Sins of Our Fathers: The First Kill [sci-fi; mature content]


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Thread: Sins of Our Fathers: The First Kill [sci-fi; mature content]

  1. #1

    Sins of Our Fathers: The First Kill [sci-fi; mature content]

    I feel my guts churning, a pressing desire to empty my bowels. My heart races wildly with excitement. My eyes are fixed on my quarry's.

    "What are you waiting for, son!? Do your duty!" I hear the commanding voice of my father rumble from behind.

    The terrified blue eyes stare back into mine, and I feel as if they probe into the very depths of my soul. If there even is such a thing - my parents could never come to an agreement in spiritual matters.

    ---

    The man who stares back at me with horror is stark naked, hanging upside down with a noose around his feet. Many bruises and cuts already adorn his body, blood flowing liberally over his face and dripping in a growing pool on the ground. The jeering mob around begins to chant my name, spurring me on.

    "Hendrik! Hendrik! Hendrik!"

    The man in front of me was once a respected member of our community, a senior drill instructor in charge of training young folks like myself in the martial ways of our society. Such he would have remained, were it not for the discovery of his perverted taste for young boys. After the latest victim of his twisted affections slit his wrists in the school restroom, leaving behind a suicide note naming a certain Sgt. Romanovskis as his reason, a number of other lads, some of them already adults, came forward.

    History instructors tell such people would have been dealt with very differently back in the old world. They would have been locked away for a time, put on a special register, forbidden from contact with children, and assigned special mental care. But Baltic Union isn't the old world - here, there's only one penalty for a crime as foul as this. A man of a position of authority, one entrusted with instructing and training the community's youth, hasn't just broken the lives of those he has molested, but also betrayed the trust of his entire community and besmirched the good name of his profession. For this, he must suffer the ultimate penalty - outlawry.

    Former Sgt. Romanovskis, now stripped of his clothes, rank and even name, dangles before me bound and helpless. A bloody black-red mark of shame adorns his cheek, branded there by the Enforcers at the Justice Hall. Such is the law and custom - an outlaw shall be branded on the face and right hand with the mark of his crime, so that all who might meet him know him for what he is. Spade for murder, club for theft and robbery, diamond for treason and corruption, and heart for rape. Even amongst outlaws there's a hierarchy, and those bearing the heart are deemed lowest of the low even by other criminal scum.

    "Citizen Ilmār Romanovski, with the power entrusted by the Articles and the Law of the Union, this court finds you guilty of 15 counts of aggravated rape of an underage person, and sentences you to outlawry. You are hereby proclaimed dead before the law and the people of the Union, all your rights and privileges hereby rescinded and perpetually forfeit, all oaths, contracts and debts owed to you are rendered null and void. You shall hereby be branded with a perpetual mark of your shame, and thereafter be driven out of human society with a stick drenched in filth to suffer among your own kind until the end of your days, where none shall render you any aid, shelter or comfort whatsoever under penalty of sharing your fate."

    Such words were read out in courtroom by the town's Legal Officer, as is the law and custom, as the whole town stood outside awaiting the sentence. Standing amidst my classmates, taken to Justice Hall to witness justice served, I saw the Enforcers tear away the Sergeant's badges of rank first, then continuing with all of his clothes until none remained. I watched with a mix of fear and awe as they held him down, and listened to his screams and the sizzling of flesh as the red-hot brand was pressed against his cheek. The stench of burnt flesh was not yet gone, when that of excrement wafted in the air as another Enforcer arrived, carrying a bucket of shit with a heavy stick in it. With this shitty stick, the newly-branded outlaw was beaten as is the custom while he was driven to the town gate through the jeering mob shouting threats of death and torment at him. And finally, at the town's gate, the outlaw was cut loose, free to run whichever way he pleased.

    The old world, it seems, abhorred letting such people run free. But outlawry is anything but being let off with a bit of humiliation. When one is proclaimed an outlaw, that is exactly what he becomes - outside and beyond the law. The rights and laws that shield law-abiding citizens from arbitrary violence no longer apply to him - as far as the law is concerned, the condemned outlaw is dead. And "dead" is exactly what most of them become shortly afterwards as their former compatriots take opportunity to do some punishing of their own now that legal protections no longer apply to the convict.

