This exercise consist in rewriting a story from the antagonist’s point of view. I chose “La Fiesta de las Balas” a from Martín Luis Guzmán “El Águila y la Serpiente”; one of the short stories my class was made to read in high school and boy was this a doozy. Took me two days and it really isn’t as long as I was hoping, I might come back within the week try to get a stronger climax.
This totally pushed me outside my comfort zone, making me do dialog (besides translating I think I only did one line but I totally did dialog!), descriptions (what do you mean “a face” isn’t good enough), and describing a character emotional state.
No. 5 20/07/2015
“Waiting list” (952 Words prior to any edits)
The afternoon sun was starting its descent when the last of us was stuffed into the makeshift jail. The wooden cattle pen we were thrown inside revealed how our captors thought about us, whose only crime was the same as those on the other side: Treason.
Our case had been lost earlier on the battlefield and now only five hundred men remained for the sentencing although no more than three hundred remained in the pen; only us, red flags, remained captive, the federal troops were allowed to return home on promise not to stand in arms again. Now, the jailer’s commiseration exhausted, there was nothing left for us but to wait.
The jail consisted of a cattle corral; the solid wooden walls were around a meter and seventy tall, high enough to slow most people down but not enough to be impassable; which was by all means a terrible idea, seeing the thirty armed, bored and annoyed men standing guard around the pens. The villistas left to stand guard were barely paying us any attention, too tired from the earlier battle to spare a thought for the damned, they were smoking or resting on the walls with only their carabins at hand as prove of their task. The corral where they locked us was between two other pens at its sides, the fence hiding the view of anything but the villista officers atop their horses, marching to and fro on its edges.
The dull scene keep playing as the sun made its descent until a gallop broke into the monotony, from our side of the fence we couldn’t tell who was it that arrived but we could tell what he had come to do. It wasn’t a minute since the gallop stopped when the officers came inside the pen; with curses and threats they roused the tired mob and pushed it against the pen’s side.
In that moment, as we were herded to the slaughter we lashed against our captors, at the very least we wouldn’t die like this not like animals. We broke into a run, away from whatever they were pushing us against, the fear, stress and anger fueling our sprint, the mob collided against the wall of riders blocking our way back while the escapees scurried away between the horses.
Our last act of resistance; didn’t even last a minute. The few who made it past the riders were shot in the spot by the rows of soldiers waiting in the wings, the crowd of bored soldiers from before had been replaced by excited children, screaming profanities and cheers as the escapees were shot like turkeys and the mob regained their composure and resignation.
The last shot I heard came not from the soldiers who regained their dullness as they moved away from the fences but from beyond the door they pushed us into.
The door connected into a pen slightly bigger than the one we had been thrown into, besides the door the were in the pen had two others connecting with the fields and the town on its sides and, in the opposite side from where we stood, a wall no less than three meters tall. From inside an officer greeted us with a shot to the hair while he yelled:
“Traitors! Sonovagun! We are now to see how you run and jump! On with it, traitors!” -Said the man as the carabins and horses pushed us against the open door.-“Calm down cowards, we got the thing for you, you are running; ten at a time, whoever makes it to the other side of the pen is free, agreed?” As he said the last word the carabins poking our rears pushed once again and the soldiers started to separate people in the front, organizing the group for the first run.
As we peeked inside we met our executioner, a tall man in his forties, wearing a battered texan hat shadowing his brown skin and short greasy hair, as he received us with look of contempt and a grin under his mustache he told us: “Run along, children; that’s only me shooting and I’m no marksman”.
The first group exploded from the door, the first one making his way to the shooter fell first, pinned by the soldiers in the walls, the rest bolted for the promised safety but within six seconds they all lied in the floor, the soldiers mood again became excited shouting and cheering for their commander, while competing to deal the killing blow to those he had shot but weren’t quite dead.
The same spectacle repeated, time and time again, as the hapless men gave their all in the trying to overcome the commander’s methodic cruelty with their will to live. It wasn’t two hours until it was my turn, the last group of prisoners. It didn’t seem real, the man at the other side of the fence, looking gigantic as he towers over his crouched assistant handing him the instruments of his work, the field littered with hundred of corpses product of only a man, the edges of the fence exploding in ovations, as the sun hid away from the butchering and the stars peeked into the closing act my consciousness faded away as my mind drifted away from a revolution, politics and criminals but onto one thing, the wall at the other side, in the middle of the run the shoots were just a distant sound as the wall was reached, and in the other side freedom. The shooting continued but from the faces of the men not one reached the escapee and they shuffled away tired and disappointed in missing their prey but the commander seemed uncaring, his task completed he laid his bed down and slept for the night in the same ground we shared.