Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Crime and Punishment (not about the book) (07/21/11)
TITLE: The Device at the End of the Hall
By Gerald Shuler
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The lady in white said it so calmly one would have thought it were simply a Sunday stroll they were walking. Carla looked up, trying to convey an air of bravery. The hallway ahead of her seemed normal enough . . . just a long, green hallway. At the end of it, though, was that evil device. It awaited her arrival, with merciless patience, ready to make her pay for her pre-meditated, foolish, senseless, regrettable crime.
She reluctantly took her first step. The lady in white must have understood how hard it was to make that step because her hand immediately went to Carla’s elbow to give her support. Understand? No, how could she understand and still be willing to walk people down this hallway so often?
Carla looked again at the device at the end of the hall. She hadn’t meant to look but she couldn’t help herself. There could be no escape from her inevitable arrival. Her crime was a proven fact, witnessed by nearly all who knew her. She knew she had to pay and now her punishment was only moments away.
She took another step closer to her fate.
Lord, what have I done? she thought. Wasn't my repentance for my deeds enough? Why must I still pay the price?
She knew the answer, though. She had done the crime, payment had to follow. She glanced over at the lady in white and was amazed at her nonchalance. So much for her understanding. She was simply doing a job that happened to involve Carla temporarily. She would go home tonight and not even give this walk down the hall a second thought.
Another step brought that wicked machine at the end of the hall closer. Carla hadn’t noticed how many steps she had already taken. They were almost at the base of that horrible device. What mind could have conceived such a machine? she wondered. For that man there could be no forgiveness.
There was no more time to contemplate that evil mind or the contraption he had devised. She had arrived at the end of the hall. The machine was now ready to devour her existence.
“Step up, please.” The lady in white was still uncompassionately calm.
Carla stepped up. The emotion of that act surprised her. Like a flood, submission to her fate overwhelmed her. Though her knees were weak, she would force herself to stand strong and pay for her crime. It was finally time to get it over. There was no choice but to accept her fate.
The lady in white reached over Carla’s shoulder and expertly moved a few levers to get the machine to function. Carla, perhaps from fear or perhaps from weakness, closed her eyes and waited. The horrible part was how long the eternity of that wait seemed to be. Finally, though, it was over.
“193 pounds.” the lady in white said. “You’ve gained another four pounds.”
That finally settled it in Carla’s mind. When she was through at the doctor’s office she was definitely going to an all-you-can-eat restaurant and think about what diet to try.
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