Joe and Addy. 

“Who the devil are you?” 

Joe and Addy raised their hands to the sky and dropped their weapons. 

“I asked you a damned question. You sons of b*****s Yankees? Are ya?” 

Soldiers walked over and grabbed the pistols away from Joe and Addy. Joe’s mind raced as he tried to uncover a way out of this. For the first time, Addison Belle had seen Joe Ferris in a state of shock and confusion. His eyes sprinted back and forth between the various men as he searched for a way out. Addy finally broke the ice. 

“We are not Yankees but we are not soldiers either. We are rebels, though.” 

Several men laughed as the cannon fire outside raged on. 

“I knew you wasn't a soldier. You’re too pretty to be one. Why in the blazes were you carryin’ weapons?” 

Addy swallowed hard. 

“Protection. Safety.” 

The soldier conducting the interview stepped closer. 

“Protection from who? Me?” 

He continued to step towards Addison. The rest of the men began to tend to the wounds of the other soldiers. The cannons continued to fire. Their sound added to the chaos inside of the church. 

“Missy, you ain’t need no protection from me.” 

The man was right up on Addy now. He smelled her hair as his gun stayed pointed at Joe. 

“You smell like roses…I could just take a bite out of you.”

As he finished his remark he chomped down with his teeth at Addy. Joe Ferris went from seeing a man chomping at Addy to one of the dead. His mind played a trick on him. All of the sudden, he saw the soldier as a walking and chomping dead man about to take a bite of Addy. Something in Joe flipped. The soldier then slowly ran his tongue across Addy Belle’s cheek. Joe quickly reached for his knife while the soldier was preoccupied. He withdrew it and dug it through the soldier's jaw. The blade passed through one cheek and went out the other. The blood was immediate. Joe then froze. All he saw was a figure of the dead with a blade through its mouth. Addy took in what happened and noticed Joe was unable to follow up his act. She glanced down at the soldier's belt and retrieved his pistol. She then took aim at the few other soldiers in the church and pulled the trigger. One by one she sent a bullet into them. As each piece of lead arrived blood splattered all over the wooden walls and floors. Each individual man flew back as the bullet pierced his head or chest. Six rounds were fired and six men lay dead inside of the Dunker Church. Joe looked on in shock as he snapped out of it. There was only the sound of the cannons discharging around them. Joe then pulled the knife from the now dead soldier and his body slid to the floor. The two wooden doors to the church were open and the two of them could see the treeline to the west that Joe had mentioned before. They both looked at each other and grinned. 

Union Lines. Battle of Antietam.

“If you need an extra pair of hands I’ve got some. Just let me know, Doc.” 

Cole and Sci were tied up just outside of one of the medical tents for the Union Army. Every time one of the doctors would emerge from the ragged tent Cole would try and work his way into persuading one of them to release him and Sci and allow them to help. But, to no avail. They could hear the battle as it raged on around them. As the doctor reentered the tent Cole slid back down to the ground. Their hands were tied by a rope that anchored them to one of the legs of the tent. 

“It’s torture, Sci. They don’t know it but it is.” 

Sci turned to his friend. 

“You want to be out there.” 

Cole nodded. 

“Better that you aren’t, maybe.” 

For my safety, yes. But for me soul-“ 

Sci interrupted. 

“For your soul? Or for your father?” 

Cole clenched his jaw as he took a deep breath. 

“Don’t ever let that kill you.” 

Sci’s words hit home for Cole but he didn't show it. 

“They need a man like me out there. A man who’s hellbent on redemption and who will do anything to obtain it.” 

As Cole finished another doctor exited the tent. He had a bucket that appeared to be quite heavy. He took the bucket several steps out and dumped its contents into the ground. A red, thick liquid came from it as well as several chunks of God only knows what. The doctor then headed back for the tent. 

“We can help you. Let us clean. Let us dump.” 

“Let you free? I don’t have orders to do anything for you two. So just keep your heads down and stay quiet. There’s a war going on around you.” 

As the doctor entered the medical tent another man was exiting. The two ran into each other. 

“Apologies, Samuel.”

The two men then went about their ways. As Cole sat back to the ground, defeated again, he noticed something shimmered in the dirt. He gave the shine his full attention and noticed that it was some sort of small medical knife. He glanced around and made sure there was no one around to see him. He then stretched out towards the entrance of the tent and grabbed the knife. 

“They will never let us in, Cole.” 

Sci was unaware of what Cole had found. Just then, Cole turned to him and nodded at his wrists. They were naked and unbound by any rope. 

“I haven't been trying to get in, my friend. hold out your wrists.”

Cole then began to cut his friend free. 

“Listen, we make for those woods over there. There are regiments close but if we can get into the tree line we should be able to stay clear of their line of sight.” 

Sci was now free. 

“Are you ready?” 

Sci nodded and the two of them began to move through the camp. They stayed low to the ground and moved quickly. The sounds of musket fire and cannon lingered in the background. The camp was essentially empty. The further they got from the medical tents the more empty it was. Cole tightly gripped the medical knife. He didn't want to use it. he didn't want another Union soldier’s blood on his hands. But he would if he had to. The two of them reached the tree line several minutes later. They knelt down as soon as they felt they were concealed. 

“I say we make for the creek. We can stick to that and follow it on out of here.” 

Sci nodded. 

“What if there are reserves there?” 

Cole was silent for several seconds before he responded. 

“You’re right, we need to find some weapons. We should sneak back into the camp and hit some of the reserve caches.” 

“No time, Cole. The sooner we are away from the army the better.” 

