Thursday, January 05, 2012

Terrible Minds Challenge: "August 21"

Chuck Wendig, everyone's favorite biped, is up with another flash fiction challenge, 1000 words or less with a theme, once again, of the subgenre mashup. This piece is intended to mix bodice ripper and spy story, and is called "August 21".

21 August 1863
Baltimore, Maryland

Beloved Cordelia,

My dear sister! How I long to hear your voice around the dinner table, reciting our prayers and joking with Uncle Paul about his wooden leg! I came North only reluctantly, as I told you so many times, to engage in the task asked of me, not out of any disfavor towards you or my beloved Mississippi. God has favored me in my endeavors, and I can only hope that the information I have gathered can help end this senseless war and bring independence to our Confederacy.

Please see on the back side of this page the indications I have been given about the intentions of the Yankee armies. When I was knee high to a grasshopper, you and Mother both told me that women were by far the stronger sex, and my life experience has never shown me the contrary. These Yankee boys are so weak, like ripe apples- tough on the outside but so soft and vulnerable just underneath. Sister of mine, those tricks you used on boys to get them to act as you desired work as well on Yankee men as they do on our Southern brothers. Show a flash of decolletage, some rose oil applied strategically, a bit of leg, and help relieve them of their bodily burden, and a man will tell you anything. In the period after the act of love, when they are done sweating and grunting, men grow so weary, which makes them receptive to whatever questions I pose. (I remember you trying to explain to me the ways of women and men, and blushing so furiously you looked like a rose! I now understand of which you were trying to tell me- understand far too well, I fear.)

I'm sure you are aware that, if these letters are intercepted by Yankee officials, it will be a simple matter to track them to me and have me hung for treason. I am not ashamed of what I have done. If the advantages gained from my letters allow General Lee to throw the invader from our sacred soil, then no deed I have done, from lying on my back underneath these wretches, or even a date with the noose, will have been in vain. As I always remind you, give the numbers and details I have learned to Major Boothroyd of the Home Guards. I have it on good authority he knows how to circulate the facts to the right parties so that our brave fighting men and our noble generals can use it to their advantage. I can only hope that something I have learned will help a Southern boy return to home and hearth, instead of being buried underneath Yankee boots.

Baltimore is hot today, and the Lord has seen fit to favor us with a thunderstorm as night falls, which has cooled the air off marvelously. Tell me of doings in town! Peter Collier's sister Nelly told me that darling Ruth took ill. Has my niece returned to health? Are the shortages still as bad as you described in your last missive? Have you been receiving any gentleman callers? Nelly wrote to tell me that Michael Swansee has been pitching woo at you. I know you miss your darling David since his loss after Manassas. But dear sister, woman and man are meant to be together- put aside your grief and woe, and let Michael mend your heart. Ruth and Felicity need a father in the house, and Michael is a good man. Please consider my words carefully- as your younger sister, I dare not lecture you. But my concern is for your health and safety, and of your little darlings. (I hesitate to add the other comforts a man can bring to a woman- details I now know much of, but modesty forbids my explaining them fully.)

Don't worry about me, dear Cordelia. The Lord will reign in all things, large and small, and if my acts are sinful, they are only in the service of defeating a much greater evil, that of living under the heel of Yankee domination. I have faith that Almighty God knows why I engage in these acts, and His will shall be done, without heed to the concerns of mortals. I always post my letters secretly, and with all the other pages I have included, the true meaning of this one sheet will be obscured, I trust. I promise I shall write again when September dawns- if you have not seen word from me by the end of that month, some cruel fate has befallen me.

Kiss the girls for me, and pray that my duties here will be foreshortened by the end of this awful war.

Your loving sister,



  1. I do declare, I am having an attack of the vapors (fluttering fan as I write this)...My smelling salts, please!!

  2. I too, must flutter mah fan in the heat of this sultry missive. Bravo!


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