A Riverworld Tale

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: August 13, 2019

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Submitted: August 13, 2019

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A Riverworld Tale

by C. A. Stokes III

 

The fire crackled and popped, its embers flew up into the star filled sky.

George poked it with a stick so very deep in thought. He looked around at his fellow travelers and let out a quite laugh.

“Share your laughter with us George?” The young lady sitting next to him asked with a slight French accent.

She had a slight build to her, but her arms had muscles. Her short cropped hair made her look like a young man in his twenties.

Like everyone did here.

General George S. Patton Jr. smiled at her.

“Oh Joan, I guess I think it’s funny, that this after life world has brought the six of us together.”

She leaned against the taller, much taller man than she was, and laughed a little too.

“You think it is funny? I am quite amazed.” She took the stick from his hand and pointed with it.

“That man is a General from the years 2000.”

Norman Schwarzkopf looked up.

“And at your service Maid of Orleans.” He smiled.

“That man,” She pointed to another sitting around the fire. “Is a legend to you both.”

David Crockett smiled.

“Don’t look at me, I didn’t write none a-that stuff them two have been going on about.”

That brought a laugh from the two generals.

Joan pointed again.

“That one is a great Queen that took arms against the Roman Empire.”

Boudica crossed her muscled arms.

“As David said, do not look at me, I only wanted revenge.” Her mass of red hair shook with her laughter. 

She stood up and stretched, what clothes she wore reveled some of her stunning body.

All three mens quickly looked away.

“How ‘bout that weather?” Norman shook his head with a broad grin on his face.

Boudica looked up at the cloudless sky puzzled.

“And that man over there?” George pointed into the darkness past the fire light.

The five of them turned their eyes to the woods. They could not see him, but he was there.

“Ah, he is an altogether different story.” Joan mused.

“He is indeed.” Norman looked out into the darkness.

Boudica stood and put her fists upon her hips. “Son of the Bear, Warrior King”

“The Once and Future King.” George stood as he said the title.

Joan stood up and placed her hand over her heart.

“Artorius Castus Rex ex Britannia.” She smiled and took a deep breath.

David Crockett slowly got to his feet.

“King Arthur of Britain. Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil is rightwise king born of England.” He pointed into the dark. “And he’s ah standing right over there.”

He was a quite man. Many nights he would wander off into the woods. Crockett at first, would follow him for hours, but finally gave up. “Can’t for the life of me figure what’s he’s up to.”

It was several weeks until he reveled who he was. Boudica and Crockett had no idea who he was. Boudica was born and died before him, and Crockett had just never heard of him.

Joan grew up hearing stories about him, mostly from people who had read Geoffery of Monmouth’s stories.

When he said his name both Patton and Schwarzkopf stood at attention.

Their actions of respect embarrassed him and he asked them to, 

“Please, do not do that again.”

They all stood in silent thought, until it was broke from a call from the surrounding forest.

“Hello the camp!” A male voice called out.

All but Joan produced weapons. Daggers, short swords, and a massive knife made by James Black himself for Crockett. The very man who made Jim Bowie his knife.

“May I come in from the night and join you?” The voice called out again.

Joan walked over and placed her hand on David’s arm.

“Not everyone in this world is evil, Davíd.

He smiled down at her. “Not everyone is a saint either, Miss Joan.” He put his hands behind his back hiding the huge knife.

Boudica looked at George and Norman, who followed suit and hid their weapons behind them also.

“If you are friend, come into the light.” Joan said the man in the forest. “But, if you have evil intent, walk away, for you will not be welcome.”

Joan surprised them all as she lifted her right foot and pulled her dagger out of her boot.

Crockett watched her as she crossed her hands behind her back.

“Saint huh? He smiled.

“Your words are true enough, Davíd.” She poked his arm with her elbow. “Now be still.”

Boudica could hear from what direction the man was coming from and moved off to the side, and disappeared behind a tree.

Into the firelight stepped a man with almost golden blonde hair, big happy smile, and his hands up.

