A Hanging


I am hanging from an elaborate wooden structure in a featureless tundra. My arms are bound behind my back. I am being used as a live counterweight for a noose. I am unsure of my relationship with the person who is to be hanged, but I sense we were once allies. Possibly even friends. I do not know the circumstances which led to my bondage but given that I am being spared the penalty of death, it may be the case that I was the one who betrayed them.

A small crowd has gathered. Men in dark blue uniforms bring a young man towards the giant weather vane from which I am suspended. The young man has dark hair and eyes, tanned skin. He is dressed in sandy-brown fatigues. From the severity of his punishment, I infer that he has rebelled against the dominant regime.

The man is raised to the noose, causing every finger of the abstract scaffold to sway and buck, triggering a counter-force from an opposing limb. Only my legs can move freely, and though I splay them in different directions in an attempt to steady myself in the air, I cannot stop my body from oscillating and rotating at random.

Before long, the man is being hanged. He speaks to the crowds in a way not befitting a man approaching death — he talks with ease. He jeers at them. He almost breaks into a laugh.

Meanwhile I, in a futile attempt at protest, stretch one leg out and try to stomp on the head of one of my captors, but he is positioned in such a way that I can only pester him with light taps and nudges. He looks up at me with murderous ire and I am reminded that they would readily kill me too for the slightest transgression.

The audience, silent and stoic, frown at the hanging man. A woman with long dark hair and sharp, aquiline features stands out in the crowd. She has a sympathetic air — could she be an ally or even a lover to the hanging man? Her expression morphs into a sneer. She begins yelling at the doomed man, taunting him, relishing his death. I am suddenly aware of a popular stigma against us, we captives. The crowd came here to shame us.