he last humans take too long to die at the cross.
It’s not easy. I don´t derive any special pleasure from doing this. I didn´t ask to be the deliverer.
But something had to be done.
I supervise personally all the crucifixions.
Some of the men and women nailed to the crosses scream, some moan, some have no more breath left in their lungs even to gasp. Some are dying, some are dead, most of them are already rotting. I watch them closely as my armored car leads the silent motorcade along the otherwise empty avenue.
I don’t wear armor. Not even a uniform. And donning any kind of special costume would simply be ridiculous. I´m not a whining six-year old bourgeois kid whose rich parents were killed in a dark alley (what were they were doing they in the first place after all?) and years later dons a hood and a cape in order to arrest criminals. Anyone who keeps focused in revenge after so much time is a sociopath, and as such should be treated.
On the other hand, being a run-of-the-mill dictator wouldn´t do either. Hitler redux? No. Milosevic? Definitely not. This is not about hate nor ethnic cleansing. This isn’t even about revenge.
This is about results. This is about getting things done.
When the limited nuclear and biowarfare conflagrations started all over the world, there wasn’t a single place where we could hide. Humankind was doomed. It was just a matter of time: in a few generations, mutations, cancers, every DNA-related disease would wipe it out of the face of the Earth.
Humankind was doomed. But there was still a chance for us post-humans.
We were so few then. But young and full of hope. We want fix everything that was wrong with the world. All we wanted was peace.
But then things changed.
And people started dying.
In the middle of the chaos that ensued, I saw a chance and took it. With a group of my peers, I managed to take control of a small country’s arsenal and made good use of it.
But, even eradicating a few more major cities out of the globe, the example I wished to set couldn’t be attained by surgical bombings or by game-like distance shootings.
My first edict after making myself Ruler Supreme of the World was to ban all guns and firearms.
Many complained. I arrested the most vocal for life.
I executed the most violent.
I resurrected old instruments of execution. Gallows, guillotine, and, finally, the only time-honored, proved, one-hundred percent execution foolproof method.
It took a long time for the remnants of humankind to accept it. But they eventually did. They accepted the awful truth.
Someone had to do it.
I had a dream.
In this dream, I was being chased by a beast in a jungle. I ran, ran like crazy, ran like my feet never touched the ground. I felt my heart thumping wildly, almost as if I was going to have a heart attack.
I never saw the beast.
A psychotherapist once told me that I was the beast in the jungle. It could be. I stopped seeing the shrink anyway. I still didn´t know how to deal effectively with things which bothered me then.
Now, after much pain and suffering, I learned. If it had happened today, I would have shot her the moment she told me those words.
The most important lesson I learned in all those years: at some point in a chaotic situation, someone is going to scream. It doesn´t matter who the scream is aimed at – it may be a person being robbed, a victim of a car crash, an eviscerated victim of a shot in a trench in the middle of a war.
It may even be a patient in a psychiatric ward.
But someone will scream. And everything will run out of control.
So I did what it had to be done. I screamed. Through my actions, I screamed louder than anyone else in the room, and the room was the world. Before someone else screamed.
* * * * *
Fabio Fernandes is a writer based in São Paulo, Brazil. Also a journalist and translator, he is responsible for the Brazilian translations of several prominent SF novels including Neuromancer, Snow Crash, and A Clockwork Orange. His short stories have been published in Brazil, Portugal, Romania, England, and the USA, and in Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded. Another story is forthcoming in The Apex Book of World SF, Vol. II, ed. by Lavie Tidhar, later this year. Fabio blogs here and tweets here.
His other contributions to the Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.