A Final Applause

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Light flooded into my eyes as they opened the massive oak door, letting the sun stream through in a flash that, after 6 months of no sunlight whatsoever, left me completely blind. A moment later, a wave of sound crashed over me as the deafening roar of my audience overwhelmed me, preventing me from hearing any specific taunts or jeers. It felt good, knowing that I wouldn't have to deal with this anymore. I was walking out to my last performance, my last appearance before a large crowd, or even any crowd at all. 

Once the doors were all the way open, a path was cleared through the massive throng of bodies, wide enough for my transport to pass through and leading right to the stage where I would face my former fans, now turned enemies, for the last time. I was jabbed in the back by something that felt vaguely sharp, and I took a step forward, lifting my legs up to stand on top of the small, rickety wooden cart that would lead me the rest of the way. 

I stood still as a statue, surrounded by ugly faces shouting uglier words. I did not turn my head to face them, but instead fixated my eyes straight ahead toward the raised platform in front of me, directly in the center of the amphitheater. A few of the audience members tried grasping out towards me - in violence or pity, I cannot know - and one brave soul even tried to jump in front of the cart before he was beaten back by my bodyguards. 

Eventually I arrived at the base of the platform. It was sturdy and made of wood, but it also gave the impression of being portable, as if it could easily be transported or put away as needed. I placed one foot on the bottom stair and felt it groan under my weight - evidently, it was either more fragile or older than I had anticipated - then pulled my other leg up past to the next stair, and made my way up to the plateau at the top. 

Looking out, there were even more spectators than I had expected, and I was actually surprised to be getting such a large send-off. I had only anticipated a few dozen people to watch my last performance, but over a thousand had shown up, all clamoring for attention (from whom, I could not tell) and chanting something that had been started around the time I reached the top of the platform. My eyes had adjusted to the alien light, and I was able to see more clearly now. 

I was still not frightened as I was led up the two stairs in the middle of the stage. I had known for a very long time - I do not know how long exactly - that this moment was to come eventually, and I was willing to accept it calmly, unlike this boorish crowd. But I don't blame them for their rowdiness. They wanted a show, one that they had been hungry for for months, if not years. As I reached the top of these two stairs, I looked down at the pit directly below the tips of my toes. I noticed that the fall was very deep - I would probably have broken both my legs if I were to fall that far. 

I looked back up, seeing the crowd again, and looked above them at the bleachers of the wall enclosing this space. I saw a face that I thought I recognized, but the distance was too great, and my vision too blurred, to say for sure. After that, though, I could not see anymore. Everything went dark before my eyes - the cloth, which reeked of a stench I did not recognize, scratched my face, but not painfully. 

I felt a tightness enclose around my neck, a thick wire encircling it, but loose at the back. I heard a yell from right behind me, but I couldn't figure out what the voice said over the crowd. Apparently the crowd heard though, as they immediately got quieter - absolutely silent, in fact, in anticipation for the start of my show. The voice behind me yelled again, then loudly read a scripted proclamation. I assumed he was reading from a prompt, but perhaps he had the decree memorized. 

When his speech was done, the crowd cheered briefly, but stopped suddenly, as if some great hand had covered all of their mouths. I heard the voice behind me quietly address someone else right behind me, telling them to "push." I knew the voice meant that I was to be pushed, but I did not give them the chance. I wanted to make my last show memorable, and took a step for them, dropping my foot off the edge of the stairs and falling straight down. 

As I neared what must have been the floor I had been staring down at, I felt a sharp tug at my neck, a combination of a thrust from the front and a tightening at the back, squeezing all the air out of my lungs and simultaneously pinching my spine. I knew I was dead. The last thing I sensed, though, was not pain. It was the sound the audience made as the rope pulled taut. 

I was given a standing ovation, my reward for a stunning last performance. 





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