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The Ending of Chapter Two of

The Ka of Stephen Charles

...  There were some others, all male, already waiting in the execution chamber, but I scarcely had time to take this in. This was the first time I’d seen the public hangman, in life or even in a photograph, but I knew the moment I saw him that he was the man who was going to take my life.

  ‘How can you do a job like this?’ I thought.

  Almost before I realised what was happening, he’d stepped forward smartly and stood behind me. Then he bound my wrists with a strap. My binding felt as though it was made from hard, new leather. After this, he turned back to return from whence he’d come, the gallows chamber.

Frank and Will grabbed me, one on each side, and hurried me after the hangman. They marched me towards the trapdoor, which helpfully had a large ‘T’ chalked onto it.

  There were boards on either side of the trapdoor. My warders hustled me forward onto these. Frank and Will were both stony-faced. Then the hangman pulled a white hood over my head and smartly put the noose over it – this had been suspended before me – and quickly tied it up with a thread.

  The thread couldn’t have been tied very well. Some of it found its way under the hood and briefly tickled my chin, I remember. The petty things you recall from a time like that, eh? At the same time, one of the others in the chamber – I wasn’t sure which, the assistant hangman, I suppose – had bent down to strap my ankles.

  Seconds after he’d finished this I heard a ‘clunk’. I knew this sound to be the hangman operating the lever. Immediately, I knew a dropping sensation and felt the rope biting painfully into my neck as it was wrenched sideways.

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