The Second Time I was Executed

By J. P. Bone

One dark winter night I stood alone in the vestibule of a vast cathedral. Columns of marble lined the aisle like sentries, towering toward the heavens until they vanished in the darkness.

A brilliant ray of light beamed down from the night sky, illuminating a gold-handled broadsword that hovered in mid-air at the crossing. The sword thrummed, alive and angry.

In the still darkness of the cathedral’s nave, the blade began to pitch, whetting its edge on a glowing Möbius strip; it began to flip and rotate as if wielded by a swordsman approaching an adversary, whirling and thrusting forward, light flashing, the frigid night air sliced into perfect pieces that fell silently.

I watched, mesmerized, as the sword made its way down the nave until it confronted me, alone in the vestibule. A fierce celestial light flashed from the blade, which resounded with a blood thirst.

From high above a voice asked: “Do you want to live or do you want to die?”

I was beside myself, glancing from side to side, gazing skyward, astonished and without words.

Again a mighty voice boomed down from the heavens: “Do you want to live or do you want to die?”

The whole thing seemed ludicrous to me.

“I don’t care,” said I.

The sword sliced through the cold night air, moving so fast I could not follow its path, returning to the place it occupied in less than a heartbeat, as if it hadn’t moved, thrumming still, a brilliant light glistening through a delicate rose-colored film.

A bitter chill gripped me, and I reached out my hands to be sure they were still there. At that moment my severed head tipped off my neck, and fell into my open hands.

Looking up, I could see my headless body still standing, though unsteady. Gazing into the darkness of night, I asked: “Why did you do that?”

For a moment there was no sound, just the silent cold stillness of death. Then an answer: “You said you did not care.”

 

copyright © 2016 J. P. Bone