Saturday, 17 March 2018


08:25:00 Posted by Steve Rowland , , 11 comments
Yarn emerged blinking into the light of a cold March afternoon. She was flanked on either side by two soldiers whom she judged to be of an age with herself. In childhood they could have been friends of her brothers in the town, but now they wore the drab olive uniforms of the State Guard and she was an irksome obstacle to their supremacy.

They propelled her without undue force and yet with barely disguised contempt onto the crunching snow of the prison yard. As her eyes squinted to adjust to the brightness of outdoors, she set her gaze resolutely on her unavoidable destination. Yarn had promised herself in the solitary hell of her dark cell that she would display as little emotion as her captors when the time came, so now she walked with proud and measured steps, commencing to traverse the white expanse towards the infamous wall of death.

In her peripheral vision she couldn't help but be aware of the phalanx of soldiers, dull grey rifles pointing skywards at their shoulders, who were being marched into the yard in readiness. But she knew that, in order to deny anyone the pleasure of seeing her suffer, she mustn't allow herself to speculate on the drama that was about to unfold. So she tried to concentrate on what lay immediately in front of her, to view it with detachment if possible, as she would be seeing it for the first and last time.

Her feet in dilapidated boots soon felt both sodden and leaden but her progress couldn't falter. As the trio approached the wall, Yarn observed two sets of manacles fastened to the backboard to which she was to be secured. The board was splintered and pock-marked with a wide spread of bullet-holes. She realised with a rising queasiness that her impending execution, though an effective end, would not be a very efficient one. On closer inspection, she noticed bloodstains on the backboard. She wondered if they knew it was her birthday. Had they chosen this day especially?

She had heard that prisoners sometimes tried to run at this point - but you can't get far with your hands tied behind your back and the guards were said to derive additional sport from breaking both legs before tying their hapless victim to the manacles. So Yarn, comported on reaching the wall, allowed herself to be turned about. Her hands were then roped tightly to the right-hand set of rings and her escort marched away as the officer in charge of her execution approached.

Twenty yards off she could see the firing-squad lined up to face her. Beyond them was the squat grey bulk of the infamous prison block and beyond that a pale sun hanging low in the sky. The only sound she could hear was the calling of rooks in the trees behind her. Was this, her last view of the world, a sight to treasure? She shivered.

Wall Of Death
The officer read to her in a bored monotone the official statement from the military governor which was read to all enemies of the state at the end. Occasional phrases about her crimes against the Motherland penetrated her consciousness but she was not really listening. She knew she would be given one last chance to confess but would decline it, for she was destined to die anyway. Rather, her thoughts were occupied by recollections of her parents, her brothers, her lover. She gained some comfort from reflecting that all of them except her poor mother had stood in turn where she was standing now, with their bruised and beaten bodies tethered in exactly this spot, their hooded eyes looking through the darkness of impending death towards some time in the future when their people would be free again.

She was asked if she wanted to confess. She braced herself and spoke as evenly as she was able the slogan of the rebels. She was half expecting a blow to the face but the officer, with a cruel glint in his eye, stroked her cheek before pulling the rough woollen hood down over her head.

After that, there was a deep silence. Even the rooks had stopped cawing. Though she was tense, and wetting herself despite her best endeavours, the wooden board behind her felt supportive in this moment of severest trial. At what must have been a visual signal, she heard the rifles cocked in unison. She mumbled some names, as in a prayer, and was lifted off her feet for a second as the explosions rang around the yard.

When the rooks and the quiet had descended again, Yarn's lifeless body hung ungainly from the wall of death. There was not much blood and her piss was already beginning to freeze.

Thanks for reading. Never underestimate the speed of dark. Keep on rocking in the free world, S ;-)


Anonymous said...

Powerful prose that!

Anonymous said...

Come on Steve. Write that novel.

Anonymous said...

I personally found this a bit bleak; (and I missed having a poem).

Anonymous said...

Harrowing but riveting reading.

Anonymous said...

Well done! Love it, your writings are so entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you made the 'protagonist' female. I think that makes what happens more shocking somehow.

Anonymous said...

That's so sad. But I'm sure it could never happen in this country, thank goodness.

Annie Walton said...

Steve I found this so upsetting.....You are an amazing storyteller I always find your words captivating whatever the art form.....this has made me cry and think of what was, what is , and what will be again....of Syria

Annie xx

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Moving, as others have observed - but depressing. Give us hope.

Anonymous said...