A blood churning cry echoes through the night, the only light source coming from a half moon hidden by clouds, barely Illuminating the ocean below it and white sands of the rolling dunes behind. Jessica panics when she hears the first horrifying scream. A sharp, high-pitched screech causing her to look over her shoulder. The moon was not bright enough to light her way. She was blind, regretful, and soaking wet. In her intoxicated stupor she had stumbled a little too close to the crashing waves, eventually tripping over her own feet and falling face first into the rushing swell. The touch of the freezing water upon her skin sobering her immediately, and with her sobriety came regret.
Regretful for being on this secluded coastline alone, for the things she said to Charles in what seemed like a past life so long ago. For her actions concerning her parents will, and finally for her decision with Zachary.
Still slumped on the shoreline, the cold water glides past her as she sobbed. The realisation of her poor choices just as sobering as the cold water of the ocean which attempted to engulf her. The scream bellows again, as another rush of water momentarily succeeds in its attempts to drag her out to sea. It sounded as if it came from all directions, and it still rang in her ears. Slumped on her side and fighting the waves attempting to swallow her, she pushes herself up. Half driven by the fear of being dragged out to sea and half by the fear of whatever screeched before. Nevertheless, fear is what pushed her to exit the water and flounder up the dunes perched above, just out of reach.
Now above the waterline she started to run. She had no idea what made that terrifying sound, and she had no plans on finding out.
It was a warm October night. Tranquil, calm. But the wind started to build. With every step it seemed to get stronger and stronger until it was finally strong enough to entrap her in a wall of swirling sand and debris. Unable to see or to withstand the sandpaper like burn on her bare skin she collapsed, hiding as much of her exposed limbs into herself as possible.
The deafening gale of which encircled her now did not desist. Spiralling around her it would grow louder, faster, and more terrifying with every passing moment.
Hiding her face inside of her light jacket she cried out and pleaded with any higher power that would listen to end this horrific experience. That was until she heard it. A whisper pushed through the roar of gale-force winds. She heard her name in a sarcastic, accusatory tone.
From multiple directions “Jessica” reverberated around, seeming to bounce off the rushing air as if it was a static wall surrounding her.
Her name echoing, repeating over and over until the wind grew quieter, suddenly retreating from her and forming a silent radius barely an arm’s length away. With the sand no longer scratching her legs she looked up, the wind and debris formed a chilling vortex approximately two meters in diameter but standing unfathomably tall. Uncurling from the fetal position she had put herself in, she pushed herself up to hands and knees. Dazed and confused it took a second for her to realise that although the roaring wind had died down it was not silent. Her name was being called out, from all directions and from multiple sources.
It sent her blood cold.
Some of the voices were barely an audible whisper while others a booming howl. Together with the voices came the feeling of a hundred hands grasping her. Tearing at her arms, brushing against her lower back. Choking her. Void of all sensation other than that of claustrophobia, she gasped for air. Hopeless and confined, one final sudden squeal of her name broke apart the echoes surrounding her. The wind ceased allowing the sand to fall from the heavens but never amounting to anything more than a slight mound, the rigid hands finally released her, and she collapsed to her stomach once more. With sand still falling and darkness slowly turning into a bright, orange tinted light she finally saw it. The shadow of a dark, menacing figure stood before her.
The voices started again with the shrill, accusatory hiss of her name.
“Jessica” her name reverberating from all directions.
“Jessica, you know why we are here”
With her heart about to burst from her chest she finds the courage to look up. A slim, floating figure covered in dark, loose, torn garments. Floating as if submerged.
“I am the judge” a high-pitched whine from the left spat out.
she resisted the urge to look.
“I am the Executioner” followed a low, intimidating reply from above.
Her eyes still fixated on the lower half of the figure before her.
“You are an extension of me” came a lazy mumble from below, startled she scrambles to hands and knees once more.
Her head slowly shifts up, helpless as if she was no longer in control of her own body.
“And you have made a mockery of everything we are” wailed the figure which floated before her. The force of the words pushed her over onto her back before her eyes could reach higher than its chest. It’s face still a mystery.
Writhing in pain blood falls from her eyes in tear drops. The figure still watches over her in bored silence until the voices crop up once more.
“We are the executioner, Jessica”
“You condemned an innocent man, Jessica”
“To death, Jessica”
“You will be judged, Jessica.”
She closes her eyes, pleading for the nightmare to end. Her hands reach for her face before the voices turned even more hostile.
“You cannot escape judgement, Jessica!”
“Zachary couldn’t escape your judgement, Jessica!”
“An innocent man Condemned!”
“We are the executioner!”
“Just as you were, Jessica!”
“You cannot escape him.”
She froze. Peeking through here fingers she suddenly knew what this was about.
“Zachary?” She exclaimed.
“Zachary!” the name echoed around her. The voices seeming to take great pleasure from pronouncing every syllable.
“He was guilty! He was a horrible person!” She cried, fighting for her innocence.
“He killed that woman! It was my job to put him away for good! So, he could never hurt another person ever again!” the blood-tears now a stream falling from her eyes as she continued to proclaim her innocence.
“You were entrusted with judgment!” roared the voices in unison.
“You abused your power!”
“You were blinded by greed!”
