The Mask

Sighing, I got up from my slumber. The call of the King had just arrived, and there were things to do, works to fulfill. I cracked my tired joints and raised my heavy body to its full height. Life is so intransigent, it just always wants to keep existing, never gives up even if your body is in excruciating pain.
The axe was securely placed on a ledge on the wall of my hut. It was heavy, monstrously so. But, heavier than it was my guilt. So much guilt trapped inside my body. My soul was tainted, impure. Yet, what could I do? I am bound to do whatever the Majesty pleases.
Securing the rusted old axe in its place in my huge trousers, I grabbed the face-mask and went out to the King’s Palace.
The horns bellowed. I pitied the blowers. They needed to force air in those huge trumpets every hour of the day. No one could keep the job for more than five years. After that, they could seldom talk. It permanently damaged their vocal cords.
I walked on towards the courtyards of the mighty palace. The sky was plastered with dirty clouds. The air smelt rusty. The whole world had a brownish tint to it. I don’t know if it was just me, or not, but even grass and water, things that should have been perpetually colourful, were just a shade of brownish-red. The very fabric of nature seemed to be blurry and smudged.
I put on my mask as I neared the crowd of people around the guillotine. The mask was black in colour, and covered my entire face, except my eyes, for which it had two holes. The people pated to give me way as I walked on towards the guillotine. I could feel the eyes of many people on me, but it all quickly went away, as the King came on horse, dragging the prisoner.
The prisoner was one of our own. He was given capital punishment for being a rebel, and fighting the authority of the King. I had to give it to him: he had an ironclad will. Even now, I could see the cold determination, and warm hope in his eyes. It was beneath him to plead to me for sparing him, but the growing fear inside him must have persuaded him, for his eyes looked into mine, and requested mine to spare him.
I could not.
I wanted to.
I so wanted to create a revolution to overthrow our whimsical, and superficial King, who got to where he was merely due to lineage, and nothing else. HE involved in ostentatious debaucheries, excessive self-indulgence, and was not fit to be a ruler at all.
Digressing from my meaningless rant, I would like to go on with what happened.
The soldiers surrounding the prisoner forced his head in the board, and locked his throat in place, with his face facing the ground. As the advisor of the King told the onlookers of the terrible crime committed by the criminal, I saw some restlessness among the spectators. They wanted to see the action. They wanted to see the blade drop on the throat, which would fuel their fanatical nationalism and utter blind trust towards the throne.
“Now, I command you, the Executioner to drop the blade, and banish this imbecile to hell, and gradual oblivion. Let no soul like his ever step on our land again.”
The timing had to be perfect. As soon as he finished uttering the words, I let go of the rope that kept the blade in place.
Unlike popular romanticized moments, time didn’t slow. The blade made a squeaky sound as it fell down, and partially severed the head. Being rusted, and uncared for, it didn’t make a clean cut. So, I took the rope, pulled it, and let it go again. This time, it completely cut the throat.
The advisor called out to the people: “Don’t make yourself experience that. Live in harmony with the King.”
The crowd dissipated as the people went out to their respective postings, or their homes. The soldiers took the body and put it in an open coffin-like structure lying nearby. I picked up the head. After the head is severed, it still will be conscious for about five minutes, my experience told me. And my experience was accurate. I could see the blacks of his eyes still moving in perpetual confusion, and his mouth uttering a groan-like-sound.
I put the head alongside the body. The soldiers carried it away to dump it somewhere in the hills.
I stretched my body and went home. My bleak outlook of life and nature had not changed a bit.
In my home, I looked in the mirror, and was surprised to see that I was still wearing the mask. I looked so confident, and strong with it on. Then, I took it off, and my wrinkles and scars showed who I really was:
A Tired Slave.

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