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Timejacker #5
© 2023 James LaFond
Battle of the Thames, October 5, 1813
Jamie was awakened by Alaric, with Major Super-me standing back, by his side, the German doctor standing there with smelling salts in case he swooned again. “Jamie,” said Alaric, “we need an adjustment concerning the battle of the Thames.”
The Major was agitated, “A total shit show. We arrived over the large swamp north of the Thames and its already crawling with Kentuckians, starving red coats running northwest. What a poor choice.”
Jamie, got defensive, one of his common attitudes, “Queenston Heights, either Brock before he was killed or some of his 300 Mohawks would have been preferable. The Frenchtown massacre near Detroit, would have been ideal—500 dead Kentuckians and a death march of executions under Proctor. But I did not have the dates in my head. I’m quite bad with dates and never new the time of day on the Thames.”
Alaric gave an open hand to Super-me and asked, “Jamie, can you suggest a course, in that we are here, on October 5th 1813. Tecumseh is obviously dead.”
Jamie went on, “If he were alive he wouldn’t come, he’d die here, what he did here, wanting to leave his bones.”
Major Bracken snarled, “Do we have options for viable combatants here.”
Jamie mused, “Lies were told about Tecumseh’s death, that a future politician killed him, that the Kentuckians—the real savages in this engagement—skinned his body—to be sure they did skin a body. Simon Kenton was the most trustworthy source, and he said that he misidentified Tecumseh’s body on purpose so that it would not be mutilated. They had been both Shawnee, Kenton by surviving the gauntlet. He would get screwed out of property and did not amount to much other than a target for real estate lawyers… Is the grandfather paradox in play?”
Alaric answered, “Yes, we cannot take people who made it into the history books—Kenton is out.”
Jamie agreed, “The Kentuckians too, a politically ambitious bunch, founders of the Free Soil movement—we can go for a band of warriors scattering north or the poor redcoats straggling northeast.”
“Not we, Old Man,” barked Major Bracken, as Alaric held him and the German doctor hit him with more morphine, as the ancient German chieftain, become such a soft touch human resources troubleshooter that Jamie had to believe this was all a dream, said, “Thank you, Jamie. We will wake you soon for your physical therapy.”
‘Physical therapy? What injury do I have? Am I even alive?’
A languid spirit entered him and his eye lids grew heavy…
Captain Tom Red Stick lead the honor guard with a solemn cadence, trying to never retrace a step or cause a need for a halt as he picked his way through the snow-dusted willows and ash north of the misty swamp of their defeat. Tecumseh had won his heart three years past when he had promised to shake the earth if the tribes did not unite against America. He had then won Tom’s soul when the world shook on December 16th 1811, a date he could never forget, having engraved it in the silver plate that held his dry patches in the butt of his custom made Tennessee rifle. He picked the way so that the six bearers would never have to retrace Tecumseh’s final path.
Black Bill Miami looked down at his chief’s face as he swung limp in the trade blanket. Tecumseh seemed at peace. It filled Bill with bitterness that old Turtle, the victorious chief of The Pumpkin Field Victory and the flame of his glorious warrior youth, had made peace with the Americans, even taken a sword from Washington and married his daughter to an American. Bill was an escaped American under sentence of death in his 40th year if it was ever discovered that he had been a “white man.” His scalp lock of hair was black, as was his war paint, and now his heart.
Little Panther, to the right of their slain chief, was numb as he looked at his mentor’s bullet-smashed breast, the wound right below and to the side of his British King medal, having shattered a button on his red British jacket, which he wore in concord with their distant ally, called by some fools a father. Tecumseh had disdained to ever button a British military jacket, never loosing sight of his mission, to sustain a homeland for all free tribes. Proctor, that coward English general, was such a pig, had left his 600 most worn troops to be slaughtered and captured, and his freshest picked men to guard him in his flight.
Fallen Timber had taken his name to erase shame in service to a hope for the Shawnee people after he had run from the Americans at that terrible tangle of trees and, along with many a warrior, had failed their people. He was a life older than these men, had known the father and the older brother, had distrusted the younger and still served the bright middle brother in this final act of defiance, to hide his body from the Kentucky dogs. Entering his 60th winter, he was weary and white haired, possessed of barely enough vigor to attend to Tecumseh’s burial.
