William’s breath leaked from his mouth and nose and immediately condensed into a cloud of fog in front of his face. He stared out at the woods ahead of him and listened to the calm silence of the snow. Absolutely nothing made a sound. Until, a branch cracked behind him. Reaching down to his belt, he quickly unsheathed a large blade and swung around. He put the knife to the throat of the man standing behind him. Then, he quickly dropped the knife when he recognized who it was.
“Jesus, Daniel. You nearly got yourself killed.” William said with an exasperated tone. Every word produced a cloud of fog.
Daniel let out a quiet chuckle before lowering the mask that was covering his face. William continued.
“Do you have anything to report to me?” he questioned.
Daniel nodded quickly and pulled a rolled-up map from his jacket.
“Yeah,” Daniel replied “there’s about 20 red-coats coming in from the east. Right here.” He pointed to a thin line on the map.
William cocked his head to the side to get a better view of the ragged map. He squinted his eyes.
“Twenty? Are you sure? That’s an awful lot for a patrol.” William inquired.
Daniel waved a finger and smiled. “That’s exactly what I thought. So, I did some more looking and…” He grinned ear to ear.
“And…?” William asked, waiting for Daniel to finish his sentence.
“And, they have a cart with them. Looks like tea. Loads of the stuff.” Daniel finished while leaning forward slightly, as if he was bowing before an audience.
“Tea? Hmm. We could have really used some ammunition. But,” William paused for a moment and briefly thought everything through “I guess we can try to sell the tea on the black market and maybe then we’ll have enough coin for some proper weapons for everybody.” He finished off his sentence with a slight smile.
Daniel smiled and rubbed his hands together excitedly. William patted him on the shoulder. “Good work, Daniel. Now, go alert all the others. These woods are about to get loud.”
Daniel quickly ran off and William was left with his silence. After a few minutes, he started to hear some movement all around him. It wasn’t coming from the road. Instead, the sound was coming from the bushes and the trees. A dozen men surrounded him and yet he couldn’t see any of them. It amazed him how well they had trained together to hide in the trees to fight. To some, it was cowardice. It wasn’t an honorable way to fight or die. But to William, it meant that more of his men would be able to go home to their wives and children. None of these men started this as trained soldiers. They were family men. Mostly farmers. They all wanted a simple life. But when the revolution started, all of that changed. Every single one of these men were ready to fight for their newfound country. They were ready to finally escape the oppression of their motherland. Even if that meant fighting without honor.
William listened to his men get ready in their positions and then finally settle down. The silence of the snow filled his ears again. And then, in the distance, William could hear the sound of a large cart struggling to wheel across the dirt road. This far out into the woods, the road was very rough and the wheels that were accustomed to riding around in town strained against the divots and rocks that lined the path. After listening to the cart for a few moments, William caught his first glance of the party making their way to the next town. They were easy to spot this time of year. The bright red coats that the British wore stuck out rather prominently against the white snow and dark brown trees.
William raised his hands to his mouth and cupped them around his lips. Breathing out, he made a sound like an angry owl hooting in the woods. He listened to his men ready their rifles. The metal hardware on all 12 rifles creaked and locked into place as they pulled the hammers back and got ready to fire on the incoming party. William pulled his mask up over his mouth to make sure that his breath would not give away his position. He sank down and hid behind the broken stump beside him. He raised his rifle and cocked the hammer back. Then, he waited.
It felt like ages until the British finally made their way down the path near William. The cart was giving them trouble and the horses carrying the cart dragged their hooves through the snow, looking dead tired. William raised his rifle and picked one of the soldiers guarding the carts as a target. As the British walked closer towards the dozen hidden men surrounding the road, William got a better look at the soldier he was aiming at. The boy couldn’t have been more than 20 years old. His face still had spots and his cheeks were almost as red as his coat because of the cold. He looked bored after walking all this time and slouched slightly because of it.
William thought for a moment about his baby boy that was most likely tucked away in a crib back at home. His wife would make sure that his baby boy’s cheeks were protected against the cold and wouldn’t get red. A fire was probably going inside the fireplace to keep them warm too. William looked at the boy at the other end of his barrel and thought about his family. But, that didn’t matter right now. William had to protect his family. He had to make sure that all of the families of the men around him were protected too. The face that he was staring at right now was not that of a boy. It was the enemy’s. He lined up his shot and fired.