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Jack's Reckoning

by LukeStarkiller


Jack’s determined face was unrecognizable under a thick layer of paint. His gait was measured as he peered into the dark crevices of the surrounding bushes. Ralph was here; he was sure of it. That senseless child. For days, Ralph had been a nuisance, petulantly whining to the tribe that they needed to keep a fire going if they ever wanted to get rescued. It was during one of Ralph's delusional soliloquies that Jack had left, impassioned with anger, to form his own tribe. "We are going to hunt and feast and have fun," he had said.

And the children had followed them, eventually. Ralph had been too set in his ways, and his hours were now numbered. Jack's tribe was out for blood.

Every so often, Jack would glance up, half-expecting to see the crouched form of his quarry camouflaged in the leaves, bare face betraying a flash of fear and then resignation to his brutal fate. In his mind's eye, he stared at Ralph with a palpable malignance before thrusting him backward and off balance into the flames with the butt of his spear. Ralph lay there, writhing in misery.

As he was raising his spear to deliver the death blow, Jack’s reverie was interrupted. The forest to his left began to crackle with an intensity that was alarming, and flames became visible through the trees. Jack skirted the fire and found himself at the long scar leading down to the water.

What was left of their camp was being engulfed in flames. A burning tree had fallen onto one of the crude shelters, which served as its perfect kindling, and sparks flew as the inadvertent bonfire climbed into the sky. Jack watched with grim satisfaction as the last of the shelters caved in, sending a mesmerizing volley of sparks towards the heavens.

An ululation from across the forest made him tear his eyes away from the spectacle. Striding back through the trees and away from the fire, Jack returned himself to the task at hand, resolute. But as he strode a few more paces in the direction of the ululation and saw the flames beginning to engulf a clump of fruit trees, something powerful came over him.

Jack forgot about Ralph; the responsibility of leading a new tribe of hunters that had fun was expelled from his mind. Even his thirst for the salty taste of blood became inconsequential, and it was replaced by one desire: the desire to survive.

He sprang towards the trees, took a few handfuls of fruit, and bent over, savagely tearing his teeth into one. He ignored the uncontrollable flames just feet away from him, ignored the cacophony of sparks around him, even ignored the slew of ululating sounds that pierced the mountainside above him. Jack was primal, instinct boiling up and overriding judgment like a forest fire in his chest. The fruit became his world, and he might have eaten himself to death if it weren’t for the Lord of the Flies.

He appeared behind Jack, suspended just above the treeline. He wore a wide grin, surveying the carnage that was sweeping the surrounding countryside with the triumph of a child who had just discovered how to rip apart a sibling’s toy. Only a few stocky bushes remained untouched by the flames.

“Jack,” whispered the Lord of the Flies, comforting in a menacing sort of way. “Jack, Jack, Jack.”

Jack’s eyes watered at the impossibility of it all, and yet the Lord of the Flies was so vividly there that it had to be real.

“You’ve done well. Turned the tribe into what they really are.”

“Ralph and Piggy wouldn’t listen.” Jack noticed a touch of remorse in his voice, contradicting his stone-faced countenance.

“Ralph is a pig. Your tribe is bringing me his head on a stick.”

Jack glanced around him, as if Ralph was lurking in the flames somewhere, and he was missing a perfectly good chance to strike out at him and end their struggle for dominance. He had created the tribe to give himself and its members more freedom, but being ruled by the Lord, insidious though he was, seemed tantalizing.

Suddenly, from behind the mountain, a naval cruiser came into view, swaying slightly as it eclipsed the setting sun. Jack's eyes swiveled. He blinked and looked back at where the Lord of the Flies was, but he was gone.

In that instant, his life came rushing back to him. The person he had been, the family he had fostered relationships with, the games he would play with his schoolmates. He stared at his spear with shock, remembering. The whole charade seemed alarming to him now. He scraped some of the paint off of his face with his finger and stared at it, trying to figure out how it got there. As if he had woken up from a dream that was once in focus but has been muddled by grogginess, Jack tried to remember what the Lord of the Flies had looked like, why he was so transfixed, and why he was hunting a fair-skinned boy.

