Decamot of the month

01 Nov 2015-Sibling Rivalry

Sibling Rivalry Inspired by the following Decamot items: waiting room, brother, drugs lord, abandoned supermarket, broken clock, a wall, inspector, key, rope and Death comes to those who wait "Death comes to those who wait," the Inspector thought to himself. "Nowhere is that more true than in this dismal waiting room." He cast his eye round the room: There was a table with four chairs around it. On one chair was a man, shackled hand and foot. Next to him sat his lawyer, smartly dressed, arms folded, waiting patiently. Across from him sat the Warden of the prison. The Inspector was sitting next to the Warden. He had every right to be there. He had, after all, arrested the infamous drug lord in the abandoned supermarket twelve years earlier. A fifth person in the room stood behind the condemned man, a guard. He was a sadistic man, who, given half a chance, would gleefully be playing with a piece of rope while they waited. He had to settle for toying with a large key. On the table, was a telephone. It was an old-fashioned model that looked as though it was rarely used, as did the cupboard in the corner. The room was silent except for the ticking of a clock on the wall above the door, according to which it was approaching midnight. The condemned man looked surprisingly calm. But then, he had been here before. Twenty two times before. This was the twenty third time he had been brought to this very waiting room. Twenty two times before those assembled here today had sat waiting, and twenty two times before, at the very last moment, the telephone had rung. And twenty two times before, the caller had declared that the Governor of the State had declared a stay of execution pending further investigation. Never an exoneration, mind, but a stay kept the condemned man alive to wait another day. But today, the telephone failed to ring. As the second hand on the clock on the wall above the door completed its sixtieth rotation that hour, the minute and the hour hands shifted to the vertical with a loud click. The lawyer gasped and looked at his client. The Warden of the prison stood up. "Well that's it, your time's finally up." The condemned man stood up without a word and allowed himself to be led out of the room by the guard. The other three members of the execution party followed, the last one closing the door behind him. ***** When the Inspector had cast his eye around the room, he had missed one person. As soon as the door closed, the condemned man's brother slipped out from the shadows beside the disused cupboard from where he'd gone undetected. He placed a briefcase on the table next to the telephone, opened it, and removed a clock from inside it. It was the twin of the clock hanging on the wall; the twin of the clock at which the former occupants of the room and been surreptitiously stealing glances from time to time for the last half hour. He moved a chair over to the wall and stood on it. He reached up and quickly unscrewed the clock from the wall. Unbeknownst to the former occupants of the room, this was a clock that he had doctored to advance more quickly than it should have, and that he had snuck in earlier to hang on the wall in place of the clock that usually hung there. This broken clock he now stowed away in his briefcase, and its twin he restored to its rightful place on the wall above the door. He silently opened the waiting room door and looked out into the corridor. It was deserted. The execution team had turned left; the condemned man's brother turned right. As he walked towards the exit at the end of the corridor, he heard a loud command behind him: "Pull!" This was followed by the metallic whirr of machinery, a creaking of woodwork, and finally, a sickening thud. ***** In the now deserted waiting room, all looked as it had just seven minutes before. Except that according to the clock on the wall, the clock that was linked to the Governor's clock in the Governor’s office, it was 11:50. As the brother of the condemned man was leaving the building, the telephone started to ring, just as it had, twenty two times before.