Sparrow

Countless people have died by his hands, an assassin once regarded as a hero but now one of the most hated people to face trial for his crimes; Genocide. The man behind the cowl? A royal heir to a large monarchy overseeing the largest empire of the world. A huge undertaking and privilege for Jonathan Sarkoen to have, but it is quickly thrown upon him unexpectedly as his father is assassinated right in front of him and the rest of the family. This huge responsibility is thrown away as John takes it upon himself to seek revenge on those who killed his beloved father... But things don't go to plan as John finds himself in a strange world stuck between his family and the people of his country. This isn't made any easier what with his harsh battle over his insanity and mental state. Is John prepared for what awaits him in the shadows of mystery? Or will it overcome him and his ambitions to find the glory which once shone over his people and its lands?

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1. Prologue

For as long as I can remember... All I’ve wanted to do was fight the good fight, and I thought from the top would be the best way...

 

-Somewhere-
 

“We have plenty of time John...” The masked man’s saying in his usual electronically altered voice too deep to recognize; it’s almost like it’s his real voice with such a low distorted pitch. “...So don’t miss any details; make sure to tell me everything.” Unable to see him completely in the darkness I can only make out his outline; but his outline is all I usually see; he tends to hide in the shadows a lot... I can see him by the glimmers in the light hovering above us. Slightly painful is how the light stings on my eyes and face; a slow but annoying pain thanks to its powerful bulb against a practically black background; the dimensions of the room itself are impossible to make out unable to even tell if I’m in a room or just in some great void sitting with a masked man.

“Where do I start?” Satirically I speak through a wry smile and cocking a brow knowing this was no joke, decided to make it one.

“The beginning please.” He says as disappointingly as a father would to his childish offspring, clearly disapproving my attitude. Rolling my eyes is the best expression I can pull off but he doesn’t care based off of his blank stare; which his blank white ceramic mask goes well with... Probably never will care; he’s only ever concerned about... Well, I have no idea, but I have to listen to him unless being electrocuted by the heavy steel corded shackles tightly wrapping across my wrists and pinning me to the cold steel table is what I want. As I look at the black corded and stainless steel shackles a sharp pain stings me from one wrist; hard to tell what it is until I see the blood drip from my wrist.
“Huh, must’ve run over the edge...” Seraph says leaning back in the chair as he notes the blood dripping onto the table. There was some weird yellowy tinge to it; but I forget it quickly as I sigh retrieving both my posture and eyes reverting back to him as he’s starting to become impatient;

“Come on Seraph, where’s that magical spark you and I had?” Satire springs off my words only trying to make the masked man crack a smile, which I realised is pointless, “...If anything you should be the one talking, you never could stop even for the slightest of moments and now look at you...” Funnily enough he’s still silent and like a statue maybe even as cross as his arms were wrapped one under the other, my voice drops now to a lower, far tone more depressing now,“...Silent.”

“We’re wasting precious time John...” He pauses through his serious, grumpy old coot tone which also sounded like it was filtered through a deep amplifier, “...And when I say we, I mean you.” Slowly my smile began to fading but now it quickly pulled away, gone, and his now starting... or at least what I can tell of behind that bloody mask. Assumptions are all I can make smiling; his mask covers his entire face always, I’ve never seen his face; no one has... However and fairly relentlessly I have to continue;

“Fine Mr. Serious...” Dispassionately I sigh showing my great displeasure through the monotony trailing my voice and face, “...Let’s start with the prison...”

“That’s the ending...” Seraph pulls a recording device onto the table, “You better tell me from the beginning...” He leans forward; his mask clearer yet somehow more obscuring than before with its white painted ceramics and red strange ancient symbols. His eyes are staring me down though the slits dead and cold...

“I’ll get to it....” Menacingly much like him I lean in quietly, but only to speak into the recorder...

