Exodus Chronicles: Prologue 1 - Jacks Story
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Exodus Chronicles: Prologue 1 - Jack's Story


Yorktown, October 1781.


A cannonball whizzes past me. I duck for cover behind a wooden barricade as gunfire pierces my ears. I clutch my rifle to my chest, I'm shaking. I see the cannonball collide with a building, the wall exploding into debris and showering onto the fleeing soldiers below. I close my eyes, breathing slowly as the noise of the war fades away behind me.

"I can do this. I trained for this." I think to myself and wait for a second, breathing in the smoke and gunpowder.

The date is October 17th, 1781. My name is Private Jackson "Jack" Ramsey, a soldier in the war for America's freedom.

"JACK! JACK!!" I feel a hand shaking my shoulder and open my eyes to see my ginger best friend and compatriot of three years, Abraham.

I stared at him like a dumbass, my mouth hanging open. If we weren't at war he would've made fun of me, I'm sure of it.

"We need to push forward or they're going to push us back, get the hell off the ground, Jack!"

"I— er, yeah I'm going, I'm going." I'm not even sure if he heard me mumble those words, but I did get myself up off the floor.

Unfortunately, he had gotten me off my ass just enough time for a group of red coats to burst out of a house farther down the street. I could see the fear in his brown eyes as he knew just as well as I that we couldn't take them ourselves. He looked back in my direction, but his eyes didn't meet my own. Instead, he looked past me, I noticed and checked what he was looking at, but when I turned around something happened to me that I still can't explain.

When I turned around, rather than seeing the Yorktown that I was in, I stared ahead at what looked like hallways. Yellow rooms, with a wallpaper that was hypnotizing to the eye. It didn't look like it ended, the rooms just continued onward non-stop. Time seemed to close in on itself as I stared into the abyss. I guess something noticed me because as I looked deeper, I saw a foot, then a leg stepping out from behind one of the yellowish-green walls. It wasn't normal though, nothing about this was. The leg moved in slow motion and had no visible features. Pure black, despite the bright white squares in the ceiling.

Before I could see whoever it was stepping outward, I was pushed to the ground. My hands touched what looked like a plush floor, but I didn't feel it. The hardwood floor stopped my palms, and the rooms began to flicker. One second, I was in the yellow rooms. The next? Back in Yorktown. Soon it stopped, and so did the silence that I hadn't noticed until it was gone. The sounds of gunshots and cannon fire continued around me. What happened? I looked to my sides and in front of me, then realized something was missing.

If I had known then that hearing him tell me to get off my ass was the last time I would've heard his voice, I don't think I would have hesitated as much. I got up as fast as I could, and looking behind me I could see that the door was still open. I saw Abraham standing in the street, staring at me, looking terrified. Time slowed to a crawl, and I saw tears form in his brown— No, were they always that shade of green? I could see his arm starting to rise upward to his head, and he saluted.

I was wrong, I did hear his voice one more time. His mouth opened, wide, and he let out a scream louder than any gunshot I had heard. He had tears streaming down his cheek now. I remember when we were drafted, we weren't ready. The night of the end of our first gunfight, so many men sobbed. I and Abraham had already become close friends and we stayed next to each other as we tried desperately to hold ourselves together. I broke first.

Then the first bullet passed through the side of his chest, the next grazed his forehead. I panicked and scrambled to the door, slamming it shut as my friend died on the other side. I covered my mouth with my free hand as the red coat soldiers ran past. Thanks to him, they didn't notice me yet and didn't check the house I was in. I waited until they passed, holding my breath. But as soon as they did I broke just like that night after the gunfight.

Maybe it was a panic attack, maybe just the loss of Abraham, but I stopped breathing. I crawled forward like a dog, trying to catch my breath, watching the floor as tears dripped on the floorboards. I tried to make myself stand again, but I just fell back onto the door and cried some more. I spent a good few minutes just sitting there, panicking and crying. Every time I would try to stand up and keep moving I ended up breaking down more like I was paralyzed by the fear of continuing forward.

But I did, eventually, move forward. I used my rifle as leverage, holding onto the barrel as if my life depended on it as I tried to force my weak legs to lock upright, all the while snot and tears covered my face and eyes. Eventually, I stood straight, but my emotions were still out of control. The thought of continuing onward was practically incomprehensible to my brain, whenever the thought passed through my head I began to panic again. I fell against the wall, clutching my rifle still, and closed my eyes.

As I clamped my eyes shut, I shut my mouth and forced myself to breathe out of my nose. I forced my breathing to steady as much as I could, and tried to stop shaking. "I can do this." I thought to myself. It was a trick I taught myself whenever I started to panic. Close my eyes, tell myself I can do it. Let the world fall away around me and focus on just that. Then, open my eyes, and keep moving forward. That's what I did at that moment, closing my eyes, letting the background noise disappear, forcing myself to press on.

