A recently released felon in Michigan was killed this week in an extra-judicial execution (the only kind possible in that state, really).
As is always the case when something like this happens, the Deplorables are out in force, thrilled that they can cover up their racism with the fig leaf of “he deserved it because he was a criminal”.
“I know you won’t believe me, I know you’re going to think I’m crazy. That it’s guilt or remorse or, I don’t know, something. But I swear to you, my heart isn’t beating as much as it used to.” Alton was shaking, sweating little beads of water that dribbled down his cheeks and the back of his neck before freezing solid in the cold, cold room. He was on his knees, as the Adjudicatrix always demanded. “Each time my heart, and I promise you this is true, it beats less frequently and with less pulse.”
There was a deep, all enveloping silence as Alton waited for a reply. He searched for the Adjudicatrix’s eyes but failed. He was only a couple feet from where she sat but could barely make out her features. The room was dark, illuminated by weak bulbs whose wan light was absorbed by the dark red and black fabrics of the room’s carpets and furniture. Finally he heard the sound of papers being rifled through.
“Here’s a new release. Murder, drugs, oh look here, kidnapping too. A real piece of work. A real monster.” Her words were clipped and almost breathless, as though she were offering Alton the deal of a lifetime. “This guy’ll buy you a whole month.”
“But, my heart. I think this is all doing something to me. Something not good. It can’t be okay, can it?” Alton’s teeth chattered together, although the permanent chill of the room had little to do with it.
When the Adjudicatrix chose to speak again her tone was softer – almost affectionate. “Alton. Alton. It will be fine. I’m sure of it. You need to focus, Alton. Your heartbeat? It’s nothing to worry about. But this man: extortion; robbery; jury intimidation; arson, this man is what you need to focus on.”
“How can I not worry about this? Something needs to be done. My heartbeat, maybe my whole heart, is disappearing!”
“Alton, you need to focus. What needs to be done is you need to do your job. You’re dangerously low on time. You’ll get a month’s reprieve for this guy. You only have a few days until your current reprieve expires. And then I’ll be forced to send someone after you. So please, please stop worrying about your heart, okay?”
Alton was silent and bowed his head. He tried to control his breathing, tried to keep the tears that welled at the corners of his eyes from dropping. Everything was cool and quiet and finally in that quiet he could hear, just barely and not often, the frighteningly soft thu-thumb of his heart.
“I don’t think I can. My fading, failing heartbeat is all I think of now.”
With a whispery rustle of tattered silk on worn damask upholstery, the Adjudicatrix stood up, took two steps towards Alton and then knelt before him, putting them on the same level. She took his hand in hers and pushed his palm firmly and solidly against her chest. He felt nothing.
“You get used to it, Alton.”