Plains of Hell (A story in Lawyers in Hell)

Lawyers in HellPlains of Hell
(A story in Lawyers in Hell)

The building was a ramshackle wood and brick structure with saloon doors and grime-streaked windows.  Over its entrance a pitted metal sign creaked under a stiff breeze, the words on its facing faded and worn.

“Roadhouse 666,” mumbled General James Wolfe.  “Looks as good as any.”

Nudging his hell-horse to a hitching post, Wolfe dismounted and tied off the reins, pointedly avoiding the beast’s serrated teeth and over-sized mouth.  The creature promptly swung on a second tethered hell-horse and launched into a ritual of dominance assertion common to the breed.  The neighboring beast eagerly took up the challenge.


Lawyers in HellWolfe ignored their hissing and spitting while slapping at his red coat and white pants.  An exercise in futility.  The fine sheen of ochre dust, accumulated on his trip from New Hell, merely ingrained itself deeper into the fabric and caked his hands.  Grumbling, he gave up.  The tavern patrons would have to accept him as he was, if they cared.  Something he doubted, based on his brief time in this vile place.

Maneuvering between two dented, rusted vehicles, Wolfe mounted a series of crooked steps.  On the porch he lurched to a stop.  “Not now,” he groaned.  A sickening wave twisted his stomach, crept along his throat and filled his mouth with a sour taste of bile.  Reaching into his coat, he produced a well-used, blood-stained handkerchief and coughed, a hoarse hacking that had him doubled over, one hand braced against the door frame.  The fit passed.  He straightened and gingerly dabbed at the corners of his mouth, ignoring the smear of bright red blood staining the silk.  Pocketing the handkerchief, he briefly inspected his pants for specks of blood and, pronouncing himself presentable, entered the tavern.

The place was dimly lit and sparsely filled.  To his right a bar ran the length of the paneled wall, its brass foot rail tarnished and dented; its half-dozen stools unoccupied.

Wolfe’s nose twitched at the heavy smell of body odor and tobacco smoke.  Most tables were vacant.  Three Mongols argued incoherently in a corner by a fireplace, a jug of kumis between them.  A second table held half a dozen Scots, their claymores resting against high-back chairs as they roared heartily at some private joke.  By the far wall a man slept at an upright piano, his head resting on his arms, crossed on the keys.

Nearer the bar sat two men.  Wolfe cocked an eyebrow, feeling a sudden kinship toward one:  a vague sense of recognition.  This man was clearly British, tall and elegant in a white blouse, white pants, and an elaborately powdered wig.  An ornate blue coat lay folded over the back of his oak chair.  His companion was dressed equally as well, but in shades of brown; smaller and thinner, with a long, pinched face framed by a similarly flamboyant wig.

Wolfe stepped up to the bar.

The bartender glanced his way and nodded.  Short and round, he resembled a ball on legs, his hairless head contrasted by a sweeping handlebar mustache.  “What’s your poison?” he asked in a raspy voice, swiping at one of many stains marking the counter.

Wolfe examined the collection of bottles lining a shelf.  “You have no wine, sir?”

The barkeep snorted.  “You kiddin’ me, bub?”  He waved a meaty hand.  “What you see is what we have.”

Why did I bother asking? Wolfe thought.  During his short time in this damnable existence he had determined everything was supposed to taste like shit.  Sighing, he pointed.  “I’ll have one of those.”

“Right.  One Labratt’s Blew comin’ up.  You startin’ a tab?”

“No, sir,” Wolfe mumbled.  Reaching into his pocket, he produced a handful of diablos and tossed several on the counter.

The bartender swept them up and walked away, offering no indication of returning with change.

Shaking his head, Wolfe took the bottle and raised it to his lips, praying the vile taste wouldn’t trigger his consumption.  Last thing he wanted was another coughing fit.  He drank; no second fit of coughing wracked him.  Setting down the bottle, he stared into the counter.

Hell.

Hell wasn’t what he’d expected.  He remembered the battle on the plains outside Quebec.  Remembered taking three bullets.  One in the wrist, one in the stomach and one in the chest.  A brief moment of darkness, followed by the vague memory of a leering, diseased and cackling face; followed by waves of excruciating pain, and then waking in a small room in a twisted building on some narrow street in a decayed section of a town called New Hell.  A handful of strangers took the time to explain cars, hellphones, old dead, new dead, Satan, politics and what have you.  And rumors of an audit from Above, whatever that was about.

It was too much, too soon, and he fled, taking this dirt road to nowhere.  He needed time to think, to understand his place in this brutal nightmare.  Most of all, to understand what in God’s name he had done to find himself consigned here, rather than knocking on some pearly gates.

Rising from his melancholy, Wolfe focused on the two voices of the two men behind him.  Their conversation was the casual banter of friends, loud enough that he could hear without being accused of eavesdropping.

“Malplaquet,” said the Englishman wistfully.  “Now that was one hell of a brawl.  Sent many a soldier down here with that one.”

“Don’t I know it,” replied his companion.  “Pyrrhic victory, that.  French chewed up my boys, bad.  Would have been worse if it wasn’t for you.”  There was a clinking of bottles.  “I preferred Oudenarde, myself.  Much cleaner.  Good victory.”  A pause.  “We made a good team, my friend.  A toast to old times, eh?”  Another clink.  “Ah, hell, I’m dry.”

Wolfe, intrigued at the mention of two famous battles, turned to face the speakers. Clearing his throat, he said, “I could not help but overhear, good sirs.  May I join you?  I believe we have something in common.”

The seated Englishman took his measure:  Wolfe was in afterlife what he had been in life – a tall, slim man with a thin face and pasty complexion.  The Englishman exchanged a look with his companion, shrugged, and waved at an empty chair.  “By all means.  Of course, courtesy dictates you must stand us a drink.”

Wolfe nodded.  It had been his intent anyway.  “What will it be?”

The Englishman said, “Sludgeweiser.”

His friend, in a subtle French accent, said, “Make mine a Helliken.”

Minutes later, bottles in hand, Wolfe settled into the vacant seat.  Setting down the beers, he extended a hand to the Englishman.  “I am James Wolfe, General in his majesty King George the Second’s army.”

The Englishman snorted.  “The second George?  Hah.  I knew his father, the pompous ass.  I am John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough.  You may have heard of me.  Or not.  And this dour personage is Prince Eugene of Savoy.  You may have heard of him.  Or not.”

