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Zugzwang

Ward

Recommended Posts

Zugzwang

Maybe Ward was fifty yards from justice. Every step that number was less.

 

He had a gun in his pocket; he didn’t know how to use it to any reasonable degree but he knew if he pulled the trigger it would fire. The decision to bring the firearm was a difficult one. All the different ways he had thought about killing this woman; he didn’t want it to go by so quick. Ward wanted to look into her eyes and see at least a fraction of the suffering she had caused him and so many other minors.

 

Maybe Ward was forty five yards from justice. Every step that number was less.

 

Ward shivered every day. The memories of abuse hadn’t faded. Originally, he saw some silver lining. He saw that his scars were scars but they were unique to him; he had convinced himself that his suffering had shaped him to be stronger- more resilient in some way. Now he took them for what they were- a handicap.

 

Maybe Ward was forty yards from justice. Every step that number was less.

 

Ward could never sleep. To clear a mind that is actively exploring its trauma is not a task easily accomplished. He thought of everyone who had made him suffer; he thought of how there was no way to make them feel the same way.

 

He remembered once how they forced him to sleep on a sheet of ice; when he awoke he was drenched. He was covered in a layer of pain. He felt that way now, but he hadn’t been dried off.

 

Maybe Ward was thirty five yards from justice. Every step that number was less.

 

He had to meet with her every week to discuss his progress while he was there. Every week Ward saw her eyes. They never looked at a human, only a project. A project that couldn’t possibly finish before six weeks had elapsed.

 

To her, to everyone at the program, it was clear he was nothing. Today Ward intended to reverse the role.

 

Maybe Ward was thirty yards from justice. Every step that number was less.

 

Everything was mechanical there, and Ward was an actor. His part was someone who was making a rapid improving; solving an issue he didn’t even have. But nobody would believe it was really solved, only that it was getting solved. The process was predetermined, his suffering had been scheduled.

 

Maybe Ward was twenty-five yards from justice. Every step that number was less.

 

The worst part was missing those he knew. He loved so many people at home. Sometimes in his notebook Ward would write “I love Emily” or “I love Dan” and pretend they could read it. He would stay awake in his sleeping bag, eye closed, and pretend that his girlfriend was in there with him.

 

Maybe Ward was twenty yards from justice. Every step that number was less.

 

They’d always make a fire at night. Ward would look into the flames, and wish he could immerse himself in them. If he could burn himself so brutally, disfigure himself beyond recognition- what could they do? He always thought of taking the biggest log out of the fire, holding it close to his flammable clothes, and set himself ablaze. He was ashamed he never had the courage to do so.

 

Sometimes they’d force him to march down a mountain or up a hill....These were great opportunities to fall, to be impaled, to show them they weren’t keeping him safe. He never could.

 

Maybe Ward was fifteen yards from justice. Every step that number was less.

 

The food made him vomit. What a feeling it was to be so hungry, to be fed filth, and to wish he’d stayed hungry. But they forced this on him. The cold rice and rocks, the lentils and the sand. Every bit had to be eaten, and the bowl had to be licked clean.

 

Maybe Ward was ten yards from justice. Every step that number was less.

 

He had always wanted to hurt his captors. He would break all his gear and have them replace it, he would urinate right on the cabin in which they slept, he would wake them up in the middle of the night saying one thing or another.... But Ward knew he was the one who would be forced into submission. There was nothing more infuriating than to be submissive.

 

Maybe Ward was five yards from justice. Every step that was less.

 

There were so many people from that program he wanted to kill; so many ways he wanted to kill them; and so many reasons he wanted to kill them. But this woman was the only one he could find. He would ask her why she kept him there, why she traumatized him, abused him, overworked him, malnourished him, he would ask why she had inflicted such immense pain on him; and before she could lie, or explain it away, he would slit her throat.

 

Ward was at her door.

Edited by Zugzwang

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Mokrie Dela

 

a few things:

 

"Way's" - no no, why is there an apostrophe there? there is no ownership, no missing letter. get rid of it.

 

Second, I'm not sure some of your semi colons are needed.

"All the different way’s he had thought about killing this woman; he didn’t want it to go by so quick." Here for example, i don't think it's needed. Without the second part, the first part can not stand on it's own. perhaps a comma or hyphen might be better.

 

"He remembered once how they forced him to sleep on a sheet of ice; when he awoke he was drenched"

Here i think that would be more effective as two sentences.

 

At first i liked the "countdown" you was doing, each five steps etc, but by the time i got half way through, it was annoying, far too repetitive. Instead i would have have this sentence after every ten steps, i think it gets in the way a little, like treading on your own feet.

 

by the time i got to the end i was ready to tear my hair out - that sentence, cool at first, really got in the way, but mostly this doesnt seem to go anywhere, just an expositional reflection of a character I do not feel connected with. There's an element of intrigue, my mind asking "what?" wanting to know more, but theres not too much else that would make me want to read on. I think something needs to HAPPEN.

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Eminence

I agree with Mokrie that the recurring line got quite tiresome by the end. I think that's due to a combination of overusage and a lack of development; sure, the number changes as part of the countdown, but the line itself - and its meaning - never really progresses or shifts.

 

In a way, I think that's what's wrong with the work as a whole - there's a lack of progression. Because of the way in which it is told, it is leading towards an inevitable conclusion, thus there's little way to surprise us because we can predict exactly where it's going. Also because of this style, it inherently means that - as Mokrie points out - nothing happens. The entirety of the narrative is backstory; a cluster of recollections. Imagine filming this story: it'd just be a guy walking to a door!

 

That said, I think this is definitely an interesting backstory. It has me wanting to find out more about it - there's an interesting story here (which is what makes me feel a bit unfulfilled at the end, given that it has this promise yet never truly does anything with it).

 

And at the same time, I do like the concept of the story's structure: the inbuilt countdown, the notion of starting fifty yards from the door and ending right on the doorstep. Perhaps with a little more subtlety and restraint you could tweak this idea into something a bit more effective.

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Zugzwang

Thank you both for the feedback, I plan on doing a pretty big revising session in a little while so I haven't implemented most of your suggestions just yet but I wanted to just say I appreciate getting some reception.

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