 

 

-23rd of June, 2033-

 

“The blades spun around the ceiling; circling so the room was a little cooler than the searing heat that kept each and every one of us prisoners sweaty and tired. The fan didn’t spin too fast; slowly really, mostly because it was turning off and also partly because I kept getting up to spin it, which I did once again; getting up and flicking it for some level of entertainment. Once I had laid back down it seemed to bore me again; still as stone I watched little bugs flutter, their wings dancing around the light bulb that hanged from the ceiling by a single cord. Usually days would be boring, sometimes a fight broke out and then I’d end them; whether or not I was in them. Despite my spinning fan, my couple of moths dancing and the cold concrete walls I felt bored; also felt betrayed, I can’t play the hero anymore. As before I laid there in my small barely comfortable bed that rarely seemed to support me or provide any level of warmth that practically exposed me to the elements. Every morning was as lazy as the last; getting out of bed was still a long stretch ritual but instead of waking up to a warm breakfast it was a cold ugly man looking at you through a set of bars and either grinning or staring blankly. This was a standard practice across the entire prison but I was usually the one that had to wait for the guard to search me, then check with outside to say yes open the big steel doors, then a good long walk into the maximum security rooms where I’d get a massive chamber all to myself because I wouldn’t get along with inmates. So I got special treatment at the prison, the warden wouldn’t dare to be in the same room as me without her guard detail. My file read something like four or five armed guards at a minimum, but the warden insisted a sniper within shooting range at all times. The reason for the four or so was in case I attacked; two would certainly die without any chance of survival and the other two would be there to stop me knowing if it were three the last one would likely end up dead as well. Kind of sucked when they knew how to stop me, but if I had just one knife... But I wasn’t planning on causing any ruckus with the guards, they hadn’t done anything to me yet, but they knew not to; even four well armed guards wasn’t certain to stop me...

 

How I got there is a long story; so long it encompasses the life of a man from birth to the now or soon to be told, but I might as well summarise it because I’m not game to talk for twenty odd years straight...

I committed a crime like most people in there but only some of them I put here, the rest I put six feet under. I killed people; the guilty who don’t deserve to live, but I was still called a hero; because in dark times like these; no one was a hero and I was the best thing they had. But eventually like all good stories; something got really, really, really fucked up... I committed genocide: which I still cannot explain but I must admit to, I don’t remember how it happened exactly but I remember some of it...

 

 23rd of May 2033 is the date an atomic bomb was detonated in Angel City killing 18 million; each one of them someone who lived, laughed, loved and cried... now dead only resembling charred, irradiated bones sunken into the dead earth and rubble that was once Angel City. I had the switch in one hand and the handgun in the other. The world pretty much slowed to a stop; bullets flew past me every which way tunnelling air and sweeping past the terrain... and then the chaos was broken by the deafening boom of a massive explosion; buildings crumbling and people screaming, the sky lighting up crimson red and orange, my own heart and others stopping for a moment as the force of the explosion rattled our bones and innards. I don’t even know why I pulled that trigger... There must’ve been a good reason; I only remember having such a heavy headache when I did it...

By the end of it I was on my knees reaching into the bloodied remains of so many people; I saw myself in the man’s open wounds. I saw a monster who wore taught cloth across his lower face to hide his identity because he was afraid of those he ran from, all the shit he threw away... He disgusted me but I couldn’t stop staring at him, what remained above it were his steel gray eyes hidden beneath his strands of dark brown hair that made a fair fringe reaching to his eyebrows and cutting between his eye line. Slowly he removed his cloth revealing the man hiding behind the facade; a strong narrow jaw lined with unkempt facial hair like he hadn’t shaved in about a week or so.  The monster’s nose was small and narrow; similar to his jaw but his head was no light bobble placed onto the broad shoulders and well built body of a killer. The face also carried with it scars of its past; a knife wound that had healed into a large white streak running from one temple down to his lips on his left side. Although the face had received plenty of pain it seemed to still hold tough and stern skin covering an old burn that seemed to have healed into a yellowy wrinkled patch on his right side which was only revealed by the flick of the hair before being covered once again. This face belonged to something evil... It was filled with hatred and sorrow, the lingering stench of death and all that was at the other end of it... an incomprehensible being... being’s form was unmistakably my own, a shame I regularly despised. However every time I looked at it, I saw very little of what I knew as me in that being... that being’s name... is best known as the Sparrow.

