the way over in (somewhere) Alabama, there is a military academy that
served as a school of last resort for failing students and perpetual
Strict in its bearing and suffering no fools gladly, Lyman-Ward has, and
continues in, a tradition of hard discipline and demanding curriculum.
However, in some cases, the strain gets to be too much.
Dropped off by bus at the outer gates of Lyman-Ward the now ‘cadet’
Sams (another made up name. Y’know... It’s a good thing I’m not a
cop...I would probably wind up letting Ted Bundy go, ‘cause I couldn’t
remember who was on the hot-sheet...lol) made his way through the doors of
yet another school for troubled kids.
Born into money, and treated more as an accessory than as a child, Sams
had been shuffled off to a number of various schools and other military
academies, all in the vain hope of somehow instilling in him what his
parents had failed to provide in their family.
Angry in nature and given to violence, Sams had trod this path before.
There was the traditional hazing of the new arrival, whereupon his place
in the unofficial pecking order would be established. Not waiting for
trouble to find him, Sams immediately sought out the biggest member of his
housing dorm and initiated a fight. In less than 24 hours of arriving, he
found himself in the commandant’s office, with his reputation as a
hard-case in tow.
Never one to be slow in acting, the commandant called in his drill staff
and ordered that Sams be given the most severe punishment that the school
could mete out....The Circuit.
Promptly, and in the deafening company of the assembled drill staff, Sams
was marched back to his dorm. Once there, in front of the assemblage of
his dorm mates he was made to strip and then don his BDU’s and full
field gear (including, it is rumored, a pair of new boots). Adorned as
such, every cadet knew what was about to happen.
So rare was this punishment that it had lived on in the cadet corps as
more legend than actual occurrence, but now, one of their own was about to
face The Circuit’s physical challenge...and they all wanted to bear
witness to it.
In the telling, The Circuit didn’t sound like much; dressed in full
battle gear, including weapon, the cadet was marched, non-stop, in the
company of one or two drill sergeants....for 24 hours.
Prepared for his test of wills, throughout the remainder of that day and
all through the night, over and over again, Sams was marched across every
field, through every hallway, up every staircase, and though the obstacle
course. All through the night, when the dawn’s light broke, the day
found Sams still at it.
Staggering under the ordeal, with pride as his motivation, he was
determined not to let himself be seen as weak. Halting only a few minutes
for a brief meal of field rations, the test went forward. Hours after
hour, if his pace slackened or if he stumbled to the ground, the drill
sargeants (working in shifts), where there...ready to pounce. Yeling
obscenities, an mocking sympathies, they challened Sams in every manner
throughout his effort. Heaping psychological abuse atop physical, the
drill staff worked ceaselessly to force him in to admitting the ordeal was
too much. But Sams refused.
After the allotted 24 hours had expired, Sams was dismissed. Dragging
himself back to the dorm, he pulled his now blood-soaked boots off and
immediately collapsed on his bunk.
For a short while, some say less than a week, for reasons still unknown,
yet another fight broke out in the dorms involving cadet Sams. His
reputation already made, Sams seemed the likely candidate for blame. Once
again, the commandant ordered Sams back on ‘The Circuit’, but this
time; for 36 hours of non-stop marching.
Enduring the night’s cold and a sleet filled rain, Sams marching feet
pounded a path through the freezing mud and the frost covered grass.
Bowed, but still willing, somewhere in the 28th hour, there came a marked
change in the drill staff.
Seeing Sams unwillingness to surrender, their previously screamed threats
and occasional blows began to grow scarce as the trial wore on. Whether
from their own fatigue, or out of respect for a kid that wouldn’t quit,
the collective drill staff’s manner began to soften, some even going so
far as to encourage Sams as he entered the final few hours of his
At the end of the 36 hours, Sams made it only as far as his room before
collapsing bodily on the floor. After finishing the unprecedented ordeal,
he had won the respect of the drill sergeants, the other cadets and even
the commandant himself. Even in legend, very few cadets had been able to
complete the 24 hours on The Circuit, let alone, endure 36 hours of that
particular torture. And, in this case, it appeared to have made an
impression on Sams as well.
Upon his return to the routine of the cadet corps, the change was obvious
to everyone. Gone was the cocky swagger, and the loud cursings, replaced
now with a more quiet and controlled persona. Though there was still
little improvement in his grades, Sams no longer presented himself as the
discipline problem that he had once been. Preferring to remain apart from
the group, forgoing any team oriented activities, he kept quietly to
himself. Speaking only as necessary, he had stepped into an odd habit of
holding quiet, murmured, conversations with himself. Whispering words that
even his roommate couldn’t make out, Sams would whisper with his unseen
visitors deep into the night hours.
Aside from this newly acquired quirk, for the rest of the year, things
remained quiet as Sams passed through his required studies without
incident ...until the night before summer break.