Cole hated the idea of being without a weapon but knew Sci was right. 

“Fair enough. Let’s move.” 

As the two shot up and began to walk the butt of a rifle came from nowhere and struck Sci in the back. The blow sent him to the ground. Cole turned to see the commotion behind him. The butt of the rifle connected with Sci for a second time before Cole could take in the situation. 

“Well look what the woods s**t out. Two runaways back at it again, huh?” 

It was the one-eyed man that had captured them in the first place. 

“You seem a bit out of place, friend. Are you startled to see my pretty face out here in the woods?” 

Cole moved his medical knife into an attack position. The one-eyed man had blood all over his blue coat. 

“It’s both a shame and a gift that this rifle is unloaded. Shame cause I could kill you where you stand, Cole. And a gift cause I get to do it slowly.” 

Instead of taking a swipe at Cole, the one-eyed man took another swing at Sci who was already bleeding and struggling to get up off of the ground. The rifle again collided with Sci’s back. Cole had had enough. He tightened his grip on the knife and charged towards the one-eyed man. The collision sent them both into a nearby tree. The collision caused the one-eyed man to drop his rifle. Cole plunged the knife into his arm. The one-eyed man let out a scream. He then began to punch Cole in the ribs as hard as he could. He did it three times before changing his aim and connecting with Cole’s face. Cole was sent to the ground. The one-eyed man retrieved his rifle. 

“You know that pretty, well-decorated officer that saved your pecker the fist time around? Yeah, he won’t be doing that anytime soon.” 

Cole slowly rose up and looked at the man, confused. 

“Oh, yeah, that’s whose blood is on my coat. I’m just on a spree right now.” 

The man then reared back and took a swing at Cole’s head with the rifle. Cole moved just in time and the butt of the rifle connected with the dirt. Cole then grabbed the wound where the knife was on the man's arm and used that to pull him to the ground where Cole was. The two struggled as they both tried to strangle each other. Meanwhile, Sci was slowly trying to get up. Cole was able to get on top of the one-eyed man and began to thrust punch after punch into his face. The one-eyed man’s face began to ooze blood. He then caught one of Cole’s punches and thrust himself on top of Cole. Cole’s face was then hit with an elbow from the one-eyed man. Cole then reached up and began to grab for the one-eyed man's face. He grabbed the eye patch and ripped it off. The one-eyed man tried to bite Cole’s fingers and blood ran from his face. The one-eyed man then connected another elbow to Cole’s face, this time knocking Cole into a daze. The one-eyed man then grabbed Cole by the collar of his shirt and pulled his head from the ground. He reared back again and slammed a punch right into Cole Niles’s face. Just as he was about to fire again a wooden butt of a rifle collided with the one-eyed man's temple and pushed his head into a nearby tree. Now the one-eyed man was knocked into a daze. Sci loaded up another swing and let it loose on the one-eyed man. The blow sent him to the dirt with a collection of blood following him from his mouth. Sci then helped Cole up. Cole seemed to be fine, just knocked around a bit. He shook it off and took a look at the one-eyed man's current state. A pool of blood was developing near his face. It soaked into the dirt as his hand began to twitch. The two men watched on in silence for several seconds. 

“We need to end it, Cole. We need to put him out.” 

Cole shot Sci a look of disagreement at first. He then nodded in agreement. Sci then rose the butt of the rifle high above his head and slammed it down into the one-eyed man's now deformed head. A splatter of blood was flung onto a nearby tree. Cole watched on in both horror and with relief. Sci then took a step back and held the rifle out to Cole. Cole stuck his hand out in denial of the rifle. 

“Cole, you need to. If only for your soul.” 

Cole slowly took hold of the rifle. As soon as his hands touched the gun he felt empowered again. He felt free and not a prisoner for the first time in weeks. He lifted the butt of the rifle up high and took in a deep breath. He then let himself go and came down like a hammer on what was left of the one-eyed man's head. The blood from the blow threw itself at Sci and Cole. They were now the ones covered in blood. before the two of them could collect themselves they heard shuffling in the woods. The two threw themselves against trees and peered through the woods. After several seconds, they caught sight of what was making the noise. It was a man and a woman who appeared to be running for their lives. 

Collision at the West Woods. Battle of Antietam.

Joe Ferris and Addison Belle raced through the woods as they tried to put as much distance between them and the Confederate Army as possible. They hoped to reach the other end of the woods and follow any road that led West. Those ambitions were quelled by two strangers in the woods. As Joe and Addy continued to run, they noticed a man standing in their path. The two came to a halt. Joe cocked back the hammer on his pistol and lifted it at the figure. 

“I’d take it easy with that pistol of yours, friend. Lower it, or the woman dies where she stands.” 

The voice came from behind Joe and Addy. They both quickly turned around and were greeted with the sight of Cole Niles. He was armed with the unloaded rifle that was now covered in blood and brains. Cole walked towards the two of them with a quickened pace. He pulled back the hammer. 

“Is there something preventing you from understanding my orders? Lower the pistol or she dies.” 

Joe Ferris spoke out. 

“How good of a shot are you, mister?” 

Cole gripped the rifle tighter. 

“Wouldn't you like to know.” 

The two men stared at each other. Meanwhile, the figure that had blocked their path was Sci. He had moved in closer on the two strangers in the woods. Joe took in his surroundings.

“You two fine gentlemen seem a tad bit bloodied. You come from the battle out yonder?” 

Sci took his turn in replying. 

“We come from no concern to you.” 

