by Silvia dos Santos
The axe is sweaty in my tight grip, anticipation eating up my insides. I know this man’s crime and he deserves what I have the privilege of doing to him. I stand, still as a statue, watching as the violator slowly walks up the steps to the stand. His foot falls heavy, a stride unique to someone who knows these are their last steps. He is not handsome, which is sure to be the reason he felt the need to commit his crime.
I feel his eyes on me, trying to find something human hidden in the shadows of my hood. He fails. His shoulders slacken, as I watch, and his fists relax. He is letting go of his anger towards me, what anger can someone harbor towards a shadow.
Looking out at the swarm of people, the man kneels at the block before him. He knows what is next, having stood in that crowd many times before.
A skinny boy with a booming voice moves forward. “This man is a thief! He stole the innocence of the butcher’s daughter, he deserves no mercy!” The horde of people cheer in response, craving the spill of blood.
This animal cry is my cue. Stepping forward, I adjust my grasp on the handle of the recently sharpened axe. This is the moment I have waited twenty-three long days for. Twenty-three days since the last execution. I remember a time when there were two a day. A time when I knew I was doing my duty and ridding the world of those who do not deserve to live in it.
A glint, like an exploding star, reflects off the blade above my head, momentarily blinding those in the crowd. They cannot see the axe sliding through the soft flesh of the condemned man. I am not blinded as they are and I have the full experience of skin and bone separating under the power of the axe. The blood takes a second to pour out from the severed neck, as if waiting to see if a mistake was made. A waterfall of blood courses around the long handle and spills onto the stained wood of the stand.
I am high from the death of the corpse below me. Adrenaline pumping through my veins makes my vision sharper than steel and the scene before me more appealing. These are the moments I live for. It is a pity they are becoming less frequent.
I do not believe that there is less evil in the world. There will always be those who are tempted by the Devil. Maybe it is the one who convicts the criminals who has taken a day off.
The savages yell in triumph as I wrench my axe from the blood soaked wood and slowly walk off the stand. I savor the weight of the axe in my hands and the smell of blood as it slowly trickles off the blade, not knowing when these feelings will fill me again.