This short story is in response to the Literary Lion prompt Time


Her thoughts preceding the inevitable were obvious. A surplus of self-loathing and bursts of anger and sadness in seemingly endless waves of repetition. Except there was an end, and it was nigh.

“He was a ticking time-bomb of aggression.

She tugged at the metal once more, four hours of tampering had done nothing to upset the stubborn solidity of the bonds keeping her tied to fate. Silver slivers of justice wrapped around her wrists, demanding repentance for past endeavours. She was resigned now, almost at peace. Would she have done it differently? Given the current circumstances the answer was clear. But if it hadn’t come to this. . . Well, it was irrelevant now.

Her voice was long past hoarse, useless at this height, thoughts wandering over the many triumphs before capitulating in this failure. The only crime to his name was the libel against him. Arrogant. This review always fell the deepest, sharpest, rooted in pseudo truth and much harder to deflect with firm self-belief. How they would have loved to hate this scene, vultures, the lot of them.

The guillotine would be too kind.

She’d never been far from accurate, embellishing maybe, flirting with misdirection but not completely misleading. Inferring the gravity of a man’s soul, displaying his very being to an unknowing audience and encouraging the stories within. Antagonist or protagonist left bare, naked in the eyes of the reader. She’d condemned. Permanently poisoned his visage so that none could return to what they knew, or didn’t know, before.

Maybe she was arrogant in her judgement. Everyone makes mistakes but even the mightiest pen couldn’t right written wrongs and this time she would pay for her untruths. Her words had wrought exactly what hadn’t been.

It wasn’t long now. Looking around the tower room once more, shutters occasionally tapping, nodding slowly against the ancient, wooden panels. Darkness prevailing despite the shard of light scraping through the ill-fitting, warped wood. The clock-face stared away, distant; silently judging, refusing to acknowledge the doomed presence behind.

Ticking time-bomb. . . Guillotine. . . 

Poetic justice at least, as designed. Apologies made in vain, this critique would hit the hardest. The lever wavered, waiting, daring itself forward, longing for release. 

The clock hand swung, and like prior accusations the blade fell, her speculation finally fulfilled. The written man alive.

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