Cole quickly backed him up. 

“Similar question to you and your lady. You’ve picked an awfully interesting day to stroll about the woods. Where are you comin’ from?”  

Joe and Addy exchanged a look. Addy spoke next. 

“You wouldn't believe us if we told you. Maybe we should all just let each other go. Nobody else needs to die.” 

Joe backed her up. 

“I think that is a fine idea.” 

The four were locked in a stare off as they battled for the more assertive pair. Before the contest could be decided, however, a large gust swept through the west woods and blew all four of them almost to their feet. Joe and Addy were all too familiar with this gust. The power. The Curse. They both looked at each other in shock. 

“No. This is too soon.” 

Addy couldn't believe they were followed here. Joe turned to the two men. 

“You men listen to me and you listen well. There is something more dangerous out here than two armies fightin’ over slavery and government.” 

Cole and Sci exchanged a confused look.

“There are figures that feast upon us while we still breathe. There are those who come back from the dark abyss that follows this life.” 

“What in the hell are you speaking of?” 

Joe swallowed hard. 

“The dead are coming.” 

Cole raised his rifle back at the man as he laughed. 

“The dead…”

Sci interjected. 

“How do you know of the dead?” 

“We didn't think you would believe us. We lived through two of their attacks already.” 

Addison tried to plead their case. Joe lowered his pistol and placed it back within its sheath. Cole’s curiosity was aroused. 

“Now, listen here and listen well. Us four can make it out of here alive. But you have to trust us. This is real. All of it. And, unfortunately for you two, I think you are about to be enlightened.” 

Before the group could come to a conclusive decision a dull march came from the north. 

“Down. All of you!” 

All four of them immediately ducked down behind a very large downed tree. They all peered ahead through the limbs and leaves that remained ahead of winters weight. 

“Oh, s**t.” 

A Union division was moving directly towards where they were. 

“It doesn’t appear that they know we are here. Let’s fall back a bit and get out of their march.” 

Cole’s idea seemed sound. The four of them slowly started to slip to the south. After several steps, however, they were greeted with another division. This time, a Confederate one coming from the southern part of the battlefield. 

“Easy, easy, easy.”

Joe Ferris quickly halted the group. 

“Do we make for the cornfield?” 

Addison was beginning to panic. The four of them were right in the middle of two advancing divisions from both armies. They needed to move. 

“ Any other bright ideas? Or should we let a man who is in the army make the next decision?” 

Cole cracked at Joe. 

“Don’t get too far ahead of yourself, Yankee. I, too, was in the army.” 

Cole took a step closer to Joe. 

“You weren't in the army you were in a mob of farmers.” 

Joe returned the step. 

“If I recall soundly it was a mob of farmers who freed this country from a king.” 

“Boys! You two get down and shut the hell up! I’ll make the decision. We make for the cornfield and follow the main road back up north.” 

Sci jumped in. 

“I agree. We use the cornfield as cover, stay clear of the fighting and make for the main road.” 

Joe and Cole continued to glare at each other. 

“Cole, our move must come quickly.” 

Sci attempted to snap Cole from his alpha male showdown with Joe. Cole broke his glare and looked upon the cornfield. He then turned back to the three others. 

“Let’s march on. Quietly and on my command.” 

The Cornfield and The Sunken Road.

The four of them quickly and quietly scurried into the midst of a large cornfield. The stocks stood tall and prevented the four crouched runaways from seeing very far. They continued to run as they knocked the tall stocks from their path. They could hear the sound of a thousand muskets discharge to their rear. The battle was in full swing. The call of cannon fire rang out like thunder over top of them. Cole halted the group. The four sat, crouched in the midst of the cornfield. 

“What the hell are we doing?” 

Joe Ferris asked as he was ready to jump all over a bad decision made by Cole. 

“We need to continue on.” 

Cole extended his hand and shushed the four of them. He tilted his head as he began to listen. He tried to pierce through the dull roar of the battle and hear what was around them. The call of cannon fire seemed louder than normal. The rest of the group started to get curious about how loud everything was. Cole glanced up and slowly began to stand. He caught sight of a shell being hurled through the sky. He watched closely as it exploded in the air. It sent a rain of shrapnel down towards what appeared to be the area of the cornfield to their right. His sight followed the pieces of shrapnel as they rained down. They disappeared into the cornfield and cries and screams could be heard. Cole’s gaze was now in the cornfield. He peered through the stocks at something moving. And then, a lot of things moving. It then became clear…they had not yet left the center of the battle. All of the sudden Cole turned to his three followers as he raised the unloaded rifle to a readied position. He looked them all in the eyes. 

“Stay together if you can. I will find you.” 

Just as the words left his mouth a yell and a bugle playing could be heard right next to them. A Union soldier then came crashing through the stocks of corn and took a stab right at Cole. Cole sidestepped the soldier's attempt and took a swing at his temple with the butt of his unloaded rifle. The soldier fell limply to the ground as more continued to crash through the stocks of corn. 

“Move! Make for the old wagon road!” Joe called out in the midst of the chaos. The four of them defended themselves as one after the other, a Union soldier marched right towards them. The scene was now loud and scattered. Joe, Addy, and Sci were beginning to get separated from Cole as he continued to fight off the Union charge almost by himself. 

“We must move! Now!” 

Joe again called out to the group as he plunged his knife right into the heart of an incoming soldier. He then turned and began to run in the opposite direction. Addy followed. Sci remained. He stepped towards Cole and grabbed a charging soldier and threw him to the ground. He then raised his boot and brought it down to the soldier's face. Blood splattered and soaked into the soil as the man began to twitch. 

