Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Executioner

A boy stands before a crowd of spectators, some of which sneer and curse at his alleged atrocities. Others smear his family name in contempt and hatred. The boy is a mute and was unable to plead his own case. He does not understand why he stands before this altar of death, but he only knows that this is an end to his short existence.

He stands there bound by rope, his arms tied tightly behind his back, the dry hemp penetrates into his flesh, and it makes his skin itch. He looks around but cannot for the life of him understand why he is here, how he got here, what he did to deserve this fate. All he can see for certain is the broad-shouldered masked executioner wielding his axe, stained in blood from the last victim that it had encountered. A simple basket lay on the other side of the altar and he doesn’t know why.

There is a voice but the boy cannot understand it. The voice tells the crowd something, but he cannot hear it. The crowd roars in anger, many of them spit in his direction. A few cry under their burlap hoods. The whaling sound of mourners creeps into the frigid night likely to freeze and shatter as it hits the ground. The boy shivers from this wind, his heart jumps a beat and he can no longer feel his toes. He whimpers and tries to understand why.

In haste, the executioner puts the child down against the altar and his head fits nicely in the crook of the top edge. It almost feels comfortable if not for his hands bound behind him. With the touch of his neck he can feel that this wood has been well worn down, and smooth. It’s an odd sensation he thinks. He blinks and stares into the empty basket presently in front of him.

There is a striking sound of metal through flesh, a cracking noise, a snap, and then a muffled clunk as the metal becomes snug-deep into the altar’s wood. The child’s head rolls into the basket, silent, mouth open and eyes peering into the sky with a dead glare. The blood trickles down the front of the altar and then suddenly the body flicks and a twitch, coming to an abrupt stop as it plummets to the wooden platform.

The cheering ends and the crowds depart, but the executioner, he stands there silently looking over the body of the boy He knew this boy as his son, and he was unable to save him from this tragedy. Bound by the queen to do her bidding to the subjects found guilty of crimes against the state, her word was absolute and the responsibility of his death lay in her decision.

Yet, the executioner could not find solace in this fact. That it was he who brought down the axe upon his child’s neck. It was he who would have to live with this decision. He wonders if it was the right thing to do. He considers that it might have been wiser to break him free from the cavernous prison cell and then flee to another country. He wondered this and will now forever wonder this. His actions cannot be undone and he is now left here, on this platform, with the headless corpse of his son.

Under his masked hood, the executioner weeps.

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