Two men were tormented by hostile forces and the threat of impending doom. While leading completely separate lives, they were both hunted fugitives in their prospective worlds. Just how their paths would intertwine, remained to be seen.
He awakened from his fitful sleep to hear the sound of enemy soldiers approaching. Marvin scrambled from his make-shift bed of pine nettles and straw. He snatched up his belongings and ran to an observation point to determine how close they were. The cadence of their marching boots wasn’t in sync with their organized footfall. They were perhaps two miles away and closing fast. His horse died several days earlier in the heat of the chase. He had no choice but to flee on foot until he could secure another mode of transportation.
He attempted to hide evidence of his campsite but realized it would only give him a minor advantage. The trained Federal trackers were very good at their job. None of his previous attempts at concealment had been very successful. During the day he fed on rabbits, squirrels or just about any other game he could snare. At night, he tried to catch a few winks before they closed in on him. Restless sleep, poor nutrition and infected wounds were taking their toll on Marvin Thornton.
At times Marvin was near delirium. He was often so feverish that he had to remind himself why the Union Army was pursuing him. While asleep, he suffered from a series of reoccurring nightmares. In his unconscious saga, he was a completely different person living in another time. His serial dream identity was an equally hunted soul from Salem Massachusetts named ‘Larry Sowder’. Like Marvin, this dream persona was also a fugitive from the hangman’s rope. He had been accused of witchcraft but fled before the townsfolk could catch him. Marvin was struck by the irony that even in his sleep, he couldn’t find peace.
In his clouded past, Marvin remembered posing as a Union officer to infiltrate their military camp. His clever espionage uncovered many top secret plans and strategies but his cover was eventually blown. Using a series of diversions, he managed to escape with his life. Knowing what was done to Confederate spies; being captured wasn’t a favorable option. He knew they wouldn’t stop tracking him because the stolen plans would compromise future operations.
After his hasty exit, he unfortunately left behind his compass and had no idea where he was. Still; being lost and free was infinitely better than being captured and found. Enemy troops were painfully close, but his mind kept wandering far away. He sought to understand the meaning to his vivid nightmares. Try as he might, he couldn’t shake the jarring delusion that he really became someone else when he fell asleep.
The boundaries of both worlds grew increasingly murky. Dream and reality intertwined and merged until he was unsure which was real. When Marvin awoke, he was convinced that ‘Larry’ was merely an unfortunate character of his dreams. Meanwhile in ‘Larry’s world, it was the military spy named Marvin that seemed like a figment of his unconscious imagination.
With death at his heels in alternating worlds, he didn’t have time to wonder which side of consciousness he was on. It was nearly dusk and Marvin knew that the trackers would be setting up camp for the night. While this was good news, he had to keep going until it was too dark to see. It was the only way to stay a few steps ahead. Only then could he eat and rest. An hour later it was time for him to make his camp and hope that he was gone in the morning before the Union Army caught up with him. After a much needed meal, he collapsed into an exhausted heap.