"And now, having been convicted of the crime of murder in the first degree, you are to be executed by lethal injection. Do you have any final statement to make?"
It was a formality, I know, but the contemptuous tone in the man's voice made my resolve harden all the more. "No."
The officer smirked arrogantly. "Then enjoy your last meal, and may God have mercy on your soul." He turned on his well-polished heel and left me alone in the holding cell with my last meal.
I said a small prayer before I broke the bread, and enjoyed the silence. It must have surprised them when I had asked for bread and wine as my final meal on this Earth, but there was nothing else that I wanted.
The familiar prickle returned to the back of my neck, and I felt a sad smile trying to break onto my face. "It's no use, Serenity. I am resigned to my fate, for better or worse."
She materialized before my eyes as she always had, a phantom swirl of crimson rose petals converging into the form of a slender young woman in her usual simple red blouse and jeans. And, as always, her impossibly deep blue-green eyes held within them a sorrow that even then made my heart falter. Her hand came up to stroke my face, and the contact felt real, though I knew otherwise. She brushed a stray red hair out of her face and settled onto the bench next to me. We sat in silence for a while, and I felt cold tears on my shoulder after a few minutes.
"There was no other way." I told her again, and she sobbed into my jumpsuit. "It was the right thing to do."
"I know..." She whispered, clinging closer to me. "You're too young to leave this world... You have so much to offer it..."
I smiled at the same old argument. "It was the right thing to do." I repeated, and she sighed again.
It was another ten minutes before I broke the silence. "How is she?" I asked quietly.
"She's fine. Your mother is holding true to her word, which is a nice thing to see."
"I'm glad. How are they coping?"
She shook her head. "There's only so much I can do for them... They're fine right now, but they both will be here for... Well..."
Silence. Some find it to be unbearable. They fill their lives with countless possessions and relationships in order to escape the silence in the world. I, however, enjoy the quiet. Even two years after the incident. Two long years in solitary confinement had not broken my resolve. I knew it in my heart that what I had done to that man was right.
Granted, I did have Serenity to speak to. She told me that she had felt my pain that night, and that was what had drawn her to me. I have my own beliefs about that, but they will remain my own until... Well... December twentieth, 2029.
"Did you get your degree yet?" I asked her, hoping to get at least one smile out of her before high noon.
"Yeah..." Came the depressed whisper.
"Tell me about it."
"I don't think I can..."
She pushed away enough to look into my eyes, and her tears almost broke me. "Why are you doing this?"
"You know why." I replied, though it pained me to do so. "That little girl will have a chance at a happy life. And it is because of what I did."
"Yes, but you don't have to die for it! I... I can make them all forget about the whole thing! I can erase their memories, and-"
I put a finger to her lips to silence her. "We have had this discussion before, and I think my time would be better spent to leave it as it lay right now." She let out another sob and fell back into my arms.
The clock on the wall filled the space between her quiet distress with ticking, and it soon read eleven thirty. They would come for me in fifteen minutes. And fifteen minutes after that...
"I think I know why it is you found me, Serenity." I spoke, breaking the silence. I felt the false weight in my arms shift, and looked down into her eyes again. "I think that you found me because you needed to learn something."
I leaned back against the wall, feeling the cold concrete once more, and for the last time. "I know you don't believe in God, but I think that you were drawn to me because you needed to learn that your powers are not what make you strong. You could take away all of the memories of this, but you would always remember it, and I think it would haunt you."
"I think that you know this in you heart, but your head refuses to accept it. I think that you need to realize that you can't always help everyone who you find, and that you need to learn to let go. Nothing that I did was because of you, and nothing you did affected the outcome. This is the path I chose to walk, and I alone shall take the blame."
She was quiet for a moment before she spoke. "You're right... You didn't need to meet me... I needed to meet you."
There came a clatter from the door, and I watched the front end of a gurney nose through into the holding area. "I'm sorry..." I heard her say, as rose petals swirled into view on a ghostly wind. "I'm sorry I couldn't save you..."
"I forgive you."
And then she was gone, and I was on my way.
They raised the gurney into a standing position after a few moments of motion, and I was left alone in the dark for an instant before the lights flashed on, blinding me. But when the haze cleared out of my eyes, there they were. My mother, tears flowing freely down her weathered face. There was pain in her eyes, and I ached to know that I was the cause of no small part of that pain. She pressed a hand to the bullet-proof glass, and I could see her lips moving.
