Sunday, September 6, 2015

Story: My Executioner

My Executioner
copyright 2015 Taedis

   “I like our chances.”
   I wasn't sure if my attorney was that oblivious or just trying to raise my spirits.
I wasn't the legal scholar that he was supposed to be, but even I could recognize the train wreck that was my defense. Maybe he was a good person, but he made a lousy public defender. He called witnesses that shouldn't have taken the stand. Ignored ones who could have helped my case. And asked questions that made the prosecution's case for them.
   A few decades ago I could have used his incompetence to get an appeal. Maybe it wouldn't work, but it would keep me alive longer. Now the courts dispensed quick and final justice. Judge's moved trials quickly through the system instead of dragging things out.
   Word had come that the jury had reached a verdict in my case. They'd only been deliberating for two hours. I had two hours to fantasize that Henry Fonda would walk off the screen of 12 Angry Men and into that jury room. Make the case that my attorney was incapable of making. Assuming that he hadn't been bribed. Swift justice is what the people want.
   Henry Fonda stayed in the movies.
   I'm seated beside my attorney back in the court room. The judge isn't here. The jury hasn't come back into the court yet. I see the executioner sitting by the jury box, ready to carry out the sentence if needed.
   She's young. Cute. If I had met her in a club I would have hit on her. Maybe she would have accepted. Some girls did. I wonder what she did to get sentenced to this.
    She's wearing a nice suit. Probably not hers. At this level of the court system we can't afford nice suits like the one they dressed me in today. I think about the last person to wear this suit. I wonder if they were an executioner or a victim.
   If it's going to happen, I'm glad it will be a woman who ends my life. I know that sounds weird. I don't want to die. I especially don't want to die that way. But if I had to chose between a man or a woman; I'd chose a woman. It doesn't hurt that she's pretty.
   The jury files in.
   They look happy. That's probably not a good thing for me. Jurors who make convictions get reelected and the twelve people I see shuffling into the jury box look like they've made careers deciding cases. It used to be they couldn't get people to sit on a jury. Once they made it a job. With benefits. People lined up around the block. Now its an elected position. One that pays.
   A few seconds after the jury takes their seats the bailiff calls for the court to be upstanding for his honorable etc, etc..
   We stand. A gavel gets banged. We sit.
   The judge reads off the charges to the jury. He seems bored. I wonder how many people he's executed this week. Correction. Had executed. That job belonged to the pretty lady in the borrowed suit.
   I wonder if she's as nervous now as I am. No one wants to be an executioner. It's something that stays with you all of your life. You hear stories of people developing PTSD reliving the kill in their heads. They tried paying people, but they couldn't pay enough.
   They finally made it a punishment. Steal a car, smuggle narcotics serve as executioner. They used to let you off after one case if a not guilty verdict came up. They did away with that. The pretty woman in the front row was going to kill someone. If not today, another.
   But probably today.
   The foreman of the jury stood up and said I was guilty. There was a little more pomp and circumstance. A little grandstanding for the voters. But not much. This case wasn't high profile in the media. The foreman might pick the video of this guilty plea to use in his next campaign ad, but it could just as well be any one of a dozen almost identical line reads.
   I knew what was going to happen next. I'd seen it in enough TV shows. They want people to know what happens to you. How they kill you. They say that it's to prevent crime, but we've been doing it this way for decades and the crime rate hasn't gone down.
   Of course I've been sentenced to die; I'm intimately opposed to the death penalty.
   A guard walks me to the room where I will be executed. Another guard leads my executioner into the room. She's given a seat. I'm expected to stand. Pretty soon the man with the pill will walk in and my life will be over.
   “I'm sorry.” my executioner surprises me by speaking. I didn't think that was allowed. They don't do it on TV. No one seems to care though.
   “I … I don't blame you.” I feel weird trying to make the woman who is going to kill me feel better about it. Maybe it's because she's pretty. Maybe I just don't want to spend my last few minutes being an asshole. “They should make the defense attorneys do this. Maybe that would motivate them more.”
