I haven’t had a lot of time to write this week, as most of my time has been spent tending to my son since his surgery on Tuesday to correct his club feet. I did sketch out more of the first draft to Red Crane last night at my coffee shop writing meeting, but I’m still keeping a majority of that story under wraps until it releases in the next couple of months.
“Your crimes against these women is deplorable,” Judge Sacrot grumbled into the microphone from high up on the judge’s bench overlooking the arena.
Salt looked around him at the massive crowd filling seats in the arena, their faces painted red in mixtures of anger and malice. He shifted his wrists in the metal restraints behind him, dismayed that his own community would rise against him. Those women deserved what happened to them, he thought. Judge Sacrot will never see it that way, though. He is corrupt, as is the entire government of this world.
Judge Sacrot sighed, the sound mimicking a gust of wind through the arena’s speaker system. “Salt, we will forever be grateful for the help you have given us in the past. You saved our kingdom from the Hemotpots. You saved us with your ingenuity when the drought came. You’ve have been instrumental in our survival here on Eckor.”
The crowd booed and hissed. Judge Sacrot allowed them to release their verbal rage upon the man standing in the center of the arena.
Salt glanced down at his feet. His thick brown boots were sprinkled in the ash that covered the entire floor of the arena. The ash came from the Hert volcano to the south, and filled the underground caverns via the wind currents that swept through the main tunnel entrance from Spring Valley.
Salt felt the scarf covering the bottom half of his face slipping and thought to ask one of the guards that were posted on each side of him if they could readjust it for him. The ash did nothing but disrupt his breathing when he came into contact with too much of it. The scarf helped block the ash from getting into his nostrils and then into his lungs, but with the high concentration of it in the arena, he wouldn’t last long before it began to upset his chest.
The booing and hissing finally died down after a minute or so. Judge Sacrot moved his mouth to the microphone again. “You understand, Salt, that even though you have been a hero in the past does not excuse your crimes now? This crowd wants blood. This crowd is outraged by your venomous behavior these last couple of days. What do you have to say for yourself?”
Silence filled the arena as all eyes turned toward Salt. The guard to his right reached over and gently pulled down the scarf from Salt’s mouth so he could speak.
Salt cleared his throat and spoke loudly to the crowd around him. “I have nothing to say for myself. You labeled me your hero when it was convenient for you. And now you have labeled me your enemy just the same. Those four women that I maimed were out to destroy this community. You think I raped them? You all think I did heinous things to their bodies, things that your mind does not want to grasp? I did. But I did it to protect all of you. All four of those women were imposters, fakes, charlatans. They started a brothel, for crying out loud. And you did nothing to stop it. They poured out their perversion upon our community by tainting the fine men of this place. They even tried to taint me.
“That’s when I gave them a taste of the medicine they wanted so badly.”
The booing and hissing returned with a vengeance. Salt could not raise his voice high enough to compete with it, so he stood silent, dreading what was to come next. The crowd wanted blood, and Salt knew Judge Sacrot – with how corrupt he was – would give them exactly what they craved.
Judge Sacrot shouted into the microphone, calming everyone. The roar died, and for a second before Judge Sacrot continued, Salt could hear nothing but a simple shuffling of feet in the stadium seats. It would be a good time to run, if there were not guards posted around every entrance and exit of the arena.
“Salt,” Judge Sacrot continued, “you have been judged by your peers. You are hereby sentenced to the punishment withheld for those who have committed such acts as you have. By raping, you have stolen a woman’s innocence. By mutilating the flesh, you have stolen pieces of their identity. In return, you will be stripped of your own identity.”
The guards on both sides of Salt drew closer to him, fearing he would run. But there was nowhere to run. This was the end of the line.
Judge Sacrot continued. “You will be properly disfigured, mutilated as those four women were. Your fingerprints will be taken from you. And, because one of those women was my daughter, you will have your memory stripped from you. I do not want my oldest daughter moving through that sick mind of yours any longer. You will no longer be Salt. You will be a nobody on the outside, because you are a nobody on the inside.”