Black Men in Bright Blue
It is 1864 and Rachel Justice is ten years old. Her days are spent exploring Providence, her father’s plantation in South Carolina. Life in the mansion is a series of playtime adventures as she romps over the grounds on pretended spying missions for her special General, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. The manicured lawns and fields are tended by black hands she knows little of. But hard lessons are coming as the Civil War ravages the land only miles away and lives in her own backyard.
As Rachel discovers her mother’s role in a clandestine enterprise, conflicts with the often harsh demeanor of the plantation mistress cause a coarse split between mother and young daughter. Rachel develops a chance encounter with a young slave boy who inadvertently changes her life at the cost of his own and the story explodes. She learns of slavery in the echoes of a cracking whip as mysterious specters of Black Men in Bright Blue resurface and escort her to a special destiny. Her secret knowledge of the underground railroad pushes her family and her young mind into life and death decisions none are ready for.
This piece is part of a collection of short stories and several novellas that comprise The Cats of Savone, the initial installment in The Completely Abridged Series.