Then as my thirst grew, a horrific vision exploded upon my mind with a blinding flash. The fighting had ceased and a wounded Yankee soldier lay sprawled out on his back in a large clearing. He had been paralyzed by his injuries and was unable to cry out, yet very much alive and conscious. Scattered around him were other soldiers, both rebel and Union, some horribly disfigured, and still others crawled back towards their ranks grimacing in agony. One confederate officer coughed up thick streams of blood as he desperately held together his abdomen. A gray haze of smoke from the thunderous cannon and rifle fire hung over them all.
Then, as quickly as it came, the vision was gone.
Selfishly, I envisioned myself caught up in a feeding frenzy, with stealth and graceful speed criss-crossing and dancing mischievously among a maze of ravaged limbs and torsos, draining the helpless wounded of both sides. Ah, but there would be no voracious feast, no matter how desperately I required it. The winds were from the northwest and I could not deviate from my course and jeopardize my greater quest.
I had been away from Atlanta for many months, prowling the Carolinas and the Virginia peninsula seeking adventure in the war torn country. Yet, I had to quit my fiendish escapades when Sherman's advance into Georgia became a threat to my own home. I had lost all confidence in the army of Tennessee, which was giving up ground as if there was no end to the Confederacy. Moreover, Sherman's reputation for devastation and plunder was quickly becoming notorious. If his army were to take Atlanta, which now seemed unavoidable, the king's ransom hidden within my lair would be vulnerable to their barbaric looting. And I would not stand for it. I would not have my lair raped by thieves!
So, there I was, brothers, descending the south side of the Appalachians, ahead of the Union army, in quest of liberating my fortune before my beloved Atlanta fell. What's more I suffered from the thirst for I had not fed in nights. My vampiric skin had lost the color of the living and the tedious muscle spasms that accompanied such a sustained fast had set in. And now this vision, the blood in these winds – I had to feed this night to maintain my composure and not let these mild symptoms escalate to madness.