   She smiles at me, but she doesn't mean it. We're both thinking about what is going to happen next. Neither one of us is thrilled by it. I'm close to having a panic attack, but the shock is still fresh. Part of me doesn't think this is real.
    “Was this your first trial?” I try to fill the silence. I was always chatty. “As a … doing this.”
   “Second.” she seems like she's having second thoughts about talking to me. Maybe it would be worse knowing you talked to the guy you killed.
   I clam up and watch the door, waiting for the man with the pill to show up.
   Five minutes later he shows up. I'm instructed to remove my clothes. My executioner turns her head. Modesty seems pointless now, given how intimate we're about to become. But I'm still glad that she isn't looking.
   I stare at the back of her head as the man with the pill reads from his card. He has to, it's the law. It occurs to me that she knows my name. She's going to spend the rest of her life knowing the name of the man she killed, and I'll never know hers. I want to ask her, but decide that I shouldn't.
   I'm handed the pill. I can take it myself or have guards force feed it to me. They don't have to tell me that. Everyone just knows. I decide to take it. This is going to be traumatic enough for the woman turning her head away from me, she doesn't need to see me get beat down before she kills me. I'm going to die no matter what, there's no point making it worse for her.
Maybe that's why they got unwilling people to perform executions. To keep the people who overthink things. People like me. In line in the face of our deaths.
   I feel the pill begin to take effect.
   The room slowly starts to shoot up. It feels like a bad drug trip only I know that it's real. Only the world isn't getting bigger, I'm getting smaller.
   When I hit twelve inches one of the guards picks me up and puts me on the table. My executioner is looking at me now. She's staring at me, fascinated as I dwindle smaller and smaller before her eyes.
   Her eyes look so large and bright. It takes me a minute to realize that she is just holding back tears. I want her to not cry. That makes this harder. I don't have enough time to deal with my own emotions right now; I can't afford empathy for my state sanctioned killer.
I still feel bad for her.
   I hit three inches and the guards are poised to act. She'll need to kill me soon. If she doesn't do what she needs to do, they'll have to force her. I don't want to see that. I don't want to experience even more, but that isn't an option for me.
   The smaller I get the faster I seem to dwindle. One of the guards tells her its time. The room is a distant horizon. The people multicolored skyscrapers towering above me. One of the skyscrapers comes closer to me. I think its her. The colors are the same as the suit she was wearing. I smell faint cheap perfume.
   I'm lifted up. I must be in her hand. It's an odd confusing map of lines burned into thick leather to me. I'm being lifted to a cavern. Jagged rocks line the opening. I'm placed on something slimy, warm, and twitching then the cave closes. I'm alone in the dark.
I'm in her mouth. I'm trying not to freak out, but I'm in her mouth about to die. The ground under me rolls. Is she trying to keep from throwing me up? This won't count as an execution if she does.
   At least she's not trying to bite me. That was my biggest fear. I'd dream about teeth ripping me apart and wake up in a cold sweat. I think she's trying to swallow me whole. Waiting for me to get so small that she won't even notice that there's a person going down her throat.
They say that it's a quick way to go. The stomach acids kill you instantly when you're that size. But I think about all the diseases you can pick up from stuff you eat and I have my doubts.
   Fluid starts to build up around me. Saliva. Is she getting ready to swallow me down or is this just a reaction to having something. Someone. In your mouth? Either the level is rising or I'm getting smaller. Probably both. It starts to sting my exposed flesh. I try to keep it out of my eyes. I know i'll never see anything again, but I try to keep it out of my eyes.
   And then the world turns upside down and I am swept away on a flood that amounts to a couple ounces of spit. I feel myself dropping with the flood waters. Going down. It won't be long now. Just a few seconds of peristaltic pressure and I'll hit the stomach. I'll see for myself how long it takes me to die.
   I actually start to giggle as flow steadily downward. There's a dark joke that only I can laugh at. Cause I'm the only one who's ever been in this position who's still alive. And I won't be soon.
   They sentenced me to death by lethal ingestion.


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Caption: Indecisive Smurf