THE FINAL ACT ?
Approaching the scaffolding that served as a gallows he wondered how it had gotten to this point. As he waited lo those many days after being sentenced he could hear the death machine being erected. An extra act of cruelty was invoked while the contraption was being constructed in direct line of sight from the small window which served as the only source of light into his cell.
Daily he watched the progress of his future taking shape board by board, post by post and nail by nail. A marvel in architectural design but a horror in function and efficiency. The end act was meant to prolong the agony to serve as a deterrent to all those who would dare commit such a travesty as he.
The foreman was a perfectionist and demanded no less from his crew. After all there were future jobs to be considered. The final work would be presented to an enormous crowd and he would be judged as to the presentation of this sculpture. The man behind bars marveled at the accuracy of the structure and the ingenuity of its task. The foreman must have spent years perfecting his craft. He wondered if the foreman still enjoyed the fruits of his labor or if it had become just another mundane task. Strange the thoughts one has when the finish line is in sight. He wondered what it would be like to be nonexistent for all of eternity. A mere speck or a passing thought to any and all with whom he had contact with. Whether that question would be answered had to wait for further events.
The foreman inspected his work and told the crew to put on the final touches for completion. The gallows steps and floor had to be sanded down then varnished so the prisoner would not get a splinter in his foot as he walked to his final destination. Upon completion the foreman sent word to the jailer all was in readiness. Hearing this the jailer sent out final communications to all who wished to view the upcoming spectacle. A date for the execution was set and the final act was set into motion.
He was a man of simple tastes and even simpler desires. The final meal consisted of two cheeseburgers with spicy mustard, fresh tomatoes, fresh cucumbers, no fat cottage cheese, two spicy pickles and a bottle of diet cola. For dessert he requested cookies and cream ice cream and a thick slab of chocolate cake. The jailer was puzzled at this request.
“Chocolate cake and ice cream. I thought you were diabetic.”
“No need to worry about that now is there,” was the reply.
The next morning a large container of coffee was brought into the cell by a man in a robe carrying a black book. This was done more to save face of the society that was going against one of the commandments they supposedly adhered to.
After the robed man settled himself he inquired as to the charge the man had been convicted of.
“And what were the circumstances?”
“Writing without a permit.”
“And what was the topic?”
“The story of a man riding a horse through a field towards a mountain range.”
“Ahh, a story of escape. Can’t have any of those thoughts resurfacing can we now. Oh well, rules are rules.”
Outside the door the jailer made a notation that all regulations had been followed.
With that the robed man gave what was supposed to be some kind of blessing and exited in disgust.
All preparations being completed the man stood on the platform with the executioner’s rope around his neck. As a final act of degradation the whole assembly raised blank sheets of paper with empty pens to show the man had noting worthwhile to say.
The executioner pulled the lever, the body dropped and the neck snapped.
Opening his eyes the man watched the proceedings behind the safety of a huge cloud. After the crowd dispersed the body was routinely tossed into a pit to be covered by a thin layer of gravel to keep away the vultures.
The man floated from cloud to cloud until the body was covered. Looking to his left he noticed a doorway had appeared. Pressing the only button visible to him the doorway slid open. Upon entering he saw two buttons marked H. Using the logic that still remained he pressed the top one. Instantly the car began to move upward. It was an elevator.
Upon reaching its destination the car stopped and the door slid open. As the man exited another person appeared.
“Follow me please. He’s expecting you.”
Puzzled the man tried to ascertain what was happening as he followed.
“What would have happened if I pressed the bottom H.”
“Nothing, you would have been instructed to press the top one. Just a little joke for us to enjoy. But the bottom one is rarely pressed.”
Entering a large room another person sat behind a simple desk making some notes.
“Have a seat. Won’t be but a minute.”
As the man waited he glanced around the room. Hanging on the walls were paintings of the old masters that had supposedly been destroyed by some regime that was trying to take over the world. The man kept looking and staring in disbelief.
“Oh those, we switched them out before the originals were destroyed. What they burned were copies.”
“And the one that were saved.”
“Those were the originals.”
“Where am I?”
“Where do you think you are?”
“Nope, just a way station. We need to talk.”
“Says here you were executed for writing without a permit from the central government.”
“You don’t deny this?”
“Hardly, that is an unjust law.”
“You broke it intentionally?”
“Good. There are others you know. Part of a movement as they say. You just happened to get caught.”
“Need to run this by the big guy for further determination.”
“Doesn’t he already know what will happen next?”
“Yep. But we don’t”
“Is there a chance I’ll be sent back?”
“According to my notes you’ve done your tours.”
“You said tours as in plural. Does that mean reincarnation is real?”
“Now that you’re staying I can tell you some things. People are sent back multiple times.”
“Even the bad ones?”
“You’ve about balance and harmony, right?”
“Yep, sure have. That’s one of the reasons I got into trouble.”
“Well people are sent back. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. Think about it. How would anyone know what good is if bad didn’t exist? And it wouldn’t be fair to send someone back good or bad all the time. How would they learn?”
“That makes sense. Lemme ask you, if the big guy knows what is going to happen before it does how can free will exist?”
“That one is complicated. You’re not ready for that one.”
Just then a message arrived and the person behind the desk smiled after reading it. He gave a sigh with the smile and looked up.
“Where are we going?”
Exiting the grand room the two walked down a long hallway. At the end was another door marked, please knock before entering.
The leader opened the door and motioned for the man to enter. Upon entering the man noticed the ceiling was covered with splendid colors swirling in intricate patterns but never interfering with each other. Interspersed along the walls were huge windows with magnificent vistas. Between the windows were rotating shelves filled with an never ending supply of books, documents, films etc. In the center was a simple desk with a lamp. On top of the desk was a stack of blank sheets of papers and a cup full of pens. Off to the side was an easy chair and a recording device attached to the latest computer.
“What’s going on?”
“This is for you. You have everything you need and an endless supply of materials. You will want for nothing. In the top drawer if the desk is a remote to slide some shelves to the side to expose a screen for viewing.”
The man was shocked. He began to walk around the room to absorb it all. Off in the corner he came upon a document encased in glass atop a pedestal. Looking intently he could see it was a story of a man riding through a field towards a mountain range. Underneath the document he saw a note addressed to him. It simply stated.
“Nicely done.” Signed Big Guy.
With tears in his eyes he looked at the leader but before he could say anything he heard.
“Sometimes you have to die in order to live.”