Cold sweat runs down my body as I’m strapped to the bed. I thought I’d be able to face this with dignity, but fear has an undeniable grip over me now. The guard says something about it being over soon, but my brain isn’t in the right place to understand his words. The only thing that matters is that IV line, sitting on a surgical steel table. I feel my last meal coming up, but force it back down. Pride. Honour. I need to die with dignity.
Now I see the doctor, standing in my line of sight, blocking my view of the IV. A priest is blessing me, but his voice is just a droning buzz in the background. The doctor, a betrayer of Hippocrates, has his hands on the poison, preparing to break his sacred oath to do no harm. Fuck him.
I feel a sharp pinch as the needle slides into my arm to find a vein. I struggle against it, but the straps are too tight – these guards know their job. Now, everyone leaves my line of sight, leaving me to see my reflection reveal itself in the one-way glass as the curtain opens. I know they’re out there – my false accusers gloating in their victory. My lawyer and family are probably there too unless they’re trying to get me a last-second reprieve. I glance at the telephone, defiantly silent.
The warden asks me for a final statement. “I know that you know who killed her. My family knows it wasn’t me, and so do you. I’ll see you join me in this room.”
The curtain closes so the audience won’t be disturbed by my death spasms, even though I know some of them have seen it before. I hear a click of a button being pressed, then the sound of the pump pushing poison into my arm. I expect to feel the cold of death coming to me.
It doesn’t happen.
There’s a pressure in my arm, the same as every time I’ve received a shot. A little more pressure as more fluid is pumped in. Then, nothing. The doctor comes in, and I look up at him. He quickly leaves the room. He returns with the warden and the priest. They confer in the corner, but I don’t hear their words. One of them – the doctor? – gestures at the curtain, but the other two firmly shake their heads.
After a few minutes of conference, the warden goes to the phone and dials it. Again, I can’t hear the words he’s using, but I can imagine the tone of his conversation. By now, I notice that the curtain is open. What do they think outside?
Finally, the priest comes over to me. “My son, the courts of man have found you guilty of murder, but it appears that the courts of Heaven have granted you clemency.”
The door opens, and two guards come in. They start unstrapping me, but they cuff and shackle me for transportation. I’m helped to my feet – it’s amazing how weak my legs are, almost like they’d given up on the idea of ever walking again. Then I’m marched back to the death-watch cell.
I’ve sat on death row now for two years since my first execution. They tried again, of course, on the theory that something was wrong with the drugs. Then they tried a double execution. The other guy died as normal – I watched his death while they pumped me full of the same drugs. I’ve become a bit of a celebrity since then. Doctors have taken so many samples of me that I’m surprised there’s anything left. Nobody knows why I’m still around.
My lawyers have tried to argue that I should be released since it’s obvious that Someone doesn’t want me dead yet. The judge told him that since I haven’t been miracled out of jail, it’s obvious that I’m meant to be here. Further appeals got nowhere.
I later heard that the investigation into the murders hasn’t restarted, despite my requests. The state has determined that there’s a guilty party – me – and they don’t feel inclined to prove themselves wrong. Well, I guess that I’m just going to rot here in this prison.
I look at the noose that I made from my bedsheets. Hopefully, I’ll die this time.