Chapter 9

Captain Howards got his men into position, a storekeeper across from the consumption asylum's main entrance let one of his men stay in his upstairs storeroom so this entrance was covered.  There was a vacant house by the rear entrance that gave them an excellent observation post.  The only spot they had a hard time covering was the walk around the back of the building.  It had several exits.  It was hard to position a man where he had a good view and wouldn't be easily noticed.  But they finally got a good position.  Every two hours the Captain checked his men.  For the first day there was nothing, then on the second one of his men remarked "I'm quite certain, sir, I'm being watched.  You know that feeling you get that something very unpleasant is creeping up the back of your neck?"
"Yes," the Captain agreed.  "I know that feeling.  I'll look around."
He did so, the first couple of times finding nothing, and then spotting something in the shadows, sure enough, watching the store window!
He crept closer.  His adversary obviously had no inkling he was there.  There was a beeping sound.  The man looked around, took out his watch, and spoke into it.
"Corporal Bell, keep alert!"  a voice came out of the watch.  "The officer leading the rebs is wanderin' around.  I don't know if he's just checking his troops, or might be on to us."
"I'll be careful!"  the man answered into his watch.  "Haven't seen anybody around here.  It's gettin' damned cold here, sir!  My heater doesn't seem to be working.  Any chance my relief can get here a little early?"
"Everybody's equipment is fouling up!"  the voice from the watch remarked.  "We were told there was a possibility our modern stuff wouldn't work here.  It seems to work but not very well."
"Don't let this guy get out of here without our knowledge!  We have to get those plans!"
"I know!"  the man answered into his watch.
Captain Howards backed off.  "What in the hell," he muttered to himself.  Very carefully he searched around and found that each of his men had a shadow.  "Not good!"  he muttered, "Not good at all!"
He got back to where the rest of his men were quartered, and reported what he'd found.  
"Well, what do you reckon we should do, sir? " the experienced lieutenant asked.
"I think," Howards answered, "nothing at the moment.  
He was about to say more when a messenger came in.  "Sir!" he managed after catching his breath, "he's here!  I just saw him at the hotel.  He took a room.  I'm SURE it's him!  The picture you showed us, sir, couldn't be anybody else.  Real odd looking man.  He said he was here visiting a relative at the consumption asylum and asked for directions."
Howards smiled.  He knew watching the hotel was a good idea, and it had paid off.  But now dare he act without dealing with his other problem first?  Finally he decided.
"We got Yankee agents watching us," he told his men. I think we'd better deal with them before we go after their friend.  Let's find out how many of them there are, and where they're hidin', then we'll go after their associate."
"Yes sir!" one of his men answered.  "I like nothin' better than taking out Yankee trash!"
The Captain deployed his men and they carefully watched those watching them.  When the watchers were relieved they followed them back to an undertaking parlor.
"I know this man!"  one of the privates commented.  "Made it known before the war he was against slavery, but supported the southern cause."
"Apparently," the Captain muttered "not quite as much as he should be!  Let's take 'em!"
He and his men burst into the parlor through both doors. "Officers of The Confederacy!"  the Captain snapped, "You are our prisoners!  Surrender your arms!"
"What to hell?" the proprietor screamed. He reached under the counter and brought up a strange looking device that suddenly began spraying bullets all over the room!  Two of the Captain's men were hit immediately and went down, but the rest answered with a hail of fire that took down the proprietor, his strange weapon fell silent, but others replaced it.  These men obviously intended to put up a fight!  One of them snatched up the proprietor's weapon and bolted through an open door. "Dammit!" he heard somebody screaming, "Carter didn't keep the rules!  He brought a damned Thompson with him!  Open a gate!  We've got to get to hell out of here!"
Strange light began to come from the other room.  Howards cautiously approached the door, but when he finally got to look inside there was nobody there!
"Sir?" one of his men asked, "What in the hell just happened?  Where did them fellers go?  There was no way out of there."
"I don't know," Howards answered, "I'm not sure I want to know.  But we're dealing with something unnatural here, something unholy.  I heard them Yankees often went in for ungodly ways, witchcraft and such.  It sure looks like these fellers have been practicing the art!  Probably sold their souls to get the power to do THAT stuff!"
"Yankees will do anything!"  one of the other men spat.  "They have no honor, or, no dignity!  They'll do anything!"
"My God!"  one of the other men gasped who had been peering around the corner, "There's certainly somethin' goin' on around here!  Look at this!  This man's only been dead a few minutes, but he's already putrefied!  The stench!"
The others came over and examined the body.  Their companion was not exaggerating.  The body showed all signs of extensive decay.
"Oooohee!" one of the men cried, "Whatever he was drinkin' I don't want any of it!"

Page 16

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