‘On nights like these, sleep doesn’t come easily’: Read an extract from Fanie Viljoen’s latest book, Sacrifice to the Flies
More about the book!
Fanie Viljoen’s multiple award-winning Young Adult novel, Offers vir die vlieë, was recently released in English as Sacrifice to the Flies.
In this dystopian novel, six soldiers, stripped of their humanity, are deployed to the Front. One of them murders their section leader. All of them deny their guilt. Who is lying?
Read the extract:
THE ONE THING THAT BELONGS TO YOU ALONE
On nights like these, sleep doesn’t come easily. Eyes open, I lie on my narrow single bed with its thin sponge mattress. Motionless in the dark. Not even the metal legs of the bed creaking. Now and again, the light from a drone streaks across the ceiling. Distant gunshots and the rattle of army vehicles sound. Nearby, I hear one of the other guys in the barracks snoring lightly. I wish I too can disappear into a blissful dream, but my mind remains alert.
There’s a word for you.
‘Stay alert, troop!’ How many times during our training did Torsten bark those words at us? Sergeant Torsten, I should probably say. Our section leader. ‘Stop your lame-arse pissing about!’
‘Does it look like I want to engage in a deep and meaningful conversation with you, troop?’
‘No, Sarge. But, Sarge, I can’t any more, Sarge,’ I cried on one of those days, struggling through a field of mud with a tarred pole balanced across my shoulder, forcing me to my knees with every step I took. Until the weight of the pole eventually cut me down, delivering a last humiliating blow against my back and pushing me into the black mud as I collapsed.
‘Get up, Eliam!’ Torsten shouted, hovering above me.
The spit made strands in my mouth. ‘I can’t, Sarge.’
‘You’re letting your comrades down. Is that what you want to do?’
‘Then why are you lying there panting like an incontinent ox? Are you a weakling?’
‘I’ll crush a useless clod like you. On your feet. Now!’
‘You can if I say you can.’
‘Do you want me to flush you from the Programme?’
‘It will give me the greatest pleasure.’
‘Please don’t, Sarge.’
‘What? Are you denying me some pleasure, Eliam?’
‘I … uhm … Of course not, Sarge, but …’ I stuttered as I tried to find the right answer.
‘Idiot!’ Torsten spat on me. ‘Hoist up your bones, grab that sodding pole, and run.’
‘I can’t, Sarge.’