training day

Some men came to my village a couple days ago.  I’d like to tell you with certainty exactly how many days it was, but I don’t remember, things have been too muddled in my mind since they took us away.

They rounded us kids up, and hid us away in an abandoned building.  We obeyed because they said it was for our safety, because they wore uniforms, and because they had guns.  It was dark in there and we huddled together as we waited.  Some of us cried when the gunfire started.

When the men came back and pulled us out into the sun and heat of the dusty streets, they apologized for not being able to do enough to save our parents, and then told us we should go with them and they would feed us and take us to schools and do the best they could to provide for us in the absence of our parents.  Most of the kids were too shocked to argue.  Some cried again.  I told them I didn’t believe them.

One of the men snarled and raised the butt of his gun to me, it happened so quickly, and things went dark.

When I woke, I was on the back of a truck on the outskirts of my village.  I heard the sounds of shovels and men working.  I saw them digging graves.  The leader of the men pointed into the graves and told me to go and join my parents if I wished or, he pressed a gun into my hands and said I could stand strong and avenge them.

I started to cry then and I dropped the gun in the dirt.  The man screamed that I should never do that and then things went dark again.  I guess he hit me, but I didn’t see him do it.

When I woke again I was back with the kids.  One of the men in uniform was showing us how to hold a rifle so it wouldn’t hurt to fire it.  The man called me out and put it in my hands.  I didn’t drop it as I had before.  I had learned that lesson.  But, I still didn’t know what to do with the gun.

He showed me.

It was freeing in a way to use this thing that had held so much power over my village, to shed myself of my fear of it.  I realized if I could master it, then perhaps I would no longer be treated like a child.  Perhaps I would be respected and feared as the men were.  Perhaps I would no longer go to bed each night too afraid to sleep.

The thought that I could be holding the very gun that had killed my parents briefly surfaced before I pushed it away.  I didn’t have time or energy for such thoughts.  I had training to do.


I’m not sure where this came from.  My mind went through some dark places this morning as I was getting ready to head to work.  I was struggling to come up with an idea for the current Alliance of the Damned Challenge (which will be posted this coming Monday), and thinking about that sent my mind hopping through a series of twisted stories.  I wish I could remember how I got here so I could talk about the connections between them all, but it was early (pre-coffeh), and the ideas strung together and apart so rapidly I couldn’t hold on to them.  So, if you ask, I’m sorry to say that I have no good answer on how I came up with this one.

But, if I have time, I will try to write something happier later today.

As always, all comments, thoughts, and questions are welcome…

98 thoughts on “training day

    • Sorry? I’m not sure if I should apologize or not. You know, we have to go where the words take us, we are all subject to the whims of our own muses.

      • I know you do. And I know there are others in the blogosphere that do as well. But, this was is a bit nastier than the usual silliness I write…

      • True, but at the same time (and I hope this doesn’t sound “off” as it isn’t meant to) you don’t need to apologise when your muse pushes you to darker realms, or should I say more serious pieces such as this one. Seriousness or Silliness just write (as you do) what flows at the time.

      • Woot.
        I think, more than anything, the apology was probably for my parents who read my blog and often comment that they like the “happier” pieces more.

  1. Well done, Matt. I enjoyed this greatly. Dystopic but relatable in that I thought of African children being trained for ‘blood diamonds’ in that region of the world.

  2. It is different from what you normally write, but that isn’t a bad thing. We only grow as writers when we get out of our comfort zone. It was well written and portrayed what happens so often in this world of unending conflict.

  3. We writers do not always have to do happy and silly or dark and sad. A mix is best. Just like life. I loved this little piece. And we never know where our ideas come from. Our fingers dancing on the keyboard have a mind of their own.

  4. Harrowing. This is real writing – excuse me for saying so, but I think writing should ellicit feeling, and this does. The dispassionate way you describe these events makes it more chilling. This is beyond bugnuts, Matticus. You are really reaching here, and I much much like and respect the effort. This is a piece that will stay with me, it is perhaps meant to haunt.

    My only quibble is that second last paragraph, I don’t think it’s necessary. That last bit, about possibly holding the gun that had killed the parents, is enough of a finish. It brought this home so well – and so painfully.

    You are really talented, Matticus. This was EXCELLENT, and uncompromising. And yes, it was bugnuts.

    • Wrote this one with you in mind, intentionally stretching my limits, reaching for bugnuts for you. So, thank you for pushing me… and encouraging me, and driving me forward. And, thank you for the comments on the unnecessary paragraph. I truly appreciate that feedback. I’m going to reread it right now with and without it and see how they both feel for me.
      Have a truly wonderful Friday!

      • You too Matticus. If I’m overly pushy, you can always tell me off by the way. I think you have real writing chops. Not just blog writing, but writing writing (I know that will offend some to say that, but, well, it’s how I feel).

      • There is definitely a difference between writing-blogging and writing-writing. I’m with you on that one.
        And, I like the encouragement/push/kick in the ass. Sometimes I need that to get me out of my routine, out of my comfort zone, and stretch my limits further.

      • My voice? Isn’t that a TV show? 😉
        Yep, I’m starting to see what you mean. After a year and a half of playing it safe and always feeling like I was missing something important it’s been these recent posts when I was striving for something outside my normal writing that have felt the most real, the most worth being read.

      • I think I’m going to enjoy it too…
        I’m feeling an energy this morning as I’m thinking about what to work on today (with my writing) that I haven’t felt since I first started working a couple years ago on a novel that’d been stuck in my head since Junior High.

      • Lost the energy to work and foiled plans… sadly. I did post a few “fun” things today, but nothing new, different, challenging. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

      • I liked the one I read, about the city. Quite a bit. Will get to the other one too.

        I’m thinking if I get any time at all to write it out, I’m going to go full bugnuts for something later this week or early next. Idea percolating. I love this.

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