Matt Staley ~ The End of 12

Day 1 (8:00am)
The door vibrates and screeches along the tacks; I’m not sure what to expect. Wearing only skivvies, Inmate for Internment #12 strides along the cold dirt in chained steps. As scribe under the U.S. Restored Faith in Justice Act, I write about it.

Day 1 (9:00am)
After the State’s Chief Minister gives the go ahead, he’s lowered into the glass tank around 9:05am, and the water’s surface tickles his mustache. Unfettered from his bondages, 12 can only look around the converted warehouse knowing he will die here. I gaze at his naked body, complete with bulbous love handles, and wonder indifferently how the water will transform him in the coming days. I write about it.

Day 1 (7:30pm)
All I know of 12 is he stabbed some bar owner to death in a drunken fit, so I try to understand how the victim’s family chose this option for execution. Fucking sickos, I guess. The longer I look at 12, the less I see his humanity; he is my entertainment, my muse. Maybe I’m the sicko. His biology unfolds. The stream forces its way through the water. The dark yellow morphs into an amber cloud around his genitals finally disappearing. His eyes scream defeat. I write about it.

Day 2 (10:30am)
Agonizingly, he holds himself up by bracing his waterlogged knees against the tank. The slightly bent joints make him just short enough for the silky black hairs peaking from his nose to dance on the waterline, and his face is pain. His last meal from yesterday: spaghetti, smoked sausage, and garlic bread. As the water fills with chunks of shit that float and finally deliquesce, 12’s last vestiges of dignity dissipate almost as quickly. The opaque putrid water swirls with his motions; the filth spreads evenly around his wet tomb. I write about it.

Day 2 (9:45pm)
12 sinks into madness, or possibly thirst, but probably both. He no longer realizes I am watching him die, or maybe he does. With mortality fading, only an animal intent on the final push for survival remains. The skin around his feet softens and sprout lesions. Small drops of blood add more ingredients to this stew. Sleep deprived and delirious, 12 drinks the only juice available. I am witnessing the last act unfold. I write about it.

Day 3 (3:30am)
Vomit and diarrhea are simultaneous with him now. The fissures on his feet weep puss and dark blood; no doubt, infection attacks him on all fronts. The knees, once waterlogged, are now bruised pulpy masses that shake under the dehydrated and malnourished weight of his body. Dancing nose hairs now dive into the murky deep. The first inhale surprises 12. Shock. Coherency. Disbelief. And Finally relief. Deep breaths of shit, piss, blood, puss, and vomit saturate his lungs and finally extinguish life. I write about it.

Justice prevails. Inmate for Internment #12 is dead. Religious applause. Number 13 stands ready to start. I’ll write about it.


Matt Staley used to spin vinyl at a local radio station as a disc-jockey long before CDs were cool, and he eventually crawled his way up as an on-air radio reporter covering the scoops at blue ribbon events and county fairs. With the grim reaper slapping at his heels, he finally finished a Masters degree at Western New Mexico University, and now Matt hashes it out with other great writers as the Interviews Editor with the Red Savina Review. Matt’s most recent poems and flash fiction have appeared in Black Wire Literary Magazine, Crack the Spine, and The Bitchin’ Kitsch. Matt lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.



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