A pilot at Hickam Field during the attack on Pearl Harbor:
"Do you think they'll be back?"
Charlie scanned the piles of twisted metal that had only an hour earlier been their invincible planes. In the horizon, the sky was black with smoke except for the sudden flashes of another ship's magazine blowing. The ground trembled beneath his boots.
"I think they have more important game, now." His voice was barely above a whisper.
"Hey, McGuire! Your wife's on the phone!"
"Tell her I'm okay!"
"Don't you think I did that? Get yourself over here, she's having a nervous breakdown!"
Panting, Charlie ran to the office, his head still swimming from the adrenaline surge. With a bloody hand he grabbed the telephone from Maxine.
"Charlie, thank God! What on earth is going on? I hear explosions and just now two planes flew very low over the house. There's smoke coming from the harbor, Charlie. Please tell me what's going on!"
It was a solace to hear his wife's voice, even when she was panicking.
"It's the Japs. Whatever happens I want you to stay inside, you hear? Don't go outside again. Got it?"
There was slight pause, then Kim's tiny voice sounded.
"Charlie, I'm so scared."
"I know you are, I am too. But I promise everything's gonna be alright. It's gonna be okay." He kept his voice steady, despite his heart pounding heavily inside his chest. "I love you."
His wife's soft and high-pitched voice answered with the same words, but Charlie's ears were tuned in elsewhere.
That couldn't be the sound of approaching planes. Zero engines. Bullets strafing the ground, kicking up dust. It couldn't be. Please, not again.
"Charlie, what's happening?"
Charlie hit the floor as the Japanese ammo came whizzing through the roof. Outside, Zeros swooped and men screamed. The ground beneath his face shook as another American plane went up in flames.
"Charlie? Charlie! Charlie!"
Across the room, Kim's panicked voice sounded from the receiver, which dangled from the tabletop.
Charlie gasped for air. Ignoring the warm stream of blood that flowed down his neck and onto his white-cotton shirt, he stumbled forward and grabbed the phone again.
"Are you all right? What's happening? Charlie?"
"They uh... They've dropped by for another visit. Gotta run. I love you."
He hung up with a click, praying that he would live to tell her those words again.
A young American woman named Samantha, captured by the British and forced to be a nurse on their side:
Sam ducked as a Yankee bullet whizzed past her ear. She swallowed the bile that had risen in her throat. If I’m going to die, please let the ball be from the British.
She would gladly give her life for her country, but not if the fatal blow was from her own side.
She squeezed her eyes shut, as if it would help block out the morbid scene in front of her. But no, even with closed eyes she could see the horrible imagse in her mind. Dying British soldiers, musket smoke, terror-stricken faces, bloody coats… She jumped as the boom of another cannon sounded, followed by a near explosion and inhuman screams. Dear God, let it stop. Let it stop.
“Nurse!” a voice screamed. She opened her eyes to see a British officer waving frantically with one arm, the other supporting an injured man. Samantha clutched the already-bloody cloths in her hand. Helping the British made her feel like a traitor. Nothing was worse in her mind than a traitor. But even the true-blooded Yank inside her could not ignore an injured soldier, British or American.
Sam held her breath and darted out from the rock she had been hiding behind. Every step she took, she braced herself for the pain of hot lead ripping through her insides. At last she dove beside the British Regular who had called for help, scraping her hands against the rough ground.
The soldier’s face was dirt-ridden and his black eyes sharp. With labored breathing he cried,
"Help him to the tents! Quickly!”
She froze. The injured man could barely walk. The tents are so far.
"Go!” the regular shrieked again.
Hands trembling, she helped the Redcoat to his feet and slipped an arm around his waist. She felt warm blood seep through her sleeve.
They hobbled as fast as his weak body would travel, stepping over dead men and ownerless muskets and ducking when another canon boomed through the air. Her heart began to thump wildly in her chest. The tips of the faded, British tents were coming into view.
“Hang on, we’re almost there,” she lied. In truth, they weren’t very far in distance. But the speed at which they stumbled there was decreasing every minute.
"Hurry, soldier, hur-“
She gasped before the word was finished.
The soldier had lurched forward, his face ashen, then slumped to the hard ground. Dead, with a Yankee bullet lodged in his back.
Every part of Samantha froze except her racing heart. The battle raged on beside her, but her emerald eyes were fixed on the dead body that just seconds ago had been leaning on her.
More screams awoke her from her daze.
“Get some water!”
She glanced at the foes around her, then up the hill at the front lines. Suddenly she saw a flash of blue. Not British red, or Hessian green, but blue. The glorious dark blue of her colonial brothers.
Fourteen months she had seen those blue coats in the distance, always in the distance. How sick she was of the red.
Her heart stopped. Could she? The hill was climbable, but far. The odds were strong against her. But the drive to be on the American side was much stronger. Sam clenched her teeth. Today, she was going home to the colonial camp, or she was going home to heaven.
She tossed her bloody cloths to the ground and grabbed the musket that lay at her feet.
A young Abolitionist, living in the heart of Dixie:
Hugh observed the sight in front of him. In one corner of his family's parlor, cigar smoke from the elder gentlemen wafted into the air. Another corner housed the string quintet. Slaves, carrying trays of gourmet hors d'oeuvres and expensive drinks, dodged the sea of dancers in the middle of the room. Nearby, Hugh's mother chatted incessantly to an eager group of ladies - sharing the latest town gossip, no doubt.
Oh, how he detested parties. He wanted to be out of the stiff dinner coat and to be away from the flirtatious eyes of every young woman in the room. He wanted to be out in the fresh, night air with his best friend, away from the suffocating stench of aristocracy.
He glanced at the ornate clock in the corner. In less than an hour, ten slaves from a nearby plantation would begin their journey towards a new life. Artie was seeing to that.
Hugh gripped the glass of punch in his hand. Artie was lucky. He wasn't the heir and future Master of Larimore House, one of the largest plantations in Virginia. He wasn't required to attend every social gathering put on by his flamboyant mother.
Suddenly the waltz stopped, halting the dancers and the swishing of skirts. Hugh's father raised his hands to hush the room.
"My guests, please listen. A tragedy has befallen our community. I've just received word that Arthur Grantham has been found near the Calhoun Plantation, mercilessly beaten. It is unknown who has committed this heinous act or what his intent was."
Hugh felt the blood drain from his face. Someone out there had discovered their secret. Someone who would sooner beat and kill... than see a single negro set free.