Sin-Eater: The Condemned Man: Chapter Seven

Pink at night, sailor’s delight. Pink in the morning, sailor take warning. This rhyme occurs to Grady as he dresses himself while looking out the window toward the rising sun. The sky is a mixture of clouds and sunlight and there is a band of bright pink near the horizon. The clouds look bruised and pregnant with rain. The weatherman says that there could be rain by mid-day. Since Luis Grafton won’t be around for lunch the timing seems just about perfect.

Grady’s dreams were troubled as they always were just before he was to use the abilities given to him by a quirk of genetics. Despite this he felt well-rested. His conflicted mind was at peace this morning now that he had just the mission to focus on. He dressed predominantly in black with a gray shirt. These were the colors he considered his work clothes. He heard no movement or noise anywhere else in the house and had no idea if Father Marten had ever returned to bed.

Within the prison walls a large omelet sat upon a plate untouched. The omelet was easily the size of the entire surface of the plate and filled to brimming with vegetables and meat. On top of the eggs was a generous helping of salsa with a dab of sour cream as well. Sausage and bacon and hashbrowns lined the sides of the plate and crowded the omelet for whatever meager space it could find upon the white plate. A brownie with a dollop of whipped cream stood next to the breakfast foods. There was a large and still-steaming cup of coffee next to that.

This was the last meal of Luis Grafton. His dreams had been troubled as well. A long time ago he had come to terms with the fact he was going to die. He didn’t mind it. His belief in what the world was about and what lay beyond what he could see before him was so complete that nothing could shake. Then yesterday a man with red hair he had never seen before shattered everything he thought he knew and he feels now, for the first time, like he could use more time to figure things out. He wants to eat his omelet and show everyone that he didn’t care but his stomach lurches at the thought of that.

The guards peer in at him and he notices that they appear in very good spirits today. Of all of the prisoners they have walked the last walk with none will delight them as much as Luis. od spirits today. Of all of the prisoners they have walked the last walk with none will delight them as much as Luis. od spirits today. Of all of the prisoners they have walked the last walk with none will delight them as much as Luis. Luis knows this as well and, again, for the first time, this bothers him. He eats regardless but essentially is food is untouched.

He glances at the clock and is amazed that he knows for certain that after a certain time he will be dead. He knows the hour and even the minute when he will die. How does one look at the clock knowing that without going insane? His knee bobs up and down nervously and he attempts to read a newspaper given to him by one of the guards. It is a newspaper nearly two weeks old but it provides some distraction.

Grady descends the stairs and finds Father Marten dressed and clean in the kitchen eating a small breakfast. The priest seems very calm, even at peace. Grady decides to eat a couple pieces of toast but by-passes the coffee for orange juice because the coffee will make him jumpy and have to go to the bathroom too much. They eat in silence. Father Grady reads the paper. Grady just breathes slowly and relaxes. He knows his duty and he knows how to perform it. All that is left to him is to do the job at hand.

The morning passes very quickly. The two men spend some time watching the morning news. Grady shakes his head at the crowd already gathering outside the prison. Father Marten makes no comments. They make their way to the car and Father Marten begins the drive. Grady closes his eyes and focuses.

Luis taps his foot and bites his nails. With each tick and nervous movement he knows the guards are laughing at him. He wants to bang his head against the bars. During his time of killing he tortured more than a few of his victims. He feels he has some kind of understanding about that now. He is not in physical pain but he can’t keep his eyes from the clock. Every time he gets up and walks. Every time he pees. Every time he does anything he thinks that it may be the last time he does that particular activity. He feels to need to hold on to each moment and savor it and it all slips by so fast.

Grady and Father Marten arrive at the prison. The sky turns a dark black on the horizon and the wind picks up. Umbrellas have begun to appear among the people standing in front of the gate. Grady opens his eyes to see members of the crowd holding pictures of young women. There are signs but Father Marten drives too quickly for him to read them. His senses are very in tune right now and he senses the pain wafting from many of these people.

It took a lot of convincing the night before for Father Marten to get Grady back into the prison. Father Marten wondered last night if Grady could perform his duty from within the car. After giving assurances that Grady would be situated in a room away from the death chamber the prison officials had been sated. Father Marten parks the car as the first fat drops of rain patter down across the pavement and the front of the car. Umbrellas snap open outside the gate.

The guards are nervous and anxious. Grady and Father Marten submit to searches. The searches complete and Grady is lead to the conference room where he and Father Marten spoke the day before. Father Marten is lead to the chamber.

Luis Grafton is informed that Father Marten has arrived. They ask him if he wants to speak to the priest. Luis denies this. Then he reconsiders. Then he changes back. He does this flip-flop internally. Ultimately he runs out of time.

