Steve stayed awake late into the night. Others around him were asleep in the barracks, but he was deep in thought. The final tests to become a soldier in the regiment would begin in the morning. He was serious, knowing these physical and mental tests were designed to weed out the weak. Steve was quite skinny when he began the training but now he was fit and strong. His confidence was growing, but he wanted to focus on each test in turn. After a fitful sleep, he got up while it was still dark and readied himself. Nerves kicked in.

The first event was a sixty second fight wearing heavy boxing gloves. But it was not a boxing match as the recruits needed to show controlled aggression by attacking without defending. The recruits were led into a hall with some square matting surrounded by wooden benches. The training staff marched the recruits in to sit on the wooden benches. As each bout began, everyone shouted encouragement to the recruits. It was brutal. Some passed while others failed. One lad was beaten so badly, an ambulance took him away and the recruits never saw him again. Steve watched in silence as his heart rate quickened. All too soon, it was his turn. He was taken aside and ordered to take his T shirt off. As he did so, a Corporal put boxing gloves on him. Steve stood in one corner and looked over at his opponent, who glared back angrily.

A bell rang and both recruits ran toward each other and began punching. Steve kept his head down and swung wildly, but he took a big punch to the head and found himself on the ground. He got up and fought back, but got decked twice more. Each time, he rose and raised his fists. Halfway through the fight, Steve’s luck changed as his opponent tired. Steve landed a punch and his opponent fell backwards to the outstretched arms of the seated recruits, who pushed him back into the ring. Everyone was screaming and shouting, but all Steve could hear was his breathing and the sound of leather hitting the recruit opposite him. Again and again he swung his arms until the clang of the bell brought Steve to attention, facing a captain. He was awarded a pass.

Copyright © 2022 Callum Stanford.  All rights reserved.

Author: C.Stanford

Writer, blogger, outsider, survivor.

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