 

Vile name it was, it made me sick and it churned my guts inside out; I hated what I’d become... It was vile and so far from what I wished to become...

 

I was found there minutes later; I wasn’t in shock, I wasn’t paralysed, I was... waiting, I looked at this horrid beast which reflected off the man’s blood. I was waiting for it to strike like it always had; it would sick upon the evil that crossed its path, so why wouldn’t it strike me down? It was unbelievable, to the extent that I didn’t believe it... I was in this strange denial, knowing that it couldn’t possibly be me, despite having been him for years now, it picked at my mind and it shredded my soul, broken and shattered I was now obliterated... The people who found me there, waiting for them to take me away somewhere; somewhere that could shackle the monster away from society lest it prey upon the innocent again; it seemed to have forgotten what was at stake or possibly it like all heroic people; turned... There was something inside me that wasn’t right, I was insane; some kind of unstable psychopath that was unable to fit in to society, and no longer able to save society from those just like him... His time and the times of hope were gone... He was dragged away with not only himself but the sorrow, the guilt, the regret, the world and society he used to live in... Now it’s all gone... dragged away to be locked away for good...

 

In dark recesses and cesspools I spent a month in the Crestfall Maximum Security Penitentiary’s extreme security ward which only allowed prisoners to big cinderblock rooms that were basically bare with a small metal chamber to house yourself in. My case had to be reviewed and things put in place; lawyers had to begin this, judge that, guard detail that... All the preparations for the world’s biggest and most televised trial in the history of the world. The real piss taker in it all is that I wasn’t allowed an appointed lawyer because I was part of the royal family but because I was disowned I’m not getting any lawyer to take my side of the case. At least that’s how it went... maybe that wasn’t how it was supposed to go, but that’s how it went..

 

-24th of June 2033-

 

“Come on, get up!” One of the prison guards was banging on the steel door of my cell. I was still inside the second barred half of the cell which made it kind of pointless for him to wait on the other end of the door that I wouldn’t even be able to reach. I got up anyways, not like there was a lot to expect from this; probably letting me out into the ‘cinderblock’ which may have something in it today instead of being a cinderblock room.

“What is it now?” I moaned from enjoying my sleep on the cold concrete floor which was actually pretty comforting despite it making my body mostly numb.

“The day we bury you...” he said through the tiny door slot he was lucky to have in between us, and the bars and distance... He wouldn’t be so cocky if I was closer but I wasn’t that menacing locked up., and that’s how they liked it. All I could do was look at him menacingly from my side where I laid but it was as menacing as a baby penguin getting angry and squawking at you; not menacing in the slightest and also cute in a degrading way.

“Not today.” Dismissively and obnoxiously I said getting up and readying myself for the movement process which involved me being placed in heavy shackles, a straight jacket, a restraining mask that resembled a dog’s bite mask and being strapped into a full body trolley that kept you from moving at all except for the compression and expansion of the diaphragm enabling you to breathe (I believe the guards called it the cage).

“You know my brother was in Angel City when you blew it up...” He spoke in a foreboding and threatening tone while he looked at me menacingly through the metal bars that restrained me, “...Now you’ll answer for your sins...”

 

They wheeled me through the prison; each bystander cheering, chanting and roaring as I passed them by; first time being in the common areas of the prison since I first arrived. Their chants and insults seemed pretty useless; each one just seemed to be frothing from the mouth from what I could tell. Rolling along the prison hallways I was headed to the city court, to see fit my sentence...

 

After the short drive I was taken in through the massive court house that took up a stadium’s worth of space. Going in wasn’t that easy being flocked by so many news reporters, cameramen and journalists all with the same stupid questions like; Why did you do it? Why did you turn to a life of heroism? Why did you go and betray your heroic ways? But I had a question for them; why would you ask me questions when it was literally impossible for me to speak? The court house room my trial was to be in was huge; bigger than most opera houses, so big it had three floors for all of its two and a half million seats. It was the first courthouse ever built and has been renovated fifty something times over the millennia its stood. The room was tattered with great tapestries of the cities’ icon: a phoenix alight stretching its wings outward. Most people who first see the place criticise the very reason for this great expense, albeit it is a little unnecessary as the statues depicting phoenixes on each of the twenty or so columns around the oval shaped court house that resembled an opera house were all at least five (16.4 ft) metres tall with wing stretching a good 13 (42.65 ft) metres from one tip to the other, not to mention they were made of actual firestone which made them a few million dollars each. This was the only one of its kind; and it housed the history of law ever since it began taking place in courtrooms; as this was the very first court room in the world (it was renovated since then of course). This room was the one that held the greatest criminals, the ones that make history, just like me...