Wolfe stared, his mouth hanging open.  Marlborough and Eugene?  The two greatest generals of their age?  Seated here, in some out-of-the-way dive drinking beer and chatting of old times?  Snapping his mouth shut, Wolfe composed himself and shook both men’s extended hands.  “A pleasure, truly.  I have studied your battles in detail.  Both of you.  They were inspirations for my own career.”

Churchill’s eyes lit up at the compliment and leaned forward.  “Really?  So, what did you think of Blenheim?”

Before Wolfe could respond, Eugene raised his index finger and said, “We commanded fifty-two thousand men in that battle, you know.  The French had us outnumbered, but we kicked their ass.  They lost some twenty thousand, the poor sods, to our forty-five hundred.  How about Ramillies, Wolfe?  What do you know about Ramillies?”

Wolfe opened his mouth, but Churchill sat back, inspected a finger nail, and said, “Commanded sixty-two thousand men, Wolfe.  Only lost one thousand.  French lost another twenty thousand.”  He raised an eyebrow.  “Oudenarde?”

Wolfe hesitated and looked at Eugene.

Eugene swallowed a mouthful of Helliken and burped.  Wiping a sleeve across his lips, he said, “Ah, Oudenarde.  What a joy.  One hundred five thousand to a hundred thousand.  Only lost three thousand.  French lost another fifteen thousand.”  He chuckled.  “You see a pattern here, Wolfe?”

There was a pregnant pause as Churchill and Eugene clinked bottles and drank.

Wolfe ventured, “Tell me about Malplaquet.”

The generals exchanged less than pleasant looks.  Churchill mumbled, “We don’t talk much about Malplaquet.  It was the bloodiest European battle of the eighteenth century.  We won, but the butcher’s bill was enormous, for both sides.  Victory isn’t always glorious, Wolfe.”

“But –”

Churchill waved a dismissive hand.  “We won it, all right?  That’s all that’s important. Now, enough about us.  What battlefield honors have you accrued, Wolfe?”

The general shrugged.  “Well, there was Dettingen, sir.  We beat the French in that one.”

Eugene nodded enthusiastically.  “Good show.  One can never tire of beating the French.  Was that your first command?”

“Not exactly.  George the Second commanded.  I was a lieutenant at the time.”

Eugene steepled his fingers.  “A lieutenant?  How quaint.  Anything else you wish to share, or was that it?”

Wolfe noticed an elaborate carving someone had at one time etched into the table.  Idly he traced his finger along the outline.  “There was Falkirk and Culloden, sirs.  I was a major, then.”

Churchill belched and rubbed his belly.  “Any details with which to regale us?  Oh, and don’t finish tracing that.  Last person who did was whisked away by something with four arms and fangs as long as my, er, pistol.”

“They were short fangs,” Eugene commented.

Churchill raised his middle digit.  “Go to heaven.”

Wolfe jerked his finger from the carving.  “Details?  Nothing, really.  That is a time I am not particularly fond of.”

Eugene drained his bottle of Helliken and slammed it on the table.  Looking expectantly at Wolfe, he said, “You introduced yourself as a general, remember?”  His eyes drifted to the empty bottle.

Wolfe sighed, caught the barkeep’s attention and held up three fingers.  Returning to Churchill and Eugene, he said, “I was promoted to major general for the invasion of New France and siege of Quebec.”

Churchill pursed his lips and nodded.  “The New World, is it?  Did you know I was a Governor of the Hudson Bay Company?”

Eugene frowned.  “Hush now, John.  Bore us with that tale later.  Let’s hear about this siege of Quebec.”

Wolfe looked away.  “There is not much to say.  I lured the French out of the fortress.  We fought a battle.  I won.”

Eugene clapped his hands.  “A battle?  Excellent.  Numbers?  Details?”

Wolfe felt his face grow warm and knew he flushed.  Embarrassed, he glanced about the tavern, his eyes settling on the man asleep at the piano.  For the first time, he noted a chain running from one heavy wooden leg to the man’s ankle.  At that moment the piano player stirred, raised his head and cast a weary eye toward the bar.

An impatient throat cleared and Eugene repeated, “Numbers?”

Wolfe sighed and faced them.  Churchill and Eugene had their eyebrows raised in expectation. He put a hand to his mouth and mumbled, “Five thousand to forty-five hundred.”

Churchill leaned forward.  “What was that?  Didn’t quite catch it.  Did you say fifty thousand to forty-five thousand?”

Eugene snickered.  “No, I think he said five thousand to forty-five hundred.”

Churchill sat back and belly-laughed.  “So, you commanded a skirmish, then.”

Wolfe opened his mouth to protest.

Eugene reached over and clapped him on the back.  “Don’t be ashamed, Wolfe.  We can’t all lead enormous armies.”  His lips twitched into a smile.  “So, what happened next?”

Wolfe shrugged.  “I don’t know.  I died.”  In the sudden silence he waited, expecting sympathy.  Instead, he received the opposite as Churchill and Eugene shrugged, before casually reaching for their beers.  Wolfe’s mood darkened.  “You find my death irrelevant?  I assure you, it was not.  I was young.  There was a wonderful woman back in England I was to marry.  I am insulted by your indifference, sirs.”

“Hold your water, Wolfe,” Eugene said over the lip of his beer bottle.  “We meant no disrespect, did we John?  There’s something you must understand.  In hell, death is never death.”

Wolfe knit his brows together, confused.  “What do you mean by that, sir?  Are you implying we are immortal?”

Churchill reached into a coat pocket and produced a pipe.  “In a manner of speaking, yes.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  You can die, all right.  Eugie and I have been down that path twice already.  It’s just that hell has a rather twisted way of bringing you back, usually in the most undelightful manner.”

“Oh,” Wolfe managed to say as everyone lapsed into awkward quiet.

Moments later a series of tentative notes rose from the piano.  The random notes soon trailed off.  What followed then was an angry hammering on the keys, a madly chaotic cacophony of sound that gradually evolved into an inspired rendition of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

Wolfe, wincing at the initial blast of noise, closed his eyes as he was swept up by the music, amazed at the clarity, speed and deftness of playing.  He was familiar with Bach, had enjoyed several pieces performed on harpsichord at various social gatherings during his time in England.  But this … this was remarkable.

There was a tug on Wolfe’s coat.  Opening his eyes, mildly irritated, he saw Eugene motion at him with his finger.  Leaning close, he asked, “What?”

In a raised voice Eugene replied, “Don’t get yourself too involved.”

“Why?  What do you mean?”