During one particularly hot and sticky summer night, Sams arose from his
bunk. Appearing as little more than a darker shadow against the night's
gloom, he made his way towards the door. The sounds of his movements
masked by the hum from the fan the window, he twisted the center-button on
his door to lock it.
Padding quietly back through the darkenss, he edged his way near his
roommate's bunk. Looming over his quiet dorm-mate, he stared down at the
sleeping figure. Assuring himself that his roommate was truly sound
aslelep, Sams turned and stepped stealthily back to his bunk.
Lifting the corner of the mattress, he slid his hand under the heavy
sleeping pad and pulled out a short segment of nylon cord. Working
quickly, soundlessly, he unwound the cord and fashioned a loop in one end.
Silently, he stepped up on his chair to tied one end of the cord around
the steam pipe that ran across the ceiling.
Stepping silently back down from the chair, he walked stealthily across
the room. Bending over his sleeping barracks-mate, Sams’ eyes narrowed.
Squinting down at the sleeping form before him, in the next moment, Sams
made his move.....
Skipping ahead a few years, my friend, Jack (not his real name...although
I actually *do* recall it), arrived at Lyman-Ward in much the same
capacity as Sams had: That is, lacking in discipline and needing help in
However, as far as looking for trouble goes, Jack was not even remotely in
the same category as Sams was. In fact, Jack actually took to the military
style of life fairly easily, except for one particular and ongoing
It was incumbent upon every cadet to spend one night out of every ninety
on guard duty (this is the same as fire watch..it’s where you have to
stay up all night and make the rounds of your duty station. Rain, snow,
sleet, sick and/or dying...doesn’t matter, everyone had to pull guard)
And every so often, there would be those cadets that didn’t extend the
unwritten, but nevertheless, expected courtesy in taking care not to wake
the other cadets when standing their watch.
Awakened on more than one occasion during the night by a particularly
noisy cadet walking the hallway, Jack had decided that this kid needed a
lesson in common courtesy. Ignoring the ‘lights out’ order, his anger
growing at the blatant lack of regard from the kid on guard duty, Jack
stayed awake in the determination to try and ‘motivate’ his fellow
cadet towards more regard for his fellow cadets.
Having been awakened twice by this careless cadet, Jack knew the
approximate time for the cadet's return. Waiting with an angry eye on the
clock, near the dawns earliest hours Jack slid out of his bunk and, after
grabbing his baseball bat, stepped quietly to the door of his room.
Listening for a moment at the door, he made sure that he wouldn't be
unobserved when he left his room. Opening teh door slightly, he peered out
into the silent corridor. Slipping silently out of his room Jack crept
down the hallway towards the coke machine that sat, humming quietly, in
the center of dorm hall.
Deciding to lay in ambush behind the coke machine, from this hiding place
he could hear when the duty cadet would open the door at the far end of
the hall....And when that jerk got next to the coke machine? ...*pow*....bat
Hugging close to the wall to remain hidden behind the coke machine, Jack
looked nervously down at his watch. Almost as if on cue, the sqeak of the
door at the far end of the hall being opened echoed down the empty
Nervous, and angered at loosing sleep, with his fury rising, Jack
tightening his grip on the bat...waiting for that moment when the cadet
would be just in front of the coke machine.
Noisily the footsteps came on, echoing hollowly against the concrete walls
of the dorm hall. Closer and closer, the unwary cadet's footsteps came on.
In a few short seconds, the footsteps drew even to Jack's hiding place.
Enraged by the cadet’s gross inconsiderations, at the moment,Jack
didn’t care if it was the cadet corps commander or even the school
commandant, he was going to put a stop to this....right now!
Drawing his bat back as if to swing, Jack stepped angrily out from behind
the coke machine, ready for his confrontation.
Eyes wide in horror, the words died in his mouth....there was no one
Yet, the sound of the footsteps walked past him and down to the other end
of the hall, where, the door swung open....and dutifully fell
closed...just as if someone had passed through the doorway.
Shaken beyond words, a shivering Jack staggered back inside of his room
and immediately awoke his roommate. Tired and irritated, his roommate
tried to convince Jack that he had just been having a bad dream. Or maybe
It was only later that the truth came out.
As it turns out, years before, cadet Sams, being overwhelmed by his
personal demons, had taken that piece of cord...and hung himself. Right in
the same room occupied by Jack and his roommate. In fact, it was rumored
that Jack’s desk lay immediately under where Sams had been found by his
roommate at reveille that next morning.
Unused for years since the incident, Jack and his roommates where only the
second set of roommates that had been allowed back in that room...the
first, having vacated it after a series of unexplainable occurrences had
beset them as well. With one of these occurrences being the sound of
someone walking, or more accurately...marching... down the hall.
Evidently, to the older cadets, this was not at all that uncommon of a
“It’s only Sams,” they would explain, “He got trapped in somewhere
in hell...doing The Circuit,over and over.......forever.”