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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Pets · #1554680
The last thoughts of a prisoner, moments before his executiton.
Prompt from WC: Tell about catching the flu at worst possible time --

My mother died with a needle in her arm eight years ago. I guess the apple doesn't fall to far from the tree. I'll be dead by tonight. Lethal injection.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't afraid. The executioners and those that support the system, either directly or by passively allowing it to continue, would argue death is merciful. "A life in prison is no life at all". Of course, they aren't going to be strapped down to a steel table peeing themselves as federally approved poisons stop their heart.

You'd think I'd be bitter, that I'd want to trade places. I don't. It's not within my nature to hate. I'm not perfect. I've made mistakes. But I don't deserve this. Even the guard that brought my last meal couldn't look me in the eyes. He knows my sentence is unjust. No one denies it, but those that could stay my execution look the other way.

I'm not alone. Locked behind steel bars, I see hundreds of other prisoners. Some cry. Some hide. Some try attack the guards. Some like me, just stare blankly. I hope they have the memories like mine to help them through the nights.

My adoptive family gave me love, affection. They treated me as their own. No one seemed to care that I looked nothing like them. Mr. Edmond taught me to play ball. Mrs. Edmond covered the mantel with pictures of me. Once, when I was little, but old enough to know better, I had a nightmare and wet the bed. I was so ashamed I hid in the closet. Ms. Edmond found me in the corner crying. She just changed the bed clothes and carried me back to bed. She kissed me on the head and cuddled me to sleep. They truly loved me.

Sometimes I think about the beach. We used to laugh and play along the water's edge. Sometimes they'd push me in, sometimes I'd push them. We'd swim and investigate the crabs along the shore. Occasionally, we'd buy a snow cone or some ice cream. Though I haven't had much of an appetite lately, I think I could stomach one last ice cream. Vanilla. Simple, but perfect.

I never really planned for the future. I just wanted to love and be loved, curl up next to a warm body at night, enjoy whatever the day may bring. I just wanted to make people happy. I guess that wasn't enough.

They're getting ready to come and get me. I can hear them down the hall. A few weary-eyed prisoners look my way, most just tremble and try to duck low. I wish my family was here, if not to save me, to comfort me. But they abandoned me days ago. I try not to think about that. I try to remember the love and the good times, but it's hard not to think about them leaving me here to die. The last time I saw Ms. Edmond she was bawling. Mr Edmond assured me everything would work out; but he told it to the tile floor. He never could lie.

History is full of similar tales. In just this century we've witnessed the genocide of Armenians in World War One; Jews during the second great war; Rwanda, Dufar and others still battle today. I suppose it's too much to ask of a species that kills themselves to protect me, and others like me.

I'm a prisoner, not a criminal. I'll be dead in a few minutes. The charge laid against me? I have kennel cough, animal-shelter-flu.

Author's soapbox-plea: Ten to twenty MILLION animals are euthanized every year in the United States alone. (Some statistics include livestock -- others don't). Please, spay or neuter your pets, and support local NO-KILL agencies. By donating a bag of food or kitty litter (less money than the average pizza order), resources are freed that can be used to shelter and re-home these innocent victims. Fostering a pet for a few weeks could buy it enough time to find a forever home. Let's work together to live together . . . .
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