Judgement Day by UncleMorgan

Discussion in 'Survival Reading Room' started by UncleMorgan, Feb 21, 2016.


  1. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I eat vegetables. My friends are not vegetables.

    Judgement Day

    By UncleMorgan​

    He was sitting in his chambers going over the evening’s cases when the Production Assistant knocked discreetly at the door.

    "Six minutes, Your Honor," the man said, and then left without waiting for an answer.

    Six minutes. Plenty of time. He had five fat folders in front of him, but he'd seen all the summaries the day before. They'd been handed in to him when the juries went in to deliberate. Still, he felt compelled to leaf through them again. Just one more time.

    Two were Premeditated Murder (977), one Aggravated Domestic Battery (743), one Grand Theft, Vehicular (615), and one Income Tax Evasion (555).

    The dossiers were comprehensive, filled with the minutia of fundamentally unremarkable lives now at risk. The files did not show the offenders at their best, or even their worst, but only as remorselessly ordinary as they almost always were.

    Crime was so often the province of the unexceptional.

    Of the five, only the tax evader had even the slightest chance of a not-guilty verdict. That case had been maddeningly tedious, and the defense attorney had made a good showing that the applicable tax laws were overly complex and thus beyond ordinary understanding. Even if there was a conviction, that portion of the law would probably have to be re-written within the year.

    The auto theft was regrettable because the offender had only reached the Age of Responsibility a few days before his offense. Now, like all the others, he'd have to take his chances and hope that Justice would be merciful.

    Another tap. "Three minutes, Your Honor!"

    He grunted acknowledgement, and then stood up and reached for his robes and wig.

    Unlike many judges he avoided the sensational side of his duties and did not pander to the regiments of make-up artists, hair-dressers, and lint-pickers. He was a hanging judge, pure and simple. Just as he had been from the first day he took the bench.

    The antique stopwatch went into his left pocket, as always. The massive revolver, a nickel-plated .90 caliber Smith Adjudicator, slid smoothly into the worn leather of his shoulder holster. It weighed heavily upon him, as always.

    With just a quick glance at the mirror to confirm the propriety of his appearance, he picked up the stack of folders and stepped into the studio.

    Judgement Day was consistently one of the three highest-rated shows on telemedia, running in the prime slot right after the Six O'clock Evening News. Every night almost seven billion people tuned in, worldwide, to witness the working of the Law firsthand—and to have their faith in the perfect immutability of Justice reaffirmed.

    One minute.

    He took his seat behind the bench as the studio audience stood respectfully. A firm touch at the front of his ears activated the communication implants that linked him with the Assistant Director and, incidentally, kept him from going stone deaf in the performance of his duty.

    Then he set about loading his weapon.

    He never carried it charged. He always kept his ammunition at the bench, in a biolocked wooden cartridge safe that had been a gift from his predecessor. It was a sturdy box, beautifully finished, with a rich walnut grain that swirled gracefully across its gently arched top. At his touch, the glossy lid unlocked and rose, revealing the thirty-six mirror-polished cartridges that gleamed like new gold in their individual velvet-lined wells.

    Loading the huge revolver was a somber ritual—the opening of the huge cylinder, the quick spin to confirm that it turned freely. The overhead lights reflecting from his thumbnail as he confirmed that the barrel was unobstructed.

    Then, finally, one by one, the six monstrous brass cartridges.

    Each longer than his thumb and somewhat thicker, they always seemed grotesquely, almost obscenely, fat. They were nearly an inch in diameter—22.86 mm, some detachedly observant portion of his mind reminded him—and remarkably heavy at the business end.

    The rounds were designed for one purpose only: to end human life. It was a job they did with commendable surety. He'd never had to fire a second shot.

    When the pistol was loaded the cylinder clicked shut with the smooth precision of perfect craftsmanship.

    The revolver now weighed almost ten pounds—4.5 kilos, to be exact—its exceptional heft a product of its massively strong frame and the compelling need to tame its gargantuan recoil.

    Keeping his finger carefully outside the trigger-guard, he placed the weapon securely in the bench holster.

    Showtime.

    He sat impassive and unmoving as the opening theme swelled in its Wagnerian magnificence and the barker began to enthrall the viewers with the titillating details of the evening's docket. The man was adept at manipulating his audience. He transfixed the watching billions with his carefully calculated oratory and elegant theatrical gestures. His voice was rich and dramatic, infused with a sweeping evangelical fervor that he used to the very fullest. He managed to make the even the most banal crimes of the Accused sound somehow both deeply repelling and perversely attractive.

