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Short Story

Justice (short story)

Let me first tell you, prisoner, that you will not leave here alive. You know this, I am sure, even as I am sure you are resigned to this. The actions you have committed recently showed a disregard for life that even the most reckless man would find dangerous. You are going to die, and, because you have a certain number of followers who are seeking to deify you we will not give you the pleasure of a show trial where you can espouse your beliefs. We are not even going to torture you, so that we can give to your public a perfect body, one that has been peacefully executed following the most humane practices found within our legal demagogues.

However, you have information we need. Information that I am sure you realize we want from you, just as I am sure you have no intention of telling us what that information is. But trust me, you will tell us. I have been doing this job for a lengthy enough period of time, and I realize that everyone eventually crumbles, that the regime we are to put you through, beginning very shortly, does not leave any room for heroism. We are going to tear you apart. No, we will not torture you, but what is the benefit of torture. Make you scream. Maybe make some man in the capital who you said some nasty things about get a bit of a grin. But really, it’s not effective for the sort of information we want from you. No, we have a bit of a different method.

You will, of course, have noticed you’re gagged. We don’t want you to talk, I have no interest for your ravings; words have this funny fallibility of falling from our mouths even before our brains register their import. Of course, sometimes this is helpful, letting us get information before you have even realized its true import, but usually we cannot separate this from the babble of a mind in pain. Even worse, typically when you can speak all you give us is a plentitude of begging. I am a hard man. This is my job. This is what I do with my life. I do not need a man telling me I am a monster, in no more that I will call you a monster. We are simply enemies on opposing sides, and by that same extreme logic which led you to the deeds that brought you here, to this chair, to this unfortunate circumstance in which you will very quickly lose the pleasure of existence, this logic is going to let me destroy everything on earth that is important to you.

There is paper in front of you and a pen. You will write all the information you think would be valuable to us, your enemies. Ah, please, don’t smirk, I don’t want to embitter you, and this is a serious affair. I have no wish of being anything other than deathly serious, because lives are involved; yes, in the plural. The other lives? I have been instructed to tell you that if you get angry you are allowed to hit me, even kill me if you so desire; the information is so critical that you can give us that we wish for you to vent all your anger, let it be purged from your system, and if killing me will make you feel better than those persons above me by a logic I agree with think that the life of a man such as myself is no great cost. Of course, I will simply be replaced by another, whom you are more than welcome to dispatch with as well, who will then also be replaced, ad infinitum. Please, make use of this recourse. Do not bottle your anger. To be as close to calm is of benefit not just to us, but to you as well: do you not wish to confront the last moments of your life with a degree of clarity that lets you make the best actions possible? Of course, right now, I am sure that you think this course will be to say no information, to take those punishments we pile on you with the nobility and bravery of Hercules, I am sure, even, that you hope to die the sort of death of William Wallace or any of the other sort of past hero who you justifiably associate yourself with: you hope to become a martyr. But please, do not insult our intelligence, you are not the first man who sat in this chair with those same aspirations. This is why we want you to be as coherently logical as possible: because we believe that any rational man after viewing the scene presented to them would give us any information he might have. Ignoble yes, we are sorry, we cannot let you be the hero to your followers that you want to be, and indeed truly we are sorry, because we don’t want anything from you but your information and if there was some way we could find a chivalrous path for you to give us our needed information, then perfect: everyone’s life is easier.

So why will you tell us what we want? Well, because as before it is lives involved: not just yours, not just mine, not just my replacements. We have, here in the prison, indeed in the cells lining the very hall your cell borders, the entirety on earth of your loved ones. Your mother and father. Your wife and mistress. Your two young boys. Even your pet dog. Now, let me outline what our procedure is, and trust me that this is in fact the procedure, this is following the book, this is following the designs that years of scientific research and indeed endless experience has taught us. What we are going to do, first, is cut something small off of each of your loved ones. Something recognizably theirs, so indisputably you will know that we are in fact very serious when we say your loved ones are in our custody, and that we can take a free hand with them. Maybe the finger with a wedding wing from your wife, maybe the nose with a small mole on it from one of your sons, I don’t know, that is not my job, it is the job of your loved ones overseers and I do not concern myself with their work. However, if they have done their job correctly, then they have already chosen the body part, have already given thought to what body part you will most recognize. These men are very proficient, you will have no disbelief, no way to deny yourself to a blissful ignorance of delusion.

