37 Steps

Damien | 04/09/2011

I looked the fiend straight in his feral, glittering eyes and said, "Let's do this."

He nodded at me once, slowly, and then stepped aside so his two goons could frogmarch me out of the cell towards the execution chamber next door.

I knew from previous trips that it was 37 steps from my flea-ridden mattress on the floor of my cell to the kill room. I was used to the charade by now. I had been locked up for two months, and every day it was the same thing.

Once in the morning and again in the afternoon I was taken into the room next door and ordered to stand against a white-washed wall facing a firing squad. The trumped up charges would be read out and I would be informed that a 'tribunal' had found me guilty and sentenced me to death.

The 12 guns opposite me would be raised, the command to fire given, and then I would hear 12 hammers click on empty chambers. Then my captor would give a cruel laugh and I would be led back to my cell.

The first few times this had happened I had actually believed they were really going to kill me, but then I had rationalised things and realised that they needed me alive. I was the President of one of the most powerful nations on earth. Killing me would start World War Three, which is something nobody, least of all my captors, really wanted.

I was a little surprised I hadn't been 'rescued' yet though. I'd long ago told them everything I knew about how I ran my country and how the Prime Minister and Vice President would react in a crisis such as my being kidnapped by extremists.

Brutal force, had been my answer. And yet, here I was, two months later and still no sign of rescue.

That was another one of the charades we played. We had the daily mock executions, and I played along with the idea that my captors weren't really working for their government. Eventually, when they got bored with the game, they would stage a dramatic rescue and I would of course feign gratefulness and sign all kinds of treaties with them to show how thankful I was that they had saved my life.

For now though I would just have to go through the motions and wait until they were ready to let me go. So I did what I always did, stood against the wall while the bogus charges were read out, and looked each one of the 12 riflemen in the eye as they took aim.

It took me a moment to realise that the puffs of smoke when they were ordered to fire this time meant that the guns were actually loaded, and then I felt the rounds hammer into my body. This couldn't be happening, I had time to think. They couldn't REALLY be killing me. And then the wave of pain hit, before I was overcome with blackness....

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