The court room was packed already with people standing due to the raw amount of people at least 3 million... The judge slammed his gavel down onto his desk; which lied at the end of the court where the rest of the booths and other court’s desks and benches remained. The judge stood out of his chair with his enormous belly weighing his movement greatly. “I, Martin Yullopis, grand judge of this hearing, call forth the defendant.” His voice was shaken and slow, as if he was afraid and trying to hide it. Before walking in I was taken out of the trolley and once called, walked through the ornate doors and onto the huge 300 (984.25 ft) metre carpet that laid the path from one end of the court room to the other. Awkward would be the way to describe walking down the long strip; mostly because the judge calls you and about an hour later you end up at the booth, but it was definitely nerve racking and absolutely terrifying having everyone watch you as you walk up a line.

 

The onlookers in their booths stood up around me, watching with a cold stare, a few in tears some angry stares. Seven heavily armed officers escorted me, which would seem ridiculous but by now you’d figure it not. Not to mention I was also bound by hand and foot shackles that weighed at least 50 kilograms (110.23 lbs) each, which made it hard, but not impossible, to walk. I’d be lying if I said it was all a bit excessive; they had good reason to go to these extreme precautions. A woman from the crowd shuffled her way towards the walkway, she was flustered and bright red across the face, sweating and... Well really angry;

“You son of a bitch, why should you even get a fair trial?!” She screamed hurling one of her high heels straight at me. If I wasn’t restrained I would have easily evaded such a minor attack, but instead I ended up on the floor bleeding from the forehead. Two officers carried her away, she kicked and thrashed about as she screamed, “Kill him! He’s a bloody monster! No one should get away with...” she was promptly cut off by the doors closing behind her as they carried her out of the room. The judge didn’t attempt to call for order, he just sat there taking in what she said, because he knew what I did, she knew what I did, everyone in the room and everyone watching on television knew what I did. I struggled to get up, but with the kindest help from the authorities; they graciously kicked me in the stomach encouraging me to get up on my own.

 

It took at least a minute to finally be seated at my bench, with which everyone else sat down. I had no lawyer; I was on my own because no one wanted to, mostly because of what I had done. “Where is your lawyer? Or really where is your firm?” Judge Yullopis looked down at me; his flabby cheeks drooping below his double chin. His voice seemed to strengthen now, bellowing would probably be more accurate, “Well, Mr. Sarkoen?”

I looked across to the opposing party of... well almost every lawyer in the city and then some.

“Well, your honour, they’re over there.” I calmly spooled from my lips whilst I attempted to gesture to the lawyers standing across the room. My attempt to point at the lawyers ended up in an awkward arm tussle as I tried moving the heavy shackles. The huge man sighed vigorously rubbing his forehead, knowing I had to comply with his next words in order for him to prosecute me, or I was able to stay under house arrest until this happened again.

“Mr. Sarkoen, with the full knowledge that no lawyer or government worker will support your side of the case satisfactory I must ask you: are you willing to act on your own behalf and testify without any lawyer or any other type of legal figure?” He watched me; everyone did, although they had already dedicated their current existence to, however now they did so with great anticipation and frustration knowing I could go back to a life of luxury under house arrest which wasn’t that bad when you’re house is a mansion and at least 500 acres of land that was also considered as ‘home property’. “Well, I am a man of honour...” I could hear behind me a varying degree of people’s disgust, doubt and disagreement to those words, which made me pause for a moment, “and I will continue for the sake of the law this society strives to uphold.” Judge Yullopis took a deep breath of relief, “Thank the blessed...” he mumbled under his breath, “Jonathan Sarkoen, you are charged with Genocide... how do you plead?”