“You allowed the execution of an innocent man.” This final snarled statement the most frightening of all, and with it a deafening silence ensued. The Bright, orange tinted light quickly faded to black as the falling sand walls which surrounded her collapsed and entombed her within.
“You can’t escape judgement” she heard whispered in a familiar voice.
“You don’t condemn a man to the firing squad out of jealousy and greed” it continued. Words she swore she had heard before.
“You know he didn’t do it, Jessica”
“Charles?” She finally could put a face to the voice.
“He did it Charles!”
“I know he did!” she cried, the weight of the crushing sand pushing down further with every breath.
“You know that’s not true, Jessica” he whispered.
“Jessica” the voices started again.
“You know it is a lie, Jessica”
“You knew exactly who did it”
“Yet you convicted the wrong man” the gentle voice of her deceased husband breaking the snarls of the others in momentary intervals.
"You don't understand Charles!" she pleaded, begging for understanding.
“You knowingly convicted an innocent man” the voices once again hissed.
The voices were growing louder, more numerous. The weight which lay upon her getting heavier, the sand beneath her gradually getting warm to the touch.
“You willingly Sentenced the wrong man Jessica”
“You condemned him for a crime he did not commit”
The ground below her started pulsating a deep orange, mimicking every word the voices spoke.
“They bound his wrists to a stake, Jessica”
“They blindfolded him” the glowing sand becoming more agitated. The voices enjoying every moment of her suffering.
“His mother will die, her last thought being that her son is a murderer, Jessica”.
"It hurt him, Jessica".
"He felt the burn of every shot".
"He thought of you in his final moments" the voices becoming more and more agitated.
The sand below her becoming unbearably hot to the touch now, leaving visible burns upon her skin.
She started to scream out in pain, the smell of her burning flesh in such an enclosed space overpowering her, impossible to endure. She cried out, pleading for forgiveness.
“You never told anyone you knew about the will did you”.
“You wanted to punish him didn’t you”.
“You were jealous of him weren’t you”
She screamed, the hot air rising from the pulsing sand now burnt her tongue. She pleaded for it to end. For the voices to understand.
“A judge shall disqualify themselves".
"For holding a personal bias”.
“Rule 2:11” the voices parroted these words for what seemed an eternity. Jessica however focused only on the pain. The pain of the burns becoming excruciating and her only source of relief being a harrowing, blood curdling scream. Too overwhelmed by her burns and her guilt, she didn’t notice the sand slowly becoming translucent. The source of the deep orange glow now revealed. What seemed an eternal drop to a glowing, horrifying abyss full of terrifying cloaked floating figures such as the one which ambushed her on the beach. Walls of falling sand like an elongated hourglass, but never forming any dunes. Sharp glass fragments abound, bursting out like pitchforks the size of apartment buildings. And glowing, pulsating orange sand twisting and turning like a highway through the city. The same scorching hot, sand which pulsated with every word the voices muttered beneath her. The glowing sand which had burnt her so terribly.
“This is where you belong”
The voices sprung up again. Their tone becoming more excitable, as if they are waiting on some big event to occur.
“You condemned an innocent man to death”.
“For a murder he did not commit”.
“For wealth.” The voices chuckled now, obviously taking great pleasure in everything unfolding.
“He was guilty! He did it! I know he did!” Jessica cried out, still attempting to clear her name.
“You sent your own family to the firing squad”
“Was it worth it”
“Your brother is dead”
“Is the money worth his blood on your hands”
“Is it worth His blood dripping from your eyes” And with that the voices burst out into a hysterical cackle. Jessica, only now noticing the tears she has cried dripped a thick, dark red onto the glass she lay upon. No longer agonised by searing hot sand, she was plagued by the realisation of what she saw below her.
“He waits for you, Jessica”.
“He can see you”
She surveyed the landscape below her. The pulsating orange glow and sharp glass towers rising from the scorched earth.
Her eyes dart from side to side. She can see movement across the vast desolate landscape. Hundreds of those floating dark creatures loom about. Looking up at her, waiting on their new arrival.
As she stared down fixated on the scenes below, she felt a cold, violating touch on her shoulder and froze, immobilised by fear.
“This is my judgement”.
This dark, monotoned voice silenced all the others. The orange sand turned a deep purple, with the land bellow encapsulated in a haze of darkness. Only a faint, bluish light illuminated the area behind her. A half-moon hidden in clouds reflected in the glass below her accompanied by the faces of two individuals. The first easily recognisable, her own staring back at her, red tears streaming down her face and a head full of dark unkempt hair tormented by gusts of wind and irritating sand. The second face, however, was not so easily recognisable. Disfigured and swollen as if it had been beaten, drowned, and only recently recovered, it stared through her, focused solely on the abyss which lay beneath.
“You have been judged”.
"No" she begged, the blood she wept now pooling on the glass.
“I find you guilty”.
The gust of the wind once again started to rush past her cheeks and the sand grazed her freshly burnt skin as the figure seemingly dissolved into the swirling vortex which encapsulated her once more.
Jessica looks down past her hands as the blood churning scream from the beach returns, its source now abundantly clear and the pulsating orange glow flashes back in an instant as if flicked on by a switch accompanied by manic cackling voices giggling her name.
From her left eye one last red tear falls, the glass cracks.