He looked at his hands. He watched the blood drip down from them. He was kneeling now. Surely now it's over... He looked around the dark candlelit room. As the flames danced, so did the shadows of the corpses, as if to mock their casters. It was finally over. The door, however, remained closed. Why...? Why is it still closed...?

The adrenaline rush was fading now. His breathing became calmer. His eyes widened as he stared at the room, able to take in the surroundings with more sobriety. So...so many bodies...so many...I...I didn't think...I... He stood up, slowly, dizzily. He took a step. Its echo reminded him that the floor was once dry. He stumbled forward, looking at the bloodied bodies, bodies of various ages, bodies that once lived, bodies that once loved, bodies that once died.

Nausea crept into his core. His vision blurred. Did I...? I...I did this...? He tripped on a foot and fell back on his knees. He threw up. Yes...yes...I did...I... He remembered the door, he remembered seeing it from the other side. He remembered walking in, the machete in his hand scraping the doorpost, the people inside huddled in fear. He remembered the click of the lock once the door shut. He remembered the ones who screamed in fear. He remembered the ones who tried to be heroes. He remembered the ones who prayed. He remembered the ones who begged. Why...why did I...?

He closed his eyes but saw no darkness. He saw the others. He saw the blood spurt, the flesh tear, the bones break. He saw the children cry. He saw the parents plead. He could still hear it all, as though the sound never dissipated, as though the sound refused to leave the room. Ahh...that's right... He looked up towards the corner of the room. A small red light flashed on and off. That's right...the cameras...

***

We interrupt this program for a special broadcast. The following is a direct message to those who rebel against the Central Governance of Earth, the foundation and strength of our great society, of our great planet. We exist to serve the people, to maintain stability, and to ensure security. Yet you wish to destroy all that. You wish you dismantle that which makes our society, our planet, great. This cannot and will not be tolerated. We will not allow you to ruin what we have achieved for our people.

We present the following as a warning to you: when you attack us, you attack yourselves.

***

Well...you know what to do?
...
You're in no position to refuse.
...
Maybe you shouldn't have joined the traitors.
...
We are indeed pleased with your information.
...
Perhaps this is penance for leaving...or perhaps it is a test to reenter.
...
Well, I'll make it easy for you. Either you complete your task or you can sit in a prison cell, in a straightjacket, in front of a screen....and you can watch your loved ones in that room.




Author's note: When I started writing this, I was fully intending to end it with the reason being "What would you do for a Klondike bar?". However, as I went on, somehow that seemed to not be a good idea.

Pen"ance (?), n. [OF. penance, peneance, L. paenitentia repentance. See Penitence.]

1.

Repentance.

[Obs.]

Wyclif (Luke xv. 7).

2.

Pain; sorrow; suffering.

[Obs.] "Joy or penance he feeleth none."

Chaucer.

3. Eccl.

A means of repairing a sin committed, and obtaining pardon for it, consisting partly in the performance of expiatory rites, partly in voluntary submission to a punishment corresponding to the transgression. Penance is the fourth of seven sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church.

Schaff-Herzog Encyc.

And bitter penance, with an iron whip. Spenser.

Quoth he, "The man hath penance done, And penance more will do." Coleridge.

 

© Webster 1913.


Pen"ance, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Penanced (?).]

To impose penance; to punish.

"Some penanced lady elf."

Keats.

 

© Webster 1913.

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