THE DEFENSE OF FORT DAVIS (A Totally Non-Historical Historical Novella)


I’ve finally been inspired to write again.

I recently visited Fort Davis, Texas, on a family vacation. The landscape reminded me of Afghanistan, and the combination of Afghanistan landscape with an old west army fort reminded me of a book I heard of in the 1980s: Remember the Alamo.

Remember the Alamo was written by Kevin Randle and Robert Cornett. I never read it, but when I saw the cover in high school I laughed my ass off. The plot has something to do with Vietnam veterans going back in time to defend the Alamo in 1836. Randle and Cornett also wrote two similar books about Vietnam vets going back in time, Remember Gettysburg and Remember Little Bighorn. I never read those either, and based on Amazon reviews it looks like almost nobody did. That’s a shame, because Randle and Cornett came up with a really cool idea.

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 10.00.06 AM

So I’ve decided to write a novella with a similar idea, about an Afghanistan vet who goes back in time to defend Fort Davis from an Apache attack (that never happened). I visited Fort Davis Tuesday, started thinking about a story that day, then wrote this first chapter last night and this morning. I hope you enjoy it, and I’m totally open to ideas for changing or improving it. I plan on publishing each chapter here as I write them, and who knows, maybe enough people will like it that I’ll eventually publish it as a real book.

I dedicate this story to Kevin Randle and Robert Cornett, and if anyone likes my story hopefully they’ll read Remember the Alamo. I plan on reading it soon.



A Totally Non-Historical Historical Novel

Chapter 1

Vic Johannsen sat back on his couch, exhausted. All the boxes were put away, random housewares that had cluttered the living room floor were in their proper place, new friends who’d lent a hand were headed home. He was moved in, and the moving hadn’t even hurt his stump. Not enough to bother him, anyway.

Vic had taken ten long years to get to this point. After an uneventful start in the Army he’d deployed to Afghanistan, and eight months later it happened. He’d handled it just fine, of course, but coming home minus a lower leg had kind of jacked up his post-Army plans. He’d spent a few years living with mom and going to college on the G.I. Bill, changed his major three times, and finally quit. He worked a string of menial jobs that gave him absolutely zero satisfaction. He applied for his local fire department, then police department, then ambulance service, and withdrew every application. He married, was blessed to have no children, and divorced less than two years later. Nothing he’d tried felt right.

Then he heard about Houston and its booming petrochemical industry. The very first application he submitted produced four replies, and within a week he’d accepted a job with better benefits and salary than he’d dared expect. Two weeks later he was settled into his new apartment in Houston, with three very happy first days of work behind him. On day one he’d caught the eye of a beautiful Latina in Accounting; Vic was tall, wiry, sandy-haired but with dark black mysterious eyes, had looked like and been a perfect soldier until the injury, and some girls liked that. He had no one to take care of except himself, no car or mortgage debt, no child support, no alimony, no student loans, nothing but opportunity and success ahead, and his favorite kind of woman was interested in him. Life was fantastic.

Someone knocked on the door.

“Dangit,” Vic muttered, in his hometown’s drawl. He struggled off the couch, briefly rubbed his stump, hopped to the door and pulled it open. Two men stood at the door wearing matching black suits, black sunglasses, and Brady Bunch-white skin and blond hair. Neither said a word.

Vic looked from one to the other, then back, waiting for them to speak. Nothing.

“Can I help you?”

“Mr. Victor Johannsen, we need to speak in private,” one said. “Inside.”

“About what? And do I know you?”

“This is vitally important, Mr. Johannsen,” the other said. “Or should I call you…Victorio Calanche Johannsen?”

Vic’s eyes narrowed. Nobody had ever called him Victorio except his great grandmother, who’d named him. And the only time he’d ever used Calanche, his great grandmother’s last name, was on his high school diploma.

“Who are you people?”

“I’m Agent Juan Carlos Pena Rodriguez,” Brady family member number one said. “And this is Agent Duc Nguyen.”

“Those are our real names,” Brady member number two said. “Not aliases.”

Vic stared at the two men, who looked like they should be named Chad and Brent. “Um…okay. You people should probably tell me what you want.”

Agent Pena Rodriguez said, “Victorio, we know about your Apache ancestry. And because of it, your country needs your help.”

“What? How do you know about my ancestry?”

“You took a DNA test,” Agent Nguyen said. “We have the results.”

“Bull. DNA tests can’t tell what tribe you’re from.”

“You researched your genealogy and built a family tree in high school,” Agent Pena Rodriguez said. “We have it.”

“Fine,” Vic sighed. “What does my Apache ancestry have to do with anything?”

“Nobody cares about your Apache ancestry,” Agent Nguyen said. “What matters is what America needs you to do.”

“What the…you just said my Apache ancestry-”

“What we’re talking about, Victorio,” Agent Pena Rodriguez said, “is the heroic way you lost your leg in Afghanistan. And why it makes you indispensable for a new mission.”

“The way I lost my leg?” Vic blurted. “Do you have any idea how I actually lost my leg?”

“Nobody cares how you lost your leg,” Agent Nguyen said. “That’s ancient history. All that matters now is the future. And the past.”

“Wait,” Vic stammered. “You just said nobody cares about the ancient history but all that matters is the past, or…something. What is this about?”

“Let’s go inside and talk,” Agent Pena Rodriguez said.

“Hell no!” Vic said. “I don’t even know who you are. Show me badges or something.”