As if on cue, the piano’s keys began to move of their own volition, striking up a loud and lively ragtime piece that clashed with the pianist’s own performance.  For several moments the tunes conflicted with one another in an obscene dissonance until the pianist abruptly quit, punching the upright before shaking his fists in a fit of anger.  Meanwhile, the piano continued its toe-tapping number.

Over the din, Wolfe asked, “What was that all about?”

Churchill leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms.  “Glenn Gould.”

Wolfe spread his hands.  “Who is Glenn Gould?”

“Some prodigy born well after we died.  One of the moderns.”  Churchill shrugged.  “Apparently someone at the Hall of Injustice saw this as a fitting punishment.  Not sure of the reason for the punishment, and I’m not about to ask.”

“Me neither,” Eugene agreed.  He tapped his empty bottle and looked at Wolfe.  “I thought you ordered another round?”

Wolfe scowled and turned to signal the barkeep.  He didn’t get that far.  His attention was drawn to a succubus.  He’d been warned about succubi.  The strangers back in New Hell had explained them:  female demons who controlled men through sex.  The red-skinned demon temptress stood just inside the tavern entrance, the saloon doors swinging to a slow rest behind her curvaceous body.  Scanning the room, her yellow eyes locked with his.  Flashing perfect teeth, she approached, her hips swaying enticingly.

Despite himself, Wolfe felt the initial stirrings of arousal.  He swallowed and looked to Churchill and Eugene.  Both men were busy inspecting their fingernails.

The succubus glided to a stop beside him and purred, “Are you General James Wolfe?  The General James Wolfe?”

Wolfe swallowed again and wondered if this had anything to do with the rumored audit of hell from on high.  “I am,” he croaked.

The succubus nodded and produced a scroll.

Hesitantly he took it from her slender red hand, determinedly ignoring the long, sharp fingernails.

“A pleasure, Mister Wolfe.  You’ve been served.”  Turning on her heel, she departed for the door, her alluring hips swinging with each seductive step.

Wolfe tore his eyes from her captivating backside to study the scroll.  It appeared very official:  vellum secured by a red ribbon and sealed with the stamp of the Hall of Injustice.  The strangers had told him about the Hall of Injustice, too.  His hands turned clammy.  His stomach twisted.  The uneasiness triggered an onslaught of bile and blood, rushing up his gorge.  Wolfe dropped the scroll on the table and scrambled for his handkerchief.  Turning his back on Churchill and Eugene, he hacked into the stained silk for several long moments.

The fit passed.  “My apologies,” he muttered.  Turning back to the generals, his eyes widened.  “I say!”

Churchill and Eugene, chairs together, had the scroll open before them, reading its contents.

Eugene glanced up, “That’s a bad cough, Wolfe.  You should see someone about it.”

Wolfe made a grab for the scroll, but Churchill snatched it away, lips silently moving as he continued reading.  Wolfe sat back and snapped, “I have consumption.  I had it when I was alive.  My brother died from it.”  He lapsed into silence as a sudden thought occurred.  I wonder if my brother is here.

“Tee Bee,” Eugene explained.

“What?”

“Its official name is ‘tuberculosis.’  That’s what doctors call it now.”

Putting thoughts of his brother from his mind, Wolfe said, “Consumption sounds simpler.  Is there a cure for this … Tee Bee?”

Eugene grinned.  “Is there a cure for anything in hell?”  He turned serious and leaned forward.  “You don’t get out much, do you?”

“What do you mean, sir?”

“It’s obvious.  Your manner of speech, your lack of knowledge.”  Eugene’s fist hammered the table, causing the Scots to pause and look over.  “I wager you believe you don’t belong here.  You’re in denial, aren’t you, Wolfe?”

Wolfe flushed.  Flustered, he said, “I am not in denial, sir.  I am new here.  I woke up in this world but several days past.  And what if I am in denial?  Do you two gentlemen believe you belong here?”

Eugene nodded enthusiastically.  “Of course we believe it, don’t we John?  Between the two of us, we were responsible for tens of thousands of deaths.  It doesn’t matter if we were right or wrong, good or evil, innocent or guilty:  we ordered men to die.  And let’s not forget the ancillary effects on the innocent lives lost to looting, starvation and disease.”

Wolfe pursed his lips as he absorbed that, his fingers nervously drumming the tabletop.  An interesting perspective, though clearly misguided, since responsibility ultimately belongs to the commanders-in-chief and the governments they represent.  A point of view worth pondering, however.

Churchill asked, “Who is this Marquis de Montcalm character?”

Wolfe’s head shot up.  “What?”

Churchill laid the scroll on the table.  “Louis-Joseph de Montcalm.  Marquis de Montcalm.  It says here he’s requesting a trial.”

Wolfe took the scroll and read it.  His lips moved as he struggled through the legalese.  Minutes later he laid it on the table, his mind racing.  He glanced at Churchill and Eugene, who watched expectantly.  “This subpoena is preposterous…,” he began.

Two demons, large, scaly, red and horned, burst through the saloon doors and took positions to either side of the entrance.  The tavern occupants fell silent.  The player piano abruptly stopped.  Gould seized the moment to begin an aria, but the key cover slammed down, nearly taking Gould’s fingers off at the knuckles.  His solitary curse was the only sound.

Another two demons entered, smaller cousins to the burly specimens stoically guarding the entrance.  They scanned the interior.

Wolfe noted one of the small demons lacked a horn, while the other missed an ear.

One Ear pointed at an unoccupied area.  The two demons rushed over and slapped a pair of tables together, placing a chair behind them.  They promptly cleared out several more tables, dragging the heavy furniture across the wooden floor, creating an open space.  Nodding in satisfaction, One Ear returned to the entrance and pushed through the saloon doors while the demon with the missing horn placed a second chair beside the joined tables.  It sat.  A moment later, a battered stenotype appeared on the table in a curling puff of smoke.  The demon arranged itself before the device, cracking knuckles and flexing fingers.

One Ear returned, a man following closely on its heels.  The man was old, his stooped body clad in an ill-fitting and dusty suit.  A length of chain ran from a button hole on his threadbare vest and into a pocket.  His drawn face sported a prodigious white beard, contrasted by several dark strands of hair peeking from under a battered straw hat.  Hobbling with the infirmity of age, he moved to the table and sat heavily in the lone chair.

A series of papers appeared before him.  Producing a pair of spectacles, he bent forward to read the top sheet.  Muttering to himself, he set it aside and quickly leafed through the remainder.  Returning the spectacles, he wagged a finger at One Ear, who leaned close.  They conversed for a moment before the man nodded and the demon stepped back, taking a position slightly behind the old man’s right shoulder.