    The mob caught up with Sgt. Romanovskis about 2 clicks out of town. Customarily, outlaws are given an hour of head start, but given the especially-repulsive nature of his crimes, Romanovskis only got however long it took the townsfolk to run home and grab tyres, petrol cans, ropes and whatever other instruments they felt appropriate for the upcoming lynching. So now he hangs from a tree by his feet, beaten senseless by the mob, when someone proposed it would only be fitting that the outlaw be delivered his final punishment by the hands of the students whose trust he betrayed the most.

    "Do it, son! It's your duty!" my father's ice-blue eyes gaze at me sternly as I look back at him hesitantly. Sgt. Romanovskis might be a perverted degenerate, but he never did me any wrong personally. Strange how I still think of him as a drill sergeant of the town's school, even though his rank has now been revoked.

    I look down at the knife that my father has personally put in my hand. Just as Romanovskis found it in him to penetrate young boys at his tender mercy, so too should I tenderize my mercy and find it in myself to penetrate his flesh with this blade of steel. It would only serve him right. Yet somehow I cannot bear the thought of putting this blade to the flesh of another human being, no matter how depraved and deserving.

    "Hendrik! Hendrik!" my classmates chant. Some have already left their marks on the Sergeant's flesh.

    "Hendrik! Hendrik!" my neighbors chant. Their boys studied under this pervert, so they are understandably eager to see him suffer.

    "Hendrik! Do it!" cries out the woman whose son took his own life after being violated, even if she would never recognize me by name otherwise.

    I look back at the outlaw and gaze into his terrified blue eyes. No matter how hard I try, I don't see a depraved pervert, just a fellow human terrified for his life.

    ---

    Moments later, he unleashes a guttural roar of agony as I sink my knife into his gut, again and again. As he writhes and roars, I work my way up towards his groin, hot blood spraying into my face. As the steel plunges into his most sensitive parts, he stops screaming and begins to shiver uncontrollably and vomit from the pain, his puke splashing on my feet. Finally, his guts spill over my arms from the gaping wound left by my stabs, the air reeking of warm blood and shit. The mob goes wild with a mix of joy and shock, evidently not having expected me to go beyond one stab or two like the other kids before me.

    Finally, I fall on my backside exhausted, my mind barely grasping the bloody mess of a man hanging before me. As I come back to my senses, something climbs up in my throat, and I throw up.

    "That's a good lad," I hear the comforting voice of my father and feel his hands on my shoulders, "The first time is always tough, I know! You did well, son!"

    As father embraces me, I find myself sobbing hysterically, and wonder if it's for what I did to a man who deserved every bit of it, or for my own lost innocence.

    "Your boy shows little hesitation to kill, Viktor," I hear the town's Governor-Colonel say as my father wipes my face clean with a napkin, "I sense there's great potential in him."

    "I'd rather that he used that potential for better ends," father responds, "But it is good that he doesn't let sentimentality cloud his judgement at such a young age."

    The crowd begins to disperse, leaving the mangled body of Romanovskis to hang from the tree. Someone will cut down and bury or burn him eventually, but not for the next couple days. Until then, his remains are to stand warning to everyone else who might be tempted into his vice.

    ---

    25 years later, I still remember this day as if it had happened yesterday. I have long lost count of the lives I have extinguished in the line of duty, but those terrified blue eyes of a drill instructor turned child molester I just cannot forget. I guess a man never forgets his first kill.
    Last edited by CyberWar; January 7th, 2020 at 11:27 PM.

  2. #2
    Member KHK's Avatar
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    Overall, rather powerfully descriptive (the inner struggles of the MC, I mean, not the gore, that is secondary )
    But I find this text rather missing a punch line.
    Is it an excerpt from a larger work of fiction? A prologue? In that capacity it may work quite well, IMO. But on its own it feels a little unfinished. I found myself asking, "What was he trying to say?"

