Brutalist Stories #31 — Shaved Jaw
I’m looking around at their swollen, sunken eyes as they talk aimlessly with each other, prattle on about what’s about to take place, about what they’re going to do with me.
“Lieutenant Commander, you are on trial for the supposed accidental firing of a C-Beam class weapon, which in-turn saw the destruction of Betelgeuse also known as Alpha Orionis also known as the Shoulder of Orion. How do you plead?”
“Very well, we are obliged to bring to the stand a series of key witnesses to testify to your actions on that day, in order to ascertain the particular course of events that resulted in the C-Beam detonation and the resultant celestial catastrophe,” he says all this without even looking up, just staring down at some tablet in front of him, looking at some script running across the screen, the others gathered around in their black robes, hoods up and over their heads, just those sunken and swollen eyes shining through.
“Key Witness: Alpha Niner — Please take the stand.”
This person appears out of a concrete passageway and walks up to the large grey hump that is the stand, dressed in the same black robe as the others, with the same sunken eyes, with the same non-descript, pure white face hollowed out into their hood.
“Wait, who is this?” I ask, my voice echoing loud around the gigantic concrete chamber, but to no response from those stood around, who are these people? I can feel my jaw tightening, my fists gripping. Who are they to put me on trial? “I demand an answer!”
“Alpha Niner, can you proceed with your testimony.”
Just like that they begin to reel off a list of actions that were undertaken, a litany of procedures that were missed, a number of commands that were given but never followed and I’m lost, within all this. Who is this person and how did I end up here?
One after another the witnesses are called and called and each speaks with clarity and purpose that doesn’t seem to fit with the swollen eyes and ghost white faces, but they keep coming and keep going and my shouts become louder and protests become quicker, but they just don’t listen. They refuse to acknowledge anything I have to say, they will not hear me, they will not believe me.
They have their purpose, their mechanic, their cog which turns and turns for a purpose and now I am part of that mechanism, that turn, that click-click-click, I am nothing against it. I simply am not here. Nothing else matters, just the turn, the mechanism, the click, the eventual outcome that I cannot affect, I am lost, and there’s nowhere I can be found.
They look up at me, “Lieutenant Commander, would you like to re-state your plea? Guilty plea will ultimately result in a reduced sentence.”
I look around at their swollen, sunken eyes in the heavy concrete chamber and as the clench of my jaw pulses, I manage to open my mouth one last time and say, “No. I am not guilty.”