13 Seconds — by James R. Davenport

What’s inside Jimmy D’s head this day? The return of my blog segment, “Short Story Sunday.” 

This time, an extremely brief story piece that synthesizes some geopolitical/moral/philosophical issues that have been sputtering around in my mind lately.

WARNING: This is not a funny piece. It deals with serious subject matter. Reader discretion is advised.

It’s also an “experimental draft” of sorts on my part, so not everyone may like the style. But, I think most of you who choose to read it will get it. Anyway, enough pre-babble, I give you…

 13 Seconds a short story by James R. Davenport. It addresses one of the most troubling issues of our time, terrorist beheadings, from the point-of-view of the "dead" themselves. Does a beheaded victim live long enough to know they are dying? If so, what go through their mind?

Are they trying to scare me?

 

I’m all scared out.

 

After days of waiting with churning blades blended over and over again in the gut, with cold sweat caked atop more cold sweat all night long…this is nothing. It shouldn’t be nothing, but it is. The pool of fresh globby blood rushing outward on a floor of pocked concrete… all of it flooding away before my sight… crushed out cigarettes, too many crushed out cigarettes, fading smell of tobacco, feces, The dank shadows, limp arms and legs in orange…I wonder which one of us…can’t see the head? Bare white arm…three of us white, two brown, I hope it’s not Jonathan. He was crying all night, couldn’t pray. I held him like his big brother can’t. Now, too weak, to hold a thought much less a hand, too exhausted to move… to pick my cheek off the floor.

 

Get…get it over with…you…you jackasses, just g-g-get it over with.

 

I’m ready. I show my face to my God…you hide from your idols. Sons of darkness you are by your ch-ch-cho-oices…black masks. I told you to break my legs if you wanted me kneeling or to stand on a ladder, but I won’t bow, making it easy for you. I refuse to give in, sung a hymn proud and loud in your faces, your covered faces. Just a closer walk with thee, grant it Jesus is my plea. Let it be…d-do you hear? Let it be! There’s nothing holy about your book, written in the gnashing spit of centuries of envy.

 

I’m so…so…so… tired… of lying c-cold…send me home, sons of hate, send me home, pity you. You damn yourselves for all time with murder in your hand, You’ve made your video, hoping I’d beg before-before-before…laughed in your faces, in your only lens to the world…THIS is how a son of light behaves, I said, this is how a disciple of the true living one should act in the face of death, give them nothing but a smile…confessing the truth. All the taped, staged lies you-y-you planned…useless. Smack me on the spine, knock me to the ground, ga-go ahead don’t care, won’t take any of…of it back. Nothing but cowards, murders, weeds for the fire, that’s you, hope the others do the same. Did I shit myself? Yes? No? I…I dunno…smell’s gone now. Stand firm guys, stand firm.

 

Huh? Can hear that song, I feel the piano by the pulpit playing in the cell next door, Just a closer walk with thee, grant it Jesus is my blee…plea…gleeze-plea…peas…mmmNo, NO pleas…can’t think, can’t think straight. Cheeks-cheeks are numb, everything is spinning. No, don’t do it, don’t pass out, not-not-not-not now, not when your turn’s next. When they force you up, you’re nex-can’t-caca-can’t move.

Be strong, gotta be strong, show the others the way Mom’s strawberry preserves, Dad’s happy fingernails covered in oil…my first car, TransAM…turn the screw son, righty-tighty-lefty-Lucy you’ve gotta be smarter than the screw…Lacey’s perfume on our first date sixteen…sweet vanilla, can smell…steaks on the grill, Memorial Day cool green lawn ready to be mowed between my fingers, my son in my arms, his laugh, bay-bay-baby powder, wife’s eyes smiling come and meet your son, the day he was born, little hands and feet, pug nose, so proud I am so proud. Mom, Dad, Teeball Sixth Grade Fall Ball, Bible Camp, flying by, blinking slow, I-I can’t breathe. Hold it, hold it in, jaw’s dripping wet…can’t breathe, hang on damnit hang on for the others! Think the ceiling light is ready to burn ou-no… spots, spots before my eyes, red spots, growing, bigger, taking mauve-err—drover-STOP IT-ov-ov-over my eyes and seashells on my ears. It feels like seashells on my ears, muffled everything’s going purple-black-purple-black, and the spots, the spots, trying to get air get air get air…muffled ears garbled sounds…dark, so dark, pain in my throat, pain is my throat. Oh no… That body on the floor… left thumb has…scar…just like…like when I…a cut from a soup can lid years a-ago… seminary…oh…o……h……no…it’s…it can’t be? It’s so far away…God it’s done…already d-d-uh-duh-done? Didn’t… feel… The-the-they did it… How am……am I…I…alive? Black all black…except the sparks…the fluttery sparks……my eyes filling up-over-the-moon-cow-jump-over-the-moon-Goodnight Moon, ……reading to Trav………

…………………………………………

…………the black………… over-ov…………… the black…

………pounding vein in my…………my ears…pounding……………p-p-papound faster…

……………………………………………………………

slower……

………bleeding…from…bleeding from…………

…………………………

………………

………chin……bloo-oh Je…………sus remember me……… courage…re……re……………

……………………………………

……member………………… bloo…d out………………

Lace s-s-sorry…………I- I………………………

………love…………………… little Trav I lov-……………………………

I………………dead…oh God carry……m-m…e…………………

Ho……m……e…………dead-d-d-dead………

…………………

……………………………………………………

good……………………

 

………b………ye-

 

 

EPILOGUE

 

On September 4, 2014, five volunteers from a joint American Protestant/Middle Eastern Christian missionary aide center in Al Anbar Province, Iraq were taken by a splinter group associated with ISIS/ISIL. Seven days later, on the 13th anniversary of 911, all five were executed. Their case garnered attention when a video of the first victim, Joshua Bowyer a 29 year old Baptist youth pastor from Murray, KY was released. In it, he is shown being savagely beaten but still singing in defiance of his would-be executioner. His final words being, “This is how a man, a follower of the true Messiah Jesus Yeshua meets death. We will not be intimidated.”

Despite the grizzly nature of its footage, the “Bowyer Video” is being widely circulated among congregations all over the globe as a tool for inspiring the faithful, as well as for all who oppose terror tactics.

 

The human brain is capable of processing 20 million-billion computations every second.

 

Strong anecdotal evidence from the historical record suggests that a severed head remains conscious after being cleaved from its body for exactly 13 seconds.

 

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