Seems like a ghost story is appropriate for Halloween, so how about an excerpt from a historical fiction piece, “The Last Ghost of the War.” From somewhere toward the end (but no spoilers).
Quick synopsis of what has come to pass previously in this story: the narrator, the ghost of a Confederate soldier named Bo, has spent most of the Civil War as a Confederate spy. His boss, a young kitsune–a fox-witch–named Twilly Hooper, had recruited a number of ghosts to spy on the Union armies, with great success, as ghosts made almost unbeatable spies. But now the war is all but lost, Bo is the last of her spies, and she has one last mission for him.
The Last Ghost of the War
The ghosts were all gone now, except for me. Some had deserted; most, including Pierre, had… faded. Young Hank had been exorcised, a horrific fate, by the dreaded colonel. I flinched at the idea of leaving Twilly. She was in vulpine form that night, her gray fur matching the dirty snow, her red eyes mirroring the fire. Beautiful yet savage, she was more woman than I had ever dreamed of, but with a newly forked tail. And as a ghost, I had no place to go to.
“We done lost this here war.” I was increasingly certain of this truth, but this was the first time I had dared to say it aloud. The evidence was clear all around us, as we had spent the last few weeks in enemy territory. Despite the bitter weather, the contrast between the well-fed and increasingly confident North and the emaciated South was stark.
“I know,” she said, and then told me what to do.
I had followed her to places worse than hell, but what she asked chilled me. I knew she was right, but it still felt like treason, to save a man I hated. “You go.”
“Do you ‘xpect me to just pad into his office?” She allowed herself a partial reverse transformation, her human face, careworn but still beautiful, morphing with her vulpine, toothy grin. She knew I could never resist her. I had stood by her through the war, grieved with her when she buried Zeb on the side of the mountain, celebrated her triumphs and mourned her increasingly frequent defeats. I could not say no.
“The Last Ghost of the War” was published in the April 2011 edition of Bards and Sages Quarterly.
PS – Loyal readers may remember Twilly, along with Beau and Zeb, from “The Confederate Cavalryman’s Saber,” and really clever readers may recognize Twilly as Granny Hooper from “Walking with Great Uncle.”