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The Last Defenders
The echo of my horse’s hooves on the stones of the road rings in the night. How many years have I been trapped in this half life? How many nights have I ridden through the streets of San Antonio de Bexar? How many times have I failed to reach Travis and the others? How many times have I fallen to the rifles of Santa Anna’s army unable to reach the Alamo? Unable to tell them of Fannin’s treachery.
They were expecting his reinforcements and he turned back, returning to Goliad after less than a day of travel. I don’t know the reason why Fannin’s troops turned their backs on Travis, but Houston said holding the Alamo as long as possible was key to Texas’ Independence. How much longer could they have held if Fannin’s troops and artillery had reached them?
The timbre of my horse’s hooves changes and I pull back on the reins—something is different. We have crossed the river and there is no sign of the Mexican Army. When I fell, all those nights ago, I was ambushed at this spot and never made it across the river. How is it that, this time, there is no ambush, no army between me and the Alamo?
I pause and stare at the field between where I sit on my horse and the front gates of the old church. Where previously the Mexican Army led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana was camped, there is only grassland. But there is something else. The breeze catches the flag flying above the barracks and as it unfurls slightly, I see—not the familiar red, white and blue of the Texas flag, but the green, white and red of the Mexican flag. The battle is long over, Houston defeated Santa Anna at San Jacinto—even trapped as I am in this recurring nightmare ride, I do know what happened. How is it that a Mexican flag now flies over the Alamo?
I kick my horse lightly and he snorts, but refuses to take another step toward the Alamo. A harder kick and he neighs and rears, then takes a step back. No matter how hard I try to convince him to move, he only moves backward.
I dismount and he vanishes, but not before he taps the ground with his hoof. A sign he will be at this spot when I return. I feel myself being drawn toward the Alamo and I relax as I make my way toward the fort. I know the Mexicans who traveled with Santa Anna were superstitious and perhaps, having a ghostly presence in the Alamo will be enough to make them leave. I still remember how they tried to burn the Alamo after the battle and how several spirits appeared with flaming swords—their message was clear, they would continue to defend the Alamo. Now, that I’m a ghost, I can sense the amount of blood that has been spilled and the number of spirits laid to rest in this ground. I don’t know who the spirits were who appeared, but I believe they were Travis, Bowie, Crockett and Dickenson. They were the last to defend the Alamo and would be the newest spirits in the area and the least likely to have found their rest with their defeat.
A group of men have set up a small campfire near the breach where Santa Anna’s men finally were able to find a way into the Alamo. I stand behind them, knowing they cannot see me. I smile as one of them glances up then quickly makes the sign of the cross over his chest. They may not be able to see me, but he at least was able to sense my presence. This was once a church and later became a fort, perhaps they understand they are desecrating hallowed ground, or perhaps they heard the stories of why Santa Anna’s men refused to burn the Alamo; of the last defenders and their flaming swords.
I turn and head toward the chapel. It is the largest building on the grounds and is still relatively intact and the best place for a commander to have his headquarters. However, the best place to learn anything would be where the majority of the troops are—the barracks. I pause and turn my attention there.