The idea for “Shades of Old Glory”, my paranormal ghost short story, first started when I received a call from one of my publishers for a short story to include in an upcoming anthology. The theme of the anthology was holidays but not winter holidays. That was the only restriction; the genre was open; the storyline was up to me. I picked the Fourth of July in a contemporary setting along with a ghost from the Civil War. More on this below in my connections to real life section!
Alas! I know, I know, in my Author Notes Series I’ve rewritten “Alas” many times. But yes, alas, the anthology never came to fruition. No worries, though. I included it in my anthology LUCKY 13. LUCKY 13 is no longer available electronically, but still available in print from my website.
Thirteen delightful stories for your reading pleasure by Susanne Marie Knight
It is now available electronically at Amazon.com and Smashwords.com as a single and has earned 4 star reviews! The word count is over 12,000 words, and Amazon estimates the book length to be 42 pages. It sells for $1.99.
After winning a contest she doesn’t remember entering, newly graduated Rebecca Sedgwick arrives at a Virginia plantation bed and breakfast ready to relax before starting her job search. She finds her older hosts very congenial but Jake, the handsome handyman, is antagonistic. That night, on the eve of the Fourth of July celebration, she has a vivid dream of a Civil War battle. As one corporal lays dying, he asks for her help. But how can she possibly help a ghost?
Jake Mantree is a hired hand on the very plantation his ancestors lost after the Civil War. A brooding loner, he resents northerner Rebecca’s winning ways. But he doesn’t count on her Yankee perseverance nor a Union ghost who has plans to make them fall in love over the holiday.
How can modern day Rebecca Sedgwick help a Civil War ghost?
This book is part of the Uncanny Paranormals line.
Now for the connection to real life. While I don’t have contact with a ghost from the Civil War (!), I DO have grandfathers (great grandfathers times two and great grandfathers times three) that were soldiers. My Knight grandfathers--father Levi H. Knight, was killed in action and son James Harrison Knight was wounded twice--fought for the North, as did all of the below except one, Joshua Coats, a Confederate private. I dedicated “Shades of Old Glory” to all of them.
To my great grandfathers who fought in the American Civil War.
James Harrison Knight--great grandfather x2, wounded.
John David Hollick--great grandfather x2.
John William Presson--great grandfather x2.
Joshua Coats--great grandfather x2.
Levi H. Knight--great grandfather x3, killed in action.
Alfred Marion Hacker, great grandfather x3.
Moses Allen Nelson, great grandfather x3.
John Tomer Presson, great grandfather x3.
Scene Set-Up: Rebecca’s first night at the Virginia plantation yields a spooky dream.
It was a dream; she knew it was a dream, but Rebecca couldn’t wake up no matter how hard she tried. She watched from the sidelines of a bloody, raging battle; she was an unseen observer to a scene so horrible, words could not describe.
The open field teemed with life... and death. Hundreds, no thousands of men poured over slopes, and the smell in the air--smoky from artillery and cannon fire--hung heavy with carnage and fear. Dusky blue uniforms fought with drab grey; it was a scene from the Civil War, and it was as real as anything she had ever seen, whether on the news or depicted in a movie.
At the front of an advancing regiment, a young man held the American--or Union--flag, hoisted high for all to see. He took his duty seriously for although blood splattered the torn sleeve of his blue uniform, he kept up a grueling pace, taking care not to allow the flag to touch the ground. This color-bearer guarded Old Glory against capture, for to secure the flag of one’s enemy was every soldier’s ambition.
Somehow Rebecca’s vantage point shifted from being on the sidelines. Now she traveled by this young man’s side.
“You’re wounded,” yelled another soldier to the left of him. “I’ll carry the flag for you.”
“No. I will... by God I must carry the colors to safety.” This man, a corporal by the two insignia stripes on his sleeve, struggled onward. A rifle bullet whizzed past her to settle in his right leg, causing him to grimace with pain. But still he continued forward, flag held high. Thirteen stripes, red and white, fluttered in the deadly wind, but instead of fifty stars, there were thirty-four.
How she longed to embrace the corporal who looked even younger than her. She ached to ease his burden and treat his wounds, but even if she could have, she instinctively knew he would not have allowed her to. His sacred duty was to raise the flag in battle to give hope and to rally the troops.
I hope you enjoy Rebecca and Jake’s ghostly love story!
Susanne Marie Knight
Read outside the box: award-winning Romance Writing With A Twist!