The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Decision by Lydia Prime
He stands before us, judged not by a jury of his peers but that of the high counsel. We watch the screen replay the despicable act he’s accused of, some snicker while others shake their heads. I hear the ticking, the effervescent metronome of my mechanical mind; I know it’s almost time.
The man, now on his knees, tears and pleads for mercy. I’ve seen everything, past, present, and future – this wouldn’t be his last act. The counsel listens, watches the man cry and beg, though his sniveling face and empty notions of never doing it again fall on deaf ears.
We resign and leave him sitting in his home-made puddle of regret. I watch the others deliberate, unable to ignore the constant noise of the mechanism in my head. The tick-tock-ticking finally stops and I know what’s next. The others stand and I follow suit; upon entering the court room once more we see our accused no longer crying. Now, cross-armed and smirking, he’s let his true self appear.
“Mr. Habert,” the judge with a television head begins, “we have made our decision.” The man stands and walks toward the counsel, looking each of us over with hate and rage in his eyes.
“Mr. Habert, it is of our opinion that to simply punish you for this…” another judge, this one with a galaxy floating around him, trails off, disgusted for a moment, “would not be true justice.”
“You will be forgotten, your name stripped, and you sir,” I say, “you, yourself will be erased.”
I watch the man’s lips curl as he begins to laugh, he shouts obscenities and demands that we’ll regret this. Though, the final judge, a female made entirely of timber, reaches out to him. She slowly peels off layers of bark from her own limbs and lays them out carefully; each piece containing a story, a retelling of his life in print. Our guards hold him back as he tries to snatch them in a frenzied madness.
I twist some knobs through the clockwork on my head and watch as he painfully ages in front of us. The guards let him drop to the floor, weak and brittle. He peers up at the counsel, through sickly eyes, and cries out for mercy; this time his pleas are genuine.
“Any last words?” Asks a judge through ever changing faces on a fuzzy screen. The man shakes his head, all fight lost. The wooden judge locks the strips of his life into a furnace.
“So be it,” chimes the judge whose galaxy is now in over drive; every star and planet zipping around him as if it might explode. “Your atoms will be spread across the universe.” He smiles as the fear in the old man’s eyes grows.
We all watch as the now elderly convict slowly breaks away into a shimmering sort of dust, inch by agonizing inch. He screams, and we smile as the show has only just begun.