h2>Dating : The Creature
The courthouse was a modest affair. The hardwood floor had been worn smooth by decades worth of shoes and had the city’s faded crest, a caged cannery hanging from an apple tree, painted right in the middle of the floor. The pews, judge’s podium and the witness stand were similar. Worn and ancient. The windows were high, flooding the room with the light of day, shining the sun directly over the stand. The clear light of justice. A cloud passed over the sun.
Like the floor, the pews and the podiums, the judge was also ancient and worn. A small man, he entered the hubbub of the courtroom from a door behind his stand and sat. His small eyes beadily surveyed the room and the various chattering experts His gnarled pink fingers clutched his gavel tightly. The gavel gave him power here in this room. He rapped it sharply three times. The Courtroom fell silent.
“Order! Order! Today we stand witness for the trial of an unknown person, a Creature, claimed to be guilty of crimes against the city.”
At the far end of the courtroom, the door swung open and in marched the bailiff, leading the Creature behind him. It was shackled and cuffed and peered unblinkingly at all of the experts and officials. From the back of the room, the Warden glared at the Creature. He was excited to see this thing thrown back into the cell that it had just left.
“May the first witness rise.” proclaimed the judge from the top of his stand.
The Farmer, a portly man with redened cracked skin and squinting piggish eyes stood up and made his way slowly to the witness stand. Although he was a farmer, he still dressed smartly, in the style of the city with a sharp fine suite and the customary corporate necktie tightened snugly around his thick neck.
“Do you swear by God to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth sir?” demanded the judge.
“I do your honour.”
“Well then farmer, describe how you came across this Creature.”
“It was early on tuesday morning sir and I was on my way to the fields to tend to my cattle.” said the farmer, scratching his head.
“As I was doing the usual business, I looked across my pasture to the field and saw the.. um.. cre- defendant walking along the old road that goes by on his way into town”
“Was there anything noteworthy about this individual?” asked the judge.
The Farmer paused for a minute and scratched his head.
“Well look at him your honour! He’s weird. He looks different. He wasn’t really dressed all that well and he looked like he had been sleeping outside, so I asked him what his business round these parts was.” The Farmer paused, but after the judge said nothing, continued on.
“And he just sort of looked at me your honour. He didn’t blink or say nothing or anything he just looked right at me and then kept on walking.”
The courtroom stirred. People looked at the Creature uncomfortably and experts scribbled in their notebooks. The Warden watched unblinkingly. He had read all of this information in the police report, but his heart was pounding in his chest and his fists were clenched.
“And so what did you do?”
“Well your honour, I’m a farmer sir. We don’t just sit around and let dangerous people come into our homes like that so I followed him down the road into town.”
“And where did he go?”
“He just kept on walking until he got to the School Teacher’s house sir. And he picked one of her flowers and then just kept on walking.”
“And did the School Teacher do anything about this?”
“Well of course she did your honour. She hollered at him and he did the same thing to her as he did to me: he just looked at her and walked on by into town.”
The courtroom was fixed. One man in the back, a few spaces down from the Warden, coughed nervously. Other than that, the room was silent. The Creature looked around nonchalantly. Everyone was nervous of that.
“And at this point, what did you do” said the judge.
“I kept on following while the School Teacher called the police sir.”
“Is this accurate School Teacher?” Asked the judge.
“Yes judge it absolutely is!” said the School Teacher. She was a short woman with long bony features and tightly curled brown hair. She spoke with extreme clarity and as her students knew very well was a fascist when it came to spelling and grammar. She continued.
“The defendant just looked at me when I asked him what he was doing and just walked away, so I ran inside and called the authorities. That was the last of it until of course now.”
“Thank you. Back to you, Farmer.” Said the judge once more. The School Teacher walked stiffly back to the pew and sat down.
“Thanks your honour. Well after the School Teacher went on inside, I just kept on following the defendant until the cops showed up.”
“Thank you Farmer.” The Farmer bowed his head and lumbered back to the pew.
“Would the Warden now take to the stand.” called the judge.
The Warden stood quickly, and walked, with his head held high, resolutely to the stand. He placed his hand on the bible, swore to the truth, adjusted his tie and turned on his heal to look at the judge.
“When you arrived on the scene, what did you see Warden?”
“Well your honour, I saw the defendant, walking along the road with the farmer. He was dressed in rags and, as The Farmer described before, looked like he’d been outside for a long time. I looked for the usual things that we look for when arresting a suspect: wallet, identification and credentials, but he had none. We were unable to gather any information about the defendant that would even set him out as a person like us as a matter of fact. He is for all intents and purposes an animal, with no ties to any institutions that we recognize here as important or credible. He is not like us and therefore, I would deem him to be a threat to the greater good and this city at large!”
At this point the entire courtroom erupted in a cacophony of shouts and applause!
“Cast it away forevermore!”
“Build a wall to keep it out!”
The crowd stood up in their pews and began moving closer to the stand. The judge slammed his gavel once again.
The crowd was unmoved. Angry townspeople flocked towards the stand, reaching out hungrily for the Creature, shoving this way and that, attempting to get closer. The judge surveyed the room for a moment. The mob was unstoppable. He tightened his grip on the gavel and hammered for a final time.
“The Creature shall be executed in front of city hall immediately!”
The mob surged forward and grabbed the Creature, dragging it across the crest on the old hardwood floor and out into the bright light of the sun. They dragged it through the mud and rocks, along the old road until finally, they reached the square in front of city hall.
The mob, as mobs do, formed a ring and shoved the Creature into its center. It stood and looked around, searching for some sort of escape. The crowds rules didn’t make sense to it. It did not understand what it had done to deserve it’s sentence. Slowly, it’s frightened gaze found a familiar face.
The Warden, as the highest branch of law enforcement in the town, marched towards the center of the circle. He drew the old sleeping dragon from his hip and leveled its barrel at the Creature.
He stared, and the Creature stared back.
The revolver clicked as the hammer was drawn into place; cocked.
The Creature stared at the Warden.
The Warden stared at the Creature. He looked into its eyes. They were green.
The Warden blinked.
“I can’t do this.” He muttered.
“Shoot it already!” Shouted the School teacher
“If you don’t, I will” added the farmer.
The Warden swallowed and looked out at the mob. They glared back.
“Wait! We do not underst-”
The first stone struck the Warden squarely on his jaw.
The second found its place on his forehead.
The Creature was getting pelted as well. Stones rained down like hail as the townspeople grew more and more assured. Everyone from the little PaperBoy to the old Reverend were getting their part in, hurling anything from stones to pebbles to right old rocks.
The warden grasped for the pistol, which he had dropped in the chaos, but his efforts were in vain. There were too many people, and he could barely see through the thick coating of blood. He struggled to understand. These were people that he had loved, protected, cared for, served and befriended. He had been a loyal warden to this town for decades and had been as much a part of this place as the buildings and the trees. He had played his role perfectly, like an actor on stage for years. Why then, was he now dying under a barrage of pieces of the town that he had been so close to?
He had gone off script and now he was paying his dues.