Twenty3: The Charge – Swancon 23 Progress Report 3

Transcribed by Elaine Walker – the actual author of the work not given. Fiction snippet on conspiracy theme.

Cailean bit his lip in anticipation.
From behind him the artillery levelled their weapons to their enemy. The air shattered with thunderclaps as hot metal lanced across the field. Their cannonade spent, the army waited tensely as their gunners reloaded.
Returning fire shattered through the air. Cailean ducked instinctively, as around him men fell screaming, or crying out curses, or praying to the sky. To his right, someone fell heavily to the earth, their splintered face a mess of blood. The gunfire continued fiercely, and it was all Cailean could do to stay low and wait for a break in the attack.
Somewhere someone called out.
There was a smell of gunpowder in the air.
Somewhere a flash of lightning dissected the horizon.
Rain began to spatter upon his face as he rose. With the enemy bullets spent, the battlefield fell silent. Only the drumming echo of the rain accompanied the briefest of pauses. Cailean could hear himself breathing. He could hear every man breathing.
Suddenly the front line was charging. Cailean leaped from step to step, raising his sword high. Already the rain as turning the thick, black dirt into mud. Still he sprinted forth. Clansmen ran with him on either side. The gap between the armies decreased, it seemed more rapidly with every falling footstep.
Four hundred yards.
He could see the red coats of their uniforms, white trimmings across them. He could see their musket rifles. Still he sprinted, raising his sword into the air.
Three hundred yards.
He could hear someone get shot beside him and fall to the ground. He could hear the rain as it slashed cruelly down into his eyes. He could hear the roar of the highland army as they moved maddeningly across the moor.
Two hundred yards.
He could smell gunpowder, and the salty, metallic taste of blood in the air. He could smell the freshness of the rain and the stark, relentless cruelty of the army before him.
One hundred yards.
More gunshots cracked through the air. He felt a heavy numbness smash itself into his shoulder, but still he ran forwards. Behind him, he heard a man cry out in pain. Then he could not hear the man at all.
Fifty yards.
Forty.
He could look the enemy in the eyes.
Thirty.
He let out an enormous yell of fury as he ran, sword high, blood seeping thickly through the fabric of his plaid.
Twenty.
Onwards he ran, screaming and shouting and swearing.
Ten yards.
Five.
The rain turned to ice as it fell.
The armies connected.

About australian sf-history

ASFDAP was set up in 2011 after the rediscovery by the wider SF community of an impressive hoard of Australian SF community related ephemera, fanzines and other materials in the Murdoch University basement.
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