“Evening, I’m very happy to have found you in this strange world we now all live in.” He stepped up towards the fire and held out his hands to warm them.

Boudica appeared behind him like some shadow of death, short sword in hand.

She startled the man. He spun around with a start.

“My word, are you a beauty!” He tried to cover up his fright as he looked up at her. His eyes roaming over some of her exposed body.

Standing almost as tall as Patton and Crockett, she was a most imposing figure. Flaming red hair and bare muscled arms, and her expression was as grim as death itself.

“I… I am unarmed.” He opened his coat.

“That’s a fine looking buckskin you’re a-wearin’ there.” Crockett noted.

The man spun around as if he was modeling it.

“Yes, yes it is!” He patted the tan colored buckskin jacket and fringe around the shoulders and down the sleeves.

“We know that man who made clothes like that.” Boudica informed him. “We killed him.”

This startled him as a shiver ran through his body. “You what! For what reason?” He was looking from face to face for his answer.

It came from Crockett.

“Cause that there fine buckskin you like so much is made outta human skin.” He snarled up his nose.

“He.. It… What?” He stammered.

“We found him and what he was doing, and like she said, we killed him.” Crockett stepped up to him.

“Then we tracked him down when he came back and killed him again.” He smiled.

“We killed skinner man eight times, ’til he stopped coming back.” Boudica leaned down and whispered into his ear.

“If you would be so kind as to remove that,” Joan said pointing her finger at him. “We would very much like to burn it.” She wagged her finger a little more. “Please.” She then added.

Wordlessly, he quickly removed it and tossed it to the ground.

“Just for being so nice, why don’t you introduce yourself.” Norman grumbled.

“Why, why yes of course. How rude of me!” He bowed a little, and flipped his hair back when he stood back up.

“I am Major General George Arm…” He never finished his introduction as Patton leaped over the fire and slammed a powerful left cross right into his jaw.

“I know damn well who the hell you are!” Patton yelled down at him as he rolled on the ground.

“George!” Joan exclaimed.

“This worthless little shit got two hundred and sixty-eight men killed because of his stupidity and arrogance!” George grabbed him by his shirt and lifted him up. “Custer!” Patton’s high pitched voice screamed down into Custer’s face as he shook him back and forth.

“Isn’t that right? Autie.” Patton growled at him, making Custer’s eyes flare wide open when he used his little known nickname.

“Why do you ill treat a guest General?” A deep voice came through the trees.

Every head turned towards the deep powerful voice as Artorius stepped into the firelight.

Tall, muscled, wide shoulders, and a deep strong chest. Arthur was more than any man, any of them had ever seen in their lives.

“Please explain your actions General Patton.” Arthur bent down and picked up a burning log and held it up like a torch in front of him.

“Wait! I am a general too sir!” Custer blurt out. “A Major General sir!”

Arthur raised an eye brow and stepped closer to Custer.

“Ah, I see, but as I remember my many long talks with Generals Patton and Schwarzkopf, that is only two stars. As for these two generals they wore four stars in command.”

“The tall woman behind you is a British queen.” He nodded to Boudica.

“This wondrous young lady is a Saint.” He smiled at Joan.

“And I was knighted and crowned King of all Britannia. So, you see, as the expression goes; You are out-ranked, Major General Custer.”

Custer could not help himself and looked over at Crockett.

“Don’t look at me, I was just a congressman and died a corporal.” He grinned back.

Arthur stepped even closer to Custer, but looked at Patton.

“Release him, and tell me how this one little man killed two hundred and sixty-eight men.” 

Patton gave Custer a shove as he let go and Custer fell to the ground at his feet.

Patton and Schwarzkopf both went to West Point and military history was a subject they were both well versed in.

They, together, told Arthur, and the others, everything history had to say about “Custer’s Last Stand,” The Battle of the Little Big Horn.

When they finished, Arthur took a deep breath, and looked down at Custer.

“Do you have anything you wish to add?”

Custer did not look up. He just shook his head. To hear how he and the battle was remembered in history was heart breaking to him. He wiped the tears from his eyes more than a couple of times.

