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Guilty thus Hanged

3 years ago
Commended by mizal on 5/10/2019 2:35:30 PM
You peered out the window towards the gallows. Shielding your eyes from the morning sun, you saw the first of the spectators arrived. A mother and two young, fussing children sat on a blanket. She didn’t hide the annoyance on her face from their noise, so she took a muffin out of their picnic basket and gave half to each child. Her gift calmed their rambunctious attitudes. You grunted and laid in your bed once more. The sheets itched, and it smelled of sweat. The three stone walls reminded you of a cramped cave, but the arid air and the metal bars imposed reality upon you. You lied in a jail cell, not the caves you explored as a youth. You heard the front door open. Has your little sister come to swear your innocence again? Heavy footsteps came inside and answered your question. It was someone else. The sheriff mumbled a greeting, and you strained your ears to overhear the conversation behind the door. “G’mornin to you too, Sherriff.” You recognized the voice as Mr. Wright, who owned the general store. He sounded chipper per usual. “Look alive, my friend! It’s a dandy day for a hangin.” The sheriff slurred his words, so you didn’t catch them. You wondered if he raided his stash of brandy. You already smelled the faint aroma of smoke from his cigar. “Aw, you know me. I want this to be a clean hangin. You know about lad o’er in the Dakotas? He got skinny before the execution, so the rope ain’t fit him. It strangled him instead of just snappin his neck clean and proper, so I wanna check the prisoner’s weight.” The sheriff yawned. This time, you heard him. “You’re hopin for a new weight so I’d have to buy another one of those imported Californian ropes.” “Of course!” He chuckled, a jolly kind. You found the sound pleasant. “But, can I?” Instead of answering him, the sheriff opened the door separating the cells from the rest of the building. Mr. Wright walked though, his fat bouncing slightly with each step. As he approached, you could hear his slight wheezing. Still, he grinned. “G’mornin.” He waived in greetings. You stood, since you considered it improper to lie in bed when a guest arrived. “Pleasant day, isn’t it?” You gave a smile. “Indeed, youngin! Not a cloud in the sky.” He scratched the back of his head. “How’ve they been feedin ya?” You shrugged. “Better than I thought. Same weight. Sorry, but you won’t need another rope.” “Mind if I check? Any excuse for a sale is a good excuse.” You felt your cheeks flush. “Alright.” You lifted your shirt a bit and showed him that your weight remained the same. The wound under your stomach had healed, though it left a straight scar from the blade. A chill went up your spine as his gaze lingered. The moment he nodded, you brought down the fabric. “Thanks. I’ll see you in an hour!” He walked back and closed the door behind him. You sighed. With nothing better to do, you fell into the bed face first. You closed your eyes and let sleep overtake you. A loud clank awoke you from your slumber. The sheriff hit the bars with handcuffs again as he unlocked the door. He blew out a puff of his cigar’s smoke. “Let’s get this over with.” You nodded and held out your arms. He clamped the cuffs over your wrists. “Come on.” He didn’t bother pulling you, and you didn’t bother running away. You followed the greying, mustached man, though you stopped for a moment when he opened the door outside. The light shone brighter without walls to stifle it, so you let your eyes to adjust. When they did, you saw the sheriff ten paces away, unaware you stopped. You scurried after him before you’re left behind. The people amassed into a boisterous crowd. A dozen stood in line for a man selling roasted nuts. Some of the more cavalier children chased each other in a game of tag. A brazen young man chatted with a disinterested lady too polite to turn him away. Most gathered in front of the gallows, anticipating the main event. The crowd parted ways for you with excited or aggravated looks plastered on their faces. Will the angered faces transform into smiles after you die? The fact that you won’t ever know bugged you. Nonetheless, you nodded in thanks since they let you through without trouble. You climbed the steps onto the gallows after the sheriff. He rubbed his left knee to ease the achy join’s pain. “Sorry about making you climb up with me.” He waived his hand. “It’s my fault for gettin old. Wanna bag?” He held up a sack to hide your head during the hanging. You shook your head. “Suit yourself.” “Burn in Hell, Devil’s spawn!” The recently widowed Mrs. Patterson screamed from the front of the crowd. The left side of her face carried wilted flesh scared by the fire. Her finger pointed at you in accusation. “May the Lord judge you!” Others shouted out similar things in anger. You nod in reply and hoped venting their feelings will help heal them. Their screams ended when the pastor walked onto the gallows. He held up his hand, and the crowd observed. He opened his worn Bible to give your last rites, but you placed your hand on the Scriptures. “I’m alright,” you said with a grin. “But, thanks for the offer.” He respected your wishes and walked off the gallows. Peering over the crowd, you see several young ladies dressed in more frivolous clothing. Unlike the crowd, they neither showed excitement nor fury. You tarnished their reputation, and now one of their best customers lied in the grave. They looked hopeful that the men’s memory of you will ebb after your death so their work would increase. The sheriff put the nose around your neck and unlocked your cuffs. You took a deep breath and stepped over the trapdoor. The rope itched your neck more than the bedsheets, so you scratched around your neck. “Any last words?” the sheriff asked. “I accept the Lord’s judgement.” You turned you gaze to the heavens and wondered if God was watching. “Innocent!” Your little sister pushed through the crowd. Her small, dirty dress swayed in the breeze. The tears in her eyes sparkled in the sun. “You’re hanging an innocent soul!” She searched the crowd for any sympathizers but sound none. “Anna.” You smiled at the girl who adored you. “It’s alright. Don’t worry about me. The Lord will judge me accordingly. Goodbye.” She nodded but didn’t stop crying. “Well, here it goes.” The sheriff tossed his cigar on the ground and lit another one. After taking a long puff he pronounced, “You’ve been sentenced to death by hanging for your crimes. You burnt down the homestead of Mister and Misses Patterson. You killed the honorable husband and wife in the blaze. You shot their fleeing son in the back and left young Patterson’s newlywed a widow.” He stood still for several seconds before he looked down at the executioner. “That means you can pull the lever, Samuel.” The wood beneath your feet gave way. Your sister shrieked. For the briefest moment, you felt as though you floated, then your body dropped. The rope tightened on your neck and cut into your skin from the full force of your fall. You felt a snap. Your body hit the dirt. The snapped rope dangled above you. The sheriff’s cigar fell out of his mouth. Widowed Mrs. Patterson clenched her first in anger. Mr. Wright stammered how your rope was of the highest quality. Your sister collapsed to her knees and cried. “Thank you, God!” she wailed. What miracle caused this? Why did God stoop down to save you? The crowd will believe your sister. They will lose their bloodlust and set you free. You cried in anguish. Why did God save your guilty soul?