    Commercials.

    Nine solid minutes—the absolutely longest commercial interlude an audience would endure without a ratings drop. Nine expensive minutes. Only the Superbowl and the Friday Night Kill-Fights matched these commercials in extravagance and cost.

    He touched the lid of the cartridge box and watched it close with a soft click. Then he removed his glasses and polished them carefully as the lights were reset to sweep the packed Witness stands and the empty jury box, and then to swoop dramatically down on the Wheel of Justice.

    The Wheel of Justice: The ultimate icon of the Revised Law. It stood now, as in every courtroom, a majestic testament to the ultimate impartiality of that Law. It had emptied out the prisons, except for the stubborn few who chose to live out their sentences rather than risk death for freedom. It had eliminated preferential treatment for the beautiful, the wealthy, and the well-connected. It had restored Order in a disintegrating society and fostered a new and fundamental respect for the concept of Law—not only in the populace, but in those who served and enforced it as well.

    There were no more judges on the take and no more politicians for sale. No more crooked cops and no more lying attorneys. There was no more organized crime, no more habitual offenders, and no more recidivism.

    The revolving door had been replaced by something that revolved much more effectively.

    Those who faced the Wheel usually changed their ways, if they lived.

    If they did not, they would eventually face the Wheel again.

    The glossy red and black Wheel was eleven feet in diameter and made entirely from plastic except for its ultra-fine magnetic bearings. It was perfectly balanced and had a numbered slot for every crime recognized under the Revised Law.

    1,000 crimes. 1,001 slots.

    The more heinous the crime, the higher the crime number. There were many in the 900's, but only Treason and Child Torture carried the 1000 designation.

    But even those were subject to Mercy.

    The one-thousand-and-first slot was always a long shot, but it could come up. It did come up—but not often.

    Mercy was never a sure thing.

    Under the Revised Law, the Wheel of Justice was the impartial arbiter of life and death, and the wellspring of an equally impartial Mercy.

    If the Convicted spun a number lower than his own crime—a Deathspin—he was executed at once.

    If he spun a crime number higher than his own—a Lifespin—he won back his life and his freedom.

    That was the element of Mercy without which no system of Law could ever be considered truly Just.

    It was a statistical Mercy, offered in proportion to the severity of each offender’s crime. A person convicted of Petty Theft (085) had a very good chance of spinning Mercy. But if he persisted in his criminal behavior that Mercy would eventually fail him.

    It was a Mercy granted randomly, arising only from the spin of the Wheel. It could not be begged or bought. Were it not random, it could not be impartial. And were it not impartial, it could not be Just.

    In the Lifespinner’s reprieve there would be—could be—no grudging half-measures: Mercy, to be Just, must also be complete.

    Under the Revised Law every Lifespinner went free. No matter how monstrous or sordid his crime, his debt to society was deemed to have been paid in full.

    Now there were no felons and no ex-cons. Those were things of the past, artifacts of ancient injustice. There were no more second-class citizens, deprived of their civil rights, presumed forever guilty, and doomed to be the perpetual pseudo-slaves of the barbaric and merciless Old Law.

    Now there were only the free and the dead.

    A Lifespin carried no stigma—but a tie carried no reprieve.

    Sometimes the Convicted cowered before the Wheel of Justice and refused to spin. Or failed to spin quickly—or fully.

    That, too, under the Law, was a Deathspin. And death was the swift and invariant result.

    When that happened the .90 caliber Adjudicator would speak, and its ultra-massive subsonic projectile would carry out a Judgement for which there was no Appeal—and provide as humane a death as any by gunshot might ever be.

    He had trained himself, over the years, to ignore the lighting changes and the swelling fanfares as he pulled the trigger. Just he had trained himself to strike the heart, every time, even as his eyes met those of the man before him.

    The person before him.

    Crime was not the exclusive province of the male.

    The first jury was filing in, readying themselves to announce their verdict. The Defendant stood ready to face the Wheel.

    His voice was clear and somber as he spoke the words of ritual that the Law required.

    He glanced at the first folder.

    "In the case numbered 2312-2379, Theodore Abraham Whittaker, Grand Theft, Vehicular (615), has the jury reached a verdict?