In a voice like gravel on tin, One Ear announced, “This court is now in session.  All rise for the honorable Judge Roy Bean.”

Wolfe exchanged looks with Churchill and Eugene, then glanced over at the Mongols and Scots, who appeared equally confused.

The two burly demons snarled and took one step forward from their posts at the door.  Chairs scraped as everyone stood.  The big demons stepped back, regaining their positions.

Bean’s demon assistant said, “Court may be seated.  Except you.”  The demon pointed at Wolfe.  “You will approach the bench.”

Wolfe looked to Churchill and Eugene for guidance.  Both men had found something interesting on the floor.  Swallowing, Wolfe approached.

One Ear held up a clawed hand.  “Close enough.”

Wolfe stopped.

Judge Bean picked up a sheet of paper and cleared his throat.  “You are James Wolfe, son of Edward Wolfe?”

“Yes sir.”

For the first time Bean set eyes on him.  “Your Honor.”

“Yes, Your Honor.”

“And do you understand the charge brought against you?”

Wolfe shuffled his feet.  “Not exactly, Your Honor.  I had little time to read the document.  To be honest, sir, I do not understand what this is about.”

Judge Bean grunted and looked back at his assistant.  “Where is the Plaintiff?”

“Ici, Monsieur le president.”

Wolfe’s neck hairs stood at the voice and confident tread of leather boots pounding across the wooden floor.  The footfalls stopped, and he sensed a presence near by.  A quick glance confirmed his suspicion.  It was Montcalm.  Adversaries in battle, they had spied one another from afar, but never personally met.  This was the closest he had come to the French general.

Judge Bean grunted again.  “Good of you to attend, Mister Montcalm.”

Montcalm sketched a bow.  “Apologies, Monsieur le president.  I was detained by –”

Judge Bean raised a hand.  “I am not the President.  You will refer to me as ‘Your Honor.’”

Wolfe allowed a slight smile at Montcalm’s rebuke, until Bean’s stern gaze shifted his way.  The man may have had the look of someone old and tired, but his eyes were sharp.  This judge still retained his faculties.

“Mister Wolfe,” Judge Bean began.  “You have been summoned before this court to answer the charge of cheating.”

So the outrageous accusation on the scroll was true.  “Your Honor, that is a ridiculous –”

“Silence,” Bean growled.  “You will not address this court until ordered.”  Scowling, he cast about the table top.  “Where’s my gavel?”

One Ear said, “Missing, Judge.  I have my best imps looking for it as we speak.”  A sudden puff of smoke revealed a claw hammer, close beside Bean’s hand.  “I believe that will suffice for the time being, Judge.”

Wolfe heard Bean mumble something about his gavel and not some bloody hammer.  The demon assistant remained silent.

With a throat clearing harrumph, the judge continued.  “The charge is cheating.  To-wit, Mister Montcalm has accused you of cheating your way to victory at the, er …” a shuffling of papers, “at the battle on the Plains of Abraham.  How do you plead?”

Wolfe’s mouth opened and closed soundlessly, his indignation growing at such a preposterous claim.  Suddenly he felt his gorge rise anew.  Panicking, he fought to control it.  He would show his weakness to no one.  Especially now.  With supreme effort he wrestled it down, a silent victory, save for the bitter taste lingering in his mouth.  Drawing himself up, Wolfe said, “Not guilty, Your Honor.”

Judge Bean drew his lips into a thin line.  “Very well.  Mister Montcalm, present your case.”

Where Wolfe was thin and sickly, the Marquis de Montcalm was fit and sturdy, possessing a round face, large nose and generous mouth.  Sketching another bow, he began, “Your Honor, my case is simple.  On the night before Monsieur Wolfe and his men ascended the bluffs near the said plain of Abraham, he lied to my guard standing watch on the river.”

“Lied?  How so?”

“It is like this, Your Honor.  We had expected a flotilla of supplies that night.  Sadly, there was a change of plans I was unaware of, and the flotilla delayed.  My guard, not informed of the change, saw Monsieur Wolfe’s boats and issued a challenge.  One of Monsieur Wolfe’s men was fluent en Français and answered the challenge.  The guard, not knowing better, and having no clear view in the dark, allowed them passage.  Thus, by trickery and deceit did the British gain the plains and force me to do battle.”  Montcalm crossed his arms and shot an accusing look at Wolfe.

Silence descended as Judge Bean’s jaw worked, his smoldering eyes burning into the Frenchman.  In a low voice he asked, “And?”

Montcalm spread his arms.  “And what, Your Honor?  Is that not sufficient?”

Judge Bean launched out of his chair and ground his knuckles on the table.  His face flushed as he spit, “And that’s your case?  Some British soldier lied to your guard?  Your poor little guard?  Oh, the horror.”  He barked to One Ear.  “Where’s that box of Snotex?  I think I’ll go cry for a minute.”  He swung back on Montcalm.  “What kind of fool do you take me for, you idiot?”  Nostrils flaring, he snapped, “An assassin plunging a poison knife into your back might be cheating.  Wolfe bribing your men to turn on you might be cheating.  Why, if Wolfe here challenged you to a duel and had one of his snipers shoot your damned head off, then that would be cheating.  But, lying to a guard?”  Bean reached for the hammer.  “I should fine you for wasting the court’s time.”  He raised it.  “This case is –”

One Ear’s hellphone went off, its ringtone playing cheery notes from The Devil Went Down to Georgia.  Bean paused, head turning to fix the demon with a withering glare.  The assistant raised a finger, asking for a moment while it took the call on its remaining ear.  It listened, nodding repeatedly before terminating the call and approaching Bean.  It leaned over to whisper in the judge’s ear.  Slowly Bean lowered himself into his chair, his features passing from anger to puzzlement to reluctant acceptance.  As the assistant stepped back, the judge spent several moments staring hard at the table.  Looking up, he snapped, “That was the Big Guy.  He wants you two to refight the battle.”

Montcalm bowed.  “Bon!  Tres bon, Your Honor.”

Wolfe stammered, “That is impossible, Your Honor.  There are no Plains of Abraham here, and we have no men.”

Bean glanced up at the assistant.  One Ear whispered into his ear.  Bean nodded.  “I am informed there is a field located some three miles west of us.  It will be altered to approximate your Plains of Abraham.  You are ordered to meet there in two days time.”

Wolfe swallowed.  “And the men?”