“Sci, you have to get out of here. Fall back to the wagon road.” 

Sci gave another soldier an uppercut to the gut and then withdrew that same soldier's knife and plunged it into his neck. He then tossed him to the side and prepared for the next. 

“I will not let you die out here, Cole. Now is not the time for dying.” 

Cole knocked a man to the ground and then grabbed his head and broke his neck. Cole then stole the man's pistol and turned to the other chargers and fired around and dropped one. 

“Someone has to cover the retreat or none of us will make it.” 

Just after Cole spoke those words Joe Ferris came up behind Sci and tugged him towards him and Addy. 

“Let him cover us.” 

Sci resisted at first. 

“No. I can’t. He is all that I have.” 

Joe grabbed ahold of Sci and pulled him close to his face. 

“We will all die without his cover. We will all also die if we have to stay here because you won’t see what needs to be done.” 

Sci took in a deep breath and then nodded his head. The three took off into the opposite direction. Sci turned back and looked at Cole. He was battling. Sci felt a calm wave wash over him as he knew, this is what Cole was born to do. The three continued to charge through the stocks of corn. It felt like a never ending run. Just then, they all stumbled out of the cornfield and directly in front of a Confederate defensive line at the sunken road. A confederate medic ran up to the three of them. 

“You got wounded?” 

Joe Ferris glanced and Sci. 

“Yes, Sir, this one here appears to be cut by one of those Yankee b******s. He needs attention.”

Joe Ferris’s quick response may have saved all three of their lives. Their attire may have helped as they all three looked like runaways or poor farmers and nothing like the Federal soldiers from the north. The medic quickly took all three of them behind the sunken road and started to work on any of the various small wounds on Sci. 

“How was the fightin’ in there?” 

The medic seemed to be nutty. 

“Oh, it was a heap of hate and chaos. I think something bigger is comin’.” 

“Somethin’ bigger?” The medic responded. 

Joe Ferris glanced back to the cornfield. 

“There any spare guns laying around?” 

The medic laughed. 

“Richmond can’t afford no fancy rifles like them Yankees. Nor can he keep our own soldiers equipped with s****y ones.” 

Joe quickly sent a glare in his direction. The medic swallowed hard. 

“You could take a gander at the wounded section over there. Maybe somethin’ laying around.” 

Joe nodded and began to walk over to the wounded. All of the sudden several horns sounded and men began to whistle and call out. 

“Ready yourselves, men. The disease of northern aggression wishes to spread here. I’ll scream this till the day I day….F**k them Yankees right in their fancy asses! Prepare your weapons. Prepare to defend yourselves!” 

Men from all around the area set themselves up in defensive positions in the sunken road. The road had been battered down by years of mud and wagon travel and now created a natural defensive fortification like a trench. Hundreds of Confederate soldiers readied themselves for the Union charge. None were ready for the dead. 

Meanwhile, Cole continued to fight his way to survival in the cornfield. He killed any man that came close to him. And he scavenged at any moment he wasn’t engaged with the former. He was well equipped now. As he stole a dead man's water canteen he heard a scream from behind him. He turned and sidestepped another charging Union soldier. Cole grabbed the man's rifle as he changed and stuck his foot out and tripped the man. Cole then took the man's rifle, armed with a bayonet, and as he was about to stab the man he heard what appeared to sound like low rumblings and growls behind him. Cole then slowly turned his head to see what it was. He saw Union soldiers, men that he had killed, starting to move again. He saw their arms and legs move and grasp the dirt where they lay. He saw their eyes but they weren’t their eyes anymore. They were Cursed. Cole could not believe what he was witnessing. 

“B*****d was right.” 

He then knelt down and grabbed any ammo he could find. He then rose up and took off in the opposite direction of the dead. 

“You best have those bayonets fixed, men. Ain’t no one gettin’ out of here without seeing them damn Yankees all up close and personal.” 

The commanding officer continued to bark out orders as the Confederates prepared to defend the Sunken Road. Joe Ferris was still gathering weapons as Sci and Addy were ordered to take up positions on the road. Joe then grabbed the third rifle and accompanied them. 

“Do not shoot Cole if you see him.” 

Sci pleaded for his friend. 

“I’m sorry, fellow, but if we see him come out of that field he won’t be him. And I will put a bullet in his heart.” 

Sci swallowed as he took in the man's words. The defensive line held fast as all sounds of the battle seemed to cease except for the cannon. The three of them peered into the cornfield hoping to see a retreating Cole Niles. But, to no avail. They did catch a glimpse of movement, however. And all of the sudden a dull noise came from the cornfield. The stocks began to sway back and forth as something was getting closer. Joe glanced at Addy and clenched in his jaw. 

“We run the second this all starts.” 

“We run where? They seem to be following us.” 

Addy took a deep breath as she glanced down the barrel of her rifle and into the cornfield. 

“We just keep running.” 

They all three took aim at the cornfield as several regiments breached through. They appeared to be Union soldiers. They appeared to be marching like Union soldiers. But they were not Union soldiers. The Confederate defensive line opened fire on them. A barrage of rifle and pistol fire slammed into the enemy lines. Joe and Addy took aim at their hearts and fired away. They both dropped the two they were aiming at. And those were the only two to fall. The Confederate line began to reload as they stared in shock at the still standing Union line. Joe and Addy peered closer and noticed the blood oozing from their mouths. They saw the neck twitches and the missing body parts and the hanging flesh. They saw the eyes as they glowed a dark gold. The regiments of the dead then brought their rifles from their shoulders and took aim at the Confederate defense. The first line then dropped to their knees and the second line took aim as well. Their faces still longing for a bite of flesh. It appeared to Joe and Addy that these figures were different. They were under command. Joe’s eyes widened.

