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Disturbed Zen

Ambage Velox Made Me Write Look Another Story

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#1 Offline The Otter

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Posted Dec 22 2012 - 12:55 AM

Breathe in.
A gasp of breath.
Breathe out.
A rattle of air expelled from dying lungs.
Let the air flow through you, clensing, washing away your sins and memories as you wash the dirt from your body.
The battlefield's cold wind gusts through the valley, chilling the fighters to the bone and beyond, their very souls frozen.
Clear the sounds from your mind.
A grenade blast not fifteen feet away, the pressure wave blowing out the young soldier's eardrums. He's deaf, he can't hear-just a loud ringing, and soon, even that died away.
Draw within yourself, to find your inner core.
Another soldier lying on the ground, his white winter coat stained with dark blood, trying in vain to hold himself in one piece, unable to do more than that as he sits in shock.
Find your peace.
The dead sergeant's face, peaceful at last, in its lack of movement.
 


***

 

Jacob frowned, sighing, the memories of the battles coming back to haunt him again. He couldn't find the peace that he needed, he couldn't just forget, he couldn't drive the images away...
 
The stench of blood and gunsmoke pervades the air as Jacob frowns, a small M3 submachine gun held in his hands. His squadmates behind him held an assortment of weapons ranging from Thompsons, M! Garands, and M1918 A1 BAR's in their hands, to the pistols holstered at their belts, the grenades chinking in pockets on their chest.
 
He shook his head, stepping inside. He'd tried enough for one day. Tomorrow, he'd probably repeat the same events, only to find himself disturbed again. Such was his life. He reached up to the cupboard in his kitchen, pulling out his cereal, pouring himself a bowl, robotically moving through the motions of getting himself something to eat.
 
Slowly, jerkily, almost robotically Jacob pulled himself through the remnants of the small town that they'd been fighting in. Rubble littered the streets, cartridge casings gleamed and rolled around on the ground...the moans of the dying and the dry sobs of their friends pervaded the air, assaulting his eardrums with their melancholy sound.
 
Sitting at the table, Jacob morosely stirred his spoon in the cereal bowl, only taking one or two bites in the next three minutes. The memories were assaulting him again, coming back in full force, as they always did, forcing him to relive every last moment of the war.
 
"Hands up," one of the soldiers growled, his bayonet jabbing in the German soldier's back. Jacob's M3 was trained upon him, as were his fellows' weapons. He stood there, baring his teeth like a mad animal as they led him out to join his fellows, tossing him a shovel.
 
Jacob closed his eyes, leaning back from his barely touched cereal, and rubbing his temples. Always, always headaches came with the memories. Always having to remind him of the physical pain he had felt, then, always forcing him to close his eyes, to view the memories as though on a movie screen on his eyelids, always making the headaches stronger.
 
"Bitte, bitte!" The German cried, staring in horror at the bodies of his fellows, having fallen into the elongated holes they'd dug. "Schaden Sie mir nicht!" Jacob stood back, his M3 held loosely in his hands as the sergeant, having ignored the small man's plea for mercy, read off of a short sheet, a crude mockery of a court martial sentence.
 
Slowly he stood, turning down the hall, ignoring the news on the TV-talking about some victory or another back in Iraq, where the new boys were fighting. He could care less-they'd feel the same as he did, some day soon. He was certain of it. It was inevitable, really. It apparently always happened to the more normal ones.
 
The sentencing done, the sergeant stepped back, ignoring the blatant, unhidden terror on the condemned soldier's face. Nathaniel lowered his rifle, and a single shot was all that was needed to end the German's life. A spray of blood flew from the point of impact, splattering Jacob across the face. He didn't even care enough to wipe it away.
 
He stumbled into his bedroom, stepping over to the table he had at the side of it. Pulling the stopper from the bottle he took one more swig, finishing the contents within. It burned like sandpaper going down, but that was all that Jacob needed to fortify himself for what he was doing next.
 
A quick burst of gunfire, and another man went down, Jacob continuing through the streets, his weapon raised, bullets qiuckly spurting out and taking down any enemy soldier he saw. He ducked behind cover, staying put by Erin. He looked up, checked the streets, and gave the all clear. Erin rushed out, to the next piece of cover, only for one last fighter, one last German soldier who'd been lying in wait for him stepped forwards with a bayonet. Erin would never breathe again.
 
Find the right key, find the key, end the memories once and for all. Ah, there it was. Jacob, his hands shaking now, pushed the key into the lock on the large, metal safe before him, a single twitch all it took to unlock it and open the door. A moment after that and his shaking hand reached within, grasping a small object and pulling it out.
 
Jacob didn't even yell. He stalked forwards, quietly, aiming to surprise the soldier. He could already hear his breath. A single step more...the German popped out, bayonet ready, but Jacob was prepared for that. He deflected it by throwing up his M3, catching the bayonet in the stock of his weapon, and a simple twist and pull was all he needed to remove the German's weapon from him.
 
