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Guillotine

Swish! There was a loud chop and then a thud as a body-less head fell to the ground and splashed in a bucket of blood and other heads. There was silence.

"5,289" announced a fat man, in a dull, yet loud, voice. "Bring the next criminal!"

From a nearby horse-drawn cart, two big men pulled out a frail old man. The man began crying and begging "Please don’t take me! I didn’t to anything! Take my dog – my faithful hound. Take him! He won’t mind to die for his master!" The two men carried the old man, with his ravings, up the stairs to the platform where the announcer stood. There they put him in a contraption that looked like an antique device, known in our times to be a guillotine. The old man was now breathing heavily. His tears had soaked up with his hope. All that he had now was hopeless despair.

"Do you plead guilty?" asked the fat man.

"I plead not-guilty!!!" the old man spoke with the utmost urgency.

"I asked if you plead guilty!"

"No!"

"Then you are guilty! For those that are truly not guilty will say that they are guilty, so that they may die gracefully"

"But, wait…" Swish! The blood splashed out of the bucket again.

"5,290. I adjourn today’s work. Prosecution will resume in the morning tomorrow. Curfew shall begin in an hour, so return to your homes now!" The fat man wrote the number in a book in his hand and then folded the book and held it in his arm.

The large crowd assembled in front of the device of death quickly began to scatter as they made their ways back to their homes. The Judge had spoken and he would not tolerate disobedience.

The Judge climbed down the stairs and then into a luxury hover-mobile and then sped off into the dusty distance. Some of the people in the crowd looked back towards the vehicle carrying the Judge back to his domain, through the long plains of dust. To travel through the plains of dust, you needed a hover-mobile, for without one the 15-eyed trolls would kill you, and only the Judge had such a craft. He came from afar, though no one really knew from where.

As the people retreated, from a tower far above the bucket of blood, were observing eyes. Eyes with fear tucked deep beneath them, with no more hope than was there in the tower that kept them captive. The eyes retreated like the people, after a while, till there was one.

The one eye glared with more anger than fear. There was a fury wilder than the fires of the hot sun that had driven this world to insanity. The eye closed and then "re-opened" to scan the horizon from its small window. That window was all that the eye had to see the world with. There was nothing else. Everything else had been taken away. Even their lives would soon be taken away.

"WHY!!!!" The word emerged more as a statement than a question. "What in heck’s name have I done? What have any of us done???"

The eye turned and its furious glare was unleashed upon all the occupants of that one room and then it turned back to the window and moaned. The moan was sad, yet still filled with fury. The moan scared the inhabitants of the room as they stared, which was the only thing that they could do, without risking their lives prematurely.

In the room were mostly men. Old and frail, young and once strong and then there were children – who could see nothing in their world but that one room. Where was the childhood that they had been promised? Where were the smiles and the happy faces? They definitely weren’t here and they probably weren’t anywhere nearby.

One of the younger, and weakened men, rose to talk to the eye.

"Garth, nothing will come of this outburst!" said the man as placed his hand on Garth’s shoulder.

Garth flung the hand off him and turned to the one who had attempted to console him.

"Shut up, you idiot! You’re worth no more than the blood in that bucket down there. You’re a nobody!"

"Lashing out is NOT going to help"

"I said SHUT UP! Don’t you realise it? We’re going to die! Our lives are going to go in one … swish! And then it’s over! There’ll be no "outbursts" or "lashing out" then! All that there will be is silence and you won’t even know it, cause you’ll be … dead! Get it?? Dead! Not alive! Ding-dong dead!"

"Why don’t you listen…"

"What bloody good will that do? We’re going to die! In one flash of a second, it’ll all be over. And our only sin is that we’re alive!"

This time the other man remained silent.

"See, you have nothing to say! Why? Because you are nothing! And soon you will be less than nothing. It doesn’t matter what we tell the Judge down there. We will still die like the dogs that we have become. He doesn’t care. We must be executed, otherwise people will fear him no more. We’re just pawns in his bloody game!"

The one eye, that Garth still had, stared across the room and he saw the cold, fearful eyes of the children. His head dropped down and he collapsed against the wall and slid down the wall till he was sitting and crying. The man knelt down to Garth’s level and tried to put his hand on Garth’s shoulder again. This time it wasn’t pushed away. The tears emerged from Garth’s eye like pearls, each one shining in whatever light was in the room. And each pearl fell slowly to its doom till they reached the end of their fall and splattered all over.

Garth cried for a while, but then his tears dried up and the fire was lit once more in his eye. He stood up slowly, yet he stood tall. And then he said, "Tomorrow … the Judge … shall die! I swear by the death that will overcome me that he will die in pain!"

The other man spoke once more "Garth, you’re becoming delirious again. Making such worthless proclamations aren’t going to help you"

"As if not doing anything will help you anyway. Steve – I know you are a good man, but you are no more than a worthless fool who will die a worthless death. That is your fate. But my fate shall not be so. It will be grand and I will be Judge, with the power to rule. All that this Judge does is pick his victims at random and then says that the lord has picked them to die for their crimes."

