And here we are, a trio of top-rail possums. Between us and New Bern lie a scant thirty miles as the crow flies, but this is a rough place, Down East. This is the pocosin and off the plank roads it is a snake-infested h–l. We’ll see a hungry black bear before we see another soul. Men have sunk in these peat bogs without time to whimper and never been seen again. Off the roads it is shank’s mare country and a horse is worse than useless.

The people who make these swamps their homes are not kind. They are contrary and don’t carry themselves as gentlemen.

Time is short and we’ve already seen the elephant. We need to get to New Bern before we’re logged as deserters and French leave takers. To do that we are left with an unenviable choice — through the thicket and every horror of a fecund and inclement nature, or along the plank roads through mobs out for vengeance, Nethercutt’s Rangers, and our own Federals keen to put us down like diseased animals.

What shall it be, possums?

Gone To Ground