Now - on to the difference.
Normally, on Friday, I do Haiku. But today, I want to publish the short story I did for "The Inferno" Challenge - Into Oblivion. I hope you like it.
A Short, Short Story
Louis Charles Lohman
He lay on the gurney, his uniform white and newly pressed, only wrinkled where the wide straps which held him in place pressed down on the fabric.
The lighting in the room was soft, indirect, but bright, so that those outside the room who were there to witness, would have no trouble seeing what they came to see.
His left arm was strapped down on a small swing out extension of the gurney, and the needle was carefully taped down so there would be no possibility it would come out before it was intentionally removed. A plastic tube ran from the needle to the wall and disappeared through a fitting which led into the room next door - there, the contraption that the State had contrived for these occasions stood fixed to the wall, ready to feed the contents of the three plungers into the tube. Into him.
The Chaplain, dressed in a black suit, his Roman collar the only white, read softly from the book in his hand, occasionally making the Roman 'Sign of the Cross' in the air, the symbolism pretty much lost on the young man lying on the gurney.
"That stuff ain't gonna do me no good, Padre. Knock it off, will ya?"
"You do this your way, my son. And I'll do it mine ... but I'll stop."
"What's takin' 'em so long?"
"Patience, my son. It will be over soon enough."
"What time is it, huh? How much time is left?"
"It's 11:57. Three minutes to go."
"Three minutes? Can't they hurry up? Tell 'em it's okay. They can do it now."
"You can't hurry them, son. The State does what it does in it's own time. At it's own pace. And in it's own way."
"Yeah, well, I still wish they'd hurry up."
"I know, my son. I know. Soon."
"I know you don't like this, Padre. I know you tried to stop it. But it's okay. Really it is."
"What I think doesn't matter now. It's too late. I only wish you hadn't given up your appeals."
"I had to, Padre. I couldn't take it any more. The dreams. The voices. They're in my head all the time. I just can't take it any more."
"I don't like the notion of giving up. But then, I do understand. You need peace."
"Nah. I need somethin' alright, Padre. But it's not peace I'm lookin' for. I did what I did. I ain't proud, but I can't take it back. All I can do now is find a way to forget. That's all I want to do, Padre. I want to forget."
"It's time for me to leave, now, son. But I'll be right outside. Are you sure you don't want me to pray for you?"
"No, Padre. Don't waste your breath. This is what I've been waitin' for. So long."
The Padre turned around and left the room, and as it closed, he faced the door and made that 'Sign of the Cross' in the air, again.
"Whether you like it or not", he said, under his breath.
The klaxon sounded. The witnesses held their collective breath. The TV monitor over the window to the room showed the three plungers as they slowly closed, one at a time.
The klaxon stopped. The sudden silence was as unsettling as the sharp sound of the klaxon had been just a minute or so before.
Five minutes later, the Doctor entered the room and felt for pulse, checked for breath, and listened with his stethoscope to the young man's chest. He turned and nodded to the witnesses. The lad was dead.
The Warden sidled up to the Padre, and spoke softly, in natural reverence for the dead.
"It'll be a short trip to hell for that young man."
"I suppose it probably will, but who is to say? For my part, even though it's contrary to everything I believe, I hope he has found his way to where he needs to go."
"Where's that, Padre?"
"Oblivion. I hope he's found his way into Oblivion."