His youngest son, Daybreak Heron, was wounded in the head, had lost his left ear to a Kentucky bullet, walking numbly behind Little Panther, bearing their chief. Fallen Timber was proud and filled with sorrow all in one feeling forcing a determination to follow the Muskegon Captain Red Stick in his quest to secretly bury Tecumseh’s body and deny the Kentucky dogs their joy.
Two of their young men followed. One warrior of the Sacks, Foxtail by name, and one of the Cherokee, Tommy Sinkstone, carried the tails of the blanket which held the feet of their fallen leader.
Each of them carried their rifle as well, their knives and hatchets in their belts. Of Tecumseh’s weapons, only his maple war club was slung with him in his burial blanket. They had wrapped his hands about it, a symbol as it was of his defiance.
Onward, outward, northward they marched, as far away from Kentucky and the fallen lands they had lost, that had drunk not enough—but still plenty—of their bones, and all of their tears. There were no tears now on this day, just the numb victory of long American woes and the realization that all of their battles won, had now been lost with one lead ball.
Fallen Timber prayed like the Prophet said Moses had, ‘All Spirit, might the Kentucky bullet have found me, I could be happy. But this feels like you turn away and cast us in the Land Eater’s mouth. I look away from you as you did him,’ prayed Fallen Timber, in bitterness and dismay.
Above, sounded in the thick clouds and snowy bluster a buzzing as if of great bees. That embittered Fallen Timber, as he could still remember Puckinsuaw, father of Tecumseh, first to fall before the Americans—before their were even an America—telling him when he was a boy playing with sticks, “When the English flies come, we must move, for the Eater of All Land is near and hungry for more.”
That had been a true prophecy, for whenever the Americans came, they brought the English flies with them. The little buzzing things, not bad as insects go, merely winged forth and loved flowers, but were a terrible land-eating omen to behold, a thing that stole the very sweetness of the world and put it in a crock to be sold to sweeten the bitterness of a meal ate after the game had fled and food came in barrels and crates instead as the Creator intended.
Little Panther spoke, excitedly, “There is a great English fly in the sky, or a fish from heaven, look, look above!”
They stopped and looked above into the low wispy clouds and saw there a thing larger than the greatest ships to fight on Lake Erie, bigger than the biggest things that had doomed their victories. Yet, as this thing descended slightly from the clouds, it seemed more like a great fish that had the floating quality of the sails of a ship, and from its bottom held cabins, and from one of those cabins above them dropped ropes.
Fallen Timber snarled, “Is that Hiawatha’s white sky canoe? Or have the Americans built a ship that flies?”
Four ropes dropped about them, and the nearest, had a British flag tied to droop in the misty day ten feet above the ground. Down those ropes slid four men, attached to yet other ropes, like in a horse’s stirrup. The men were strangely attired in dark uniforms, but for one man, the one who came down the flag rope and was attired in a leafy pattern of greens. Strange short, square and ugly guns, with no wooden stocks, hung from shoulder straps.
Captain Tom Red Stick, his red scalp lock pierced with quills, walked towards this man in green and said, “Tecumseh has been betrayed to death by the English. What is this, this great English fly in the sky?”
The man saluted him and declared, “We are admirers of General Brock from no nation. We drop this flag in his honor, to drape your leader and offer to take him to the highest mountains for burial.”
They were stunned by this and the man speaking was one with the sense to know this and encourage action, “This land will all be overrun. We sail past the sunset to take it back. There will be plenty of enemies to share. Would you men share in a war of tomorrows?”
His English was odd, smacking of something American, something Indian and with no British polish.
Kentucky rifles could be heard executing wounded behind them, and some horses whinnied on the still mist.
Captain Tom Red Stick looked to them all and asked with his eyes, and they raised their guns to the sky. The man then made a hand signal to the distant cabin above and a stretcher began to lower on four ropes.
Fallen Timber spoke to the man, “This is a good way to fight. Who are you?”
The man saluted much like a British sergeant and declared, “Major Bracken, attached to the Kaiser’s Airship Hindenburg.”
“Who is your father?” asked Captain Tom.
“The Dreamer Beyond Sleep, He Who Speaks to Prophets.”
Captain Tom lifted his rifle butt and tapped the engraving, “Will the Dreamer stamp his feet and shake the world?”
The Major grinned, “We, Chief, are his hatchet, and we make war to The Knife.”
The whoop of Little Panther spoke for them all and they readied to swing the body of their chief into the descending stretcher from the sky.
‘All Spirit, I look up to you gladly, no longer away sadly.’
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