I was so inspired by the idea of writing a story that had revolution as the theme. As soon as I heard the word Revolution, the American Revolution popped into my head. I’ve always been enthralled with that time period and how our nation was shaped by its brave men and women.
Paul Revere’s story was always one of my favorites so that was my starting point. Naturally I crafted another kick-butt female character to alter the course of history. And I certainly had to mix in some of my token magic and fantasy. And that’s how Wings of Liberty was born. It’s my take on Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride and how history may have been written with a twist of magic.
Here’s the first look at the first 1000 words:
Wings of Liberty – by Christina Benjamin
Paul shivered as the cool mist settled over him. He considered himself a brave man, but there was something terrifying about being alone in the woods this far outside town. There were tales of witches and magic in these parts. He’d never really given them much thought, but on a night like tonight, he could see how easy it would be to let such thoughts invade his mind. Even with his lantern blazing, he could scarcely see past his horse’s ears.
“Whoa, girl,” he crooned trying to sooth the spooked mare. “There’s nothing to fear. We’ve done this ride a hundred times.” He patted her encouragingly her to press on.
It was true, Paul had taken this ride many times. As a courier for the Boston Committee, he was one of the few reliable riders bestowed with delivering important messages to the militia. But tonight was different. Tonight he rode for the Sons of Liberty. More like Sons of Revolution, Paul thought as he pushed through the thick fog. The encrypted message in his pocket drove him on. ‘This could change everything,’ John said when he handed him the letter that evening.
Hidden branches reached from the shadows without mercy. Paul wasn’t making much headway and began to think he’d be safer on foot when he heard a loud caw, followed by a swoosh of wings. He looked up, but it wasn’t soon enough. A large crow swooped down, screeching and clawing at his face. Paul’s mare took off. It was all he could do to stay on and cover his head, trying to deflect the sharp talons. The horse weaved through the darkness and Paul fought to regain control. He miraculously reined her in and dismounted. He held his lantern high with his shaking arm. When he was sure the crow wasn’t near, he set it down.
Catching his breath, Paul blotted the blood from his cheek. The bird got him just below his right eye and he winced as he felt the gaping flesh. He tried to get his bearings. Surely he’d surpassed the meeting spot by now, but he could see no hint of his friends. There was a rustling in the trees behind him and his hair stood on end. “Will? Sam?” he whispered, praying his friends had arrived. He was answered with more rustling.
With his heart pounding he drew his weapon. A twig snapped and Paul’s horse reared up. He lost his grasp on the reins and fell to the ground, where he watched her bolt into the darkness. “Great,” he muttered as he climbed to his feet, swiping the earth and leaves from his now muddied pants.
Paul picked up his lantern. He tried in vain to see through the eerie mist, but it was useless. He hung the lantern in a nearby tree and decided the best thing he could do was to stay put, hoping Will and Sam would see the light and find him.
“He’s been marked, Cerra.”
“Liza, look at him,” Cerra pleaded. “He’s not here to hunt us.”
“You know the rules. He’s been marked by the coven. He must be extinguished.”
“I’m not so sure we can trust the coven’s judgment. I’ve seen them take bribes from the red coats. How do you know we’re on the right side?”
“We’re on the side of the coven,” Liza spat. “How can you have any compassion for these mortals? I’ll gladly kill as many as I’m ordered to. They don’t seem to have any problem killing our kind, or have you forgotten Salem.”
“I wish I could forget,” Cerra whispered, as visions of her ancestors being burnt at the stake singed her clairvoyant mind.
Cerra stared down from her perch in the tree at the confused man. His horse had run off, leaving him stranded in the forest – not a safe place for a mortal. He held a gun in his trembling hand. Brave, she thought. Handsome, too. Even with the gash, it was hard to ignore his beauty. His dark brown hair had come loose from its tie. It hung in curtains, blocking his sharp blue eyes from time to time. She watched intently as he removed his jacket and grabbed his ivory shirtsleeve at the shoulder, tearing it clean off in one motion. The arm underneath was strong, muscular. She imagined whatever work he did was of a physical nature to result in such definition. Cerra bit her lip as she let her mind wonder what the rest of him looked like underneath all that fabric. He was breathtaking. How could she extinguish such a beautiful creature?
She watched as he worked to tear long strips of fabric from his sleeve. He gritted his teeth in pain as he fastened one around the gashes that covered his hand. He used another to press into the deep cut under his eye. She curiously watched him stuff the rest of the fabric into his pocket, save one piece. He stood, turning toward the tree. He reached up with the lone strip of fabric fluttering in his hand. He was about to loop it around a branch when his eyes met hers.
Paul began to fear for his friends. They should’ve met him already. Perhaps they’d been ambushed. There were many against their cause. Thoughts and conversations whirled through his head. Had he trusted someone he shouldn’t? Had they been sold out? The freedom of the nation was at stake. His nerves itched. He couldn’t sit idly by and wait. He needed to get back to town and find out what’d gone wrong. Paul did his best to tie up his wounds with his shirtsleeves. He’d torn extra strips of fabric, planning to leave them as he went in case he got lost. He climbed to his feet and reached up to tie a strip into the tree that held his lantern when his heart started! Two pairs of beady black eyes staring back at him. Crows.
Thank you so much for everyone who votes. It’s truly an honor to be a part of this Revolutionary Anthology with Caroline Gill, Kelly Risser, Raye Wagner, Nooce Miller, Tricia Zoeller, Jessie Campbell and Desira Fuqua.