A Cruel and Unusual Punishment:
A Fictional Account Based on a True Story
by Neil Cole
I always thought of myself as being brave, but when I heard the footsteps of the guard coming toward my cell, fear gripped me in a way that I never imagined. Everything inside me froze from the terror. I couldn't move, or speak. My stomach was in knots, and my breath was gone. I was hoping that my heart would stop so that I wouldn't have to face the inevitable horror outside.
I had been in that cell for almost a week. The cells on death row are always the worst but I hardly even noticed. All I could see was the cross. The chafing of the shackles was a constant reminder of the nails that would soon be pounded into my flesh. Their unrelenting hold on me never let me escape the permanence of my sentence.
I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. Every time I closed my eyes there was the cross. I would pace back and forth in my cell like a caged animal. "There's got to be a way out of this! This can't be happening! Is this really the end? Is this all my life is to be?" No matter how fast my mind raced, no matter how many times I walked around that cell--there was no way out! There's no Governor to pardon a Jew in this fascist government, especially one who rubbed out a Roman Centurion.
Before I was caught, I used to run with a group of revolutionaries. I guess you would call us terrorists. We prefer the term freedom fighters. We had a cause and were willing to go to extremes for what we believed....
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