The cruiser was in the distance now, climbing toward the horizon. Jack tried to lean on his spear to steady himself, but his arm gave way. Tears filled his eyes, tears of regret, and of a profound shame. He sank to the ground, completely alone. No more ululations came from the forest, and Jack’s cloudy mind came to the dim realization that his tribe was on the cruiser, thoughts of conquest and vengeance left behind.

Jack sat, sobbing, as the flames rose around him.


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Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:01 pm
Carina wrote a review...



Hiya! It's been, like, six years since I read Lord of the Flies, and to refresh myself, I went ahead and read the synopsis on Sparknotes so I can give you a proper review. To my understanding, it seems like this is an alternate ending in Jack's POV instead of Ralph's, and it was indeed interesting!

I'd first like to point out that I decided to read the synopsis about halfway through reading the story. Since it's been a while since I read this book, I actually couldn't remember what scene this was talking about, nor did I know why Jack was out for blood. I realize later that it was a thirst of power, but I didn't realize that early on. So my suggestion is to make the motive more noticeable and apparent at the beginning, as well as give details to the leading events of why he's doing this.

Speaking of details! At the beginning, sensory details are a must. How did it feel when he pushed down Ralph, his nemesis? That part seemed rushed, especially since he's being antagonized by Jack. What about when the fire burned down the forest? Was it hard to breathe? Did it smell like an overwhelming amount of, say, food that was in the oven too long? Did the scorching ashes in the air burn his skin? Did his heart drum against his skin, powered by adrenaline? Details like these really make the story breathe and come alive. There was one particular part where you did an excellent job of this:

He ignored the uncontrollable flames just feet away from him, ignored the cacophony of sparks around him, even ignored the slew of ululating sounds that pierced the mountainside above him.


Basically after this part, you did a great job tying both emotion and action into the story so it flows naturally without feeling rushed. However, it was mostly action in the beginning. Add more details and emotion (i.e. the thrill of things burning or the thought of killing Ralph, or the power that swelled in him that he felt like he had utmost control) and it will really add more color and encourage the reader to read on. That's why intros are very important, because if a reader isn't captivated at the beginning, they probably won't continue reading.

Last but not least, a line from the story that I really enjoyed:

Even his thirst for the salty taste of blood became inconsequential, and it was replaced by one desire: the desire to survive.


Overall, this was a nice twist on the original story. I think you did a great job on this; I hope you got an A on this assignment! I loved the end when the realization hit Ralph, and all he can do is sob at what he has done while the flames engulf him. Truly haunting.

I hope this helps! Keep on writing -- I'd love to read more. :D

Cheers,
Carina




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Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:13 pm
Elinor wrote a review...



Hi Luke!

I'm Ellie, and I'm here to give you a review. As a heads up, I have not read Lord of the Flies, and I'm not that familiar with it other than the basic premise, so I'll try my very best to review this by its own merits. You also might some more luck if you reclassified this in fan fiction so future potential reviewers are aware that it's an extension of an existing work.

You're a very good writer, and I was certainly sucked into the story and the world for the short time that I was reading it. I suppose the biggest question I had, which probably would answer itself had I read the book, is what this adds to the story. What perspective are you bringing to the story by extending the ending? How is this a reflection upon the central themes of the book? The best epilogues always do this. Does Jack show regret, as he does here, in the actual novel? Do you think he is regretful? I was a little confused as to whether he'd missed the boat on accident, or he'd purposefully stayed behind, as well.

Hope this helps. Sorry it's a little shorter than my usual reviews, but hopefully I've given you some things to consider.

Let me know if you have any questions!






Thanks so much! Really valuable comments, especially coming from someone who hasn't read the novel, since I'd like to make it stand on its own pretty well (although it is essentially about the same thing as the book: the struggle between nature and nurture, or savagery and civility, I guess). I'll be sure to address your edits.




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— Samuel Butler