    The jury foreman stepped forward.

    "Yes, Your Honor, we have."

    "Jurors, do you each, individually and severally, swear and affirm that your verdict was based solely upon the evidence presented before you, and that your verdict was reached in a lawful manner and in accordance with the Instructions of the Court, so swearing under penalty of Malfeasance, Juror (924)?"

    "We do so swear and affirm," the jurors chorused in dutiful unison.

    The cameras swooped like buzzards to a battleground, feeding the expressions of the jurors, the foreman, and the Defendant, to the avid billions who watched.

    And then the expression of the judge, which was no expression at all.

    "Mr. Foreman, what is your Verdict?"

    The foreman paused briefly, rechecking the jury slip even though he could not possibly have forgotten its tally.

    "We find the Defendant, Theodore Abraham Whittaker, guilty as charged."

    The judge allowed himself an inward sigh, soundless and weary beyond any outward expression.

    "The jury is dismissed," he said. "Bailiffs, stand the Convicted to the Wheel."

    His eyes and his hands turned once again to the lethal instrument of Justice, now glittering mirror-bright in the movement of the overhead spots. As he pulled the bench holster a little closer he was thinking that, at 615, the kid still had a fair chance. If he lived perhaps he'd learn.

    He wasn't a kid. He hadn't been one for almost a month.

    The Bailiffs hustled the prisoner into position, removing his manacles even as his metallized boots adhered to the floor in front of the Wheel.

    The clear ballistic shield rose up behind the prisoner, protecting the studio audience without impairing their view of the proceedings.

    The boy—the young man—had the courage of youth. His face was pale but he stood straight and kept his hands determinedly relaxed at his sides. If he was to die, he would at least die well and earn the fleeting respect of the billions who looked upon him.

    For just a moment the judge and the young man gazed directly at one another, their expressions identically impassive.

    Commercials.

    Nine solid minutes!

    When the last product jingle ended and the last impossibly perfect beauty finished her spiel, the cameras cut back to the courtroom.

    Justice, as always, was live.

    He waited just long enough for the scene to resolve and then a heartbeat beyond. Then he rose, picked up the pistol, raised the old silver stopwatch, and clicked the 30-second counter.

    He looked down at the Convicted, who stood before him certain of Justice but never of Mercy.

    "Spin it," he said, flatly.

    The End​
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016
    bagpiper, Ganado, duane and 10 others like this.
  2. Legion489

    Legion489 Shining the Light of Truth

    Great story, would make an interesting book. However the one part that was complete fiction was "no corrupt cops", an oxymoron if I ever heard it.
     
  3. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++

    I thoroughly enjoyed it. I believe you covered all aspects of the benefits of such a system which I cannot find fault - most certainly when one compares to ours. I don't think it would make a book as would not be enough to carry one 300 pages but certainly would make an interesting chapter or so...
     
  4. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I eat vegetables. My friends are not vegetables.

    @Legion489: According to the cop-school textbooks, the average cop loses his idealism entirely about two years after putting on the badge. After that it's a short step indeed to corruption and "street justice", if they stay in the blue bag.

    @RickR: Glad you enjoyed it. I agree that the idea isn't enough for an entire book. It's really just a stand-alone soapbox shout masquerading as entertainment. It would take a vastly more enlightened Society to adopt the Wheel of Justice. I don't think it'll ever happen. Too many politicians--and powerful people--would recognize that it would apply to them, too, if they broke the law.
     
    Tully Mars and Aeason like this.
  5. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++

    No, but if could very easily be worked into a post-apocalypse, draconian piece, actually fits quite well. It is a really good idea, UM, so save it for rainy day.

    I assume we can post any story type here?
     
    Aeason likes this.
  6. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Original works, sure. Obviously, I guess, not this thread and bearing in mind the all inclusive nature of those that read the posts. (There's the inferno for the more raunchy tales.)
     
  7. ChrisNuttall

    ChrisNuttall Monkey+++

    Pretty good.

    Chris
     
  8. Gnarly

    Gnarly Authority Questioner

    Excellent read, UncleMorgan.
    Wish it was our Judicial System, already in effect.
     
  9. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    Another excellent story by @UncleMorgan. I do not think I am much of a short story person. I am always wanting more to the story. UM I hope you are expanding on this tale. Quite a thought provoking scenario you created.
     
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