“Your Honor,” Judge Bean reminded him.

“And the men, Your Honor?”

“Yes, well, the court agrees that assembling the original combatants on such short notice is impossible.  Therefore, you will have at your disposal a number of revenants equal to the numbers of men that took part in the battle.”

Wolfe felt light-headed.  Revenants?  He knew about revenants from English folklore.  “Revenants?” he squeaked.  “Revenants are undead beings, Your Honor.  Mindless, undead beings.  They have no capacity to give orders.  I warrant they can barely follow one.  No, Your Honor, I cannot command an army of revenants.  It is impossible.  I would be all over the field issuing instructions.”

Chairs scraped behind Wolfe and two sets of footsteps approached.  A reassuring hand clapped him on one shoulder.

“Your Honor,” Churchill said, “Prince Eugene and I will stand with General Wolfe and assist him in commanding his – troops.”

Judge Bean contemplated the request, his gnarled hand stroking his white beard.  He nodded.  “Very well.  Mister Montcalm?”

“Oui, Your Honor?”

“As Mister Wolfe has acquired assistance in the prosecution of this upcoming battle, the court will allow you the same privilege.”

Montcalm bowed.  “Merci, Your Honor.”  He paused, his forehead breaking into a map of wrinkles.  “Your Honor, quel sont revenants?”

*

“This is ridiculous,” Wolfe mumbled.  “This is a circus.  A bloody circus.”

Standing slightly apart from Churchill and Eugene, Wolfe shook his head at the vast multitude of wagons, cars, giant metal constructs known as buses and countless hell-horses streaming along the road from New Hell in a dust-stirring chaotic mess, a mess exacerbated by metal-twisting accidents and furious fistfights.

Those managing safe arrival were treated to a carnival-like atmosphere resplendent with colorful tents and countless concession stands erected by merchants, hawkers and opportunists offering all varieties of food, drink and cheap souvenirs.

Wolfe groaned at the sight of a t-shirt with his image emblazoned on the front and the words Hour of the Wolfe in elaborate scroll stretched across the back.  A second t-shirt making the rounds had Montcalm’s visage and the words French Fried on the reverse.  Wolfe found that one mildly amusing.

But what Wolfe didn’t find amusing (in fact, mildly disconcerting), was the growing influx of spectators and morbidly curious.  He had no clue how word of the upcoming battle could have spread so swiftly, until Churchill calmly mentioned something called the information age.  Whatever that was.

And, oblivious to the chaos, two motionless armies of revenants stood like terracotta warriors from the reign of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, separated from each other by a span of several hundred yards.  These undead waited quietly, patiently, completely unaware of the sights and sounds of the throng gathering along the sidelines.

To Wolfe’s further dismay, his revenants represented four formations of soldiers drawn from various periods of English history.  Some of the uniforms and weapons he recognized, others he didn’t.  Fortunately, a look at Montcalm’s army showed that the Frenchman had fared little better.  To all appearances they were on equal footing.  So, now he had to determine the best use of this hodgepodge of undead.

Putting his disgust aside, Wolfe approached Churchill and Eugene.  He heard the generals share a laugh, even as they acknowledged him.  “Does nothing ever intimidate you two?” Wolfe asked, a hint of irritation in his voice.

Churchill appraised Wolfe before smiling.  “Relax,” he said.  “This is hell.  Even if you die you’ll come back.  Eventually.”  He waved an arm at the gathered crowds.  “Think of this as a show for the masses.”

Wolfe frowned.  “And what if I lose this rematch before these masses, sir?  I have my pride.”

Eugene chuckled.  “If you worry what people shall think of you if you fail, don’t.  They don’t care.  All they want is a good show.  In time this will become a distant memory.  Enjoy it for what it is.  Entertainment.”

Wolfe snapped, “Easy enough for you, sir.  It is obvious that you, men that I admire, have succumbed to this nightmare place and take what it offers in stride.  I, sir, have not.”  He pointed at the motionless revenants.  “And what, pray tell, do I do with these?”

“Use them,” Eugene replied.

“Use them?  I do not even know what era half of these things belong to.”

Churchill shrugged.  “You have little choice, Wolfe.  This was the hand dealt you.  Surely you know a general has to make do, however unpleasant that is.  Hmm.  What have we here?”  Reaching into his coat, Churchill produced a pair of binoculars and trained them on Montcalm.  Turning the focus ring he said, “It appears our opponent has solicited help.  I see another Frenchman.  From his uniform I’d say he’s from the time of Napoleon.  The other?  Let’s see.  Grey greatcoat.  Hat.  Massive beard.  A gambling man would wager he’s from the Civil War.”

Eugene asked, “Which one?”

“The American.  Wait, there’s a third.  Hmm.  Not sure, but I think he predates us, Eugie.”

“Let me see.”  Eugene took the binoculars from the taller man.  “That’s Count Tilly.  I met him back in New Hell.  He fought in the Catholic-Protestant wars back in the sixteen hundreds.  He’s a good one.”

Churchill stroked his chin.  “Tilly.  Magdeburg.  Yeah, he’s a mean bastard all right.  Not sure of the credentials of the other two.  Perhaps we should go say hello.”

Wolfe, his attention divided between the strange-looking binoculars and the banter between Churchill and Eugene, reacted sharply.  “What was that?  You want to say hello?  To Montcalm?  Are you serious, sir?”

Eugene shrugged.  “Why not?  Have you ever met the man?”

“No, I have not.  What purpose would it serve?”

Eugene winked.  “Well, you could always gloat.  But on a serious note, I think it would benefit us to learn who our opponents are.”

Wolfe nodded, slowly.  “Of course.  You are right, sir.  That makes sense.”

Churchill clapped him on the back.  “It’s settled then.  Come along.”

Montcalm quickly spotted their approach and, gathering his companions, hurried to intercept them.  The groups slowed to a stop, facing off several paces apart.

In the ensuing silence, as each side measured the other, Wolfe realized Churchill and Eugene, great generals both, were deferring to him as commander.  A lump settled in the pit of his stomach, a nervous reaction to this sudden and overwhelming show of confidence.

Montcalm, on the other hand, was anything but nervous.  The general gracefully removed his tricorne and bowed.  The men behind him nodded.  Replacing his hat, Montcalm said, “Bonjour, Messieurs.  How may we help you?”

“Monsieur Montcalm, I believe you have us at a disadvantage.  You have met the Duke of Marlborough and his esteemed companion the Prince of Savoy.  However, we have not had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of your associates.”  Wolfe nodded toward Tilly.  “Though I understand you to be Count Tilly.”