“We’re not the kind of agents who have badges,” Agent Nguyen said softly. “And we’re not the kind of agents who can tell you what agency we work for. But we can tell you that the best way to help yourself is to help us help you help America.”

“Help…what? This is stupid. Tell me what agency you’re from.”

“You know the U.S. Geological Survey?” Agent Pena Rodriguez asked. “The agency responsible for mapping all American archaeological sites?”

“Yeah, I’ve heard of it.”

“We’re from the CIA.”

Vic blinked hard. “But you just said-”

“Tell us what you know about Fort Davis, Mr. Johannsen,” Pena Rodriguez demanded. “The fort, not the town.”

“Fort Davis, Texas? I grew up in Alpine, right near there. It’s just an old Army base from the 1800s.”

“It’s not just an old army base,” Pena Rodriguez said. “Not to you. Fort Davis was your life. You volunteered to help restore parts of the fort, were a volunteer Park Ranger, and worked there as a tour guide. You were in a reenactor group and played an 8thCavalry trooper. You spent nights in the barracks with the Boy Scouts. You hiked all the trails and climbed all the mountains overlooking the fort. You drew pictures of it from memory and sold them to tourists. You wanted to know what it was like to sleep like a soldier so you took your 1880s field gear into the mountain over the fort and tried to spend a night, wound up with hypothermia, and had to be rescued. Your friends made fun of you, but you went back a week later and did it again, successfully that time. The first time you got lucky was at Fort Davis, when you and your girlfriend Jeannie snuck onto the fort one night during senior year. You know that Fort better than any soldier in America.”

“Whoa,” Vic said, eyes wide. How the hell did they know all that? “Yeah, I was a history nerd as a kid, and yeah, I loved Fort Davis. But-”

“Nobody cares how you felt about Fort Davis,” Nguyen said. “That’s all in the past. All we care about is what you can do today, tomorrow…and yesterday.”

Yesterday? What the fu-”

“You also know that Fort Davis protected the vital San Antonio-to-El Paso road,” Pena Rodriguez said. “The road that all of America, even now, relies on for security and prosperity. The road that, if it ever fell to the enemy, in the 1800s or today, would mean the death of the United States of America.”

“What? It’s wasn’t that-“

“And, I might add,” Pena Rodriguez said, “Your great-great-great-great grandfather, Apache Chief Victorio, the man your great grandmother Hilaria Calanche named you after, was famous for attacking soldiers and wagon trains on that road.”

“Well…yeah,” Vic said, confused. “He was. What does that have to do with me?”

“Nobody cares what that has to do with you,” Nguyen said. “All that matters is why you wanted to know everything about Fort Davis. Everyone thought you dreamed of being an old west soldier, but you didn’t. The truth is that you wanted to know them because you fantasized about helping your great great great great grandfather Victorio defeat them. You wished you’d been an Apache warrior fighting by Victorio’s side. You wanted to know how to overrun Fort Davis.”

Vic’s eyes popped open. “Alright, you two are creeping me out. How did you know that?”

“How do you know we know that?” Nguyen asked.

“Uh…because you just told me?”

“No,” Pena Rodriguez said. “We didn’t know until you admitted to all of it just now.”

“I didn’t admit to anything!” Vic yelled. “And Jesus Christ, I was a kid. So what if I dreamed about-”

“We’re only here to find out one thing,” Nguyen said. “And you need to tell us the truth.”

“The truth about what?”

“What,” Pena Rodriguez asked, in a slow, deliberate tone, “do you know about the attack on Fort Davis?”

“There was no attack on Fort Davis!” Vic yelled. “It was never attacked. The Army closed it in 1891 because it wasn’t needed anymore.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Vic,” Nguyen said. “What you mean to say is, Fort Davis was never attacked before it closed in 1891…yet.”

Vic squinted and pursed his lips. “You people are idiots. Bye.” He started to slam the door, but Nguyen quickly blocked it with his foot.

“Victorio, your country needs you again,” Pena Rodriguez said quietly. “More than it’s ever needed you before. Before you say no, understand that the safety and security of every last American man, woman and child depends on you. More than that, America’s very existence depends on you. Think about that.”

Vic gave him a hard look. Everything about Pena Rodriguez and his partner reeked of horsecrap. On the other hand, they did know things about him that nobody else knew. That had to mean…well, something, right? And as a soldier, wasn’t he supposed to step up for his country?

What if they’re telling the truth about America needing me?

“What the hell,” Vic said, knowing he was making a mistake but throwing the door open anyway. “Come on in.”



Chris Hernandez (pictured above at Fort Davis) is a 25-year police officer, former Marine and retired National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for and has published three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at or on his Facebook page (

8 Responses to “THE DEFENSE OF FORT DAVIS (A Totally Non-Historical Historical Novella)”

  1. 1 mac11b2003

    Hmmm…..ok, I’m hooked. Sounds like a fun story to write, and read.

  2. You’ve gotten started, now keep going!

  3. Looking good keep at it.

  4. 4 dissdikk76

    I’m glad to see that you’re still writing. Alternate military history is a great outlet for imagination!

  5. 5 Old Windways

    I definitely had some audible chuckles reading this. I am getting a very “Men In Black” vibe with the “super serious” but also ridiculous dialog and nonsequiturs from the agents. Looking forward to more.

  6. This looks fun. I’m glad you’re coming back to writing, you’ve been gone too long.

  7. 8 MoralFracas

    Major mistakes often create great stories.

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