Gradually opening my eyes, I found myself lying in a forest. “Oh my god! Where am I?” I could not help shouting. Being stuck for several seconds, I looked down at myself. Dark grey shabby linen shirt, loose black trousers, and a pair of cloth shoes which covered with mud. One thing which surprised me most was that my skin had turned into black! “Am I dreaming?” I nipped my face. It hurt. “Well, it is not a dream. Or else, have I exchanged bodies with someone?” At that time, various thoughts engulfed my mind. After a while, I decided to walk around, hoping to find someone who could tell me where I was.
Walking in the silent forest, it seemed that like there was no outlet. Before sleeping that night, I was still a freshman at New York University. Now, I was a lost black man. What on earth had happened? I could not figure it out but fell in deep meditation.
After almost ten minutes of walking, I saw some tents. But when I walked nearer, I found several soldiers standing straightly around the tents. Soldiers? At first, I thought I was in a certain military zone. However, the uniforms of those soldiers were different from those of modern soldiers. Their uniforms consisted of blue army coats with red lapels, white leggings, black leather shoes, and black triangular hats. I seemed to seen this kind of uniform somewhere before… Oh! In a history book! The Continental soldiers! Jesus! Was I back in the period of the Independence War? I nipped my face again to ensure that I was not dreaming.
Instead of walking forward to the soldiers, I gingerly approached the back of their tents, avoiding being detected by the soldier so that I would not be caught and be asked who I was or why I was there. When passing by a certain tent, I heard a strong argument. My curiosity drove me forward.
“Your strategy will fail! It is not possible!”, said one man.
“How can you assume so firmly without having a try?”, replied another.
“No. It is so risky. We must win this battle, here, Germantown, through other more safe ways.”, insisted the first man.
Suddenly, without noticing, my foot hit a stone. It was so hurt badly that I shouted out subconsciously.
“Who is there?” said one of the people inside the tent alertly.
Two men rushed out, staring at me warily. They both wore Jasper hats, white lacy blouses, beige and jasper coats, and long beige trousers. Based on the clothes they wore, they might be higher ranked soldiers or generals.
“Who are you? Why are you here?” a taller man inquired.
“I… I…” The abrupt question rattled me. After several seconds’ of thinking, I responded nervously: “I was once a slave of a planter, but he died in a war. So I ran away and lost my ways, arriving here accidentally.
“Do you have anywhere else to go?” another man asked.
“No. I lost contact with my parents many years ago, and I don’t have any other relatives.”, I answered.
“Do you wanna stay here and be a soldier to fight together with us?”, that man continued.
“That’s impossible, Laurens,” before I replied, the taller man refuted, “he didn’t get any training before, and he is a …” Although the taller man did not finish his words, I guessed he was implying my skin color.
“We lack of military forces now. What’s more, he is the same as us, having the right to fight for America.” Laurens said. The taller man looked at Laurens for a while, sighing and then going away.
Laurens? John Laurens? Our history professor once talked about him. He was a soldier and a diplomat in the Revolutionary War. He was also an abolitionist who spent a lot of time and effort trying to get Congress and the South Carolina legislature to approve a regiment of black soldiers.
“Sure! It is my great honor,” I replied rapidly. Now knowing little about “myself” and the specific situation here, I preferred to stay here.
Then, I was led to a tent where some white soldiers lived. When I got into the tent, they all met me with surprise and a little disgust. Not a single one greeted me. And my bed was at the corner. A soldier threw a uniform and a gun to me, signaling me to equip myself immediately.
After having dinner, which merely contained several pieces of bread, in the center of the campsite, soldiers all returned to their tents except for the patrolling soldiers. I was almost the last one to go back. On my way to tent, I saw Laurene sneaked out the campsite alone. Wondering what he was going to do, I followed behind him in secret.
After a long time walking, Laurens stopped at the shrubs around a stone mansion where several soldiers were standing guard. The soldiers’ clothes were different from those of Continental soldiers. With the dim light from the mansion, I saw Laurens take out a matchbox. My history professor once said that Laurens earned himself a musketball to the shoulder while trying to set fire to a stone mansion where the British were holed up. Did he want to start a fire now?
Getting near the brushes by the mansion, Laurens found some branches with withered leaves, stroking the match quickly and igniting the branches. He then threw the burning branches towards the mansion quickly. But soon, he was discovered by the British soldiers. They started to shoot at the direction of the brushes where Laurens was. Laurens ran away at once. But suddenly, he stumbled on a stone and felt on the ground. Just as he was trying to get up, one of the British soldiers aimed at him. Although I was not the real black soldier who under Laurens’ help got into the army and found a place to stay, I really appreciated him for treating all men equally. Even though I knew he would not die, I still rushed to him and sheltered him behind me, merely wanting to protect this great person through me weak strength.
I only remembered that Laurens looked at me in astonishment, the bullet penetrating my left chest area followed by an intense pain pounding at the wound. And then, I lost consciousness.