Trigger Warning: rape, apoplexy murder, women, children, serial killer, prison, capital punishment
They sat there in the sterile white visitation room, a thick ceiling-to-floor glass wall separated them as a large red digital timer on the wall counted down from fifteen minutes, second-by second. The fluorescent ceiling light cast a sickly white light over both of them as one of the ballasts buzzed and was the only thing to break the cold silence. He looked at the floor. She could only hope that he could not look at her due to a deep soul wrenching shame that he felt for all that he had done to those innocent women and their families. Five minutes left and she was growing fearful and impatient that she would never get closure. She needed closure and so did her husband. They both deserved it. Who was she kidding? His victims and their families deserved closure from him more than she did.
The man finally grunted out his first heavily accented words to her in his harsh and gravelly voice: “I’ve wronged many in dis life. I’ve done some tings. Some dat I regret. But, what has me sit’n here in dese chains isn’t one’o dem.” Her heart beat faster and faster as she resisted the overwhelming urge to flee when their eyes met for the first time. His dark brown eyes started to peruse her toned feminine form like a predator before its meal. She was a mother of three that he never would have hesitated to pull into the back of a van to violate horribly while she would have screamed and screamed, and then leave her for dead along a highway somewhere, her eyes opened wide in terror and desperation staring off into eternity.
She saw it in his cold and remorseless eyes. She could feel it. She could feel all of the horrible things he was imagining he would do to her, which sent a shiver down her spine. Melanie shifted uncomfortably in her chair as he carnally undressed and assaulted her with his eyes. Her hands felt cold and clammy, and were white from gripping her seat tightly when she knew he was thinking of where he would have left her violated body for the crows. She had never felt so dirty and worthless in all her life, like a piece of unwanted and infected meat, and she wanted to run out of that cold room, but she stayed.
Every night since she braved looking at the numerous reports and bloody pictures two weeks ago that recounted the bloody end of his victims – soccer moms, college students, goth girls, a construction worker, an exotic dancer, and even a nun – she has bolted upright in a cold sweat each night screaming after reliving the bloody deaths of his victims in her dreams. The news clippings read to her like they had been taken straight from a horror movie. They left her speechless. She did not understand him or anything he had done, least of all why he would kill another serial killer so brutally, smashing in his skull until there was nothing but as crimson paste remaining. She just wanted to know why. Why he did it?
She pulled her eyes away from his carnal gaze, cleared her throat and then weakly said, almost whispering “After raping and murdering thirty-three innocent women over the last ten years, why did you let yourself get caught? Why did you kill him?
Did you do it for what he did to my little Callie?“.
Just saying the words gave her a small sense of closure, for she had come here and was brave enough to say those words, and he heard them, which was more than many whose families suffered such horrible fates received.
She felt it when he looked down to the ground again, his stare was palpable, had a powerful and filthy predatory weight to it. He grunted.“Wimmin folk can struggle’n fight. Chil’en can’t. Met him on a street and we wuz talk’n. Told me what he’d done. Was dead ‘fore he could finish speak’n ‘er name.” He grunted again. Tears streamed down her face leaving black trails on her cheeks as the guard walked in and escorted him to the last few moments of his life.
As the king’s honor guard roughly dragged Tradion out of his lightless dungeon cell by his heavy black iron chains, sickness
his left cheek bled profusely and he limped from the horrendous beating the guards had just delivered him for having the temerity to ask for water. They were once his friends and comrades-at-arms, as was the now deceased Prince, for whom he was accused of murdering. It started three days ago with bystanders yelling, screaming, and pointing at him with his blood-soaked blade and the Crowned Price lying dead at his feet in a pool of blood. He did not know how it all happened and now he is being led to the market for a public hanging.
The black hooded hangman bore the stench of unwashed peasantry and spilled cheap ale as he roughly dragged Tradion up to the noose in the center of the market before a whole crowd of people – beggars, nobles, peasants, soldiers, and slaves, his manacles cut into his wrist and drew some blood which dripped slowly to the wooden platform. People came from miles around to watch his hanging, the hanging of the man who killed the Crown Prince. The Chamberlain read the charges against him before he was to be hanged until dead. Tradion was strangely at peace with what was about to befall and he did not know why. He said a quick prayer to the gods above and then to his cousin the Crown Prince, and then waited for inevitable.
They fitted the noose around his head and pulled it tight around his neck. He looked around, not sure if this was even real, and then the floor dropped out from under him, the noose snapped tight and the pressure on his neck was unbearable, his eyes bulged as he struggled to breathe. His legs shook for a few moments and then he exhaled for the last time as the last sound he heard was the loud crack of his neck. The crowd yelled and screamed rejoicing that justice was victorious this day.
On a hill overlooking the market area were two hooded individuals who had watched the death of the traitorous dog, Tradion. The much larger of the two men abruptly arched his back and took in a deep mechanical sounding breath, and then his head snapped from side to side like he was confused or panicked, or looking for something that was about to attack him. The other man pulled up his hood a bit revealing the concerned face of the Crown Prince. He wove his staff through the air forming arcane runs and then looked cautiously to his large panicking companion.
After a moment the Prince said “Will you ever forgive me, Tradion.” The Prince’s companion, fully a head larger and with the broad shoulders of a soldier, pulled up his hood with hands that bore metal plates and some bronze colored rotating gears. The Crowned Prince looked upon face made of a steel plate mimicking Tradion’s face, the dull glint of colored gears could be seen peeking out from underneath the sides of the faceplate which ended at the line following the cheekbones down to the chin. A quiet mechanical whirring could be heard emanating from within his new mechanical form.
A gruff and mechanical voice answered “Next time you will be the one to die, Cuz.” Tradion shook his head and snorted, and then lifted and flexed his arms trying to get used to how this new mechanical body felt.
“The King and Queen would never let me nor any of our knights undertake such a mission, so it is up to us my brother. We will need you at your best for the battle to come, for the Lords of Dathnar do not sleep.” The Prince smiled, for Tradion was still in there… somewhere. His cousin’ spirit was tethered to this mechanical shell by the powerful magics he himself had forged over many long months of research and toil. They both reared their horses and galloped full speed due north toward the Dathnari Mountains where destiny waited.