Diane Kalas, Inspirational Historical Romance Author

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV)

Monday, October 19, 2015

First Nightmare Scene from PATRIOT HEART

The hero of my debut novel, PATRIOT HEART, was a captive of the Confederates in the infamous Andersonville Prison for Union soldiers during the Civil War. He suffers from soldier's fatigue, a condition the 21th century medical community now calls Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Dan Goodman, the hero, has recurring nightmares and hallucinations that take him back into the camp to relive the extraordinary circumstances of men held against their will. The following scene is his first nightmare in the book. As the author, I wanted readers to know what Dan was dealing with, but not the heroine at this point in the story.

My debut novel, PATRIOT HEART

Dan closed his eyes to sleep flat on his back. Not even moonlight slipped in around the shades. Street noises were muffled through the closed window. He liked it that way.

He squirmed on the mattress, leg muscles tightening, while the familiar slide down the slippery slope continued. If he could fight this for a little longer . . . if he could. . . 

Dan moved along with hundreds of other Union men and herded into the crammed boxcar in Virginia. The pressure on his right shoulder from the guard’s rifle butt left him sore. The core of his body shivered as winter air turned even colder, and the wind picked up and blew through the cracks in the boards. The frigid draft seeped deep into his bones after days in the unheated freight train.

Hunger made his stomach growl and his head ache. To distract himself, he joined in a discussion with other captives about a prisoner exchange. That fueled his hope. Vague shadows boasted, gestured with arms wide spread, and shouted above the racket of the train barreling along the tracks. He struggled to think straight and to fight panic.

Dan’s leg muscles burned as they bunched into tight knots. His feet cramped. His weightless body floated above everyone. He didn’t mind the sensation.

They had to use a large pail as a slop jar, the stench crowding out body odors in that confined space. Dan swallowed to keep the waves of nausea from overtaking him.

A guard told him how lucky he was with the first group of Federal prisoners taken to the new Confederate prison. Almost made him giddy, thinking the place would be clean. But then Dan caught the lopsided smile like the Reb kept a secret and knew better.

 The train he rode stopped at the depot in the small town of Andersonville, Georgia. Anxious to leave the filth and cold, he hurried to jump off the railway car and onto solid ground. His legs buckled and he staggered to right himself, staring into a living nightmare.

Ahead, Confederate artillery faced the prisoners.

“Father God, help me as I surrender my freedom to the enemy. I choose life. No matter what happens, I want to live,” Dan mumbled under his breath, tapping his pocket Bible hidden inside his shirt.

“Psalm 91:1, 2 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.”
Andersonville Prison site
13,000 POWs died in 1864



Ann Ellison said...

I really enjoyed this book and the part of the story that did deal with the captured soldiers during that time.

Louise M. Gouge said...

Diane, this sounds like a wonderful story. I pray you'll have a bestseller!