Tilly, a bearded man of medium build and finely chiseled features, grunted.

Montcalm said, “The Count Tilly is a man of few words.  Now, let me present Marshal Ney and General Longstreet.”

Ney, his fiery red hair blending with the ruddy sky above, merely nodded.  Longstreet, however, stepped forward.  Removing a clay pipe from his mouth, he said in a soft and controlled voice, “A pleasure, gentlemen.  Mister Churchill, I have read of your campaigns and battles, and I wish to express my sincerest admiration for your exploits and career – the same admiration I extend to your compatriot, Prince Eugene of Savoy.  Mister Wolfe, forgive me, but I know little of your military victories, though I trust they are substantial.”  Stepping back, the pipe returned to his mouth and sweet smoke curled from its bowl.

An awkward pause ensued as Wolfe simmered at the subtle, if unintentional, slight.  He decided he had seen enough, and turned to go.

Montcalm flashed a smile.  “Be ready, Monsieur.  Time grows short.”  He pointed toward the crowd.

Wolfe followed Montcalm’s finger.  A ten-foot-high hourglass rested on a pine table beside a rusted cube van.  A mountain of sand formed a cone in the bottom half of the glass, the upper glass was nearly empty.

A man separated from the mass of spectators and approached.  He was dressed in a British uniform not dissimilar to Wolfe’s own.  As he neared he smiled widely and held out a hand.  “Greetings, General Wolfe.  You look rather sharp today.”

Wolfe shook the proffered hand.  “And you are?”

“Arnott.  General Benjamin Arnott.  I see you require an extra body, and I come to offer my services.”

“Should I know you, sir?”

Arnott stepped back.  “Not likely, sir.  I fought some years after your – death.”

Wolfe frowned.  Reminders of his death always left him chilled.  Gesturing at the uniform he said, “You are British, obviously.  Who were your opponents?  The French?  The Austrians?  The Prussians?”

Arnott gave a slight, embarrassed shake of the head.  “Nothing so illustrious.  I fought the Americans during their war of independence.  Miserable ingrates and turncoats that they were.”

Wolfe chewed his lip, wishing he had some knowledge of the military personnel who had existed after his time on earth.  He looked to Churchill and Eugene for advice, but they had returned to the English lines.  Hesitantly, he said, “Very well.  I can use you, General Arnott.”

Arnott clapped his hands.  “Good.  What do I command?”

*

Wolfe stood with his back to the enemy, critically eyeing the revenants and contemplating their use.  Eugene and Arnott stood apart, waiting patiently.  Churchill studied the French through his binoculars.

Wolfe’s four undead formations included British musketeers from the eighteenth century, soldiers with whom Wolfe, Churchill and Eugene were passingly familiar.  Beside them stood a battalion of Colonials, drawn from an era of British expansionism that existed well after Wolfe’s time.  Beside the Colonials, on the far flank, stood a regiment of pike from the fourteen hundreds and, on the near flank, by Wolfe, some five hundred longbow men from the same era.

Wolfe, deciding his force would excel at defense, turned to Churchill.  “Your thoughts on the enemy, sir?”

Churchill lowered the binoculars, letting them hang by a leather strap against his chest.  “Near as I can tell, they have two formations of muskets, one of men-at-arms and a lot of crossbowmen.”

Wolfe gestured for the binoculars.  “May I look?”

Churchill raised the strap, careful not to disturb his powdered wig, and handed them over.

Wolfe, following the example of Churchill and Eugene, placed the strange instrument against his eyes.  The image was blurry.  “I cannot see very well, sir.”

Churchill leaned over and touched the focus ring.  “Use your finger or thumb to turn this.”

Wolfe did so, and choked off a gasp as an image snapped into view, much sharper than any telescope from his era could produce.  Idly he wondered how much more technology available in hell was beyond his experience and understanding.

A horn sounded.  Wolfe lowered the binoculars and looked at the hourglass.  The last sprinkling of grains had slipped through its neck.

Arnott announced, “Showtime.”

Churchill looked askance at the general.  “A touch eager, are we?”  His heavy brow knit into a ‘v’ of wrinkles.  “Arnott … Arnott?  You know, I’ve read as much military history as I could get my hands on since arriving here, and I don’t ever recall coming across a Benjamin Arnott.”

Arnott shrugged.  “I was no big player in the war.”

Wolfe, closely following the exchange, said, “Well sir, as your capabilities are an unknown quantity, you will command the pike.”

Arnott frowned briefly before nodding.  “Understood, General.  The pike it is.  What are my orders?”

Wolfe pondered that.  They would be most effective against the opposing men-at-arms.  “Hold steady for now.  Montcalm made the first move when we fought last time, let us see if he will do so again.”  Moving to Eugene he said, “Sir, I would ask you to command the muskets.”

The French-born Austrian smiled grimly.  “With pleasure, Wolfe.”  Eugene set out after Arnott, both departing for their respective positions.

Wolfe approached Churchill.  Handing over the binoculars, he said, “I would have you command these Colonials.”

Churchill raised an eyebrow.  “And here I thought you would assign me the longbow men.”

Wolfe managed a thin smile.  “That would be a grave error of judgment on my part, sir.  No, I am satisfied with the longbows.  They will match up well against the French crossbows.  You and General Eugene will duel the French with your musket formations.”

Churchill grinned and jerked a thumb at his contingent.  “These Colonial British have a rifle called the Lee-Metford.  Unlike our muskets, they hold more than one bullet and they have superior range.  Montcalm may have a surprise coming his way.”  He paused and straightened, scanning the French ranks with his binoculars from one end of the line to the other.  “Montcalm’s men are giving directions to their revenants.  I see movement.  They’re on the march.”

“We had better see to our men, then.”

Churchill chuckled.  “Easy, General.  We have ample time.”

Wolfe turned.  “What do you mean?”

“Have you seen a revenant march?  They are undead, remember?  Their motor skills are, to put it mildly, lacking.  They’re coming, all right, but at this rate we could enjoy a nice cup of tea well before they reach us.  Well, a cup a tea, anyway.  Can’t vouch for its taste.”

Wolfe, however, was not convinced.  “Look, General, if our side received a formation of troops like the Colonials, wouldn’t it be safe to assume the French may –”

At that precise moment, a curling cloud of white smoke erupted from a French formation, followed by the staccato reports of rifle fire.  Bullets whizzed past, one buzzing by Wolfe’s ear like an angry hornet.

