Scene: A Jailer, A Moment and Too Many Options

[Having spent some time with the power out at my house – thanks, Hurricane Irene! – I haven’t really been writing much in the way of the usual essays. Instead, and because I’ve been around another writer (a sceeenwriter), I put together a scene the other night and thought I would share it.]

In a castle, there are two men in a room. This cell they are in, this desolate room, holds the means to kill many, many people. There are rusted instruments of death on the walls, floor and even a sword stuck in the ceiling.

In walks a man who has to duck under the doorway. He is tall. He is very strong looking, muscular but wears a dark mask. He is an executioner. He was not picked for job on account of his thinking.

A prisoner is dragged forward into the room and left there. He is weakened by his ordeal but his eyes show some fierceness and a sparkle of intelligence.

Executioner: “There are six ways to die.”

Prisoner looks around at all the tools.

Prisoner: “Just… six?”

Executioner: “Yes. Six. All very unpleasant. I will let you pick the way you want.”

The executioner picks up and puts down several options. He picks up a large knife, its edge is blunted and there appears to be a stain on the handle that might be blood.

Executioner: “This? Or this? Maybe this?”

Prisoner: “How about none of them?”

Executioner: “No, no. You have to die. You have to.”

Prisoner: “You could just let me go.”

The executioner suddenly stabs the table with the knife.

Executioner: “I could.”

Prisoner: “Will you?”

The knife is picked back up. The table groans as the blade is withdrawn.

Executioner: “No. No, I won’t. Sorry.”

Prisoner: “You don’t seem too upset by this fact. I mean, you are apologizing to me about it, but it’s my life. I’d like to keep it.”

Executioner: “That’s fair. I have to say it: that’s fair.”

The prisoner nods his head.

Prisoner: “It really is fair. It really is.”

Executioner: “I think I have come to a decision. Yes, I think I have,”

Prisoner: “What is it?”

Executioner: “If I let you go…”

Prisoner: “Yes?”

Executioner: “I was just thinking. If I let you go, they will hurt me. They might even kill me too. I’m not sure I like that idea either, you know? I’m a fan of my own life too.”

Prisoner: “Yeah?”

Executioner: “I’m just saying, if I let you go… I may have to go with you.”

Prisoner: “With me?”

Executioner: “Yes. Yes, probably. Is that a problem?”

Prisoner: “No, probably not. I guess not. I mean, I was part of a gang. They might not like it. You might have to preform a ritual or something.”

Executioner: “A ritual? Like what?”

Prisoner: “Like… I don’t know. Something dangerous. You probably wouldn’t like it.”

Executioner: “I wouldn’t? Why not?”

Prisoner: “You aren’t a fan of killing people, right? You might have to kill someone?”

Executioner: “I might have to kill someone to get into your gang. Are you sure?”

Prisoner: “Yes… I. am sure. You might have to kill someone to get into the gang.”

Executioner: “If you have to kill someone, how did you get into the gang. You are not the leader or anything, right? Did you kill someone?”

Prisoner: “No, no. I’m not the leader. I’m… important though. I make the rules.”

Executioner: “You make the rules? Yet, you can’t let me into the gang.”

Prisoner: “No, no. I really can’t. We have regulations. Strict rules. Killing is most likely, definitely, a possibility.”

Executioner: “I think I can kill. I’m sure I can. Does that count? I mean, I’m pretty sure.”

Prisoner: “We might be on to something. I can tell. Like I said, I’m an important member of this gang. That… I’m in. It’s not fake.”

Executioner: “No, no, I believe you. Still, I know I can kill. I’ve done it before.”

Prisoner: “You have? “

Executioner: “Sure, I usually kill the prisoners they bring here.”

Prisoner: “You… do?”

Executioner: “Yes, I usually do. I’m having second thoughts now.”

Prisoner: “That’s good.”

Executioner: “No, it’s really not. I am very upset right now. I think… I may end up staying here though.”

Prisoner: “Staying here?”

Executioner: “Yes. I think I would like to stay here. There is a bed. A roof over my head. Sometimes there is a meal.”

Prisoner: “Those sound like nice things. Not ‘nice’ in sense outside of this place, but they seem nice.”

Executioner: “They really are. They really are.”

Prisoner: “And you don’t want to give them up?”

Executioner: “No, I don’t think I could do that. I might get in trouble, as I said. That could go very bad for me. Unless…”

Prisoner: “Unless… ?”

Executioner: “Unless I came with you. To this gang. It could be fun. I haven’t been in a gang for a long time.”

Prisoner: “You were in one before?

Executioner: “Yeah… it was nice.”

Prisoner: “Nice, like this place?”

Executioner: “No, no. It was with this gang. You don’t know them. We were called the Red Skulls. We killed people. Sometimes there was even a reason for the killing. It was very fun.”

Prisoner: “I think will might disagree with your sense of ‘fun’”

Executioner: “We might that.”

Prisoner: “Yes.”

Executioner: “Quite.”

Prisoner: “However…”

Executioner: “I think I should kill you.”

Prisoner: “You should?”

Executioner: “Yeah. There might a meal later.”

Prisoner: “Might?”

Executioner: “It depends.”

Prisoner: “On… ? Oh. If you kill me?”

Executioner: “A job done is one rewarded.”

Prisoner: “Who said that?”

Executioner: “Who said what?”

Prisoner: “’A job done is one rewarded.’”

Executioner: “That?”

Prisoner: “Yes.”

Executioner: “I did. Just now.”

Prisoner: “Really? It’s very good.”

Executioner: “Thank you. That’s a very nice thing to say. Now, about the ways to die. I think I can extend it to seven options. How do feel about stabbing?”