“Stand up Major General Custer.” Arthur ordered him.

Slowly he got to his feet, and brushed off his clothes.

“Look at me.” Arthur deep voice growled.

Custer slowly raised his gaze to Arthur’s hard expression.

“I cannot speak for the other’s, but I do not wish to travel with you in our company.”

Custer looked away.

“I said, LOOK AT ME!” Arthur’s voice thundered.

Custer actually snapped to attention purely out of habit.

“I think it would be wise of you to think of a different name for yourself, here in this strange world.” He sighed. “For there are two hundred and sixty-eight men out there who might not treat you as kindly as we have.”

Without another word, Custer picked up his jacket and walked out into the night.

Arthur dropped the torch back into the fire, and nodded to Crockett.

With a nod back, Crockett disappeared into the woods.

 

The next morning they awoke to find that Crockett still had not returned.

As they ate their grail supplied morning meal, Crockett walked into camp, and Boudica tossed him his grail.

Arthur looked over at him.

“Well?”

Crockett with a mouthful of whatever it was, answered.

“Bout two hours from here he climbed up a tree and tore apart that coat of his.” He took another mouthful. “Tied one end to a branch and the other round his neck.” Crockett snapped his finger.

Arthur nodded his head.

“Thank you for that.”

Crockett nodded his head and kept eating.

“Do you wish to rest some David?” Arthur looked at him.

“Nope, I’m fine. I slept after that.”

Arthur set his grail down and leaned closer to David, and whispered.

“No, you did not.” 

David looked up and into his eyes.

“No sir, I did not.”

“You followed me last night, again.”

“Yes sir, I did.” David gave Arthur a small smile.

“And did you see or find out what you wanted to know?” Arthur raised his eye brow.

Crockett looked at the others to make sure his answer was not heard.

“I saw you, by a small lake, as still as a mirror, the stars were in it like the stars above.” He set his empty grail down at his feet.

“You were talkin’, but there weren’t nobody there.” He took a deep breath. “Then, let me live forever so I’ll never forget it. A woman rose up out of the water and kissed you. I couldn’t hear her if she said anything to you, but…”

Arthur waited a moment for him to continue.

“But?” He prompted David to finish.

“She went back into the water, without a sound or even makin’ a ripple.” Crockett turned and faced Arthur. “Let me live forever so I can remember what I saw last night.” He sighed. “She came back up with a sword. She bowed her head and handed it to you.” 

Crockett shook his head.

“I stayed until mornings light. That water’s not but ankle deep. No woman could swim around in that let alone disappear into it.”

Arthur patted him on his shoulder.

“May you live forever David Crockett.”

Arthur stood up and cracked his back. He threw open his long cloak, reveling a sword belt hanging around his waist. 

Arthur smiled at David as he patted the swords pommel.

“Well my friends, let us be about our journey on this strange Riverworld.” Everyone got ready and started heading towards the sun. “We might even catch up to that strange boat.”  Arthur laughed.

“Mayhap I will find my Gwenhwyfar this day!”

“My Prasutagus, and our daughters.” Boudica smiled.

“Brenda.” Norman nodded his head at the memory of his wife.

“John, William, Margaret, Robert, Rebecca and Matilda!” David yelled out the names of his children.

“General Field Marshal Erwin Rommel!” Patton yelled out.

“Really, George?” Norman shook his head.

“Yes, by God! I want to shake that son of a bitches hand!” Patton laughed.

“King Charles VII.” Joan whispered. “I wish to face the man who turned his back on me and upon his God.” 

“We’ll hold him while you, uh, face him.” David laughed. “I’ll even let you borrow my knife.”

Joan laughed at that.

They stepped out to a clearing looking down at the mighty river.

Crockett pointed off to their left.

“Smoke to the north.”

“Might be the boat.” Boudica nodded.

“Or it just might be another grand adventure for us all.” Arthur smiled.


© Copyright 2019 C. A. Stokes. All rights reserved.

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