Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Demons, Assassins!"
Pages 286-288

     Satan’s creation!

     From near the top of Punkatasset Hill Edmund Forrester had seen the devil’s mark in the desecrated corpses left behind at the base of the North Bridge. He had witnessed Satan’s power in the behavior of the soldiers that had filed past, they at Lexington, having raised to eternity eight righteous souls!

     “What additional depravity must I witness?” he had declared. None, he had the past ten minutes dared to hope. A hundred yards from the Meriam house the King’s soldiers were crossing the narrow bridge. Spare them, Heavenly Father. Permit them to leave my sight, he prayed.

     “Usurpers of liberty,” Abraham, others, had asserted. Words could lie, oftentimes mislead; events did not. The taxes, the billeting of soldiers, the closure of the harbor. This military expedition. 

     But did these transgressions justify his presence? Did they require he take a man’s life?

     Several in his company had exploded their powder. Most had not. Heavenly Father, let this marshalling of forces of which I am a part be but a demonstration! Punish them additionally if You must but exempt us from thy administration!

     Two rapid volleys across the bridge ended his prayer. Militiamen at the opposite end of the bridge toppled.

     Fierce expletives! Loud exhortations!

     Standing beside Edmund, Cousin Benjamin fired his musket.

     “Hold your fire! I say hold your fire!” John Flint shouted. “It’ll do y’no good from here!”

     Edmund stared. A right eye muscle twitched.

     “See? They’re stuck there, takin’ fire!”

     We are lost souls, damned, in Satan’s dominion!

     “Sergeant! Hurry the men across the slope!” Flint shouted. “Put your men in motion! Be quick!”

     Hurrying across the broad incline, Edmund anticipated their destination, a deciduous wood off the north side of the Concord/Lexington road. Holding his musket high, Edmund skirted interfering bushes, averted boulders, vaulted a small piling of rocks. Digging his heels into the downslope’s soft earth, he slowed his descent. He leaped onto the road. Following his company leaders, he plunged into the wood. Within seconds he was hiding behind a large tree trunk.

     He saw militiamen in a wood across the road. They weren’t Reading men. No one from his company as far as he had witnessed had crossed over. He remembered that he had seen earlier the reflection of sunlight on metal. How much farther along that side of the road did other militiamen wait?

     The sound of musketry was loud. “Savor each shot!” someone behind Edmund shouted.

     Powder exploded from across the road. Reading’s militiamen fired. Distorted faces turned to combat them. Musket balls ripped back through the new leaves.

     Traumatized, Edmund stayed hidden. During a brief interstice of silence, imagining soldiers with murderous faces rushing at him, Edmund finally raised his musket.

     Two heart beats thereafter he doubted the need! An animated officer had ordered his soldiers to rejoin the column. Edmund watched them face away. Standing their muskets upright, many inserted cartridges, worked ramrods, spilled powder. All the while musket balls ripped. Soon enough they hurried off, leaving behind two writhing bodies and three twisted corpses.

     More redcoats passed across his restricted vision. Edmund felt, like no time previously, the pounding of his heart. His throat was dry, very dry, his mouth parched. He needed to urinate. A prayer unlike any he had heretofore uttered issued from his lips.

     Strengthened, he stared at the road. He saw a cluster of soldiers facing in his direction. An officer, behind them, shouted. Crouched, musket barrels and bayonets leading, the soldiers stepped off the road.

     “Flankers!” someone yelled.

     Demons, assassins!

     The tree trunks about Edmund flashed. Thirty feet in front of him, a gangly-looking redcoat flinched. He careened behind a tree trunk. Moments after, Edmund saw the man’s eyes peer over a low, thick branch. Edmund fired. He heard the man yelp, saw him grasp. Fragments of bark leaped off the tree trunk next to the soldier's head. Lunging, stumbling, evading musket balls, he hurried to the road.

     Another redcoat soldier forced his way through low-hanging branches.

     Eyes burning, Edmund Forrester reloaded his musket.