In the cabinet, there it was. A single magazine, shiny, gleaming new. Jacob pulled it out, looking at it with a dull, uninterested glance, before he set it down. He moved up his thumb, popping several bullets out of it, until one was all that was left.
 
Jacob gasped, bending over as he was kicked in the stomach, his weapon ripped from him as well. He looked up to see the German pointing a pistol at him, a sneer on his face, before Jacob sprang forward. The latter soldier tackled the former to the ground, the Luger falling a few feet away.
 
He slid the magazine, with its single .45 caliber bullet, into the handgrip of his M1911. The one souvenir, after his scars, he'd kept from the war. The only thing he owned that he could expect to work perfectly every time, never to fail him. And the magazine fit perfectly, just as it always did.
 
Jacob headbutted the German soldier in the face, again, knocking his head back to the ground, dazed, bleeding from the now-broken nose. Just as he began to come to he would see Jacob standing above him, his M1911, already just as battle scarred as Jacob was himself, pointed for his forehead.
 
Pull back the slide, disengage the safety.
 
Robotically, in almost slow motion, Jacob pulled back the slide of his weapon, a bullet clicking into place, and with the thumb of his other hand he disengaged the safety on his weapon. It was ready.
 
Make sure you had your target ready, pointed straight for the brain. A quick, clean kill.
 
A slight adjustment in his aim and Jacob's pistol barrel was pointed right at the spot in between the German's two, bright blue eyes, which were simultaneously glaring at Jacob and glancing apprehensively at the pistol he held. Just a moment longer, savour the victory...
 
Pull the trigger.
 
Pull the trigger.


Edited by The Otter, Jan 02 2014 - 12:06 AM.

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#2 Offline Aderia

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Posted Dec 22 2012 - 01:18 AM

He reached up to the cubbard in his kitchen, pulling out his cereal, pouring himself a bowl, robotically moving through the motions of getting himself something to eat.

 

This made me laugh, beacause I used to think it was 'cubbard' as well, and also where the word 'cubby', like where you put your bookbag and lunch in pre-school. But apparently its 'cupboard'.

 

Anyways, since you assured me that "Erin" is also a guys name, that's it for nitpicks.

 

So we just finished watching All is Quiet on the Western Front in my history class, yesterday. This story, even though it was pretty dark and unfortunately what I picutre to be realistic, was really vivid in my mind. It was also well done, between the flashbacks and the present, I wasn't lost at all or anything. The way they tied together in the end really hit home.

 

Good work has been done here, Eli. I look forwards to reading more from you.


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#3 Offline The Otter

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Posted Dec 22 2012 - 01:21 AM

Wait. Cubbard.

 

How did I do that?

 

I'm better than this.

 

I'm slipping. The end is truly nigh.

 

Anyways, thanks for the review, Ads. xP


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#4 Offline Gravity

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Posted Dec 22 2012 - 01:22 AM

[color=#000000;][font="'comic sans ms', cursive;"]Alright alright, bro.[/color][/font]

 

[color=#000000;][font="'comic sans ms', cursive;"]Jeeze.[/color][/font]

 

[color=#000000;][font="'comic sans ms', cursive;"]Anyway, amazing short story.  I was completely drawn into the situation, and the word choice was... artistic.  I'm not good at criticism, so I'll just point out things that I liked.[/color][/font]

 

[color=#000000;][font="'comic sans ms', cursive;"]First of all, the switching between flash-back and reality was used quite well here, it added a great sense of depth and feeling into Jacob's mind.  The fact that you really tied it all together in the end made this even more so apparent.  (I felt it right here.)  I enjoyed how the flash-back and real life situations really became more and more parallel as the story progressed, untill coming to the tie-together I mentioned before.[/color][/font]

 

[color=#000000;][font="'comic sans ms', cursive;"]Quite a good read, and there's your intopic review.[/color][/font]

 

[color=#000000;][font="'comic sans ms', cursive;"]Happy? <3[/color][/font]


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#5 Offline SkyLandOceAnna

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Posted Dec 22 2012 - 02:01 AM

Your story was well written. As the above members mentioned, you went from past to present reality smoothly, and the way both realities led to the same ending was brilliantly done. I look forward to more works from you in the future. :)


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Wordsmith <3


#6 Offline Nick Silverpen

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Posted Dec 22 2012 - 08:38 PM

I agree with what everyone has said about a good transition flickering from past to present; you do it quite well. I feel like the visual is like ><, as though you hit a good seesaw point with the last line to get to past and present. 

 

I felt like it was very... quiet. There was a monotone to Jacob's present day views. Maybe more depressed note- robotically being inserted repeatedly was what gave that feel. The description gave the appearance as if he were sitting in a silent kitchen, with everything else zoned out. The mood seemed tense, and his character seemed to speak for himself- more of what he had been than what he was. The tie-ing in came out well though. For some reason I had my nostrils flared the entire time, as if the smell of war was caught in the reader. 

