The ClearingA Modern-Day Allegory
"It’s Time," a woman’s voice rang out through my cell.
"Oh my God, my God, this cannot be?" I mumbled on in a panic,"This cannot be!" They were really going to mutilate and murder me!
"Please show some dignity," she said. Those who had accompanied her walked towards me and I felt a pair of arms on both sides of me take my exhausted body and haul me out of the room. I was back in that cold hallway again, but was taken this time straight outside into some fresh air. Suddenly and again there were the cheers of countless Outsiders pressing on both sides of me. I was dragged for some distance, then up some steps. Several of them lifted me and threw me down hard onto what felt like a giant cold stone table, an altar of sorts. There I was tied down with ropes tight around my chest and waist, lying face-up.
"Look," the Woman said, "there really is no reason to sob like you are. They tell me it only lasts several minutes."
"What only lasts several minutes? What are they going to do?"
"I thought you knew," she replied, genuinely surprised, "They never tell me anything. You see, I, too, am a prisoner here. My only responsibility is to bring you to the Table. What happens after that I do not know; they keep the details of your sentence from me. They tell me that it’s for my ‘own good’ that I’m kept ignorant. Maybe they’re convinced that I wouldn’t bring you here if I did know, that instead..." She abruptly broke off, then said, "I can’t say anymore. They’re watching. I really must go now!" And with that, I heard her walk quickly away.
But what happened next took me by surprise. She stopped after only several steps, turned around, and came back. Putting her mouth next to my ear, she whispered with the utmost sincerity, "I am sorry; please forgive me." Then she ran off. I would never hear her voice again.
A moment later a loud voice boomed to the onlookers, "The prisoner you see before you has been found guilty of wrongful habitation and has been sentenced to Death by Dismemberment!" The mob roared again with anxious delight. The announcer continued with the details of "offenses" of which I was found guilty.
With what little inner strength I could muster, I asked aloud, "Is anyone there?"
A heavy voice replied, "I am here."
"Who are you?" I asked.
"I am your executioner," came the cold, pointed answer.
"Please, can you give me something which will ease the pain?" I implored him, in an attempt to minimize the effects of whatever torture they had planned for me.
"Well, now, that would take all the fun out of this, wouldn’t it? And besides, your type probably doesn’t feel a thing during these activities."
I sighed in hopelessness then asked, "Do you think this is right?"
He replied, "It is not up to me to decide what is right and what is wrong. The Court has found you guilty."
"That was no trial. I had no say. I had no choice. I could not defend myself. I’m asking you, do you think I deserve this?"
"You’re right; you have no say in this matter. The Court has deemed it so. But if you must know, no, I am not in agreement with them."
"Then why don’t you stop it? I’m innocent. Or don’t you care about this injustice?"
"Understand this, condemned one, I do not make the decisions around here! I am no theologian! Nor am I some moralist! What I say doesn’t matter. Even if it did, I don’t force my ideas of morality on anyone! I am merely providing a service here, a service for the people. They all want this! And if I don’t do it, someone else less qualified will. Now shut up! Just shut up!"
My right arm was tied up tight with a thick rope, so tight I could not move it. The crowd went silent. There was a moment’s pause... I heard the snorting of a distant horse and then a sudden slap. The next instant I was in wrenching, excruciating pain. There was a loud roar from the crowd. My right arm had been ripped off, torn from the socket.
"Stop!...Stop!...Please stop!" I screamed and pleaded.
My left arm was now being tied by the Man. I could just see daylight down near my chin; the force of the pull had moved the hood up slightly.
"Please...I am like you, I am no different than you! Please...why?!" The pain was overpowering me.
"You are not one of us," spat the Man as he made the knots tight, "The Court has made that abundantly clear. You do not have the rights and privileges we enjoy by virtue of where we live. You have been found guilty. You must die!"
The scenario was replayed as the rope was made taut around my arm. The silence was resumed and there was again the Slap. In an instant I felt a tug and my left arm was gone. The crowd went mad with delight. I was in intense pain and losing blood rapidly. With the last jolt my hood had slipped up near my mouth and I could make out, through the slits of light, figures walking around me. I felt him tie up my right leg as I closed my eyes and began fading in and out of consciousness...
I thought back to the Peace that was mine only a short time ago. I drifted through visions of my cabin...and my animals...and my garden. I saw in my mind’s eye the beautiful clouds floating overhead and the moving waters of the creek as it trickled through the Clearing. All that was gone forever now; I was resigned to the fate of never seeing it again. All the plans I had for my life had been laid low because of some irrational fears of a strange people; a people that were my own but had now, somehow, metamorphosed into some new hideous creature.
Death was close at hand and I attempted to catch a glimpse of the outside for one last time. I moved my head slightly, left and right, forward and back, in an attempt to move the hood up a little further. The executioner was finishing with the tying of my leg. With my last ounce of strength I peered through the opening and saw the Man, kneeling at the end of the Altar, putting the final touches on the wrapping of my leg. He gave one last yank on the knot and looked up, his eyes meeting mine. He smiled demonically and horror gripped my soul as I saw that I was looking at myself. I was the Executioner.