Guilty thus Hanged

3 years ago
I liked this. It took me a few paragraphs to get into it, but the suspense had built up considerably by the end.
I do question why a town would need to import custom lengths of rope, but that's my only real complaint.
Do you have a degree in creative writing, by any chance?

Guilty thus Hanged

3 years ago
Lol. The town didn't need to import the rope, but the dude selling knew imported rope was more expensive.

Guilty thus Hanged

3 years ago

AWESOME!!!!! Really wish this was a book/story game so that I could read it all. ^_^

Guilty thus Hanged

3 years ago
Yay!

Guilty thus Hanged

3 years ago
Nice twist, actually didn't see it coming with the main character seeming so saintly and forgiving. And yes this really does feel like it could be the beginning to a larger story even though it works just fine as a standalone. I agree with Cricket about the first part though, honestly the entire first third of it wasn't really needed. Think it would've been a stronger story if it started with 'A loud clank awoke you from your slumber.' Also 'You lied in a jail cell' is a bit of hick grammar I spotted. I suspect there might be a few tense errors hidden in here if I were to take a closer look, but nothing jumped out at me.

Guilty thus Hanged

3 years ago
Oh no, hick grammar strikes again. Interesting idea with starting it at that different spot. I'll try that out and see what happens. Thanks, Mizal!

Guilty thus Hanged

3 years ago
As a general rule, short stories ought to be pared down to the essentials as much as possible. In this case, you don't need a meandering conversational opening about a salesman that has no impact on the rest of it, it just acts as a distraction from the story's true focus. And it takes up literally a third of the story.

Guilty thus Hanged

3 years ago

But how else would we know how very awesome that imported rope is?

Guilty thus Hanged

3 years ago
Nooooo!

Guilty thus Hanged

3 years ago
I did a lot of trimming, but for some reason it didn't occur to me that "random rope sales pitch" could be cut.