The B'East Side
Blue & Grayscale: Chapter 8Thursday, May 17, 2012 By Katie Hartman, Fiction Columnist
By the time we got to Richmond, the city was in flames. Colonel Dawson led the cavalry toward the center of the city, taking back roads to avoid burning buildings. The fire was spreading, though, and soon we were riding through a tunnel of flames. I spurred Thorn on, willing him to run faster. If I didn’t keep up with the cavalry, I could be crushed by falling debris. Then Thorn reared up, almost throwing me off. The rest of the horses had stopped, and were pacing in circles anxiously. Colonel Dawson was backing his horse up, one hand in the air to direct his men. I stood up in my stirrups, trying to see over the tall warhorses. A building had collapsed in front of us, leaving a burning pile of timber in our way. “Retreat!” Colonel Dawson ordered. “Take the road on the right to the city square!” He rode through the group back toward the other street, the cavalry charging after him. I gaped as we rode down the wide avenue. This was my neighborhood—there was my house, flames licking their way up the side of the trellis. And there was Lynne’s house, right across the street. Lynne! Where was Lynne?! I kicked Thorn in the sides, and rode up alongside Colonel Dawson. “Where is everyone?!” I demanded. Colonel Dawson glared at me. “What are you—” he began. Then he just threw his hands up and shook his head. I’d only been tailing his regiment for a day, and he was already used to my not following orders. “They probably all escaped,” Colonel Dawson answered. “The fire’s spreading slowly; as long as people weren’t being stupid, they should have gotten out.” “I have to find Lynne,” I said. “No!” Colonel Dawson exclaimed urgently. “No, Miss Shaw, you have to stay with the group! We don’t know where the Confederates are! Tori, don’t—” But I didn’t hear the end of his sentence. I was already pelting down Main Street, shaking the reins to keep Thorn going. The city square was a wreck—windows were shattered, carts were overturned, walls were peppered with bullet holes. I turned Thorn in a circle, looking for my friend, but the only people I saw were a pack of Union soldiers, hiding behind the fountain. Then I heard a gunshot—a line of Confederates had appeared in the street, their rifles trained on the Northerners. Thorn reared up and threw me off. I hit the ground hard, my breath knocked away, and rolled a few feet before coming to a stop. As I lay on the ground, trying to catch my breath, a shadow fell across me. I covered my head— And a huge warhorse flew over me—Colonel Dawson. His horse galloped a few steps and then reared up, but he kept his balance, taking shots at the Southerners with his pistol. The Confederates scattered, but kept firing at Colonel Dawson once they were hidden. One of his horse’s legs buckled, and he fell off. The Confederates stepped out into the street again, continuing to fire at us. Colonel Dawson scrambled back toward me, staying low to the ground. “Tori,” he gasped. “If you get a chance, run. Understand? That’s an order.” “What about you?” I asked. “This is our job,” Colonel Dawson said. “But I want you to run.” Suddenly, the Confederates turned and ran up the street. A low, ominous drone filled the air, sending chills down my spine. I looked up. A big, bulbous aircraft filled the sky, its side covered in a blue and red flag. “What is that?” I breathed. “That is a dirigible,” Colonel Dawson said, his voice flat. “From England.” Check in with Tori and Colonel Dawson next year to see what happens next, in Blue and Grayscale part two.