~  Hammer1


All the way over in (somewhere) Alabama, there is a military academy that served as a school of last resort for failing students and perpetual discipline problems.

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 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 punishment.

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 acquiring it.

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 problem.

It was incumbent upon every cadet to spend one night out of every ninety on guard duty (this is the same as fire’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 sandwich!

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 hallway.

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.

“Okay, mother-fu-.....”

Eyes wide in horror, the words died in his mouth....there was no one there!

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 even sleepwalking.

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 phenomena.

“It’s only Sams,” they would explain, “He got trapped in somewhere in hell...doing The Circuit,over and over.......forever.”