Second Nature

All Rights Reserved ©


Serial Novel about Ephraim Lockhart, Vampire.

Horror / Fantasy
Jack Haynes
Age Rating:


When Sergeant Ephraim Lockhart awoke on the evening of September 19, he knew he was dying.

The Army of the Cumberland had chased the Rebs out of Chattanooga, only to face them in North Georgia a few days later. The battle there had not gone so well.

Lockhart and his men had been ordered to shore up Horseshoe Ridge, and suffered greatly in doing so. Lockhart had been hit in the thigh with a musket during the fray and passed out due to the extreme pain.

He tried to look around but could not see much in the gloom. Night had fallen while he was out and all he could make out was the shapes of dozens of bodies around him. It might have been hundreds.

Now his only companion in this field of bodies was the sound of some poor chap moaning incessantly. He was wishing that whoever was making that unholy sound wound stop, when he realized it was him.

I’m dying here, he thought. I must get up.

When he tried to move, the pain was intense. Not only in his leg but in his shoulder as well. He realized his shirt was soaked in blood, too.

He laid his back and closed his eyes.

He began to weep.

I’m sorry, Mama, he thought. I promised you that I would come home safe but I won’t. I tried. I really did.

Becky’s face came to him then, the way she looked that last day as he had walked away, leaving her crying on her granddaddy’s porch.

“No!” he screamed.

A shuffling sound reached him then from across the field, perhaps fifty yards down, toward the bottom of the ridge.

“Hello?” he called, not liking the trembling he heard in his own voice.

“Hello,” someone answered. “Who are you? Where are you?”

“I’m Sgt. Lockhart. On top of the ridge. Who is thi…” His question was interrupted by a short burst of coughing.

The blood it produced confirmed what he already knew.

“You a Yankee, Sarge, or are you Godly?” the voice asked, chuckling.

As the footsteps approached Ephraim realized he was too cold and tired to care. He suspected it was a Reb coming to finish him off but couldn’t seem to muster any emotion about it.

“Where you at, Rat?” the approaching voice asked.

Ephraim almost dozed when he heard something that sounded like a growl. He managed to turn his head to try to hear better.

“Come on, you. There’s no use in playing possum. I’m going to find…”

The voice stopped as another growl sounded, this time rising in pitch and volume.

Ephraim heard a rifle-musket being cocked.

Suddenly, the night exploded with sound. The first sound seemed to be that of a large, angry cat yelling, followed by a gunshot, and the high pitched screams of a man being eaten alive.

Despite the pain and blood loss, Ephraim managed to roll over onto his stomach and begin to crawl away from the terrible sounds.

Right elbow. Right knee. Left elbow. Left knee.

As he crawled, new sounds came to him. There was what might have been a man grunting, a cat screaming and the sound of a dozens of twigs being broken all at once. He continued to crawl at a snails pace.

Right elbow. Right knee. Left elbow. Left knee.

Behind him came footsteps. Unlike his racing heart, they steps came slow and steady.

Crunch. Shuffle. Shuffle. Crunch.

What is he stepping on? He thought.

Right elbow. Right knee. Left elbow. Left knee.

A different voice from before began speaking in a calm, conversational tone that did nothing to sooth Ephraim.

Right elbow. Right knee. Left elbow. Left knee.

“There’s no need to be frightened.”

Right elbow. Right knee. Left elbow. Left knee.

Large hands grabbed his shoulders and began to pull him up. Not just up to his knees but up until his feet were dangling about eight inches above the ground.

“Please allow me to ask you a question,” a voice behind him breathed into his left ear.

“Wha…” Ephraim’s attempted response morphed into a scream as he felt himself falling.

Instantly, he was being held up again but from the front. He found himself nose to nose with a man with extraordinary bad breath. The only thing he could really see was dark eyes peering into his own.

“Tell me,” the man said, in the same sanguine voice as before, “Do you want to live?”

“Y…yes,” he stammered.

“Ok,” the stranger smiled. “Unfortunately, I must kill you first.”

Ephraim’s screams filled the night.
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