    Another piece I'm missing here is the main transformation, what I guess was supposed to be the high point: what happened that made Hendrik shift from a boy seeing "just a fellow human terrified for his life" to repeatedly stabbing the man? For me, to appreciate the character's struggles and transformation, something is not there. It's a hole.
    Rather than adding a straight-forward explanation right there, I would consider keeping the reader in suspense a little longer, and then spill the beans in the very end. Maybe even at the "25 years later" mark, but I want to know what had changed him.

    A few minor details.
    * If the man is hanging upside down, how high above the ground is his head? If not too high, how can his blue eyes stare back at Hendrik's?
    * In addition to that, you're describing "blood flowing liberally over his face" - wouldn't it cover the eyes too?
    * The timeline is a little confusing at first. You describe the man hanging upside down. Then you go back in time, quoting the sentence (which, BTW, is not very obvious; until I finished reading it and move on to the next paragraph, I thought is was the MC saying these words). And only then everything becomes clearer when you come back to the lynching. While I often use the looping back in my text too, I suggest considering how to make this a tad more obvious, if you'd like.
    * I wouldn't use the word "adorn" for bruises. In some other setting, this may be suitable, but I think here this word is not dark enough.
    * You use "adorn" repeatedly, and this caught my eye. Consider replacing with a synonym.
    * I believe it should be "A man IN a position of authority".
    * "instructing and training" - do you really need both? The difference escapes me
    * "Community" is used twice in the same sentence.
    * "Such is the law and THE custom"? Take this with a grain of salt since English is my third language so I may not have the perfect feel for the article usage.
    * Is it Romanovski or Romanovskis? Both versions appear in the text.
    * Finally, I have some doubts about the plausibility of guts falling out through even a relatively large number of stab wounds. For stab wounds to combine into one large opening, I suspect, they'll have to be placed very closely to each other, and it would probably take many dozens of those.
    * Style-wise, there are a few longer sentences that could possibly be split into shorter ones. They aren't quite runaway, but getting close

    Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    Member KHK's Avatar
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    Oh, and one more observation...
    The father's comment that he'd "rather that he used that potential for better ends" sounds at odds with all the cheering of the son to do his duty.
    The father may have such thoughts, but I doubt he'd sound them in the heat of the moment.

  4. #4
    This story is a part of a cooperative project with a couple other guys, meant to provide more background to one of the leading characters and the part of the world he comes from. It came around in a flash of inspiration, so I agree it's a bit rough around the edges.

    The characters speak Latvian (something which the reader is presumed to know), so different forms of the name Romanovskis are given in keeping with Latvian grammar rules. As this story is part of a larger series featuring Hendrik and his compatriots, I did not deem it necessary to explain it here, though I understand how it can get confusing for a first-time reader.

    The remark by Hendrik's father despite his earlier insistence is meant to signify that he takes no joy in the lynching or having to make his son partake in it, but nonetheless insists that Hendrik must do his civic duty. Again, it would perhaps make more sense to someone already familiar with the setting. With the Baltic Union being a hyper-militarized nation that has turned survivalism into an enforced nationwide way of life, getting children accustomed to death and killing from an early age would be a normal part of their upbringing, lynching of outlaws providing perfect opportunity to do that. Which is why Hendrik's father insists on his participation despite his own reservations.

  5. #5
    I really like how you build tension. The repetition of different people chanting Hendrik's name is proven to be be really clever as it sets up a difference between him and his culture. This would be something that I would be really interested in you exploring further (not in this chapter but later). You've given a very unique way of introducing a character and his complex relationship with his culture.
    I also appreciate you not shying away from the blood and gore of the scene. It helps make the reader feel closer to the scene.

    I was left slightly unsure in some parts. I'm not sure why Hendrik stabbed Romanovskis so many times. Does he personally hate him or is he trying to impress his father?
    It feels like over the course of writing, you get into a better flow with the sentences in terms of variety and complexity, making it easier to read. At the beginning, each sentence feels very similar but, at the end, fix this. I would just recommend re-reading out loud as this should help me personally notice an odd flow in the writing.

    Overall, this is a very impressive piece of writing with a great character, that just needs some editing in terms of the prose.

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