Prompt Day # 315: Write a paragraph for each tick of the clock during a countdown to an execution or bomb blast.
Look, I know these are all out of order. I am currently working on about 3-4 at once because Vegas put me behind. (I was so excited to be working on my novel that I let these slip) I am writing every day and I did do a prompt in Mike Arnzen’s “Making the Reader Squirm” Workshop that I might post here as a bonus prompt which did come straight from the author of Instigation. Anyways, bear with me through this catch up week and by next Monday, we’ll be back on level land.
Tick: Today is the day. He pushes his tray away from him. What was once his favorite meal; bacon double cheeseburger, homemade french-fries, and a coke float now sits half-finished on the tray. He retches at the site of the milky brown fluid in the glass and the thickened grease like grout between his fries. No appetite, plus no one needs the satisfaction of watching him shit his pants at the last second of his life. Fuck that.
Tock: “You ready, Fogell? Father’s here to give you last rights if you want ‘em.” The fat guard asks. Last rights, what a joke. He hasn’t had any rights for the last fifteen years now they offer this as a consolation prize. Some asshole says a few words and the pearly gates will just open wide to a child rapist/murderer. He spits on the floor in answer. Father nods and steps away. Probably in relief Fogell thinks. “You gonna walk nice or are we gonna have to strap you to the gurney and wheel you in like an invalid?” Fogel thinks about it. He ought to make them push his ass the whole way but no, he ain’t giving no one the satisfaction of seeing him enter that room unwillingly. He has every intention of strolling in there like it’s his birthday party.
Tick: The room is cold. The bare yellow walls mock him with their false façade of sunny warmth. The paint is chipping and underneath he sees the room was once blue. Probably painted over it so the condemned ain’t thinking about how he misses looking at the sky as his last thought. Fogell decides. Cruel and unusual punishment and all that bullshit. He plops down on the gurney and extends his arms and legs to the guards who fasten the straps snug but not too tight, wouldn’t want their victim to be uncomfortable. Fogell thinks of his own victims; how they squirmed when he tied them up. These guards didn’t know how lucky they are, he is making it so easy
Tock: His head is not strapped. This, he has been told, is so he can turn to face the witnesses. His mother sits in the front row. He sees her red rimmed eyes and puffy cheeks. She’s been crying for some time now. He decides he won’t look at her again. Instead he looks towards the back row where it seems a hundred black eyes look down on him. These are the parents of his victims. He recognizes many of their faces from court or TV interviews. They’ve aged quite a bit in the last fifteen years. He smiles at them, showing all of his teeth. He mimes chomping them. The noise echoes in the room although he knows they can’t hear it, they see it and recoil. They have had years to think of those teeth biting down on their little one’s bodies. They’d seen the dental molds held up next to close up pictures of their children’s’ skin. Teeth marks lining up perfectly with the mold. They know what he did to them even if he never took the stand to tell.
Tick: The sting and ache of the needles as they penetrate and then push themselves deep into his veins bring him out of his nostalgia. Oh what he wouldn’t give to be one of his own victims right now. How very lucky they’d been not to know for sure they were about to die. Little ones don’t understand mortality. They don’t know they are going to die, they’d never imagined, even as his hands squeezed their little necks tighter and tighter. Even as he bit off fingers and penises and ears, they still believed in life eternal. How nice for them. The cool saline rolls into him now and he can track it up his arm until the heat of his body warms it, making it part of him so he can no longer distinguish foreign chemical from his own life sustaining fluids. ‘Traitor’ he thinks to his own body.
Tock: “Nathaniel Joseph Fogell, you have been condemned to death by lethal injection for multiple counts of rape, assault, mutilation and murder. Have you any last words?” The warden says. Fogell has given this much thought over the years. Would he say anything? Should he? Should he apologize and beg forgiveness—oh there had been plenty of weak moments where he’d promised himself he would do just that in the hopes of saving his soul. But recently, he’d decided a more powerful statement would be silence. After all, those glaring parents on the other side of the window were hoping for something, weren’t they? An explanation at best, a smart ass comment so they could feel good about their hatred at worst. He smiles that crocodile grin once more and winks at them.
Tick: “Begin the execution.” The order is given and the first drug, Sodium Thiopental is pushed. Fogell feels the sting as it enters his body. He can follow it only so far before he feels himself getting drowsy. He wonders if this is the toxin that will stop his heart. No that will come next. This is just an anesthetic—part of a cruelty free killing. He huffs a laugh and falls asleep. The audience leans forward watching intently the rise and fall of the killer’s chest. No one blinks for fear they will miss the moment when it all stops and the soul is dragged by demons into the pits of Hell.
Tock: The warden calls to the execution team behind a curtain in the corner. The second drug, Pancuronium is pushed. This is a paralytic. Within three minutes time, Fogell’s chest will stop rising. Not because he is dead but because his diaphragm can no longer react to the electrical impulses sent from the brain stem reminding the body to breathe, breathe, breathe.
Tick: The last drug is called for, Potassium Chloride. This is the true toxin. This drug blocks all of those electrical signals inducing cardiac arrest. The death is anticlimactic. No made-for-TV dramatics here. No deep meaningful last words, no seizures, no demons. Just a peaceful drift off to sleep. Because of the paralytic, there are no death spasms. The witnesses must now wait for the declaration of death by the technician who stands by the bed checking for a pulse. They missed the soul’s exit. There will be no real satisfaction today, for many sitting in this row, there will be nothing left to live for now.
Tock: Nathaniel Joseph Fogell is zipped into a black body bag and wheeled out the other side of the yellow room. It is carted outside under a bright blue cloudless sky before being slid into a black hearse and driven away.