Churchill, unfazed and untouched, lowered his binoculars.  “Damnation, Wolfe.  You’re right.  Well, so much for outgunning them with the Lee-Metfords.  Who are those guys?”

Wolfe, shaking his head, said to Churchill, “It would appear we are evenly matched, sir.”

Churchill, eyes yet fixed on the French, said, “I would agree.  Ah, I have determined our opponent:  Legionnaires.”

“Romans?  I thought they used spears.”

“Pila.  The Romans used pila: six foot long javelins.  But these are not Romans.  They are French mercenaries.  And Wolfe, there’s something else.  They’re using multi-shot rifles, like our Colonials.”

“So?”

“Well, do you find it strange they have not yet fired a second volley?”

Wolfe crossed his arms.  “Yes.  That is strange.”

“It has apparently baffled the French, too.  At this moment they argue furiously among themselves.  However, I believe I have the answer.”

“And that is?”

“It is possible these revenants can only comprehend one command at a time.  They are undead, after all.”

Wolfe pondered that.  He knew no more of the inner workings of the undead than he did of hell, but Churchill’s idea was oddly plausible.  “So, by your reasoning the Legionnaires must receive repeated orders to fire.  They lack the capacity to extrapolate.”

“In a nutshell, yes.”

“Therefore, by your reasoning, the Legionnaires must still be stationary, having been given the order to fire and not an order to advance, while the balance of the French army approaches, having been given the order to march and not to fire.”

Churchill scanned the French lines.  He lowered the binoculars.  “You have a knack of complicating something simple, Wolfe, but the answer is yes.”

Wolfe clapped his hands.  “Then let us get to work before Montcalm and his crew figure that out.”

*

It took three successive volleys from the Colonial revenant’s rifles before Montcalm and his team caught on and raced back to their formations, arms waving and fingers pointing.

The first two Colonial volleys tore into the French Legionnaires, causing much damage but few deaths.  A long look by Wolfe through the binoculars determined that the dead had sustained head wounds.  Armed with this knowledge, Churchill issued a series of precise commands to the comprehension-challenged revenants, and gave the order for the third volley.  This produced the desired results.  Heads exploded.  Bodies dropped.  Advantage, British.

Leaving Churchill, Wolfe joined his longbows, walking in that calm, determined stride expected from powerful men, the kind of nonchalance in the face of enemy fire that resulted in so many battlefield deaths among high-ranking officers.  Except, in this case, Wolfe had little to fear.  This wasn’t some historic conflict fought on the fields of Europe.  This was a silly little rematch, a skirmish between undead soldiers who could barely grasp one-word commands.

A heavy thrum, the sound of bowstrings released under high-tension, alerted him to danger.  Wolfe instinctively dropped to the ground.  So much for nonchalance.

Twisting his neck, he watched a cloud of incoming bolts slam into his silent formation of longbowmen.  Many along the front row lurched a step back, the leather fletching of deeply embedded bolts protruding from their decaying bodies.  Others dropped to the ground, bolts piercing heads, mouths and eyes.  Throughout all this, not a sound was uttered, not a scream or cry of pain. 

Unnerved by the eerie silence, Wolfe leapt to his feet and shouted, “Nock arrow.”

The revenants slowly, painstakingly reached down to pluck standing arrows embedded in the ground and fit them to their bow strings.

Wolfe pointed at the enemy crossbowmen and raised his arm.  “Aim.”

Silently they obeyed.  Even undead, the revenants remained masters of their craft, and single-mindedly understood the role expected of them:  they knew no other.

Wolfe dropped his arm.  “Release.”

The deep drone of unleashed bow strings punched the air, its reverberating hum not unlike a swarm of angry bees.

Fascinated, Wolfe watched the mass of arrows rise high into the ruddy sky before arcing into a deadly descent.

A chorus of oohs and ahhs drifted up from the spectators.

The arrows slammed into the crossbowmen, driving many to the ground.  One landed by Montcalm’s feet.  The French general looked up, startled, and shook his fist at Wolfe.

Wolfe held his finger and thumb an inch apart.  “That close, you bastard,” he mumbled.  Viewing the results, he was disappointed by so few deaths.  He knew his revenants would be hard-pressed to exclusively target heads until the enemy was within range for a decent horizontal shot.  Still, with the maddeningly slow pace of the revenants, he knew his side could manage two or more volleys to each volley from the enemy crossbowmen.  Another advantage, British.

Once again Wolfe commanded, “Nock arrow.”  Maybe this time they would strike Montcalm, whose death would put an end to this farce.

An unexpected hue and cry rose among the spectators.

Wolfe paused, looking their way.  Many among the crowd were on their feet pointing, jumping and gesticulating wildly.  Unsure why, Wolfe examined the French forces.  Nothing appeared out of the ordinary.  The French men-at-arms continued their slow advance as General Longstreet fiercely stalked the formation, unsuccessfully encouraging the undead to advance faster.  The French muskets had engaged, the uneven pop of their fire drifting across the battlefield.

Moments passed while Wolfe waited.  Eugene’s contingent failed to return fire.  Stepping several paces away from the longbow men to capture an overall view of his lines, Wolfe cursed, suddenly understanding why the crowd had reacted.

Arnott!

Wolfe was betrayed by the late-comer to his cadre.

The British pikemen under Arnott were rolling over the thin red line of Eugene’s formation from behind, their steel-shod weapons tearing into undead bodies and punching through undead heads.  Eugene, caught unaware, now struggled to reposition his revenants in a vain attempt to repel the assault, their slow response making the task nearly impossible.

Churchill, hearing Eugene’s frantic shouting, was slowly refusing a portion of his own flank, turning his lines to face the pikemen and support his friend.  However, this repositioning left the balance of his Colonials facing the enemy, with no commands to guide them, and exposed to the weapons of the Legionnaires.  Advantage, French.

Wolfe cursed again.  These revenants were just too slow.  Looking to Montcalm and his crossbowmen, he noted they were still reloading.  His longbows, however, were ready with arrows nocked.  Issuing the necessary orders, Wolfe had them fire another volley before setting off for Churchill.

Prying a Lee-Metford from the undead hands of a fallen Colonial, Wolfe came up to the beleaguered general and said, “The only way to end this is to kill Arnott.”  He held up the weapon.  “Do I just pull the trigger?”

