After the sun sets every night, and the bell on the far left compound dings and dongs, and all the inmates are rushed to their cells, and the icy winds penetrate the ragged and tattered walls of the building, I end up in the same place as I do every other bitter night, on the cold hard concrete floors, dwelling on thoughts. Thoughts about my life's happenings.
Reflection. Definition: The ability to witness and evaluate ones own cognitive, emotional, and behavioural processes. 'Know thyself'. The concept of self reflection itself, dates back to three thousand years ago, inscribed on the Temple of Apollo when it was erected over one of the oldest known religious sites in ancient Greece. I read that in a church one afternoon, dismissing the idea and not giving it much thought.
The human mind becomes introspective at some point of life, whether its sipping thoughts over a lonely cup of tea at the local coffeeshop, or steering prospect ideas in your car on your way to work one morning, or scrambled between cooking eggs for your kids breakfast time, or of course, the personal favorite, as you lie on the cold hard concrete floors every night.
Back at the Kenyan Savannahs, the sunsets were my favorite. The only thought I'd put into was beauty of the azure sky melting into yellows and oranges, disappearing over the horizon. I never used to do any other thinking, never used to like thinking about myself. I was never fond of the idea of soul searching or questioning my conscience. I would do what the day needed me to get done and move on. The deeds of the day dispatched. Just like the dispatched corpses of the beast of the day. My only worry about the pay for the kill. No second thinking and guessing involved. No caring about the jeopardy of imperil species, or even any consequences thereof. No reflection.
But now, thrown into this wretched bullpen where other brutes like me pays for their crimes in the currency of time, laying on the cold hard floors and dwelling on thoughts became a pastime. Unlike the others, i will pay for my crimes in the currency of execution. It was my unfortunate timing where the punishment of poaching became a death penalty.
The cuffs on my hands clank, echoing when I move my chained hands and feet. With a few more hours to live, introspectivity expands throughout my thoughts. I've only been given four days to live, where I spent laying on the cold hard concrete floors, accounting for the self reflection I've steered clear off throughout my entire life. Time never stops and so the final hours hastily draw closer and my thoughts hastily mull over each other. Darkness surrounds my surroundings as the sky envelopes into total blackness. It doesnt make much of a difference when I close my eyes. My mind takes me back to the day.
I recall the stretched grassland, barren, with barely and trees of shade. Through the telescope of my rifle, it was easy to spot the beast laying about sunbathing. It's two horns looking like shark fins in the tall grass. My slow and stealthy movements allowed me to get close enough. I remember fingering the familiar trigger, right about ready to end the beast's life. Pressing down on the trigger as a the bullet spiralled through the air hitting the beast right on the head. The sound echoed through the empty land. It woke, of course, and made a run for it, but I was already on my feet aiming and shooting several shots before he finally went crashing down. He was a tough one.
I stood proud, foot on his leg, as I watched the life drain from his body. His beady, desperate eyes stared back into mine, unblinking as hopelessness and helplessness teared up in the corner of his eyes. I aimed my rifle between its pleading eyes for the final blow.
Then came the helicopters, suddenly and out of nowhere. 'RHINO RESCUERS' printed in big bold letters on the side of the chopper. I began to flee as panic surged through my body and as the dust began to unsettle when the helicopter began landing, running as fast as my legs could, until I felt a slight sting of a sleep dart at the back of my shin. I remember my vision blurring, until it encompassed of only darkness. The next thing I wake up to is cold hard concrete floors.
The fleeting yet long hauled night primes into complete blackness and I fall in and out of consciousness, the usual sleeping schedule, until the first signs of morning appear. The tips of the sun emerge somewhere in the Kenyan Savannah horizons, somewhere far enough where, someone like me, can't witness its purity. Thoughts slowly fade time, until time rushes into the brightness of the day where the vague purity of the sunrise creeps into the cavities of the stone walls. I don't deserve the light.
The decided time, is early morning and just as the early air condenses with my breathing, I hear the guards' heavy thumped boots nearing. My decided future is only inevitable to unfold. I only open my eyes when I hear the key in the keyhole, opening the gate of the bar cage like cell. I'm dragged by the cuffs out into the corridor where I'm forced to walk in between the guards.
We pass other cells like my own. We pass stairways. We pass the cafeteria and kitchen where breakfast is being prepared. We pass the guards faculty lounge where we hear laughter. We pass another corridor close to the warden's office and placed neatly at the end of the corridor is a mirror. The corners are rounded and a few splits and cracks perimeter the edges. Light bounces of it as we approach it creating an image of myself. For the first time since I've been here, I see my reflection.
Reflection. Definition: The return of light or sound waves from a surface, the production of an image by or as if by a mirror. An unkempt image of a man appears before me. Beady, desperate eyes stare back into mine, unblinking. I recognize the look in his eyes, fear itself, from inevitable death. The same look in the beasts eyes before the final blow. The hopelessness and helplessness tear up at corners of his eyelids. I feel entranced yet deceived by the familiarity.
My gaze gets averted when the guards avert our direction and I find myself at the exit of the compound. I am led through a door out into the courtyard where a erect structure of the apparatus of execution stands. Tall beams are held up with diagonal struts reinforcing the structure to carry my weight without collapse. It reminds me of the snares I used to set up. The guards without exchanging instructions already know what to do. I hear muffling as I am dragged across and I find myself standing on a piece of wood beneath the structure. Hands and feet still chained, the rope is placed around my neck. I feel the knot pressed against the skin behind my left ear beneath the angle of my left lower jaw.
In my last moments, introspectivity expands my thoughts once again. It is now when I realise the consequences of my actions will not terminate with death, but perpetuates beyond. A call is made, and the lever is pulled. The last thing I see is the wooden floor boards beneath me.