Honourable Mention in the 13 to 17 age category – Wadadli Pen Challenge 2016
Author’s comments: ‘”Heroic Night”, this fictional story is about a man struggling to muster up courage when he needs it. He is forced to aid in the defence of his kingdom against an unknown force. Those around him notice his internal struggle and try to bring the courage out of him.’
Judge’s comments (positives only*): “There was a certain quality to the narration and the light touch of dry humour that kept me reading to the end.”
Note: *While only the positives are being shared with the public, in keeping with the development goals of Wadadli Pen, all long listed entries are returned to the author with the judge’s note – both positives and negatives – for revision. Congrats to Canice. Keep working on your craft; keep valuing your voice and your art. – JCH
Here now is Heroic Night by Canice James, a 16-year-old Antigua Grammar School student:
“Forward! We must hold them back until reinforcements arrive!”
My squad commander yelled orders with his course voice, but I failed to receive any additional energy through his spoken encouragement. The distance between us and the incoming enemies decreased. Sweat poured from my fatigued body as the rainy night grew more violent. I took a brief second to glance around myself…
I estimated the number of allies I had left standing. The mere fact that they were now able to be easily counted portrayed that our numbers had been thinned. I restrained myself from looking below out of the fear of the scene which may have laid there. On that gruesome night, which I had originally intended to spend with my children and loved wife, the kingdom had been under siege by an unknown force. Smoke clogged my vision and the scent of charred wood lingered irritatingly in my nostrils as the buildings around me continued in a blaze.
The outer wall had already been destroyed and breached.
(The first line of defense was also easily annihilated; will I meet the same pathetic demise?)
Anxiety was slowly filling me. The sword clenched between my gauntlets began to slip. The armor shielding my body began to feel heavier as my posture sagged.
“We will be okay. Further worrying will do no good.”
A voice released me from my trance. Glancing to my right, a figure approached while silhouetting in the distant flames. A moment later I finally recognized the voice which belonged to one of my closest friends.
“Calm down, we shall not be defeated easily.”
Amidst all the destruction, he remained unfazed and easily found the strength to continue bearing his fangs towards the oncoming wave. As the enemies grew closer, the squad commander strained his voice further.
“Here they come! If those before us have already lost, then we simply seize their lost opportunity and become the heroes in this battle.”
Honestly, he’s such an idealist that it’s sickening, but that restless heroism within his heart was exactly what was needed to sway our spirit into continuing the fight. If we failed here many more others will be put in danger. They’re depending on us to secure their survival! Especially my family that’s waiting patiently and praying for my return.
“We must stop them here!!”
Gaining another reason to stand, I forced a smile and raised my sword…
The forced smile quickly faded. The many swords that were raised, the swords that once embodied the spirit of bravery, were unable to move. This was due to the fact that armed men holding them instead preoccupied themselves with the task of interpreting what stood before them. As the enemies approached, they too slowed to a stop, allowing us to inspect them further.
“W-what… what the hell…”
My words were cut off by my need to decipher the monsters further. I approximated only about a dozen of them but the black dusty mist that surrounded the group clearly carried the statement that they were not to be underestimated. The creatures appeared human but a demonic presence encased them.
The commander, the ecstatic figure that he is, was the first one to break the silence.
“What are you waiting for dazed fools? Do you not see your enemy awaiting their own slaughter? Why must they wait for their own defeat?”
We greatly outnumbered them while being heavily equipped with swords, spears, shields and armor. The beasts before us carried rags…
But we were clearly outmatched.
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