The Long Walk
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On the first day of May, 100 teenage boys meet for a race known as "The Long Walk." If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying...
his face! I’ll tell him right to his face!” In his excitement he had fallen below the pace, almost stopping, and the soldiers became interested for the first time. “Warning! Warning 48!” Gribble faltered to a stop, and then his legs picked up speed. He looked down at his feet as he walked. Soon they were up to where the halftrack waited. It began to crawl along beside them again. At about 4:45, Garraty had supper—a tube of processed tuna fish, a few Snappy Crackers with cheese spread, and a
breathing became audible. The only other sounds were Olson’s chant, the scuff of many feet, and the grinding, ratcheting sound of the halftrack’s engine as it chugged along beside them. Garraty felt the bewildered fear in his stomach grow. He could actually die here. It wouldn’t be hard at all. He had screwed around and had gotten two warnings on him already. He couldn’t be much over the limit right now. All he had to do was slip his pace a little and he’d have number three—final warning. And
soon.” From around the next curve the guns roared again, startling a pheasant that rose from the underbrush in an electric uprush of beating feathers. Garraty and Stebbins rounded the curve, but the bodybag was already being zipped up. Fast work. He couldn’t see who it had been. “You reach a certain point,” Stebbins said, “when the crowd ceases to matter, either as an incentive or a drawback. It ceases to be there. Like a man on a scaffold, I think. You burrow away from the crowd.” “I think I
after fingernails had taken skin off your arm once or twice. A small boy whined that he wanted to go home. “I’ve been talking to everybody,” McVries said. “Well, just about everybody. I think the winner should do something for her.” “Like what?” Garraty asked. “That’ll have to be between the winner and Scramm’s wife. And if the bastard welshes, we can all come back and haunt him.” “Okay,” Pearson said. “What’s to lose?” “Ray?” “All right. Sure. Have you talked to Gary Barkovitch?” “That
That’s against the rules. But we’ll shut you out. And you’ll have broken your promise.” “I won’t try.” “Same goes for anyone who tries to help you.” “Yuh.” “It’s nothing personal. You know that, Ray. But we’re down against it now.” “Root hog or die.” “That’s it.” “Nothing personal. Just back to the jungle.” For a second he thought Abraham was going to get pissed, but his quickly drawn-in breath came out in a harmless sigh. Maybe he was too tired to get pissed. “You agreed. I’ll hold you