The screams pierced through the halls, reverberating and pulsating, until they would eerily fall silent. One after another the procession continued, day and night seemingly without end as Paul James knelt within his dank, musty cell, persistently praying for strength regarding both his faith and facing his fate. When he first arrived he was overwhelmed at the incessant cries of those that were suffering both psychologically and physically, but with time he had grown numb to his surroundings.
He had been teleported to the Sinus Aestuum Lunar Tenement so long ago that he could no longer calculate, nor did he care, how long it had been. His days were always the same: waking to the sirens; receiving his rations for the day; performing intense physical labor; returning to his barren cell; eventually passing out from the sheer exhaustion and monotony of the routine. In addition, all the while in the back of his mind he wondered when his time would come. Prayers and songs were the only things keeping him alive and sane.
Paul was not the typical criminal that was found within the SALT’s walls. He was not violent, psychotic, demented, or perverse as the majority of the others who were sent there. He was, however, one of the leaders of a Christian movement that the “One Man One World Government” was determined to eradicate. This governing body, that served to protect the unity of all mankind upon the Earth, had enacted and enforced legislation that called for the permanent exile of all criminals in order to maintain the peace on Earth and goodwill toward men.
Through time the definition of criminal became expanded to include those that were referred to as “religious dissidents”. The loose definition of which was applied to anyone who endeavored to practice, promote, and proliferate any form of religion other than the universally accepted, and World Government sponsored, “Sanctus Incassum Nequam”.
This religion, which was instrumental in the uniting and subsequent usurping of all other religions, preached peace, love, and harmony amongst men above all else, therefore execution was no longer a viable solution for convicted criminals on Earth. Once transferred to the SALT however, there was no mercy guaranteed. Every criminal, regardless of their crimes, was treated equally and would eventually be brought to the Grand Inquisitor’s secret chamber where they would repent and submit or be executed.
Today they came for Paul.
The solid windowless door to his cell slid open with a whoosh, and before him stood two cyborgs armed with proton blasters that were pointed squarely at his chest. The cyborgs appeared human except for their pale-yellowed skin-like covering that was too waxy and their vacant optical scanners that were anything but the equivalent of human eyes. Adorned from head to toe with black, form fitting protective armor, they were rather intimidating and sinister in appearance. Paul knew that if provoked, they would not hesitate to fire their blaster, which would cause his body to be incinerated.
“James, Paul. Identification number AIC8537264. You have been scheduled for examination,” the cyborg to his left stated in its syncopated baritone. The other cyborg motioned with his gun while stating, “Follow me.”
Rising from his knees, he slowly stepped out of his cell and began reciting the 23rd Psalm as he was led by one cyborg and prodded by the other through a labyrinth of corridors that eventually brought him to the SALT’s most dreaded room. The lead cyborg swiped a keycard and the immense sanguine doors recessed into the walls allowing the three to enter the chamber.
Seated in a regal chair that hovered in the air and bore the title “Grand Inquisitor Misericordaliter ” was a rather nondescript human being enwrapped in majestic garb. As the three approached the golden podium stationed in front of him he rolled his hand and said, “State your name.”
Stifling a yawn, Misericordaliter stated, “Ah yes, the Christian.”
“I am,” Paul boldly replied.
“Well, you have one chance to repent and renounce or you will die,” Misericordaliter replied, his eyes aglow.
Paul dropped his head to his chest and began silently mouthing some words. After a brief moment he raised his head high and defiantly answered, “I have nothing to repent of to you and I will never renounce my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
“So be it. Any last words before you are executed,” Misericordaliter casually asked.
Looking upward Paul said, “Father forgive him.”
Misericordaliter motioned and the cyborg pulled the trigger.
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