With that, I opened my eyes. Nothing had changed since I last had them open. Screaming, gunshots, cannon fire. Pretty much what I had expected. I took my first step forward, my legs still weak, but I tensed myself and kept pressing onward. Looking around me, there was a staircase to what looked like a sunny room upstairs. Based on where I remember this house being, I could probably get a good vantage point of the whole battle from up there.

And so I walked shakily up the stairs. The thought that there still might be people here didn't even cross my mind, although luckily nobody was. By the looks of it, this building had been hit by a cannonball, which would explain the debris-filled room and a huge hole where one of the walls should be. Thankfully, I was right, and the hole gave way to a gigantic scene of the battle. Red and blue soldiers, both dead and alive, were strewn about the expansive fields and widely spaced brick buildings. Smoke and dust filled the usually clear air, and I could see many fires starting and burning all over.

Regaining my thoughts, I steadied myself and readied my rifle. I knelt, pointing the rifle forward toward the battle. I looked around at the fields to see a potential target, finding one pretty quickly. A red coat soldier hiding behind a barricade that was made irrelevant by my vantage point. Closing one of my eyes, I placed a finger on the trigger, pointing the rifle in his direction. It wasn't the first time that I'd killed someone during the war. In fact, at the first gunfight we ever saw I was the lucky soldier to get the first kill, that one kill had wrecked me for months.

I was about to take the shot, my finger on the trigger. The soldier I was targeting even stood up and fired a round at an American soldier, as if giving me more reason to kill him. I squeezed the trigger. Any more and I would fire and hopefully end this red coat's life. But I hesitated. I released the trigger and readjusted my aim. Not because I needed to, just because I didn't want to take the shot just yet. Maybe it was the death of Abraham still in my mind, maybe it was my own cowardice, but I couldn't take the shot. I just stared at him, one eye closed, finger on the trigger, but not shooting.

I wish I could explain what happened next without sounding like a lunatic, but know that I'm telling you the truth. While I stared at the soldier and planned my shot, it took me a moment, but I realized that since he had shot he had not moved. I thought it was just my imagination, so I looked again, it was almost like he was frozen in place, ceased in action. Then I looked around the rest of the battlefield. It was the same for everyone else, paused in time. I lowered my rifle. Something was wrong, very wrong. I stood up, which was probably a mistake as a wave of nausea and dizziness washed over me like a flash flood.

The ground and the soldiers ahead of me looked like they were moving on separate planes, one lifting while the other looked like it was sinking through. I took a step back, my vision getting blurry as what was left of the room spun. I took more steps back, nearing the stairs as I tried to comprehend what was happening ahead of me. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw it again. A black foot, now recognizable as a dress shoe, stepping out in slow motion from behind the exploded wall despite the lack of a floor.

Somehow in more clarity than anything else that I could see, the black shoe continued outward until I saw a similar black ankle. No color, no reflections, pure darkness stepping out from the wall ahead. It felt like that too, a sinking feeling rose in my stomach as I looked at it, it. I couldn't call whatever this was a person, I don't know what gave me that sense, but it didn't feel human as I looked at it. The foot had barely moved since all these thoughts rushed through my head. Still simply moving out from behind the cracked wall. My grip on the rifle tightened, and I took another step back.

When my foot touched only half of the top step I knew I was done for. My weight was already shifting backward by the time I had realized my mistake. My vision started tilting upward to the ceiling as my body fell backward. I thought to myself that I was over, I would die by falling down the stairs while all my friends die as heroes. I closed my eyes, letting myself be taken by gravity, and I waited for my life to end. Maybe I'd hit my head too hard and die on impact. Or maybe I'd break my neck. I waited for the world I knew to dissipate and my afterlife to begin.

I was waiting for a long time. Too long, even, before I thought to myself, "Falling shouldn't be taking this long, right?"

At first, I was kind of scared to open my eyes. Maybe I did die and I would open my eyes to hell or heaven or… whatever was waiting for me. Or maybe I didn't, I didn't know which one would be worse. After about a minute of silently waiting for the grim reaper to pick me up and carry me away, I realized he wasn't coming and sheepishly began to open my eyes.

The first thing I saw was a bright square of light above me. It took a second for my eyes to focus, and as I lifted myself up with my shoulders the somehow familiar scene before me came into view. Yellow hallways and rooms that went on forever. A plush floor that I'm slowly realizing is slightly moist the more I lay in it. Square lights that buzz a piercing hum that was already getting into my head.

Given the circumstances, I think I could have said something a bit more helpful, but at the time the only thought that happened to be in my head was,


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