“Down! Addy, get down!” 

Right as he yelled the Cursed opened an organized barrage on them. Bullets whizzed and whipped by Joe and Addy as they pinned themselves to the dirt so as not to be struck. Confederate soldiers were going down all around them. Blood poured onto them from the surrounding carnage as if it were being dumped on them out of a bucket. Addy pressed her head against the dirt as hard as she possibly could. Blood continued to spray on them. She could barely see. And since her vision was removed she then pictured her family back at her farmhouse. She pictured her mother laughing and her father hunting. She envisioned their happiness and then she envisioned their deaths. She went back to that fateful day at the farmhouse when her life changed forever. She couldn't take it anymore. She rose up and began to sprint out of the sunken road. It was in between volleys from the dead and so Joe decided to go after her. 

“Come on, Sci! We can’t leave her alone.” 

The two began to leave the now body-filled trench. But just before they were out, something grabbed ahold of Sci’s ankle and dragged him to the ground. Joe turned and saw the body-filled trench quickly become a hole filled with the dead. The bodies were being raised faster than he had ever seen. The regiments had reloaded and were preparing to release another volley. Sci stuck his boot right into the eye socket of the figure who had his ankle. As he rose again to follow Joe he was again dragged to the ground. This time, by way of nails and claws digging into his flesh. As he moved away from them, their nails only tear more skin for his legs. Joe reached down and grabbed his hand. He tried to pull him out but it, again, only tore his skin from his bone. And then Joe saw something that forced him into a dangerous decision. The Priestess had marched out in front of the regiments and had taken a survivor hostage. She then faced her Cursed and broke the man's back and ate out his heart. Joe then glanced back down to the pit. Not one but two of the dead figures were trying to clench down on Sci’s back with their teeth. Joe withdrew his pistols and fired all six shots at six different figures. Sci was freed by the barrage of pistol fire from Joe. Mr. Ferris then pulled him out of the pit of bodies and began to carry him away and behind a tree. The regiments of the dead then released a second volley. Joe and Sci could hear the bullets tearing through whatever survivors there were. Rogue bullets slammed into the tree they were behind. Joe then noticed that they were facing the town of Antietam. And shortly after that, he noticed that the small town was ablaze. Fire and smoke rose violently from the buildings. There was only fire and death as far as the eye could see. Joe then noticed something on the ground in front of them. 

“Those are Addy Belle’s shoes. She must be somewhere in the smog.” 

Joe then turned his attention to Sci. 

“Can you walk on your own, mister?” 

Sci shook his head no in despair as if he was already defeated. Joe Ferris swallowed hard and took in a deep breath. 

“Were you bit?” 

Sci clenched his jaw. 

“I-I don’t know.” 

Joe weighed his options. He knew that Cole was dead and killing off his friend as a precaution would never be discovered. He needed to get to Addy. 

“I will carry you. So long as you do not get me killed. You understand?” 

Sci agreed and the two took off towards the burning town of Antietam. 

The Priestess. Battle of Antietam.   

Addison Belle stumbled as she tried to grip everything that had just happened as well as  grip her surroundings. A dense, dark fog hung over Antietam. A combination of fog and smoke. It hung and stayed where the gore was taking place as if it were trying to conceal it from the rest of the world. Addison was shoeless for the first time since the dead beached themselves outside of her families farmhouse. Her feet were caked in both blood and dirt. The adrenaline from the battle still pulsated throughout her veins. She could not feel her various wounds. Blood slowly ran from her temple. It was partially dried to her face and partially still oozing. She trudged on, slowly, through a wide open field. The sounds of the continuing battle surrounded her, yet she could not see a thing. Nor was she trying to. Dark figures passed by her several times. Some running and some limping. She knew not if they were alive of dead. Nor did she much care. She loosely held a pistol in her hand. It looked as if it was ready to slide out at any moment. Bodies littered the blood-soaked ground. Addison stepped over them as she slowly trudged onward to an unknown destination. Finally, by chance, something was in her aimless path. There were two dark figures, mostly concealed by the fog. One was laying on the ground while the other knelt over it. She continued towards them as she slowly tightened her grip on the pistol. She could still not make out who they were. It looked as if it was one of the dead feeding on a man who was just recently alive. She cocked back the hammer and prepared her gun to fire. As she stepped closer it was clear. She was either about to end an already dead man feasting upon a body or kill a man scavenging from a dead man's purse. And what did not startle Addy Belle….she did not care which scenario it was. She raised her gun and took aim at the center of the figures back. She took aim at where the heart could still be struck by her bullet, just in case. The figure suddenly stopped what it was doing. It began to scan the area in front of it. Addy knew she had to do it quickly. She put her pretty little finger on the trigger. Just as she was about to squeeze it she stopped. A sight froze her. She exhaled deeply as a tear fell from one eye. And with that, a trigger was pulled and a bullet sent from the powder in its revolving chamber. The bullet came from in front of her and collide with the kneeling figures head. This sent the figure to the ground. Addison felt denied of a release, of sorts. She looked up and saw two figures marching towards her. She raised the pistol to them. The two figures stopped and raised their hands in surrender. Addy knew they were alive now. But for some reason, she could not drop the gun. It was fixated on them. Her hand shook as she brought her finger closer to the trigger. 