 

Aderia- yes! This would be a great sequel to AQOTWF


Edited by Nick Silverpen, Dec 22 2012 - 08:39 PM.

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#7 Offline Cederak

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Posted Dec 26 2012 - 02:42 PM

[color=#000080;][font="verdana, geneva, sans-serif;"]This is a very different piece. You've given your audience two stories and one story, all at the same time. The adage that life repeats itself creates a strong parallel between the past and present, only with slight transformations throughout. It presents a strong warning at its conclusion though, in spite of all the training people receive the military these days. Enlisted troops are recommended to watch one another, catch signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, suicidal tendencies. But this pushes past all that and fast forwards to the twilight years of a soldier's life. This man saw the hellish landscape of war and returned from that, half dead. For all his perseverance, at the end, the past remains as strong as it was when it was the present.[/color][/font]

 

[color=#000080;][font="verdana, geneva, sans-serif;"]Your description of the horrors of war, while feeling a tad cliché here and there, capture the idea well enough to make your finale a reasonable, realistic one. Although, there's also the possibility that I've played one too many video games set during World War II that lend to this feeling of triteness. Whatever the case, the story is somehow endearing. You take an introduction where an old Jacob is searching for his inner peace, breathing deep, breathing in the memories of a past he would like to be done with, only to find that there is but a single answer to putting such a past away.[/color][/font]

 

[color=#000080;][font="verdana, geneva, sans-serif;"]Warfare is the bad dream a soldier has to live with every day, having stared into the face of mankind's own darkness and either lost and consumed by that pit or crawling out of it like a newborn baby into the world. Civilian life is scary, confusing, because to adapt and feel comfortable with confronting the atrocities of war, there is a demand to relinquish some of your humanity, the basic parts of being a civilian, and acting (as you said) "robotically." Ultimately, your conclusion serves as a stark reminder that soldiers are not machines, there are humans, greatly affected in their fight for freedom, for country, or for whatever soldiers choose to fight for. That said, the title choice is excellent. Well done.[/color][/font]

 

[color=#000080;][font="verdana, geneva, sans-serif;"]-Ced[/color][/font]


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#8 Offline Kakaru

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Posted Dec 27 2012 - 11:35 PM

[color=#336699;]BZPOWER I WILL MURDER YOU FOR EATING MY POST AND ONLY LEAVING THE PICTUREHANG ON WHILE I RECONSTRUCT THISOkay, this is what I could salvage."it was well writed and the transitions from past to present (mind to reality) work surprisingly goodly, coming to a brilliant climax with the final two sentences. The entire story forms a parallel between real-life acts of soldiers and the trauma they are forced to live with for the rest of their lives, both ending in a grim and melancholy finale."anyways very nicely thank you for forcing me to eat read this. KUTGW 10/10 and jazz.[/color] 

[color=#336699;]Posted Image[/color]

[color=#336699;]APPLAUDS[/color]

Edited by Kakaru, Dec 27 2012 - 11:38 PM.

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#9 Offline Yukiko

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Posted Apr 24 2013 - 11:18 PM

Official Short Stories Critics' Club Charity Review

 

First of all, I am very glad that you chose to actually name Jacob's comrades.  I think it's important to give us an idea that these were real people, and their deaths meant something.  I also like how you broke up the flashback: it felt as if those memories were actually trying to push themselves into reality.

 

However, I'd still like to see more.  As Cederak mentioned, there's a bit of a generic feel to this.  It's not as immediately obvious, but I still have so many questions that I'd like to see answered.  What is this town called?  How does Jacob know his comrades?  It would be nice to see more details in the present too.  Jacob's house seems devoid of anything specific to him as a character--baring the gun.  Which brings me to end.

 

This is set sometime around 2004, guessing from your references to Iraq.  This means that it has been around 50 years since he experienced these events.  Why has he not pulled the trigger sooner?  It's hard for me to understand what is holding him back (or what pushed him over the edge) because he lives in a world seemingly devoid of other people.  Does he have friends or family?  If he's cut them off, why?  What does he do with his time, to try to keep his memories at bay?

 

Also, get rid of the second person intro.  I've seen lots of them and they never really add anything to the story.  They're awkward and they break up the flow. 

[color=#06590C;][font="georgia, serif;"]Always having to remind him of the physical pain he had felt, then, always forcing him to close his eyes, to view the memories as though on a movie screen on his eyelids, always making the headaches stronger.[/color][/font]

 

Your choice of metaphor here seems inappropriate.  We don't watch memories like movies.  We experience them, not just through sight and sound, but through smells and touches as well.

 

Keep writing.  You have a very nice voice and I'd like to see you develop it more.  If you have any questions or would like me to look over something in a little more detail, feel free to ask.

 

Best,

Yukiko


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