Chuck Wendig, the IBF and WBC welterweight diaper changing champion of the world, issues a Flash Fiction challenge this week about notable figures from history. My contribution involves two and is called "Visitors at Appomattox".
General Robert E. Lee looked across the table at General Ulysses S Grant. "It is entirely mysterious to me," the Southerner began, "why the Lord should see fit to make creatures such as these, who walk as men but speak a pidgin tongue, and are of such an entirely odd hue."
His opposite number puffed his cigar twice. "Quite so, General Lee. Quite so."
The two armies, combatants over half the country for four long years, had finally drawn their fighting to a close, the exhausted South finally ending the hostilities at the feet of the better equipped North. The two sides were in the midst of that surrender in Appomattox Court House, Virginia, when a brilliant silver disk, the length of several rail cars and twice as high, settled to the ground in an open field, crushing a pile of Southern rifles that had been stacked there.
Almost immediately, a group of perhaps seventy five creatures emerged from the strange vehicle. They were of a light orange color, carrying clubs that were curious looking, but spiky and menacing enough to make their intended use clear. There did not seem to be women or children in the group, but who could tell? Their sparkling skin left no hint as to gender or race. They looked like no man anyone present had ever encountered.
The Union Army did what any military organization did when confronted with something unusual- they pointed their guns at it. With practiced efficiency, the men in blue set up pickets to guard the visitors, then rolling cannon into place as soon as they could, surrounding the strange craft with their own scary array of war implements.
General Grant continued, "But whatever, or whomever, they are, they are here and we must deal with them."
Lee straightened up in his chair and said, "It has been suggested to me that your forces might consent to rearming some of my men until...this quite unusual event...is dealt with, as you say."
Grant took another long drag on his cigar. "With all due respect, General Lee, my men have been trying to kill your men, and being killed in return, for many months now. I can scarcely imagine they will look kindly upon being asked to stand beside a man who was trying to shoot them yesterday."
Lee looked hurt. "Indeed, General Grant. And the same applies to my men. But surely we are all Americans...all humans...now. And surely we can overlook our petty differences until we can ascertain whether or not these...things...have hostile intent?"
Grant thought for a moment, taking the cigar out of his mouth to sip from the cup in front of him. To his disappointment, it continued to be only coffee. "I will consent to one hundred men, General Lee, under your direct command. Loyal men, who will obey you to the last. And I will hold you personally responsible for their behavior-"
The Union chief was interrupted by an explosion. Both men rushed to the window. One of the beings was holding his club leveled at the Union lines, and where a cannon once stood, there was now a hole lined with blackened grass and soil. The two men scrambled out the door to order their men into position. Grant paused, calling over an aide.
As the popping of rifle and the booming of cannon began to be heard along the perimeter of the field, Grant pulled the younger man close. "Send word to Washington. Surrender of Southern forces complete, stop. Reinforcements needed urgently, stop. New threat of unknown origin, stop. General Grant, stop. Now off with you, boy. Send that quick before we're all dead!"