“Addy Belle…you told me to run and so I did. And it seems that I’ve run right into you. That makes twice now.” 

It was Joe Ferris. And his voice had never sounded more safe than right now. Addy started to cry as she lowered the pistol. Joe and Sci emerged from the smog and Addy collapsed in Mr. Ferris’s arms. She felt weak and safe at the same time. She felt at home. 

“Is he alright?” 

Joe turned to Sci and the nodded at him. 

“He’ll be just fine. We all are going to be just fine.” 

Sci interjected. 

“Have you found Cole?” 

Addy and Joe exchanged a look. 

Sci, my acquaintance, Cole…her and I have seen three of these attacks now. Nobody has made it out but us.” 

All of the sudden a light giggle floated through the fog around them. Joe Ferris slowly turned his head in the direction of where the dead were last. He saw nothing but he heard the giggle again. 

“You assume that you will make it out of this? You assume that you will escape? There is no escape. The Curse finds all.” 

It was a female voice. She sounded in command and devious. Joe swallowed hard as he finally caught a glimpse of the lady. She was slowly walking right towards them. Joe then turned to Addy and handed Sci over to her. 

“Are you dead?” 

Joe called out as he drew his pistol. The lady was getting closer. Another giggle cracked through the fog. Joe Ferris cocked his pistol and took aim at the lady. She was then revealed. She was far from alive. Her eyes were yellow and her hair gray. She wore a ballgown that was blood stained with both fresh and old. But she was not missing any flesh. She was unlike the others. She was above them. She was the Priestess of Bones. Joe squeezed off the first round and it collided with her shoulder. She walked forward as if nothing happened. Joe started towards her as he fired another bullet. This one was in her chest but missed her heart. She marched on. Joe fired again, this one spot on her heart but The Priestess titled her body at the last second and the bullet just missed her heart again. Joe grew angry and fired one off at her head. This sent her entire head back. Joe then quickly pulled back the hammer and fired off his sixth and final round at her chest. The Priestess then knelt down and the bullet collided with her head again. She then sprung into action as she grabbed ahold of Joe. One hand held the gun away from her while the other dug its nails into his shoulder. Joe was holding her back from him as she tried to take a bite. Her mouth began to foam with blood as her teeth chomped continuously and vigorously towards him. Joe then gave The Priestess a head butt that landed squarely on her nose. Joe heard the bone crack as he reared back for a second one. The Priestess then took a chomp towards Joe’s face, almost taking a sliver of flesh from him. Just then, Addison walked up and slammed the butt of a rifle into The Priestesses' face. This caused her to release Joe and stumble almost all the way to the ground. Addy then reared back for another swing at her. 

“Addy, don’t!” 

Addy did anyway. The Priestess reached out and caught Addy’s swing before it could even land on her face. She then turned her head to face Addy and her neck cracked and creaked. She then took a swipe with her long nails at Addy’s face. Addison stumbled to the ground. Joe then began a charge at The Priestess. She noticed this and quickly grabbed Addy by her long blonde hair. She pulled her close as if she was holding her hostage. And she was, but not at gunpoint and not at knifepoint. But by her sharp and blood stained teeth. Addy began to breathe heavily as she was all of the sudden helpless. Joe had withdrawn a second pistol and was now aiming it at The Priestess. 

“That is unwise, friend. Leave her be and maybe you will make it out of this.” 

The Priestess hissed at Joe. She then leaned in and stuck her bloodied tongue out. She slowly ran it across Addy Belle’s neck. 

“So young and ripe. I will devour you.” 

The Priestess of Bones had Joe and Sci cornered and helpless as she held Addy Belle hostage within her bloodied and chilled hands. As she did, blood began to run from deep within her mouth. It slowly oozed and foamed like a wild dog with rabies. She let it drip onto Addy’s shoulder. Joe dropped his pistol to the ground in hopes of communicating his surrender to try and spare Addy. Tears began to show themselves just within his eyelids. The Priestess saw his surrender and answered it with torture and a small grin. She dug her bloodied nails into Addy’s skin. They slowly pierced through. Addy let loose a scream as they dug almost an inch deep. 

“You’re a f*****g coward, you know that?” 

The Priestess looked up at Joe. 

“I know you can understand me. And I know that you can understand when I say that you are frightened.” 

The Priestess tilted her head as a dog would when it thought you were trying to tell it something. 

“Know this, coward. I know how to kill you. And if you end her here and now….I will not sleep until I put a blade into your heart.” 

The Priestess granted Joe with a much larger smile now. 

“And it won’t be quick. By God, I’d be willing to bet you died slowly the first time around. I can abide by seeing you go that way again.” 

The Priestess let out a loud growl. She then kept her mouth open, blood still foaming, and turned her aim towards Addy Belle’s neck. 

“NO!” Joe screamed. 

Just as the Priestesses red stained and sharpened teeth were but a breath from Addy’s neck Joe noticed something behind the scene. A man on a horse galloped towards them. The man seemed to be armed with a rifle and a bayonet at the end. As the man broke through the fog Joe saw who it was. Cole Niles galloped his horse straight for the back of the Priestess. She heard the gallop and turned quickly to see who it was. Before she could do anything Cole Niles ran his horse straight into the Priestess. This sent Addy Belle flying to the ground as The Priestess stumbled but did not fall. Cole dismounted the horse on the run and let out a scream as he then plunged the bayonet right into the chest on the Priestess. The blow sent her back a few steps and Cole along with her as he held onto the rifle. The Priestess glanced to her now punctured chest. She then looked up at Cole and weakly hissed at him. Just as Cole thought she was defeated she lunged for him. Both sets of nails scratched away at Cole’s chest and shoulders. She then lunged with her face as she tried to take a bite right out of him. Cole then pulled back the hammer and pulled the rifle's trigger. This sent a musket ball right through the heart of the Priestess and out of her back. She ceased. She tried to let out one last growl but couldn’t. Cole noticed her eyes as they changed right before his very own. They slowly returned to a vibrant green. And with that, Cole retracted the rifle from her body and sent her to her knees. She glanced up at him as her eyes were going from green to black. She stumbled and stuttered through her last sentence. 

