Author : John Logan

The metal clasps dug into my arms as they strapped me to the chair. I spat on one of the guards and called into question the loyalty of his wife. He raised his hand to strike but the other guard stopped him with a simple movement of the eyes.

“Let me up,” I shouted. “Just one arm free, I’ll take you both on.”

The guard who wanted to hit me sneered and spoke, “Gonna beat me up, are ya? Just like you did to that little boy they found in a box?”

I lost it then. It sickens me to admit it, but I began to whimper. “Please…let me go. I’ll be good. I promise,” I said.

The guard laughed then I felt a tingling at the back of my neck as the other plugged me in.


A stark whiteness surrounded me, the soothing tones of the sea whispered in my ear. A holographic terminal appeared before me, glowing in strips of cyan. Then a female voice, unmistakably synthetic, spoke.

“Initiate sequence,” she said with little emotion. “Welcome Mr. Brown. Are you comfortable?”

I leant back and the terminal flipped with me. I heard a seagull. It cried in the distance as the waves came crashing against the shore. “Yes, I am. Thank you.”

She spoke again. Each word was annunciated deliberately as though allowing time to access a vocabulary database hidden away somewhere. “You have four of nine categories remaining.”

The sea continued to churn. “Continue,” I said.

“Please choose from; Strangulation, Shotgun, Train, Dismemberment.” The cyan lights on the terminal shifted above my head. Each selection displayed with a number.

I lifted a finger and hovered over number 9. Dismemberment. I always left that until last. I just didn’t have the courage to take it until it was the only option left.

“Train,” I said and tapped the terminal. The cyan light flashed for several heartbeats then a blanket of darkness fell over it.


My heart hammered as I ran along the platform. I glimpsed him there, in the shadows, a knife glinting in one hand and a wicked grin on his face. Air rushed down the tunnel and I heard the sound of an approaching shuttle train. We were alone. He leapt at me, the knife poised to cut my throat. I slashed at his face and felt my nails sink into and tear the flesh. He cried out in anger and pushed me towards the vibrating tracks. I slipped and fell from the platform, my ankle snapped from the impact but that initial pain was drowned out as the train hurtled into me, pulping my soft flesh and grinding my bones against the ground.


I gasped and spluttered, gulping at the air. It was a wonder there was any left for the guards.

“I’ve had enough,” I cried. “Don’t do it anymore.” Sweat dripped from my brow and stung my eyes. They removed the straps. The metal bands around my wrists, magnetized with 5 g modules, automatically clamped against the harness on my chest. Roughly, they lifted me to my feet and I shuffled forward. “I beg you. Don’t put me back in the chair.”

“Too late to plead,” growled the guard. “We’ll see you tomorrow, same time same place.”

I tried to think of some retort but couldn’t. The scars on my face itched. They always did after the Train.


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