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Monday, July 14, 2014

INTO MYTH_Bella's Point Blog Challenge

Bella's Point Blog Challenge!

What do you have to do to win?

  1. write something readers want to read. No word limit, no guidelines. Your only prompt is: The year was 1865.... (feel free to ignore the prompt, creative genius never bound by rules or prompts)
  2. Display the Bella's Point Hop Badge (which is lovely and made by the amazing Carrie Butler of Forward Authority)
  3. Add the tour blurb and links to your post (I will email to you when you sign up)
  4. Post between July 15th and July 31st. Notify Elizabeth via email ( when post is live so she can inform the readers.
{Actual photo of Old Abe in public domain}
{795 words}

It was April 21st 1865.
Ahgamahwegezhig looked at me huddled behind the mound of rubble.  He had been my father's best Ojibwe student.
I called him Chief Sky because every time I tried to pronounce his Ojibwe name, I sounded like I was a cat heaving up a furball.
He grunted, “They also serve who only stand and wait, but the pay is shit.”
He, Corporal Danvers, and I were all that was left of the Wisconsin 8th Infantry.
Well, there was Old Abe, the eagle mascot, of the company.  Captain Perkins named him after the President.
Who am I?  I’m Jim McGinnis, the last of a long line of teachers, and the idiot who volunteered to take care of Old Abe.
In August 1861, John C. Perkins, assisted by Seth Pierce, Frank McGuire, and Victor Wolf recruited a company of volunteers from Eau Claire and Chippewa Counties.
This company was called the "Eau Claire Badgers.”
Chief Sky had come along to make war on whites and because Old Abe belonged to him.  Why didn’t he take care of Old Abe? 

The eagle liked to ride on my leather-shod shoulder.
And his talons hurt like hell.
On March 25th, the Claywater Meteorite exploded just before reaching ground level, delivering a cluster-bomb effect as fragments of its enormous mass showered Vernon County.
At least, folks thought it had exploded. 
Then, the huge Tripods started walking about, killing everything living in their paths. 

The remnants of the Eau Claire Badgers were called back from Mansura, Louisiana to help fight the Star Fallers.
We didn’t fare too well.  But then, I had taken an oath.  I meant to live up to it.
And to repay the debt of the dead … with interest.
I peeked over the mound.  The giant Tripod was still too close even though it was clanking along to the east.
Danvers licked his dry lips.  “Lieutenant, we got to get us some water soon.  We’ve been three days without it.”
I said low, “If I were a creek, where would I be?”
Chief Sky looked at me.  “If I were a creek, I would be where the ground slopes.”
“Riiiight.”  Sometimes it was good to have an Indian scout.
Old Abe was where I told him to go.  Up high in that cottonwood.  The tripod finally noticed him and swiveled slowly, its turret aiming at him.
From the bloody past, we had learned those Star-Fallers took three seconds to blow something apart. 

Up until then, they had some sort of invisible barrier around them.  I raised my already loaded Sharpes rifle.
The smooth, steady movement of my arms raised a shiver of panic in the rational man whose advice I was ignoring.

I aimed down that turret’s barrel, counted to two, and fired.
All of us flew to the ground, even Old Abe.
Bits of smoking metal rained down all around us.  They were sizzling hot.  Old Abe squawked as he flew down beside me. 

Chief Sky wasn’t any happier with me.
“Just like a white man to kill himself along with his enemy.”
“We’re still alive,” I said.
“Not for much longer if you follow this way of attack.”
Danvers ran his fingers through his red hair.  “We ain’t gonna make it home, are we, sir?”
I said low, “There’s still a chance.  We’ll get there.”
Danvers looked to Chief Sky.  “What do you think?”
The last of the Ojibwe shrugged his shoulders and smiled crooked at me.  “As your trusted Indian scout, I must warn you that you are now on very thin ice.”
“Which is?” I asked.
“Hope.  You will starve to death if you insist on living on it.”
Danvers looked on his last nerve.  I glared at Chief Sky who flicked flat black eyes at the Corporal.  He grunted a laugh.
“I will tell you a secret, Danvers.”
“What?” the Corporal asked, his voice sounding like a too-stretched skin on a drum.
“I believe that the heart is stronger than knowledge. That myth wins over history. That dreams beat facts.

That hope triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”
I sometimes forgot about how spiritual Chief Sky was. I had been raised as a Methodist where the highest sacrament was the bake sale.
He turned amused eyes to me.  “I would also say the depths of the lieutenant’s stupidity have yet to be plumbed,

and ours is coming up fast for we follow him.”
Danvers made a face.  “I was feeling better until that last.”
Chief Sky smiled like a wolf.  “Come, Danvers.  As Eagle Walker says: ‘We have oaths to keep and debts to repay.’”
And so with Old Abe flying overhead, did the last of the "Eau Claire Badgers” walk into myth.


  1. That is a STRIDE into myth, nothing so passive as a walk.

  2. Elephant's Child:
    Good to see you back! I've been swamped with blood runs and been hard pressed to have a Net presence!

    Well, Jim was tippy-toeing into myth so as not to attract the Tripods' attention! :-)

  3. "Cowboys and Aliens" type stories are rare. It would be a great niche.

  4. Well told! Yes, like Cowboys and Aliens. Liked the line about Methodist bake sales.

  5. Walter:
    Old Abe adds a nice touch I thought. The movie did not do well, but, like you, I think there is still a place for such stories. :-)

    Thanks for the nice compliment. Mark Twain published his first short story collection in this same month.

    Jim tries for a wry humor to save his sanity. I worried about that Methodist line but Jim insisted on it. :-)

  6. "Laughter is the only cure for grief." I agree. You've mixed character, playfulness, humor and profound meaning, beautifully -as always.

  7. Robyn:
    Thanks so much. Just coming back from the doctor, I really needed to hear some nice words. :-)

  8. Great job on this with the action, lyrical words, and spirituality.

  9. Medeia:
    You're very kind. You've won the heart of Old Abe. Watch out. The Spirit Eagle may perch on your porch tonight! :-)

  10. WOW this certainly puts my little Bella's Point post to shame!! Well done :)

  11. Cowboys and aliens--another interesting twist.

    Hi, Roland. I'm just checking out the competition. ;)

  12. Thanks, Suzy:
    Susy was the name of Mark Twain's favorite daughter -- I'm writing about her now in 1895 Egypt along with her father and Oscar Wilde.

    And I'm off to read your post now! I know you did well. :-)

    Always a twist with me. :-) I am no competition I know to you.

  13. Wonderful story, and based on actual history with the photo to prove it. I'm impressed.

    I had to find your blog through Elizabeth's post. The back link from the comment you left on mine took me to a WordPress site that looks to be abandoned.

  14. I love the alien twist. And some of those words of wisdom are worth printing out and reading again. Lovely.