“You…You cannot survive. The curse won’t allow it. His wrath will come for you.” 

As she fought through her last word and face planted into the ground. The Priestess of Bones was no more. But this battle had not yet ended. The sound of low rumbles and roars rang out from behind the four of them. They turned to see a sight of a hundred Cursed walking towards them. They emerged from the fog to reveal their freshly acquired wounds from the days battle. Cole took in what she said. Something had changed in him. He felt a monster being born. He took the bayoneted rifle and rose it up and then plunged it right into her neck. He then carried the blade from one end of her neck to the other. This released her head from her body. He then reached down and grabbed the loose head by its hair. He then turned to the incoming horde of the dead; The Priestesses head in one hand and the rifle in the other. He stepped towards the horde and reared back and launched the head of The Priestess at the incoming dead. The head bounced and rolled its way to the feet of The Cursed. It slowly came to a stop and they glanced down at it. Cole withdrew a pistol from his belt and took a step towards them. Rifle in one hand and a pistol in the other. He had the look of a thousand peasants who were ready to revolt after being oppressed and subjected by a king. The Dead all looked at him. Every single one of them. This was the quietest Antietam had been all day. The Dead then released a growl towards Cole. They started to sway back and forth as if building up to a charge. Cole clenched his teeth. He felt someone behind him. He turned his head and noticed that Addy, Sci, and Joe had taken a stand directly beside of him. The four stood and stared at The Cursed. 

“We’re right here! We remain!” Cole yelled at the top of his lungs. 

Just then, a gust of wind blew through the scene. it came from behind the horde of the dead. The four living almost fell to the ground. When they reestablished themselves they realized that the horde had turned. They all began to slowly walk away from the head of their leader. And with that, the four of them seem to have lived to be cursed another day.  

At Day’s End. 

With the fog giving way and the smoke from another burned down town now just reduced to a smolder, the four survivors slowly limped on. Their journey had taken them the other side of the town. The slowly trudged on. No one spoke. The four of them had every single emotion imaginable cycling through them. They walked connected as they all were pitching in to help Sci limp along. As the fog continued to clear they caught sight of a lone shimmering ray of sunlight on this dark day. 

“Do you guys see what I see?” 

Addy Belle spoke out for the first time in what seemed like forever. 

“Yeah. Yeah, I think I do. Is that a wagon?” 

The four quickened their pace towards the fortuitous sight. 

“It is a wagon. It has to be!” Cole continued as they got closer.

The four of them hurried over to it. 

“I will be damned. There is even a horse.” 

Joe Ferris let loose a smile. 

“We must hurry. If we aren't the only survivors…”  

“Sci’s right. Others will be looking for a quick escape if they made it. We best get on our way.” Addy concurred. 

The four then loaded what little they had into the abandoned wagon. They all pitched in to help Sci up and into the back. They had wrapped his wounds on his legs with their coats and some other things they found inside of the wagon. Joe pulled Cole aside as Addy searched for any medicine on the wagon. 

“So where did he say we needed to go? Kentucky?” 

“Yes. It’s a small town. That’s where we met. And we’ve been friend ever since. His sister still lives there. If we can find her, we may be able to heal him and figure out what the hell is going on.” 

Joe grabbed Cole’s arm. 

“You don’t know me, I get that. I saved your friend from a pit of dead people back there. And they were clawing at him. That’s where the scratches come from.” 

Cole interjected. 

“I know this. You’ve told me.” 

Joe swallowed hard. 

“I asked him if he was bit. I couldn't really tell in the fray of it all.” 

Cole stopped what he was doing and looked back at Joe. 

“And he said?” 

Joe shook his head. 

“He didn't know.” 

Cole lost all energy and spark that he had. He turned and looked back at the wagon. 

“All I am implying is this, I don’t want to put her or myself in danger. We will travel with you to Kentucky because it’s further inland and it appears these b******s have not there yet. But then we will be on our way. That’s as far as we go, Cole.” 

Cole nodded in agreement. 

“I understand. Have the mistress ride up with you for the first bit of the trip. I’ll stay in the wagon with him and watch over him. If he starts to….I’ll take care of it. I’ll take care of him.” 

Joe Ferris nodded in agreement. Cole then turned and started for the back of the wagon. 

“One more thing, Cole.” 

Cole stopped and turned to Joe. 

“The heart. You did just fine back there with that crazy b***h. But this ain’t her. It’s someone close.” 

Cole shook his head as he was done with the conversation. 

“I understand. Let’s get on the road.” 

And with that, the four of them set out on the wagon. They were heading west to the only safe place left in Cole and Sci’s mind. Their hometown. Joe and Addy rode up front as Joe drove the wagon. Cole rode inside of the wagon with Sci. The road was bumpy. Cole shook back and forth as the wooden wheels roughly glided over various rocks and branches. Sci was not reacting well to the ride. He was sweating and coughing. He had been asleep for some time. A restless one at that. All of the sudden, he woke up abruptly. Cole immediately sprang into action and held him down by his chest. Once Cole determined the Sci was still Sci, he sheathed his knife. Sci’s breathing slowed down after several silent minutes. 

