Sunday, July 12, 2015

Time to Die by Irena Pasvinter

A nobleman faces his execution but intends to have the last word; by Irena Pasvinter.

The door opens. My eyes are used to perpetual gloom of the cell - the intrusion of light is unwelcome. From the top of the stairs my jailer gawps at me as if I were an exotic beast trapped in a travelling circus cage.

"Come," he says.

"What time is it?"

"Time to die." He is smiling now, relishing in his wit. "Time to die," he repeats and winks at me, to make sure I appreciate his perfect joke.

"For you, perhaps," I respond. "I'm not ready yet."

He laughs. His mirth reverberates through prison corridors making the residents shiver. Let him laugh - the last joke is on me.

Outside the streets are stuffed with people. Nobody wants to miss the fun, the hearty entertainment of the execution. It's a pity there's only one criminal on today's menu - me. The crowds prefer a greater number: everybody knows it makes for a better show. At least today's criminal is not just a rusty commoner but a nobleman, not a real bigwig, but still - let's see if his blood is blue, eh? Let's throw this rotten egg at him. Here goes.

All right, folks. That's my moment of final glory. I don't mind - enjoy it. The fun is on me.

The square is packed. Everything is ready. I rise on the scaffold, and they untie my hands - nobles have their privileges. They even have the right to say their last word.

"Dear friends," I start, and the human sea subsides. They're all here, behind me: the jailer, the torturer, the executioner, the priest to whom I refused to confess. I turn to them before going on, "Dear friends, I thank you for everything." Their faces lengthen a bit. It's not often that they hear words of gratitude, especially at such an impressive gathering.

I grab the jailer's hand first, pressing it hard, rubbing my palm against his, then quickly repeat the same procedure with the rest of them. The executioner's hand is gloved, but I don't care much about him.

I'm a lucky man. This cursed spot appeared on my palm at a perfect time, right after my arrest. I must have picked it at this cursed ship. A young sailor had an ugly spot on his arm, just like mine. He didn't know what it was, poor devil, showed it to others. They dumped him into the ocean to feed the fish, didn't care to wait for a desert island. I knew my life would soon become worse than hell - it's easier to fight death than leprosy. I hid my spot from curious eyes, for future usage.

I look at the jailer and say, "You are right. It's time to die. Now we are ready."

I wave my hand at him, displaying the spot. He nods, smiling, then a shadow of suspicion wipes his grin away. He may not inherit my leprosy, but, as long as he lives, I'll survive in his nightmares. See you soon, dear friend.

I put my head on the block. It's time.

6 comments:

  1. This packs a real punch in a short well crafted story - life has strange kick backs at times. Thank you,
    Ceinwen

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  2. what a great story, so well written, with a brilliant ending. absolutely great.
    as Ceinwen says life can be so unpredictable.

    Mike McC

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  3. I kind of want a little more backstory. It's a good flash story though.

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  4. This unusual story is creepy and fascinating at the same time. Well told!
    Rocabro

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  5. I love flash fiction and you've done a great job with this one. I'm rooting for the leprosy. :-)

    Jeff Weddle

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  6. This is great because we all like to think that we'd have the presence of mind to conduct ourselves with self-control at such a testing and final experience as a public execution. Very good.
    S.Lucas

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