“I plead Guilty.” I said knowing I’d face capital punishment. But that seemed like a break in my position...

“The minimum sentencing I’m allowed to give for your trial is imprisonment for life.” .The judge continued his words, with an ever foreboding tone in his voice, “Prosecutors state the offense...”

“Yes your honour,” the first lawyer stood up from his chair, “On the thirteenth of May 2023, this man; Jonathan Sarkoen destroyed Angel City with an atomic bomb, killing 18 million people and injuring 7 and a half million. The bomb was neither made, nor planted by the defendant but he however did trigger it knowingly and willingly. The department believes that the defendant should be executed, leaving all the diplomacy out of the argument and treating him like any other one of us if we were to have committed such a crime.” He sat back down with the horde of lawyers.

 

“Very good.... Defence you may take you’re plead...” Judge Yullopis said prompting me to start. I clambered out of my chair and walked to face the judge, I remained silent for a few moments. “Your honour, my people...” I turned to face the audience, “I know what I did was wrong... I know how wrong it was, and I don’t call for any kind of sympathy but just know that, even though many people have lost families, friends, and loved ones, I assure you that out of everyone affected, I have been affected the most.” The crowd started muttering angrily amongst themselves, “Many people have lost their families and friends, I lost all of mine, I stand alone, right now, and I will die alone. Many of the people have grief for their loved ones, my best friend died there...” the audience wasn’t happy but they weren’t angry either, now content on hearing the rest of what I had to say, “It’s one thing to lose someone, but to have killed someone you love, and to have the rest hate you is something entirely different.  I don’t ask for pity, but I ask for mercy, I ask for mercy in my last hours in this world.” I was starting to tear up now, my voice starting to break, “I deserve this, I know I do! If I don’t die here, then I’d take my own life later...” the tears stung really bad as they ran down my face, the people watching were starting to stifle and shout, “I have nothing left to live for, my family denounced me and my friends left me. I...” my voice cracked, I struggled to speak with this strangely dry throat, “I’m nothing anymore. That, your honour is my opening statement; I hope you find it in your heart to just have me executed! My soul has been tortured far beyond repair. All I ask is that I may have my final wish acted out...” I heard a few people starting to cry and others gasp, but the most remarkable being the judge’s silence which had to be interrupted by one of the courtroom guards gesturing him to start talking.

“Very good Mr. Sarkoen...” he darted his eyes between me and the prosecuting party, “The defendant has pleaded guilty...” he started to stutter, “Mr. Sarkoen before I sentence you, I would like to know what your last wish is?”

“Your honour, I want my life to be known to the world, I know it’s a lot to ask for, but I’d like my biography written.” I looked down at the glossy oak table I was seated at, my thumbs twiddling about.

“Your biography? I... why would you want that to be your last wish? Surely not to have a public apology or even hope for redemption in some way?” The judge was befuddled with my strange request, he pondered shortly, but he needed not as I already had the answer;

“Your honour, no one will forgive me, and I don’t ask to be, but I ask that I’m not forever known as the man who levelled a city. I was no villain... I may have not been the best role model or hero or whatever the fuck I was... but I was better than this, I want people to remember that...”

“Well, Mr. Sarkoen, I will have an esteemed author write your story and of course have your sentence postponed...” He paused waiting for the right moment to continue, “...for seven days, no more.” He slammed the gavel down, and despite all my assurance to dying it still stopped my heart for a moment, practically skipping a beat. It’s as if time slowed down and all I could hear was the gavel slamming against the hard oak of the booth. It seemed that the audience behind me also felt the very same feeling... a betrayal, something wrong...

The guards escorted me out and people started to look sorry for me, a refreshing change, or at least something familiar to comfort me. It’s strange how you can have people love you for your good deeds then forget all of them because of one wrong...

The esteemed writer who I got to know very well during my last few days in this world was of course Mitchell Barley, who had written many great crime and mystery novels in the last few decades. I spent my last week with Mitchell in a hotel room in Crestfall, under house arrest and with supervision during the discussions the author and I would have...

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