However, from your mistress we will not take a small body part. We have found that one of the largest prolonging factors of situations such as this is that the prisoner does not believe we are capable of the extremes we claim. This is logical, since in many ways what we are going to do to your loved ones is monstrous, and if we were to do these things outside of the very specific parameters’ to which the necessity for your information has brought us, the entirety of this organization would be recognized as sadists. Yet, we are here within these parameters. And we will do these things we claim, and will claim to do, to your loved ones: we have to have that information. Therefore, we are going to cut off your mistresses head, and bring it here to you. A normal response to this on your part is horror, this is typically where me, myself, am at greatest danger because when we break the illusion that there are certain unbreakable rules, which we dispel very adamantly by breaking them, typically rage is a normal response. Why rage? We don’t know entirely, but we think it is very much to do with that infantile response to an impossible situation. You thought that we would play within certain confines of fairness. That we could torture you, make you scream, cut you into little pieces, violate every dignity which you hold claim to, because you, in your heart, know that you are guilty of the crimes we claim you’ve committed. Whether these things are truly crimes is a different question in your mind, the fact that you violated them had a known price in your mind, and you were prepared to pay it. Are prepared to pay it. But, you thought that since you were the one committing it you would be the sole person held to account, and that is where you are wrong. We can do these terrible things to your loved ones. We can do these terrible things to your loved ones. We can do these terrible things to your loved ones. Why? Because we created this system of society, we know how to get away with a half dozen disappearances. Maybe we will claim they are interred for life in prison, in absolute solitary confinement. Maybe we can even have one of our friends with the newspapers do a fake interview with some of your loved ones, keep perpetuating the myth of our benevolence. The fact here is that getting away with the atrocities we will commit to your loved ones is no great work. And then, of course, you must know why we would choose to commit such sins: you are to prepared to suffer, you will never tell us what we need to know. Therefore, you leave us no choice. And the arrival of your mistresses head will be the proof of the promise of the absolute extremes we are willing to go to in the attainment of those words which live so casually in your mind.

After the arrival of a distinguishing body part from your parents, your wife, your two sons, your dog, and of course the head of your mistress, then we will start a timer of thirty minutes. You can see where it will be, on the digital screen directly over my left shoulder, by the door. Every thirty minutes we will do something terrible to your family members. We will tell you what we are going to do before hand. It is up to you to rationalize at what point you make the entire macabre opera cease, because, of course, as long as you are writing on the sheet of paper the punishment to your loved ones will be paused, and if you write what we deem enough, and you can trust that we have very strict standards for what is enough, then we will let your loved ones go. It is just up to you at what level of mental and physical decay they undergo before release. Write now, and they will be able to leave completely uninjured.

No, please don’t try to say anything. It is a part of our program that the entirety of the procedure is laid out to you before you are allowed to write your information on the sheet. And let me absolutely tell you now that the information we want is the only thing we want on that sheet of paper. We don’t want any questions, we don’t want any denials, we don’t want any anger. If you are frustrated, hit me, don’t waste the paper. Every time you write something on the paper that is not to do with the information you can give us we will lower the time on the digital screen, the punishment clock, by two minutes.

Now, for your comprehension, let me tell you what the first round of punishments will be. For your mother to be placed in boiling water for five minutes. For your father to be placed in a false situation where he believes he is killing your children, his grand children. For your wife, the first round of punishment will be sand paper scraping the skin from the entirety of her body. For your first son it will be the application of that sand paper to your wife. For your other son it will dipping his left leg in the juices of meat, then putting it in a chamber where your dog, who has been kept hungry, will feed on it. We will not give you any sound or visuals of any of this happening. You will know that we are doing this to them, the head of your mistress will prove our seriousness.

Now, I am going to click this button, this one right in front of me on this table we both share. When I press it, the order will be given to take the head of your mistress and the distinguishable body part of all of your loved ones and bring them here for your viewing. The button will also start the thirty minute clock, counting down to the commencement of the first punishment which I have already described. Now, you have a choice. You can either start writing now and save any horror from befalling the people you love, or you can sit back, do nothing, make pretensions to bravery for a cause which will be forgotten in a year, and let a suffering that is unimaginable befall those you care most about. How will you choose?

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