Chapter One

Battlefield, Date unknown

The twentieth Maine

A single shot.

That was all that had started the chaos that churned around him, wretched screams punctuated by the sound of rifle fire and the shouts of surgeons as they struggled to save his comrades, to little or no avail. Limp, blood soaked bodies were strewn around him, their expressions twisted in agony. Some of them were still alive, clutching their abdomens and crying for their mothers, their screeches panicked and growing fainter.

The young male's head whipped around, fear and panic surging through his veins, his heart pounding in his chest as every instinct for survival he had screamed, GET OUT. YOU HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE NOW. Charlie's hands trembled wildly, he couldn't even remember how to fire the rapidly shaking rifle that he held on to for dear life, his grip slippery from sweat.

There was a hiss as a bullet went past his head, and Charlie jumped to the ground, letting out a panicked gasp of shock and fear. All he wanted to do was go home! He longed for the comfort of being near his mother like he had when he was five, just wanting to be held tight and told it was okay.

The stench of blood and sweat hung in the air, threatening to intoxicate him at any given moment, only adding to the terror that racked his entire body, rendering him useless against the looming threat all around him. When he was sure he was safe, he leapt to his feet, quickly maneuvering around the debris all over.

He glanced around once he made it to a rocky overhang, confident that he had made it out of the danger zone and was able to catch his breath. He stared down at his hands, still shaking wildly as adrenaline made its way through his bloodstream. The sound of water was near, a small river swollen from the recent heavy rains rushed below the rocks.

A blood curdling yowl suddenly split the air as a lithe figure lunged at him, just barely missing his side and tearing a hole in the fabric of the uniform on his shoulder. He yelped in surprise, dodging another swift blow to his side just in time. He readied his bayonet, preparing to retaliate. Every muscle in his entire body tensed as the figure before him froze, locking eyes. Neither struck, both moved slowly, circling like two rams locked in a battle to the death.

It was the rebel that struck again, jumping at his chest and just barely missing. Charlie struck at him, but he blocked, forcing him back. Panic overwhelmed him, and his hands still shook as he tried to hold his ground to no avail.

With a gasp he realized where the other soldier was trying to lead him: over the rocks and into the dark, churning waters of the river beneath it. He had to escape from the powerful bearing the man had on the side of his own rifle, and quickly. Charlie ducked, moving to the left a few feet before the dropoff, but the rebel hissed in anger, striking again. This time, Charlie was ready.

The other gave a ghastly screech of pain as he was impaled on the bayonet at the end of the rifle, blood spurting from the entrance wound on his thigh. Charlie jerked back, watching in sick amazement and horror as the figure crumpled to the ground with a sick thud, clutching the wound and desperately trying to stop the rapid bleeding.

"Mama...Mama...Mama..." His gurgling whispers slowly faded like an ocean mist.

The figure went limp. Never to see the light of day again or enjoy the feel of fresh air in his lungs. Charlie felt the hot tears welling up in his eyes as he stared at the bloodied figure that lay sprawled on the cold stone, surrounded by a pool of his own blood that soaked the gray of his uniform and stained his pale skin.

"Why..?", he managed to choke out, his voice breaking. You're a murderer. Murderer murderer murderer murderer murder–His thoughts swarmed with one word as he continued to stare at the figure before him. Why?!

Another bullet shot past his ear, and he yelped in fear, ducking and quickly moving forward. They had been alerted to his presence–and wanted revenge for their comrade's death. Charlie kept running, bullets whizzing past him and the shriek of the rebel he had just murdered still echoing in his head, the sick thud as the bloody body fell to the ground, limp.

Adrenaline was still surging through his veins, and his uniform was sticking to his skin, unpleasant and sticky from sweat. He stopped, shaking. GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT. The screams in his head got louder, more urgent as the battle continued, ghastly yowls and angry hisses erupting as the cracks of rifles echoed through the thick air.

He had to escape before it was too late! His head whipped around, searching, scanning the battlefield for any possible escape route like a cornered animal. There was a grove in the woods not too far, he should be able to escape!

Charlie darted forward, quickly maneuvering around the chaos of the battlefield, his heart pounding in his chest and his entire body shaking, a cold sweat running down his neck. GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT. Charlie ducked as another gunshot sounded off close to him, trying to get traction on the muddy ground.

He was in the woods now, the sounds were getting fainter! He was going to make it! His hands shook faster at the thought and he swallowed as the excitement rushed through him. He jumped a dead log, sliding on the muddy ground for a moment before regaining his balance and continuing to run in the opposite direction of the chaos.

Crack! He froze for a moment, terrified as the bullet went past his leg, just barely missing it. It was an ambush! Fear surged through his veins again, and he ran faster, bullets sounding off behind him. He had to get out, he had to get out he had to get out—He suddenly felt a hand snatch his arm, the grip tight. He'd been caught!

He froze, slowly turning around. He didn't want to die! He hadn't known, he hadn't known that it was going to be like this!

His eyes met the deep chocolate of his captor's, and his gaze darted to his uniform–he was with the Union! The relief was short lived, however, because deserting was the worst crime a soldier could commit.

"Augh!" He suddenly yowled in pain as he felt something tear at two of his fingers, worse that anything he had ever felt in his life. Hot blood trickled from the wound, he could feel it dripping out of the wound and staining his uniform. Tears welled in his eyes as he pressed it to his chest, panic setting in. He'd been shot! He'd been shot!

The pain was all he could feel, it surged through his entire body and rendered him useless. Acid burned in his thoat, painful and making his expression twist in agony and disgust.

"Ehh...Eh..."The whimpering came involuntarily as the young soldier pressed his bloodied wound into his chest, desperate for anything to stop the pain. "It hurts! It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!" He screeched in agony, trying to stop his mind from reeling.

The man forced him down, leading him quickly into a clearing before letting go of his arm, silent. Charlie hissed in agony, slowly moving the torn hand into his view but quickly jerking it back, feeling like he was going to throw up–and that was what he did as the other struck at the soldier that had ambushed him, forcing him back by sheer strength until the rebel turned on his heels and ran.

The dark-haired figure looked around the clearing to make sure that everything was safe before he went to care for the injured teenager, his expression gentle and pained.

"Here, boy. Give me your hand." Charlie whimpered, nodding and holding it up for the man, who tore off part of his uniform and wrapped it around the badly severed digits.

Charlie nodded, his breathing ragged and tears running down his cheeks. You saved my life. The thought echoed in his head as the man led him, casting a concerned glance over his shoulder every few steps.

You saved my life.

And so began the tale of young Charlie O'Harel.

Author: This is the tale of my characters, enjoy.