In the year 2413 Darius, the Grand Chancellor of United Earth, decreed that all convicted of high crimes have their misdeeds and final thoughts displayed for the world to witness. Society’s bloodlust and intolerance were insatiable. The thought extractions became festivals and were broadcast worldwide. A lucky few were given the privilege of watching the events in person.
A hush fell over the crowd as a curtain drew back exposing a small cell. Behind the glass a man sat strapped in a chair.
“Jonas Wyznuski, for the high crime of murder by strangulation your memories and final thoughts will be revealed for all to see and hear.” a deep voice resonated through the public address system. “Say your last words.”
“I … I was young.” The detained man’s voice cracked. “Please have mercy.”
Mocking sounds murmured amongst the onlookers.
“Begin the process,” the host bellowed.
The gallery shouted its approval.
A robotic arm descended from the ceiling, deploying a long needle-like device. A high-pitched whistle filled the air as the mechanism began to spin.
“Targeting systems active,” an automated voice recited.
The apparatus moved closer to the prisoner. His eyes widened.
“Begin file location.” The probe bored into the man’s forehead.
A brief cry, then silence.
“Begin file extraction.” The curtains closed. “Download complete.”
A large screen above the glass chamber flickered to life. Dark swirling images, blurred and twisted from the passage of time, came into focus.
“Jonas, stop.” A young blonde woman pushed off and tried to run.
“Get back here,” Jonas yelled. He flung the lady onto the bed. “I cannot let you go like this.”
She slapped him. “You pig.”
The crowd gasped as the executed man’s consciousness played in lurid detail.
“You won’t betray me again, Shakiela.” He grasped her throat.
The woman struggled. Her eyes bulged, then turned distant.
The screen faded to black. The crowd buzzed with excitement.
“I do not want to die,” Jonas’ last thought crackled through the speakers.
Cheers echoed through the building.
“I’m scared, Mommy.” A young boy clung to his mother’s arm, his voice barely audible over the buzz of the crowd.
“Don’t be frightened Malechiah.” The middle aged lady pulled her son close. “This is how we are protected from evil.”
The curtains opened once again; in the chair sat a younger man.
“Alistair Xanthis, for the high crime of religious deviance, praying to an archaic god, reading from the forbidden bible and stating your belief that Jesus was the son of this nonexistent god your …”
“I thought his kind were extinct,” a man yelled across the room.
Laughter erupted from the gallery.
“Ladies and gentlemen please contain your revelry until the extraction,” the master of ceremonies barked. “Alistair Xanthis, your memories and final thoughts will be revealed for all to see and hear. Say your last words.”
The young man smiled. “You can steal my thoughts, but you cannot have my soul.” His eyes glanced upward. “My eternity with God will soon begin.”
The auditorium again roared with laughter.
The announcer’s voice boomed over the chaos. “Begin the process.”
The cheers became deafening, drowning out the whistling from the machine.
“Targeting systems active,” the automated voice narrated. “Begin file location.” The probe pierced through Alistair’s skull. “Begin file extraction.” The curtains closed. “Download complete.”
The monitor began to glow as Allistair’s life came into view.
A candle flickered on the table illuminating a tattered Bible.
“Alistair,” a voice called from the door. “Alistair, the enforcers come.”
“Benjamin,” Alistair spoke in a calm voice. “You must wake the others and lead them deep into the pass. Seal the entrance and ensure you leave no signs.”
“You cannot stay … you will be killed.”
“If I go, we may all die.” The young man clasped his hands. “Some must survive to spread the truth. Go now.”
Jeers echoed through the arena.
Benjamin’s footsteps faded into the darkness.
“Heavenly Father, please grant your children safe passage.” Alistair caressed his Bible. “I pray my death may touch some hearts so they may know the truth.”
The images grew faint as the crowd booed.
The convict’s final thought chimed above the ruckus. “Lord, please forgive them.”
The crowd grew silent.
“Mommy … was he evil?” Malechiah appeared confused.
“Hush sweetie,” The boy’s mother whispered.
“Who is God?”
“I don’t know,” the woman muttered.
Sporadic applause began to resonate from the studio as the curtains opened again.
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