Churchill, his powdered wig matted and askew on his head, furrowed his brow, puzzled.  “It’s a rifle.  Of course you pull the trigger.”  Sudden understanding dawned as Churchill remembered Wolfe’s unfamiliarity with ‘advanced’ technology.  Taking the rifle, he checked its magazine before handing it back.  “It’s loaded.  Eight rounds.  Just aim and shoot.  Keep shooting if you have to.”

Nodding thanks, Wolfe skirted the front rank of musketeers in search of Eugene, praying the man was not a casualty of Arnott’s treachery.  He discovered Eugene of Savoy on the ground, barely thirty paces from the slowly advancing pikemen, clutching his side as blood spread through his brown jacket.  “You hit?” he asked.

“What do you think?” Eugene snapped.

“Sorry.  Where’s Arnott?”

Eugene raised a shaking hand.  “Somewhere over there, hiding among the pikemen.  Damned if I never saw him reposition his revenants.  Too much going on to expect a backstab.”

Wolfe had few words of comfort, only an unspoken responsibility for involving these great men in Montcalm’s mad quest for revenge.  “Hold on, friend, I must find and kill Arnott, lest we all die.”  Patting Eugene’s shoulder, Wolfe sprinted before the pikemen.

Finding Arnott nowhere in view, Wolfe placed himself before the advancing pikemen and shouted, “Halt.  Halt, damn you.”  Slowly, in clusters of two or three, then in larger groups, the revenants lumbered to a stop.  Silent and motionless, pikes facing forward, the revenants halted.  Their steel blades displayed a variety of undead trophies:  torn arms, meaty pieces of decayed flesh, and skewered heads.

A flash of motion and the crack of gunfire tore a yelp of surprise from Wolfe as pain lanced across his left wrist.  Wolfe glanced at the bloody furrow caused by the round.  A bare quarter inch lower and the wrist would have shattered.  “Not again,” he mumbled.  This was the exact spot where his first wound occurred at the Plains of Abraham.  He shivered, remembering.

A second shot rang out.  Wolfe grunted as something slammed into his stomach.  Eyes welling with pain, he looked down.  Dark blood spread across his shirt in a growing stain.  I don’t believe this, he thought.  My second wound, just like last time.  Was this to be his punishment?  That history would repeat itself?  Even in hell?

“You still standing?”

Wolfe peered through pain-filled eyes as Arnott stepped around a statue-like revenant, pistol gripped firmly in one hand, approaching with the casual air of a man in control.  Wolfe eyed the weapon and saw that it was no flintlock.  This weapon was small and darkly metallic, something from Wolfe’s future.

A wave of nausea suddenly overcame him, and his gorge reacted violently.  Fighting to keep his bloody coughing spell under control, he spit out, “Why?”

Arnott smiled.  “A promise of money, advancement, a key place in a growing empire.”  Arnott shoved a revenant by the shoulder.  The undead soldier stumbled a few feet before resuming its motionless state.  “I mean, think about it, Wolfe.  Revenants?  This whole rematch was a joke from the start.  Nothing more than a money-making opportunity for the right people.”

Wolfe dropped to one knee as another wave of nausea overtook him.  The muzzle of his Lee-Metford touched the ground in his limp right hand.  “Who are the right people?” he managed.

Arnott lowered to his haunches, maintaining eye-level with Wolfe.  “Those who have a hand in just about everything legal and illegal in and around New Hell.”

“Criminals, then.”

Arnott shrugged. “If you must.  Brilliant criminals, though.  You’re new to hell.  Suffice it to say, they fixed this battle, and stand to make a lot of diablos, as do I from wagering on the outcome.  Anyway, enough chat.  I have a battle to win.”

Wolfe felt light-headed.  “Have you no – honor?”

Arnott laughed.  “Honor?  In hell?”  Leaning forward, he touched Wolfe on the knee with a finger.  “I’ll let you in on a little secret, Wolfe.  My name’s not Benjamin Arnott.  It’s Benedict Arnold.”  He paused, smiling.  “Well, I can see by your blank look that my name means nothing to you.  I’m not even offended.  Let’s just say that betrayal is no big thing.  Been there.  Done that.  Really good at it.”  Leaning back, he raised his strange weapon and aimed it at Wolfe’s chest.  “Sorry.  Have to go.”

The consumption Wolfe had fought so hard to control won out, and he coughed violently, blood and bile flying from his mouth to splatter on the ground.  He coughed again and again, every breath becoming a strained wheeze between each sharp intake of air.

Arnold paused and lowered his pistol.  A humorless grin played across his lips.  “That’s some deadly sickness you have there.  Can’t be the belly wound.  Tuberculosis?”

Wolfe nodded.  The violent wave subsided.  As he wiped at his mouth with the back of his sleeve, he noticed Arnold’s gun pointed off to the side.  Firming his grip on the Lee-Metford, he forced himself into another coughing fit.  Arnold continued to watch, taking sadistic satisfaction from Wolfe’s state.

Wolfe suddenly reared back, tilted the Metford’s barrel up and squeezed the trigger.  The resulting blast and report wrenched the weapon from his hand.  He threw himself sideways, expecting a bullet to strike his chest, thus completing the trio of wounds accrued during his final moments on the Plains of Abraham.

No shot came.

Instead, Benedict Arnold lay sprawled on his back, his head a bloody mess, the lifeless eyes fixed on the reddish sky.

Wearily, Wolfe sat up.  The wound in his belly ached.  Blood pooled on the ground between his crossed legs.  Another bout of nausea wracked his body; roaring filled his ears.  He lay on his back.  Moments later he opened his mouth in wordless surprise at the sight of several figures slowly crossing overhead, high in the sky.  One paused, as if watching.

Then came a deafening roar, and the ground heaved.

As Wolfe felt his body pitch through the air like some rag doll, he remembered Churchill saying that death was not final, that he would be back.  However, this time he prayed it would not be in that lousy little room back in New Hell.

*

“And finally, this just in:

“Disaster struck the much-hyped Plains of Abraham rematch today when a chasm opened under the battlefield, swallowing participants and spectators alike.  Among the casualties was our crew from the Perdition Broadcasting System.  While the cause of this tragedy remains under investigation, a survivor claims to have witnessed at least seven apparitions appear overhead and, I quote, ‘One of those bastards spread his arms and all hell broke loose.’  More on this story as details follow.

“Until then, good night and good luck.”

“And that’s a wrap, Mister Murrow.”

Edward R. Murrow merely nodded and, reaching for his pack of cigarettes, lit another.
Tribe of Hell, © Janet Morris; Perseid Publishing, 2011
2011© Lawyers in Hell (Janet Morris), 2011, all rights reserved

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