#FFC52 Prompt 25


It looks as if this is my 200th post. Yay! Here is my entry for the 25th prompt of TiV’s #FFC52 at 496 words:

“This sentence is not typical of a capital case. I have no benefit of a jury on verdict or sentencing. Therefore this court – I – will determine your fate.

“This court is tasked with delivering justice to you and your victims. But, justice is different for everybody. Death is undoubtedly justified for you. Your crimes are great in scope and vulgarity. There isn’t a chance you can be rehabilitated. You will undoubtedly continue to sow seeds of revolution and lies – even from prison.

“But is a death sentence justified? Can this court martyr you? Does your martyrdom truly give your victims’ families justice? These are the questions I must consider.”

The judge sighed and looked out the window of the courthouse. She didn’t speak for three minutes. The courtroom was deathly silent. Even the steady thrum of the air conditioning seemed to defer to the judge.

The Judge leaned forward and peered the twenty feet from her dais to the Defendant’s table. “Does the defendant have anything to say, at this time, as to why the sentence should not be pronounced?”

Zachary turned his head slightly to his lawyer. He was shackled, with a leather strap covering his mouth, chin and neck. The courtroom had to be fitted with large steel ringlets. They were buried into the concrete and a steel plate covered the seams. He was shackled with round steel covering his hands up to the elbows. His ankles were merely bound with simple steel cuffs, but they were all secured with steel chain, taut and immobilizing. A steel cage enclosed Zachary and small tracks allowed him to be rolled into the court. Yet more chains attached to the cage and to the floor to prevent it from moving as well. Finally, a guard with a shotgun trained on the cage stood at the ready in case the copious amount of steel failed to dissuade Zachary.

Zachary’s lawyer stood and addressed the judge. “Your Honor. I ask you to consider the complicated nature of my client’s crimes. He’s obviously mentally ill. I ask you, is there justice in sentencing a mentally ill person to death?”

“I’m sorry, counselor. If your client wasn’t an abomination to humanity, I may be inclined to agree with you.”

“But, your Honor…”

“Sit down, counselor!”

“Zachary, you are hereby sentenced to death by lethal injection. You’ll be remanded to the custody of the state that will deliver you to this courthouse for your mandatory appeal. Your appeal will be seven days hence.”

The judge banged her gavel. “I want the courtroom to remain seated while the defendant is removed.”

Four men and the shotgun guard wheeled the cage out of the courtroom. The squeak of the wheels echoed in the silence. As the courtroom doors closed, no one dared move until instructed to by the judge. Seven minutes later the doors opened again and a bailiff nodded to the judge.

She banged her gavel again. “This court is adjourned.”

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

11 responses to “#FFC52 Prompt 25

  • Kate Loveton

    Very interesting take on the prompt. It speaks of the struggle between justice and mercy, the protection of society from horrific criminals, and the nature of good/evil. Is there evil or only mental illness? Or do both exist, even if not always side by side. Personally, I think Evil is an active agent, and not always predicated on mental illness.


    • Mark Gardner

      While pursuing my Human Behavior degree, I studied a lot of human behavior (duh!) Lots of deviant behavior and the study of why people do the things they do. I believe we’re all mentally ill in some way, just as we are all flawed. From rational action theory to inter sectionalist feminist theories, we all behave predictably. It’s the ones that defy predictability we label mentally ill.

  • Thain in Vain

    Wow, you really captured the weighty tone of such a weighty decision. I agree with Kate about the struggle between mercy and justice. Some crimes a so henious that eye for an eye is what we need to know justice has been served. But what if they are mentally ill? Do they deserve mercy? Did their victim get mercy? Very powerful story, Mark!! Do you have a title for this? TiV!

    • Mark Gardner

      There’s not really a title for this, just an unnamed story that takes place after the last chapter of Escape, but before the Epilogue. I didn’t want to cheat and write this ahead of time, so when you posted the 25th prompt, I was reviewing edits for Escape, and just wrote this little ditty for the challenge. If you’re interested, I can send you an advance copy of Escape. Shoot me an email if you want one.

  • heatherbcosta

    I really enjoyed this and am intrigued as to the heinous crimes Zachary committed. What did he do that was so bad that they had to take that many measures against him in the courtroom?

    Intriguing stuff!

  • Meg

    Great follow up on the prompt, Mark — you have a skill with dialogue and setting the scene. Zachary must be some kind of monster, in the Hannibal Lector category. And thanks for coming up with this week’s prompt — it was challenging!

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