~ a short story


Two brought the man forth from a hall of stark darkness. He was weak from the effort, but still had his wits about him. He knew what was to happen now — they were going to enumerate his crimes, levy their sentence, move on to the next conspirator, of which there were many. It was all bogus, Holis knew.

There would be no justice on this day.


Holis, now seated, faced up to the judge. This was no trial, however the room did have all the familiar trappings of one. From his perspective, he was seated before the judge, just a bit to the left of his high seat of power at the forefront of the room. Two tables made up the heads of the audience seating of the room. Just like in a room for trials, there was the defense and the prosecution.

But there were no other parties here, no one save for himself and the judge. He was no longer restrained at all. He’d been placed in the chair at the table of “the defense,” and left there to his devices.

Holis had no devices left. He felt very much alone. It looked like he would be representing himself in this sham.

Better buck up, man.

Holis turned back the way he came in. Two grand wooden doors — fast closing behind those that had brought him in and likely locked — lay between him an attempted escape.

While rebellious ruminations filtered through Holis’ last remaining sense of rationality, the judge proclaimed in a weighty voice, head down, “Are you prepared for your judgment to be cast?”

Holis once again faced forward, with a determined grimace.

“And what would that be? Why would it matter if I am ready? I know it’s already been decided,” Holis spoke up to the judge.

“Not necessarily. You will need to answer some questions now. After which, it will be decided,” the judge spoke with authority. His voice was smaller than expected; less authoritarian and more calculating.

Holis didn’t like him, he already hated this guy. But he awaited them.

“How many more are there? Of you, and those like you — the resistors.”

“You know I won’t answer that,” Holis responded easily enough.

“Very well. What is the nature — “

“Wait,” Holis cut him off, not falling for whatever was happening here. “You aren’t going to like, torture me or anything? What kind of big, stupid room is this? It’s a mockery to model these interrogation rooms after the trial rooms of the old world. What about The State’s boundless power, its iron fist of ultimate justice? You aren’t just going to throw me in ‘the thresher of the souls of the wicked’ and move on to the next guy? Stop wasting — “

“We do not torture anyone. We never have,” the judge stated plainly. Holis thought he could see him rolling his eyes. He reached for his gavel slowly.

“So you’re all talk. This is incredible, really,” Holis stood up.

The gavel began to resound throughout the room.

“So you are telling me I could walk out that door behind me right now and you wouldn’t bash my kneecaps in for being so… insubordinate or anything?”

The judge smashed the gavel exactly four times and then stopped.

“No. But you would be right back in that seat in a few minutes, and the questions would continue unabated.”

The judge almost sounded bored, as if this was all routine. He placed the gavel back down. Surprisingly, he wore no special cloak. He dressed in a black tunic, not unlike the other officials. Holis assumed he wore the same long black pants but he couldn’t be sure from his vantage. He was young too. But his words and general appearance were uninspiring of the glory and the terror that Holis expected from this encounter.

“Incredible,” Holis said again as he took his seat again. The ‘judge’ continued.

“What is the nature of the final objective of the crime you have committed?”

Holis piped in incredulously, “As in, what were we trying to accomplish? Isn’t that obvious? Overthrowing your terrible, totalitarian party. Attempting to undo its many dark marks it has made upon the world.”

“Hrm, okay,” the judge turned the page of the stack of papers he was staring at.

“Hey man, what’s your name,” Holis spoke in a different, more inquiring tone to the judge’s seat. “What are you even doing… why are you here?” Holis interjected his words with a sincere sense of understanding, towards a fellow man, in a place it appeared neither of them wanted to be.

The judge looked down at Holis with a squint and spoke with finality.

“It’s better than the alternative. Which you are about to find out about yourself. My name is unimportant. Last question for you, Holis Hane.”

Holis once again reverted to his foul grimace, decrying the apparent effectiveness of The State’s brainwashing capabilities. He always knew they couldn’t win with their numbers alone, fast dwindling every day. They had to turn those inside the machine to their cause. A design which they had had absolutely zero success with thus far.

The State has too much power, too much influence. Who of The State could hope to sincerely turn against their master and at the same time continue to value their life?, Holis mused.

But alas, Holis had faith they would figure it out, they simply had to. They being those that remained in the resistance. His time was done. Holis internally cursed at the idea that his life was over. So much unfinished business. Of course, Holis knew, he was no doubt to be executed after this sham questioning was through.

I have to find the time to reconcile my life with my death, regardless of how angry I might still be, Holis thought.

His contemplation was interrupted by the judge’s final question.

“What do you think, Holis, should be the punishment befitting your particular crimes?”

Holis was caught off guard by the question, before realizing it was an obvious trick. A relatively simple, fangless method of giving the defendant some hope. Level with him and treat him like a sovereign being for a change to throw him off guard and get him to embarrass his or herself by getting them to speak some ludicrous outcome on their own behalf. Holis would play no part in this. Although a part of him was upset that they hadn’t listed out his many crimes, giving him the time to gloat at The State’s expense on the chaos he had played a part in before they had managed to capture him.

“I refrain from answering such a question. You are going to execute me no matter what I say. Stop playing these games. Let’s just get this over with,” Holis spoke, arms crossed, eyes downcast. He wasn’t going to be embarrassed, or die in a pitiful state of being. Holis was going to go well. Despite this sentiment, a bitter frustration flooded his mind. Holis wanted to stop all the talking.

“It was an honest question, and one that you have just answered. Thank you,” the judge began to put away his papers, shuffling them and then preparing to rise from his seat.

“Oh yeah? And what does my answer mean — it denotes the method and severity of my execution yes? Well good, and fuck you! I hope I die hard, as hard you guys serve it up. Give it to me you son of — “

“Enough,” the judge spoke as he now stood above. Holis was also standing, in defiance of the whole situation.

“We do not execute anyone.”

Holis’ eyes widened with shock, then anger.

“Stop ly — “

“Enough! We do not lie! Ever. Despite how you may interpret what you believe to be our propaganda, we do not lie, we do not deceive, we are not gaslighting our citizenry into subjugation. We stand by what we say and do, and we are transparent through all of it. The resistance is a product of lies and stands as the last bastion of the old world — one of chaos and unnecessary suffering. We will not return to that world. It’s time for you and yours to give in,” the judge spoke at length now. Holis snorted derisively at that final sentiment.

I’ll never give in.

“We have achieved a final victory, establishing a regime which ensures the least amount of suffering throughout the world. We have peace via control.”

The judge, now making his way leisurely towards some sort of passageway behind his seat, paused. The two which had brought Holis into the room, now approached once more at Holis’ back. It was sudden. Holis hadn’t noticed them, too caught up in the moment.

“Why should our executions impart anymore unnecessary suffering into the world. No, you will not be killed, not immediately anyway. The answers to the questions I have asked will determine what you are to become in the place you are now headed.”

Holis said nothing, his face stern now. He was definitely confused.

The judge, now at the threshold of the doorway, papers in hand, turned back saying with haste,

“You see, we at The State honestly believe we are giving you what you resistors truly want, a true freeing of your spirit, but only in its current form. It’s better for all parties involved. A ‘punishment’ truly befitting the crime. We will show you the err of your ways by giving you exactly what you want — via a return to the equitable savagery of the animal kingdom, where there is no hierarchy or control or conscious manipulation of the many states of play. There will be nothing save for the absolute, evolutionary, and vicious fitness of survival.”

Holis, still confused, blinked once, then twice.

The judge spoke as a matter of fact,

“You will be turned into a pig and released into the wild, of course.”

The door behind him shut, ringing a note of finality to their short affair. ~