We are all guilty of sin, error, and moments of sheer stupidity; none of us should be casting stones. The occasional arced pebble might be overlooked.
-Richelle E. Goodrich
The cry tears the early Saturday morning air. A battle cry. A victory cry. The beginning of a dirge song. A call to action. It is all about perspective. Even a man standing at the back of a mirror can imagine what his reflection looks like.
I hear the cry loud and clear. It sends chills through my entire body. The light from my phone screen is almost blinding as I stare at the clock. 3 am. Even the birds have not begun their rehearsals. Only crickets and evil can be found at this ungodly hour of the night.
It can only mean one thing. My skin is becoming numb from the cold and the uncertainty only works to make it worse. The commotion is getting closer to where I am. I stare up at the cloudless sky. The stars seem dim. Reluctantly like a moth attracted to the light I start walking towards the commotion. Are you nuts? What are you thinking? We will be fine. What assurance do you have?
A small crowd has already built up. I stand a safe distance. The death penalty.
I am heaving. I have no clear plan or destination. The air feels heavier and I feel as if I am wading. I am certain my legs have conspired to betray me. They are not carrying my weight as fast as they are supposed to. Choices. Life serves you bitter pills and the only option you have is to swallow.
I hit the ground with a thud. The heavy blow on my forehead spins me back to the ground as I struggle to get back on my feet. Confusion. I cry out. My chasers also cry out. Pain, and mercy. Victory.
Someone roughly picks me up from the ground and shoves me forward. I can taste soil on my tongue. I implore them to spare me. I want to speak to their humanity. Sell them my plea. For a second I wish I had taken up a Marketing course in school(skills to sell ice to an Eskimo. Cliche).
My body is working on overdrive now and the kicks and blows seem to be doing no harm. There is no escape for me. I wish the ground opens up and swallows me whole. Deaf ears. I want to tell them the reasons why. Negotiate on behalf of my beating heart. They can have my stupid brain and burn it at the stake. My captors are oblivious to my pleas and are hell bent on marching me to my death.
The heavy object dropped on my chest has me gasping for air. From the noise I can tell the crowd is growing. I writhe as whips land all over my body. I hit another lifeless body near me. They have caught a counterpart. Who could it be? I cannot make out who it is. Even the Lord was not crucified on his own.
We have to rid the streets of such pests who only steal what is not theirs. Have you considered their rights? Let us be done with them once and for all. Who made you the judge and jury? But they… Who gave you the authority? Dilemma. My conscience is divided. One part stands as the accuser, the other inclines towards the accused. The latter dominating as I watch the whips mercilessly land on them.
Where did all this people come from at this time of the morning? Majority of them are wielding crude weapons. I could almost swear I had seen a knife. Are they always this armed for war? One faction is now asking for building stones. For what purpose? Towards the building of what? They are currently tearing down lives piece by piece. Apparently, if you drop it on a person’s head you blow their heads and be done with them.
Another faction is opposed to that. Sweet. Hooray!. Wait up! There is no party yet. You thought there is one? Hold your horse. Their only interest is the location of the stolen merchandise and the other gang members. I clench my fist as all the muscles tense imagining the pain they are going through as the anger choking the air is meted out on them.
I slither. The pain is too much. Make it stop. Anyone. I heard them ask for our secret hideaway. I would lead them to the gates of heaven at the time if I was the custodian of that secret. The blows and whips seem to be coming from all directions.
I protectively hold my hands over my head. Someone grabs at my pants. Oh Lord let them not strip me. I try to hold on to it. The ringing pain paralyses me for a second. A stone had hit right at my temple. The cold water on my naked body is the most brief moment of reprieve, deep down I know my agonies are about to get worse.
The cry for petrol sends utter terror throughout my whole body.
Pilate himself asked to wash his hands when his people crossed the line. I was now ready to also wash mine. The crowd is asking to burn them. Is this the right step to take? Don’t they know after crossing some lines there is not coming back?
I want to reach out and speak to them. Implore them to now stop this madness. Is this the only way to solve the issue? Do they know that life is precious? I see no humanity written on their faces. They had suddenly all turned to beasts. They had lost all compassion.
The crowd is growing bit by bit. The people seem to just keep coming. Most are more than ready to grab the whips and join in. The words of the savior play my mind, ‘Let he with no sin cast the first stone.’ I am a sinner. They are probably all sinners. I cannot see an end in sight.
I had always been told that when something happens over and over you become numb. Those liars. The pain is unbearable. I feel my whole body is on fire. Is this what hell will be like? I can feel blood oozing from open wounds on parts of my body. How long can I bare this? There is only so much that any man can take.
I want to beg for mercy. I want them to spare me. I only manage a howl. My voice is failing. A cry for help. The beating gets worse. They have not asked for my reasons. I want to tell them of my allure to quick cash that had led me to this life. Who judged my case? When was the verdict passed? Hypocrites.
Seconds. Minutes. Hours. I have completely lost my sense of time. The crowd is still baying for their blood. The disgust rising within has made me oblivious to the cold. They have almost become lifeless. Occasionally they wince out in pain and this seems to rejuvenate the crowd. Heartless souls.
Madmen. Every market was said to have its own. Someone grabs a whip and wants to attack the crowd. He is screaming for them to stop. They want to turn their anger on him.
‘He is one of us haven’t you noticed that?’
Divide. I am floating between the land of the living and the dead. In and out of consciousness. The whipping and blows abruptly stop. The cold wind on my open wounds send a painful(almost pleasurable) sensation through my body.
The ringing in my ears prevents me from making out what is going on. From the movements I can tell there is a scuffle that is ongoing. The calm before the storm. I brace myself for the worst.
Shame. Guilt. The crowd has scattered miraculously. They heard it was one of theirs and they all ran for the hills. Cowards. Suddenly they got some sense. They got their humanity back and cowered in light of their actions.
The ambulance is on its way. I cross my fingers that it makes it here in time.
I am being dragged by the legs. My sore back drags along the changing surface beneath. The pain is immense. I am not sure I could even walk either way. I feel numb allover.
I try to open my eyes. They are bloody and sore. Have I been blinded? What is the last thing I saw? What will it be like living in darkness? In the stillness I can make out sounds of what seems to be singing birds from afar. Hope.
I watch in awe. The small crowd is now angry. They want to know why the ambulance is taking too long. I see some of them have grabbed whips and are demanding vengeance against those that ruthlessly attacked their friends. They want to attack the purported masterminds.
The door to the ambulance is flung open. I want to scream out in horror. The guy at the door only a moment ago I had spotted him with a whip among the beasts that were baying for blood. How is he at the front line to help. Atoning for sins. What has the world come to?
I can feel my heart almost failing me. I have to be really still just to feel it beat. Don’t give up on me. Is this the end? Maybe help is coming. Or have we been left out in the cold to die like stray dogs? Or have they gone to get the petrol?
‘Dear Lord, forgive m…’