Grady settles himself at the table in the conference room. He feels the Formica beneath his fingers. He closes his eyes and breathes steadily. He regulates his heartbeat as he was taught. His mind casts out and he sense the soul of Luis Grafton. It is a soul in torment. Instead of menace there is only fear now.

The warden comes down the hall as Luis is told to stand. He is handcuffed at the wrists which connect to a belt at his waist and there are further chains that lead to his ankles. He is wearing a white t-shirt and orange pants. His has white slippers on his feet. His knees feel weak and he mutters a curser under his breath. His eyes dart from side to side. The warden speaks to him but he barely hears. His heart is hammering so loudly in his chest he wonders if he will die from a heart attack before he reaches the chamber.

Father Marten sits in a room filled with others. Some of them are family members of victims. Some are members of the press. Others he can only guess at. There are two rows and one row is higher than another. He sits near the door at the far end of the first row. There are guards here. There is a curtain across the window in front of them. Beyond the curtain is the death chamber. One of the guards is giving instructions should anyone suddenly feel faint.

Grady breathes slowly and steadily. He can feel the hugeness of the sins that burden the soul of Luis Grafton. They boil and churn like the clouds outside. The man is nearly bursting with blackness. Grady feels as though he floats above Luis. He cannot see what Luis sees, but he gets a sense of the mounting terror and uncertainty. Luis envisioned this moment so much more differently than it is going down right now.

The warden turns and walks forward. Guards take up either side of Luis. There are more guards coming behind him. He cannot lift his hands to scratch his nose. His nose begins to itch. His breathing is erratic. He cannot stop his eyes from darting around. He licks his lips because they are so dry they hurt. He craves lip balm like he has never before. The air is cold on his arms and gooseflesh rises. He sees the eyes of the other prisoners as they watch him walk past. He reaches the doorway out of death row and he stumbles. The guards on either side grab him and hold him up. He curses again.

The guard finishes speaking and with a nod the curtain slides back noiselessly. The room is blue tile and looks like an operating room. There is a table covered in white with two arms spreading out on either side. There are straps affixed to this table. There is a cart on wheels next to the table but those in the gallery cannot see what is on this table. Father Marten begins to pray softly and silently to himself. He prays for Grady.

Grady’s heart beats in perfect rhythm with Luis’. Luis is terrified and his heart pounds in his chest. Grady keeps his eyes closed. The room around him vanishes. He is in a place where souls exist. He is in a white place that he has seen before. There is no floor or ceiling or walls. There is just pure white all around him. In the distance is a small black dot the size of a period drawn with a pencil. He turns to face that dot.

Luis enters the room and his breathing whines in and out of his chest. He wants to run. He wants to scream. His mouth works and his tongue repeatedly licks his lips. He sees the faces behind the glass and his eyes wander over their faces. He sees the priest and wants to say something. Instead they lead him to the table. He lays down. They unshackle him and men hold his arms and legs down while the straps are affixed to his legs, arms and across his chest. Bright lights from above him pierce his eyes. A woman comes from nowhere dressed in a white coat and swabs his arm. A needle is inserted in his vein. They have started an I.V. but the tube is not yet connected to the deadly chemicals.

Father Marten closes his eyes. He prays harder. He prays that perhaps Luis will decide to reveal all he knows with his last words.

The table raises suddenly. Luis is strapped to the table facing the gallery. His eyes wander over the faces again. He recognizes some of them from television. He focuses on the priest. The priest’s eyes are closed.

“Do you have a last statement?”

Grady watches the dot grow slightly bigger. The edges of the dot sway and shift like smoke.

“No, let’s do this thing.”

Father Marten lets his breath go. He opens his eyes and sees Luis staring at him as he is lowered back down.

Luis watches as the tube is connected. The tube runs from his arms into a hole in the wall opposite the gallery. Saline is run through the line to make sure there are no kinks. His charges are read. The warden motions with his head. The fluid starts to run. Luis feels tears at his eyes and he blinks. They run down his face on either side. He watches as the fluid runs through the tube. Time slows. It takes forever. He feels nothing as it enters his veins. He turns to face the bright light above his head. He feels a tingling run up his arms and wash over his head. The light goes out.

Father Marten watches in wonder at how peaceful it all is. Luis closes his eyes. After a few moments his breathing catches in his chest. His chest flutters. He appears to choke. His breathing stops. More minutes go by. The clock seems to run backwards. Eventually a doctor steps forward. He places a stethoscope to Luis’ chest and nods. Luis Grafton is dead.

Grady opens his eyes within the conference room. He does not see the conference room. He sees the world of white. He sees the black dot. Wind rushes through his hair. The black dot rushes at him like a train headlight in negative. The sides swirl and bend and twist. It is a monster rushing at him like a tidal wave with a million black tentacles. He hears a screaming. The blackness hits him with the force of a train.

Within the conference room Grady lets out a yell. He is knocked backwards. The chair reaches the breaking point. Grady McDonnell falls to the floor.

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