Silence enveloped the room like pain had cast its shadow over their lives. Garth let his head drop down once more. It would be dark very soon. This always happened. It struck noon. The Judge left, and then it became dark. This had been happening for as long as he could remember, yet it felt strange for him. And then, during the dark, there were sounds of faraway blasts and occasional flashes of light so bright and heat so intense, that even the sun would lose in a competition. And then Garth shivered with fear. He feared "nothing" but he feared those blasts more than he feared his short future.

But his future wouldn’t be so short. He knew it! He would rise above whatever he had to and the next day, when he would be executed, he would kill the Judge and free the land from his tyranny. He would make life for the people wonderful. He would grant the children their smiles and gift them joy. He would make the hot and evil sun seem like nothing more than a minor inconvenience in the sweet lives of his "kingdom". All that, he would do.

 

The wars had destroyed the world of KH 346. The human colony was no more than a battlefield for those willing to settle their violent scores on neutral ground. The planetoid was no more than a business proposition:

Need to fight a war?

Then fight on the neutral war fields of KH 346

Settle your scores without destroying a world

For more information contact Worlds Inc.

The inhabitants of the planetoid had no real knowledge of the wars. The self-proclaimed "Judge", who professed that he was sent by God to rid the world of all evil, ruled Garth, his "people" and all the other people on the planetoid. And, hence, he killed the men and kept the women for his slaves. He was the evil that inhabited KH 346.

KH 346 was once a beautiful paradise of nothing but vast gardens of beautiful flowers where all wonderful life existed. Even after the humans came, it was wonderful. It wasn’t till the first battle, that things changed. Yet that battle changed the whole world. In a few moments, the world was converted to a dusty wasteland. Its inhabitants were sent into a primordial world. And in one of the strangest events of the time, "Worlds Inc.", which had since turned the world into a battleground for their profits, "acquired" the planetoid.

Garth’s ancestors had somehow survived and somewhere along the line the mysterious "Judge" had arisen. The people knew little about him other than the fact that he came with the sun every day and left an hour before curfew and the dark returned. Some thought he was God’s messenger of hope. In reality, he was no more than a petty crook who had pulled the wool over the eyes of the inhabitants of the world, to live his own luxurious life. In reality, there was nothing on the plains of dust, but dust. The monsters were lies he had created to stop the simple folk from crossing the plains to his mansion.

 

The sun rose early the next day. And, with the sun, came the Judge in his hover-mobile. And once again, like every other day, the crowds came up to the site of death to watch in silence. They waited, not really understanding why they came in the first place. They knew that they didn’t like to watch others die. Yet they did with disgust.

The Judge arrived and stepped out of his transport. His henchmen followed him like his shadow did in the early sun.

"Have the criminals brought for prosecution now!"

The large door at the bottom of the tower opened and the cart, with Garth, Steve and a few of the other men, progressed towards the guillotine. At the end of its short journey, the henchmen went down to the cart and picked a soul at random. They picked Steve. But he was dead and just before they could notice, the body was flung at them. The two men were out cold on the hot ground. The Judge turned around to see Garth stand tall in the cart, with a long sword in his right hand. As the other guards approached, Garth leaped from the cart, onto the platform and chopped off the Judge’s right arm. The arm fell to the platform with a thud that couldn’t be heard over the Judges scream of utter agony. Blood spewed from his shoulder like water from a faucet. All the guards stopped in their tracks.

The Judge looked into Garth’s eye and saw the fury that lay in his empty soul. He would shiver with fear were he not rendered incapable of moving by that very fear. He stared, in the most pain that he had ever felt, wishing that it would just end. Then Garth spoke.

"You wish that the pain would end, don’t you?"

The Judge, who was breathing very heavily now, nodded an exclamation.

"Should I grant the wish? … I don’t think so!"

Garth lifted the sword high above his head and then brought it down to his right and cut through the Judge’s chest and brought the sword into his heart and left it there. As he let go of the sword, the Judge fell to the ground, even struggling to scream in pain. The Judge lay on the ground, convulsing, in a pool of his blood that was quickly spreading around him. Garth stared at the Judge with his one eye. He stared at each and every detail that he could amass in those moments. The Judge writhed till his death for a minute before he stopped moving completely.

Garth remained there staring at the blood pour out of the fat man’s carcass. His fury was still ever present. After another minute, Garth turned to the people looked out into the expectant crowd.

"I am now Judge! I declare recess for today! Tomorrow morning, prosecution shall resume. Curfew will commence in half an hour. Disperse now, before you too will be caught and prosecuted in the lord’s name!"

Garth turned back to the dead body of the former Judge. He lifted his sword out of the carcass and climbed down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, he lifted the sword once more and this time dug it straight through the dead body of Steve. He then turned to the hover-mobile and gave orders to the two guards nearest to him.

"You two are now my bodyguards. Guard my life with your own for I am the true messenger of God and I shall bring salvation to your lives and to those of everyone around you. Have those carcasses disposed of and clean my sword. I want it by the next time the sun rises. But now take me home!"

Garth stepped into the vehicle before it sped off through the plains of dust. The crowds stood still, staring at their one hope retreat to the dark side once more. Their one chance for happiness had appeared and disappeared in the same instant.

 

Garth sat in the craft staring out of the windows. These windows were different. They didn’t keep him inside. They kept the rest of the world outside. He would be Judge. He would rule with an iron fist. He didn’t care anymore about anyone else. He would be happy and that was how he was going to live the rest of his miserable life.