The city of Krastly has seen plenty of disasters over the last century. A 6.0 earthquake. Riots. A market crash. High crime rates. The 1% clawing their way to the top.
And most recently, a plague.
The quarantined city has been run amok by gangs who raid upon homes. The quarantined city has been torn apart by the rich who can afford to protect themselves. The quarantined city now belongs to the militia who scare citizens into compliance.
The quarantined city of Krastly is afraid of the demons.
//Cover by Sanguine.
It's not until you've seen many public executions that begin to realise that they're quite strange situations.
At the first execution, you have a morbid curiosity that you feel in the pit of your stomach but is actually conjured by chemicals in the brain. It’s the same curiosity that makes people stop when they see an accident on the roads – an accident where the vehicle is torn beyond recognition and the passengers can never walk again.
It’s that curiosity that draws in a crowd; one that listens to the cries and the wails of the family of the condemned. A crowd that watches a fellow human reduced to nothing but a piece of their former selves. A crowd that cheers on for the death of one of their kind and then reflects the horror on their faces at the sight of how… real it all is. A crowd made one by a chemical in the brain.
But after the fifth execution you’ve seen, after the tenth, the twentieth, the fiftieth, you begin to notice so much more.
Public executions aren’t advertised, for one. There aren’t any fliers handed out, no huge ads on the electro-boards, no messages on the coms. But people still manage to know and, despite Krastly being so sick of these executions, they still come.
I watch the crowd, and from my vantage point, it’s a sea of dark colours with the occasional shock of bright hair. The numbers though are a surprise. I doubt that Memorial Park has seen this many people at once in the past couple of months. Standing in a large crowd and watching someone die wasn’t the best way to survive.
I can’t see well from the roof that I’m on – a disadvantage of being ten stories high – but the centre of attention seems to be the memorial wall, although I doubt anyone was here to pay tribute to the victims of the ’07 earthquake. A few minutes pass by, and I imagine the thick tension that must be in the air below me. The street gang that had organised the execution is probably fond of dramatics, but if they wait any longer, the crowd is going to snap. The clouds above me are darkening as if they’d been waiting for the crowd to disperse but have lost their patience.
I’m not sure how many minutes pass before I hear a sound other than the angry shouting. It’s the sharp whining of feedback, and it echoes through my head. From the cries in the park, it sounds like I’m not the only one who heard it. I take a deep breath, trying to steady myself from the surprise of the noise.
Down below, a soldier has dragged out a man in front of the crowd. No, not a soldier. Although he’s dressed in fatigues, he’s a member of the SYTH, a group who’d claimed themselves as the leaders of the city, thinking of themselves as some heroes when they’re actually no different to the other street gangs. As I scan the park, I begin to pick out other members surrounding and reinforcing the gathering.
At least this explains why there’s hundreds watching – they’d been threatened into attending.
While my attention had been on the crowd, the SYTH leader had started talking, or more accurately, started shouting. But at my height I can only pick up a few words, - “comms” and “poisoning” and the one that interests me the most; “demons”.
I need to get closer, and I need to hear what he’s saying.
I run to the edge of the rooftop, peering down the side of the building. There was a balcony directly below me on the seventh floor. I kneel down and grab onto the edge. Deep breath. Swing. And then let go.
I can feel the wind rush past me as I fall, and I land on the balcony in a crouch. My breath comes out in short quick motions, but I can hear the SYTH member clearer now.
“THEO BROOKS HAS POISONED OUR CITY. HE HAS BEEN AIDING THE ELECTRIC DEMON. BY THE NEW KRASTLY LAWS, THAT IS PUNISHABLE BY DEATH!”
There’s another thing you notice about executions. Before the gunshots, the atmosphere becomes eerily quiet. There’s not a single sound before the bang.
Over my deep breaths I hear another gun shot. And then rapid fire of a semi-automatic. I had never known Theo Brooks, but if he had any family left, I’m not sure they’d be able to salvage much from his remains.
I’ve lost count of how many executions I’ve seen. I think this city, Krastly, has lost count.
Although I’m sure that someone in that crowd below knows the count. Someone is probably immortalising the names of the dead on another memorial wall. Someone is perhaps etching their names on a piece of paper, on a tablet, on their skins, in their minds, in their hearts. Maybe even in their souls.
If they even have souls.
All I know is that this was a waste of time for the electric demon.