The ceremony begins with applause, a wretched thunder of gnashing death pleas and repugnant gaiety, as the priest and the cloaked one approach their post. All eyes were on the hooded individual – the star of the evening – but something tells me they did not share their spectators’ vivacity.
“Alright, everyone calm down now,” the cleric commences, with a single hand motion taming the despicable fiend roaring through the viewers. “I’d like to remind everyone that we are gathered here to witness justice, not to stir the sparks of a claiming inferno. Before the execution, I’d like to read the offender a few lines of scripture I feel will provide him some clarity in his final moment to request the forgiveness of the Father.” A relentless breeze sends waves through the priest’s white gown, exposing his pale, quivering legs. Either this was his first execution, or second thoughts were fogging his consciousness.
“I never turned to God before, and I’m not doing it now – just move on with it,” the felon demands, triggering a commotion among the spectators. Stones and handfuls of dirt pelt the platform.
Guarding himself with his Bible, the minister tries to establish order. “Now, now! What will any of this petty violence cause? As he’s so indecently declared, his conscience is clear because he’s refused redemption from God! Let’s not lose our civility and goodwill simply because this man has chosen the path of fire! Animosity is exactly what he wants – look at him grin!” The priest gestures toward the accused, his face completely obscured by the hood. “And if the ultimately judgment is what he desires, who are we to keep him from it?” He clears his throat. “Executioner, do what needs to be done; I am finished here.”
As the holy man hobbles out of view a goliath wielding an oversized obsidian blade takes his place. The slayer pushes his victim over a wooden bench, sending the audience into frenzy. The various howls and curses rumble the very earth on which we are standing. Even the starlings perched on the wrought iron fence encompassing us all appear impatient and edgy.
My glare meets that of the prisoner, my brown eyes melting into his. His face illuminated by the final light of dusk, I fall to my knees, subjugated by confusion and gloom.
The prisoner is me.
“Wait!” I yell. “Don’t do this!” Regardless of the effort, my words are lost in the deafening uproar, and the execution carries through as planned.