I love you.
"I love you too, Mom."
And then my gaze was drawn down to the reason I was in that room. She looked so small... Hardly like the eleven year old she was. She was crying too, and that was almost worse than my mother doing it. Her name was Maria, and she was a complete innocent. A set of over-sized dragonfly wings and pupil-less, iridescent eyes were the only thing that set her apart from the rest of the world. Well, that and the scar that ran across her left cheek.
And the reason I had to pull that man off of her.
She was trying to talk to me, too.
I don't want you to go.
The restraints made me come up a little short, but I pointed to my heart as best I could. "I'll always be with you, in your heart..."
The needle was prepped, and all that was left was my last thirty seconds of life. <Are you there, Serenity?> I cast the thought out silently.
<Take care of them for me?>
There was a sharp pinch in my arm, and liquid fire surged into my veins. <Answer me one question...>
<What's your real name?> Pain flashed into my chest, and I fought to stay alive for the answer.
The room vanished into whiteness as I felt my eyes close. <That's a pretty name...>
And that is how I died.
Teen Dies For Life Saved
21 DEC, 2029
Texas-born eighteen year-old Robert Alexander Knight was executed yesterday at high noon following his two-year court battle for the murder of one Kirby Finn. Robert admitted to beating the man to death with nothing more than his bare hands, an astounding feat for the then-sixteen year-old young man. The estate of Mr. Finn, headed by members of the Trinity of Perfect Purity, a known anti-MORFS religious sect, lead the case against the young man, and both succeeded in having him tried as an adult, and 'proving' to the jury that Knight had premeditated the act, making him the youngest person in history to receive the death penalty. The case made history when, even after fighting the first-degree charge for so long, Knight reportedly fired his lawyer immediately upon hearing the verdict, and asked the judge for the harshest punishment allowable by law.
But was the execution truly lawful? The case, closed to the media and the public eye for so long, has finally been broken into. An anonymous source from the inside sent a package to the offices of every major newspaper and news station in the entirety of the US and Canada. Contained within were the pictures of the body of Mr. Finn, and the complete transcript of the trial proceedings. And even a cursory look into those pages, reveals a stunning story of how one young man stood up for a young MORFS survivor, and was executed by his government for it. The story is heartwarming, but the tragic end leaves a bitter taste in one's mouth.
Knight, who had been walking home after a football game, happened across Mr. Finn in a park on the way, and was astounded to find him assaulting a young hybrid girl, who reportedly had been kicked out of her home upon the finish of her change. Knight shoved the man off of the girl, and helped her up, even giving her his coat to try and warm her up, when Mr. Finn pulled a knife and slashed the girl across the face, and attempted to stab her in the chest. Knights threw the man to the ground and beat him to a bloody pulp. He died within minutes of the initial encounter. Knight took enough time to take the now terrified girl to another nearby hospital and call his mother before phoning the police. A transcript of that phone call was included in the package, and the first line bears repeating.
Operator: 911 Emergency.
Knight: I need a police car at Mercy General Hospital emergency ward. I need to be arrested. I just killed a man.
Details of the case, however, have not officially been released by the Supreme Court, making the packages received nationwide seem worthy of skepticism, but upon learning of them, the presiding judge in the case resigned his position, a good indication of their validity if ever there was one. Inquiries have been filed within the criminal justice system already, and the media is in an uproar. This case could be one of the biggest leaps for MORFS legislation this country has seen, and it came at the cost of no less than two lives. Robert Knight killed Kirby Finn, and in doing so, may have changed the world.
Our thoughts go out to Mrs. Knight and the young lady who was rescued that night.
Continued Knight, section A6->
When is an act more than just an act? Do the actions of one man have any bearing on the way the world turns? Can a life make a real difference to a country? Or is it inevitable that we shall all die and thus wither into nothingness?
Lives, once lived, cannot be reclaimed. Just as deeds cannot be undone. Every action creates an equal and opposite reaction. An eye for an eye. Nothing can be gained without something being lost in exchange.
Say it how you will. It all means the same.
I don't know if there is something greater than this world out there. But I know someone who did. And in the long months leading up to his execution, Robert Knight taught me that so long as I believe that there is something good in what I do, then my actions are not wasted, and my life still has meaning.
Everyone has a capacity for good. Explore it. You never know what you'll find...
"Helping People Help Themselves"