“Did you see things in your sleep?” 

Sci swallowed hard and let out a cough or two before answering. 

“Our day is over…Their Dark has begun.” 

VouDoun (Formally known as Charleston, South Carolina)


The night was darker than most. No, the night was darker than them all. It seemed as if not a single star was in the sky over Voudoun. The moon was nowhere to be found. The sky over the new home of the dead was empty. The damaged city was not being rebuilt. It was not being repaired in any way. The dead kept it the way they made it in the attack. The Cursed usually roamed the streets aimlessly until commanded otherwise. That was not the case on this night. They were all gathered and smushed together as they stood lifelessly at the center of the city. A man could be heard yelling and screaming into the night. Other than his threats, the night was quiet. He stood in the center of them all. He was The Priest of Hearts and he had just recently become a widow. 

“The living think that they can avoid us. They believe that they can avoid The Curse. They think they can cheat death. They always have. That is their weakness. Let them have the notion. Let them believe it wholeheartedly. Because if I get ahold of them…their heart will never be whole again.” 

The Cursed growled to the night as their new leader licked his lips after his proclamation. He paced back and forth in the midst of his crowd. He looked at each of The Cursed in their eyes. In their black abyss. 

“You may have heard what has happened. Some of you were there. I would have given anything to be one of those that were there. I would have torn them limb from limb.” 

The crowd of the dead growled and yelled at the night again. 

“We will march on every city. We will march on every town. We will march on every village and outpost and fort that this country has. The day is a little darker now that we are here, my Cursed.” 

The Cursed chomped and licked at their teeth as their hunger for more grew. 

“You are restless. You are angry. So am I.” 

The Priest of Hearts stopped in his tracks as his head lifted to the night. 

“The Priestess of Bones would want nothing more from us than pure animalistic revenge. There are an endless amount of hearts to feast upon, my Cursed. You may have them all!”

The Cursed screamed the loudest they had all night. 

“But if any of you dare touch the four who think they are immune…I will torture your dead soul and keep you from the long peace for an eternity.” 

The crowd of the dead was silent. 

“I will delve in their flesh and relish every bite. I will eat each of their hearts out of their chests while they are still breathing. They will feel every tooth pierce into their skin and tear and gnaw at it as they beg to be dead. As they beg to be Cursed.” 

The dead hissed and roared at their leader's remarks. Some would chomp at the figure standing next to them. Some would take a bite from their own arm or shoulder in excitement. 

“They think their Civil War is gruesome. They think it is dark. Our War will show them the meaning of dark.” 

He then lifted his arms to his face. He slowly peeled off several portions of his cheek and forehead. The skin didn't want to leave the bone. The Priest of Bones now looked more menacing than ever. He then began to walk right down the middle of the crowd. He touched a shoulder or an arm or even one of their faces as his confidence continued to grow. And his anger. He then stopped and looked those around him in their black eyes.

“You have your calling. Spread The Curse. Leave none from your reaping.” 

With The Priest of Bones final words his eyes turned a dark red. And one by one, the rest of The Cursed did the same.   

© 2016 Colton Warr

Author's Note

Colton Warr
Thank you to everyone who has followed along with this series and has left me with their comments. You all have been a big help in making me ponder some small changes if I decide to pull the trigger on a second volume for this. Until then, enjoy the finale!
P.S. I have five poems coming your way before Christmas!

My Review

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The narration dealt with a lot of action and the plot flowed smoothly through scenes, striking gruesome details, I can see you've worked hard. I don't usually read zombie fiction, but this one held my interest till the end. My favorite part was: Collision at the West Woods. Battle of Antietam.
I liked some lines:
"The Priestess tilted her head as a dog would when it thought you were trying to tell it something."
"He slowly peeled off several portions of his cheek and forehead."
I have a little suggestion, if you don't mind. There are a lot of sentences which go "He then", "Cole then" "The one-eyed man then", if you could cut down on the use of "then" and find an alternative structuring for those sentences, it would make the story even more fun to read. Keep writing :)

Posted 4 Years Ago

I have to admit I have not followed the series or read this through, but I notice good paragraphing and a solid text. Good work.

Posted 4 Years Ago

0 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Critique: Every time someone says something you need to identify who it is doing the talking. As you have this written it is the same person doing all the talking (“Don’t let the dead keep you awake, missy.”
Joe Ferris had not been asleep either.
“Who’s to say it ain’t the living that’s keepin’ me up?”)

“Don’t let the dead keep you awake, missy." Joe said. Joe Ferris had not been asleep either.
“Who’s to say it ain’t the living that’s keepin’ me up?” Addison responded.

Review: As I have stated before I am not a fan of the walking dead but these time related tales gives the story a steampunk element that is entertaining. I enjoyed this much more that the standard zombie theme stories that have become popping up so well done Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap!

Posted 4 Years Ago

seems like it came directly from the history books,great chapter

Posted 4 Years Ago

Lengthy but interesting. I sometimes get lost with the constant switching. Perhaps from not reading chapter right after chapter. Valentine

Posted 4 Years Ago

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5 Reviews
Added on December 13, 2016
Last Updated on December 13, 2016
Tags: zombies, Story, Stories, Love, Hate, War, Friendship, Short Story


Colton Warr
Colton Warr

Richmond, VA

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