The shackles on my hands sting as the rough wood rubs mercilessly against my wrists, embedding my skin with slivers. One thing is for sure, French prisons were the worse for wear. It’s no wonder people died before their sentences were up.
My legs feel shaky from the month of not moving and no eating, as the guard gripping my forearm pulls me forward, ever closer to the wooden structure that’s been erected in the city square. Never have I ever… the chant sings in my head. Never have I ever been walked to the Guillotine. I gulp nervously as my eyes, squinting against the bright light of daytime, dart around the crowd of people gathering around the square.
They search for one person, only one. Her; my Rose. She surely found a way to get me out. The only thing I can think of is a miraculously timed jump, but there’s no guarantee that I can even manage that considering they come and go as they please. I’ve begun to think I’ve run out of jumps. Maybe there’s a limit. I never considered that before.
I stumble as the guard pushes me towards the stairs leading up to the platform. The wood creaks under me and I tense, the realization that I might not walk away from this… alive, hitting me. He stands behind me. Holding me in place as he turns me to face the crowd.
“Before you stands the accused, Andrei Trevelle, of witchcraft and theft. For such crimes, the sentence is,” a long pause, “beheading.” My heart thumps painfully in my chest.
My eyes search the crowd for her pale face, shining grey eyes. Where is she? Where’s Rose?
I feel the guard push me to my knees, kneeling before the apparatus. I look up, the blackened blade reflecting in the sun of midday. I’ve seen this in movies and such. It didn’t seem all the scary then, but now… well. When your head is being forced under the blade and all you see before you is a roughly woven basket… for your head to land in, somehow your perspective changes and the very realness of the sharp blade descending down to meet your neck becomes very, very clear.
I feel his hand on my head, forcing my gaze back down. I avoid the basket, looking out at the crowd with my eyes, searching. Where is she? Please, let me see her, at least one more time. I feel my throat constrict and my eyes start to sting with tears.
I’m not ready to die. I’m only fifteen! I don’t want to die!
I never expected to die so young. Sure, my adventures pulled me through the past into dangerous situations and rough waters, but I learned to adapt and survive. How can you survive judgment though? The Guillotine, that’s just not fair!
Through the swelling fear forming tears in my eyes I finally catch sight of her. She stands at the front of the crowd, to the right, hands clasped together, gloved. Her lacy pink gown stands out against the rough looking crowd of people in peasantry. She wrings her hands in her lap, her lip trembling. Her image reflects everything I feel in this moment. Dread washes over me like a wave and my knees shake as the guard lowers the bar to hold my head in place.
He begins to read out the details of the accusations against me, drawing on the crowd’s response for a spectacle. I keep my eyes trained on Rose. With every ounce of my being, I beg with my eyes for her to think of something, some way to prevent it.
The guard’s ranting stops just as the first bell tolls the noon hour. The square grows deathly quiet. All eyes fix on me and the stand. I flinch as the second bell tolls.
With each toll, Rose jumps, her hands shaking. I wonder now, what kind of magic she could possibly have. She told m, she had a secret and she told me – like I told her. Do her parents know?
The third bell tolls.
She said something about them. I recall now, I don’t know why I do, But I remember. She said they disowned her.
The fourth bell tolls.
How could they do that? My parents, they haven’t disowned me. I know I’ve been a burden to them, being bad with school and having a temper with the teachers.
The fifth bell tolls.
But they still support me, I guess. She must be terrified. I can’t believe it, there’s someone else with magic and I’ve found her! Maybe that’s why-
The sixth bell tolls.
The crowd seems to buzz with anticipation even though no one speaks a word. They’re eager, hungry eyes watch the platform, waiting for the blade to drop.
The seventh bell tolls.
No, I can’t! I need to jump! Why can’t I jump!? This isn’t right! I didn’t even have a fair trial! Is this really what happens to those with magic? Is it really such a bad thing to have magic? Or is it-
The eighth bell tolls.
-because they are scared of what we might do? I’d never hurt anyone with my magic! It’s not right! All I do is jump through time and learn! Please! Someone! Stop the-
The ninth bell tolls.
A boot comes into view beside the platform I am kneeling in. I flinch, making the wood shake. It terrifies me, making me think the thing will come down before the next –
The tenth bell tolls.
Shit! This has got to be a nightmare. It’s all just a really bad dream. Perhaps I ate something and I’m passed out with food poisoning and I’ll wake up in the bed as the –
Eleventh bell tolls.
My eyes snap to Rose – her own shut tight. No! Please! Don’t close your eyes! They’re beautiful! I want to see them one last time! Please! I see a shadow pass over her face, a purple glow pulsing from her hands as the twelfth bell tolls.
I hear the rope creak against as the guard pulls it, releasing the safety on the guillotine. A collective gasp comes from the crowd as the black blade descends from the sky toward me.
My heart skips.
Rose’s eyes snap open, purple, wide, as a wave of black energy shudders across the crowd, emanating from her. The platform shakes with the force and I hear the shrill sound of the blade cut through the air, accelerating towards me. I feel something cold on my neck.
The ground tilts.
My vision goes dark as something hard hits my head.
By Kayla West