CBC Literary Prizes

At a Distance by Will Richter

Will Richter has made the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for At a Distance.

2019 CBC Short Story Prize longlist

Will Richter is a Vancouver-based script editor and freelance communications and magazine writer. (Submitted by Will Richter)

Will Richter has made the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for At a Distance.

About Will

Will Richter lives in Vancouver, B.C., where he works as a post-production script editor and freelance communications and magazine writer. He received his B.A. in English literature from Simon Fraser University, has published articles on everything from endangered rhinos to international quinoa scandals and now devotes his time to writing fiction. His short fiction has appeared in subTerrain magazine and was a runner-up in the Lush Triumphant Literary Awards competition.

Entry in five-ish words

The remoteness of killing remotely.

The story's source of inspiration

"I read this article, I think in The Guardian, about the lives of drone pilots, guys living in the U.S. and waging long-distance wars for their nine-to-fives. A lot of things shook out of that for me: the ethics of long-distance killing; the effects on the pilots, many of whom get PTSD; the morality of universal surveillance, both at home and abroad; and most of all the compartmentalization required to deal with a life like that. More than enough for a short story."

First lines

The target was in the courtyard again, fingering a small stone. Every day, once a day, there he was, his heavy bearded face tilted to the light, his eyes closed. Like a cat, thought Guy. That's what he looked like: a big, sleepy cat.

And what was he thinking in that moment? Impossible to know, impossible to ask. Animals, targets, the voices that issued instructions: mysteries. No, the only interaction possible was to kill him.

It might happen today, just like that. He would see nothing, hear nothing, and then he would be gone — mid-step, mid-breath, mid-thought — and for Guy nothing would change except the small mark of memory on his brain. Or would that mark be deeper this time? How far in would it cut?

Sweat slid under Guy's uniform, but his forehead remained dry, his expression bland. That was the important thing: blandness. He never looked at the camera pointed at his face. He watched the target, and the voices watched him. The voices watched everything.

About the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize

The winner of the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.

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