It was a good life.
After almost 80 years of toiling and sacrifices, I had reached the end of the road. My son and daughter were sitting across the bed while my wife was holding my hand, while her other hand held a tissue which she was using to wipe the tears in her eyes. My grandchildren were sitting far away, in my eyesight but not close enough to see the gory truth of the death. They didn’t understand it yet that this is the last time they will see their grand fluff again. But it doesn’t matter. They will remember me and they will love me. I hoped that my parents were happy with the life I had lived, perhaps even proud of the person their son had become. My father had never seen the face of the school but he worked hard to ensure that his son goes to the best schools in the country. My mom had loved me and cared for me for every day of her life. Even on her deathbed, she was fussing over my clothes.
Yes, indeed. It has been a good life.
‘But was it good enough?’ The thought rang in my heart as my breathing laggard. My mind was too sluggish to make much of it but there was a spike of surprise that ran through the nerves. Did one of my family asked this question? Or was it a cosmic question put in my head by an entity bigger than I? Or was it a senile old man’s final thought? I did not know and now, I didn’t care. I closed my eyes and breathed my last.
I opened my eyes to a large auditorium. In front of me, in a semi-circle were sitting eleven people looking at me with varied looks that ranged from surprised to disgust to smile. I couldn’t guess the gender of the individuals and they looked as if the humans had evolved into a hairless specie that could breath anywhere, even in water or space.
Two similar people were standing in front of the panel, one standing beside me while the other at the far end looking at me with disappointment.
The person at the far end repeated – “But was it good enough?”
“Yes, it was,” the person next to me said. It (for I don’t know how else to describe the being) showed the reel which went through in less than a second.
It was my life! Each and every moment that I had experienced.
“How?” I said but it gestured me to shut my mouth.
I obeyed. The proceedings continued for an hour more. Each and every action of my life, each moment was scrutinised in grave detail while I sat there, trying to remember which religion had such detailed judgement.
Finally, the eleven judges (I had decided that they were indeed judging my life) stood up and the centre one looked at me.
We have conferred amongst us (When? I didn’t see them even look at each other once) and we have decided that her punishment is over. She can get her truth back.
As soon as the words were uttered by the central judge, I felt like someone had pushed eons worth of memory in my mind. My body started shedding, the hair first, followed by the skin. Below it was the same all-weather skin that each of the other members had and my body had also morphed into a single gender.
I was Athria, not a male or a female but a vale of the specie Omana.
As the memories flooded my mind, tears started to come to my eyes – first of joy at having returned and then of pain, immense pain of what I had done.
“Why?” I asked but Corana held me gingerly.
“It’s over now. It has been a long 80 years but they are over now. You can go back to your family,” Corana said.
“You became a lawyer,” I said. She smiled.
“What I did…”
“… has been stricken along with the punishment. You are free!”
“You should now go back to your home. 80 years is a long time. Things have changed. My assistant would help you with the details while I finish the formalities. Then, I will take you home.”
I nodded and went with her assistant.
My mind was whirling at the memory of the last time I was here.
“You have killed a human foetus. Why?”
The judge looked at me with fury. I stood firm. In my mind, I had made no mistake. Humans were an inferior species, barely capable of speech and other higher forms of intellectual achievements that makes us consider a specie intelligent.
“You have broken our most ancient laws. We don’t interfere with life forms in other planets. Let alone kill their younglings or foetuses.”
I looked with defiance at the judge.
“The stem cells would have given us new techno…”
“Silence! You have been found guilty on all charges. You will serve a life sentence. You will experience what it is to be a human. And we will repay the woman whose foetus you so arrogantly plucked and killed.”
My vision faded, the world going entirely dark. Without warning I am blinded by light. I hear a woman screaming and a doctor yell, “The baby is crowning!”
My sentence has begun.
Inspired by reddit/r/writingprompts:
[WP] “You have been found guilty on all charges. You will serve a life sentence.” The judge slammed his gavel on the table. My vision faded, the world going entirely dark. Without warning I am blinded by light. I hear a woman screaming and a doctor yell “The baby is crowning!”My sentence has begun.