*The following is a short story or perhaps more of an idea for one, I wrote based off of a dream I had roughly a year ago. I’ve had thoughts of turning it into a larger work, but figured I’d also share it here with you as well. Considering recent events, it would seem dreams have no expiration date. It’s still in a rough format and is by no means a final product. Feedback is welcomed.
We stood in an extremely long line that now lay behind me, and seemed to trail off into forever. The line lead into a large open room with high ceilings similar to a gymnasium or perhaps an airplane hanger, it is hard to say which.
On the wall furthest from the entrance stood 8 to 10 metal body cast dummies, shaped like the head and torso of a man. The metal dummies gave off an intense heat, like opening an oven at 400 degrees without first preparing yourself for the sudden change in temperature. A rubber dummy lay outfitted on top of the metal cast dummy, the rubber was thick, like car tires, and seemed unaffected by the heat coming from the metal which lay directly beneath it. The heat itself seemed only present to stop onlookers from loitering. It forced one to do their duty and move along, quickly away from the dummies, where prolonged exposure to the heat was unbearable. Not necessarily physically damaging you see, only highly uncomfortable, which kept the endless line moving relatively quickly, serving its purpose to perfection and turning out to be quite ingenious.
My position in line however had yet to get to the dummies. My position was at the point where we picked up knives, long sharp knives with wooden handles. They reminded me of the cooking knives my mother use to have when I was a child. I took my knife in hand, testing the sharpness of it with the tip of its metal blade vs. the end of my fleshy finger. The knife won, pricking my finger tip. I bleed a little.
Placing the blade of the knife under my arm, I put my wounded finger in my mouth and shuffled along maintaining my position in line. As we got closer to the back of the room I could see those that were positioned in front of me stabbing the rubber dummies with the knives we had just received. There seemed to be no mandatory or predetermined number of times one was suppose to stab the dummies, but it looked as if everyone was taking 3 to 4 stabs each. ‘Enough to show you meant it.’ seemed to be the unwritten rule. I followed suit.
The stabbing of the rubber man felt grotesque. The rubber body felt by no means human, however the feelings it recreated were the same. The stabbings were violent, and the cuts left in the rubber were jagged and distorted. The rubber would grab hold to the metal blade on each thrust, forcing you to use greater strength upon withdraw, and then even more on the following thrust. So even the most reluctant participant was stabbing like a well experienced psychopath by the third and fourth stroke. Even me.
My knife slid past the rubber and scraped the metal cast that lay underneath, sending a horrifying chill down my spine. I was struck with the most unbearable feeling, like fingernails on a chalkboard every time the two metals touched. After making my stabs I quickly moved along to the bleacher like seating setup along the wall space not occupied by the stabbing dummies or the large double door entrance. Many others had already taken their seats after their stabbings, knives still in hand.
I could see my cousin begin to move toward a set of bleaches not far from the back of the gym. It was not the best angle to see the open floor area in the middle of the room that seemed to be the new focus of the event, but it was my cousin and a familiar face so I followed suit. I greeted my family, who looked glad to see me as always, and motioned to two others who would be joining us soon. From my seat I could still see, waiting in line after just getting his knives, Ivan Denton, an old school yard chum of mine that I had always enjoyed talking and joking with. I had not seen him and awhile, and can admit, was excited to catch up with him on the time that had passed. I decided to flag him down once he had gotten closer to our seats so that he and his brother John, who was standing near him in line, could join us. As well I figured I would watch him stab the dummies also. My seating was perfect to watch him go through the same motions that I had just went through.
Ivan was big, well not much bigger than myself, actually shorter but much better built, we had began high school together at roughly the same size but his unbelievable work ethic forced his body to shoot past and outweigh my own by almost twice my size by graduation.
That was some time ago, however still, his size and stern demeanor gave him a very intimidating look. Ivan, though very lighthearted and friendly, wore a permanent scowl on his face, as if he was always on the brink of losing his patience. It was perfect for the football, which we had played together during high school. The stern facial expression seemed to be hereditary as his brother had the exact same look even though he was much smaller.
I watched expecting Ivan to stab the dummies viciously perhaps even cutting through the metal as well, but he never did. He hovered by the rubber dummies, but he never thrust his knife toward them. Instead after everyone else had done there stabbing he moved toward the center of the gym, his brother along with him, as did a few other people. Knives still in hand.
Behind them, a gray curtain dropped hiding the metal and rubber dummies and further emphasizing the open area in the middle of the room.
Ivan and the others stepped into a white box that had been taped off in the middle floor. A voice spoke clearly from a P.A. System from speakers that I could not see. “These men are responsible for murder, if they can survive with out being stabbed they will be tried individually.”
At this a few people removed themselves from the stands and entered the white square with the intentions on stabbing my former classmate… Their faces wore smug smiles as if proud to be the ones dispensing this twisted idea of justice. A whistle blew from the unseen speaker and they began. The men danced around each other swinging the knives wildly. The criminals seemed to have no real strategy only to remain uncut for as long as they could, for the other men it was just the opposite. Every time a man was finally cornered and stabbed he screamed loudly, and every time my heart broke. My mind went back to the rubber dummy that I had stabbed earlier, and my stomach turned. It was like I had stabbed the men myself… that was my contribution to this sick game. The men were fell one by one, and the Chasers came in all shapes and sizes young and old, they had not really outnumbered the criminals at first but as each man was stabbed he seemed to disappear and by now the Chasers outnumbered the criminals by 2 to 1. They wrangled them into corners and wrestled them down to the ground, starting by simply poking them in the arm drawing blood, sealing there fate, but as the match progressed that seem to grow even more vicious and more merciless. The Chasers did not need stab them to death, no, only an open wound was necessary, bleeding men were carried away by larger, heavily armed guards. Carried off to their own private executions, to be stabbed as many times as the rubber dummy was stabbed I suppose. Making us all murderers in a sense, at least that’s the feeling of guilt I got. I leaned over to my cousin who seemed to be watching with no particular interest and spoke words that I knew could get me into serious amount of trouble
“You know this is bullshit right?”
“This is just how things are” he replied.
Another man had just been stabbed. A Chaser had him pinned to the ground with his legs wrapped around the criminals and holding his torso tightly from behind so he had nowhere to move to. A boy around the age of 12 or perhaps 13 stood over them. He stabbed the criminal in the arm, looking down upon him with a feeling of extreme delight. He had a Mohawk which I have always felt looked incredibly stupid on everyone who wore it, on him, especially so. His smugness irritated me to know end his look of satisfaction after claiming the life of another in the name of justice. He reminded me of the State Men, enforcers of our “unnatural law” and my disdain for him grew even more. By now the only man left was Ivan. The Chasers began to surround him, moving in reluctantly, his intimidation had reach even them, but it would only last for so long, I hoped that he would at least slash open the throat of the young boy with the Mohawk, I hoped for it desperately. What happened next is really irrelevant Ivan’s capture or escape, perhaps his individual trial, none of it really matters. The damage had been done since the first thrust into the first dummy. When we allowed for the first man to be carried away when his fate hung only by a thread. When we allowed for a system of revenge labeled justice to be the law of our land, but what could be done, like everyone else I sat by and said or did nothing. Perhaps it is as my Cousin said “this is how things are” this is our justice system I guess it is not perfect but it seems to get the job done, or does it?