IT’S ALL IN THE EXECUTION by Persephone Erin Hudson

IT’S ALL IN THE EXECUTION by Persephone Erin Hudson

[Dim spotlight upon SUBJECT 17. They sit in an electric chair which has been converted to a VR rig. You are unsure if the headset is breathing.]

 

VOICE (modulated): This is Death Penalty Simulator v2.02, clinical-trial-without-a-trial #17.

 

The aim of the project is thus:

  1. To categorize methods of state execution by the average severity of pain inflicted by each method.
  2. To chart the results in graphs, gifs, glyphs and steadfast truths for field application and internal publication, such as [Redacted]’s sick fucking powerpoint next week.
  3. To earn whatever the public sector’s version of tenure is. Immortality? Clout?

 

The methods of the project are thus:

  1. Utilizing fully-immersive VR technology to simulate popular methods of state execution upon a series of ethically-sourced test-subjects.

 

A Psychogeographical Map of State Executions:

Scene One:

 

[A projector whirs to life. Footage of a lethal injection is projected onto SUBJECT 17’s chest. It is grainy and unfocused like a snuff film. Once the image begins playing on its playground, SUBJECT 17 begins to violently convulse in the throes of injection. The convulsions do not die until the simulation is complete. Once SUBJECT 17 “dies”, the projector goes dark. Until the next simulation.]

 

A Psychogeographical Map of State Executions:

Scene Two:

 

[Grainy and unfocused footage of a firing squad is projected onto SUBJECT 17’s chest. The sharp, unique shriek of gunshots from all eras ring loudly. SUBJECT 17 bucks and buckles as if shot repeatedly. End//Next simulation.]

 

A Psychogeographical Map of State Executions:

Scene Three:

 

[Grainy and unfocused footage of a person frying in the electric chair is projected onto SUBJECT 17’s chest. The sounds of frying flesh and screaming fills the air. The smell of burnt hair immolates the audience. SUBJECT 17 convulses and flails with the shock. End//Next simulation.]

 

A Psychogeographical Map of State Executions

Scene Four:

 

[Grainy and unfocused footage of a noose is projected onto SUBJECT 17’s chest. The sound of a trap door dropping, the velocity of a rapid descent. SUBJECT 17 chokes and thrashes from an unsnapped neck. End//Next simulation.]

 

A Psychogeographical Map of State Executions

Intermission:

 

[Lights up. Two scientists enter from offstage, one per side, smoking. STAGELEFT SCIENTIST smokes a cigarette, STAGERIGHT SCIENTIST rips fat clouds from a Seussian vape box. They converge upon SUBJECT 17 as if 17 were a watercooler at the office. You are unsure if SUBJECT 17 is breathing. The scientists speak as if on fast-forward.]

 

STAGELEFT SCIENTIST: HowsTheWeather?

 

STAGERIGHT SCIENTIST: HowsYrWife?

 

STAGELEFT SCIENTIST: HowsWasTheBigGame?

 

STAGERIGHT SCIENTIST: HowsWasTheEconomy?

 

STAGELEFT SCIENTIST: HowsWasIsTheNation?

 

STAGERIGHT SCIENTIST: HowsWasIsGod?

 

STAGELEFT SCIENTIST: HowsWasIsAmYou?

 

[Awkward silence.]

 

STAGERIGHT SCIENTIST: YouKnowSmokingThoseThingsWillKillYouRight?

 

STAGELEFT SCIENTIST: YrPerformativeIronyIsKillingMe.

 

[STAGELEFT SCIENTIST begins to piss on the floor.]

 

STAGERIGHT SCIENTIST: WeDontEvenHaveHealthInsurance.

 

STAGELEFT SCIENTIST: TalkAboutTheDeathPenalty!

 

BOTH: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

 

[Vacuous silence.]

 

BOTH   : Alright10sOverBackTo17.

 

[Both scientists exit offstage. The lights return to their dim spotlight. Beat. Begin//Next simulation.]

 

A Psychogeographical Map of State Executions

Act Two Scene One:

 

[Grainy and unfocused footage of a car-bomb is projected onto SUBJECT 17’s chest. A hail of glass shards and belching fire rings as if through burst eardrums. SUBJECT 17 violently reverberates against the seat. End//Next simulation.]

 

A Psychogeographical Map of State Executions

Act Two Scene Two:

 

[Grainy and unfocused footage of a chamber filing with lethal gas is projected onto SUBJECT 17’s chest. White foam trickles out of SUBJECT 17’s mouth as they seize up from the poison. The projected footage begins to flicker between the original footage and new footage of a Nazi concentration camp.]

 

VOICE (modulated): Regain control of the Imagery or We’ll sell yr fucking teeth.

 

[After a few seconds of wrangling the flickering footage, the scientists regain control. After a few seconds, the simulation plays itself out. End//Next simulation.]

 

A Psychogeographical Map of State Executions

Act Two Scene Three:

 

[Grainy and unfocused footage of police/prison guard batons thundering upon an off-camera body. The cacophonous crack of breaking bones—

 

POLICE VOICES (legion): STOP RESISTING STOP RESISTING STOP RESISTING STOP RESISTING STOP RESISTING STOP

 

—assaults the senses, the stage, and the self. SUBJECT 17 ragdolls under the beatings. The borders between the body and the prison of the VR chair begin to blur into paste. SUBJECT 17’s wrists pulverize under the strain of thrashing against the iron restraints. SUBJECT 17’s bucking legs kick the hinge off of the cheap, cost-cut ankle restraints. SUBJECT 17 slips their shattered-limp wrists from the bloody clamps, stands up, and—

 

[[Grainy and unfocused footage of a lynching noose hung from a tree is projected onto SUBJECT 17’s chest]]

 

POLICE VOICES (legion; underlaid by the discordant cheering of an enraptured lynch mob): STOP BREATHING IN THE NAME OF THE LAW!!!

 

—escapes confinement. SUBJECT 17, still hooked up to the VR headset hooked up to the rig, drags the chair behind them as they slowly lumber upstage towards the audience.]

 

VOICE (modulated): EXECUTE IT NOW!!!

 

A Psycho-Assassination of State Prisoner

Act/Scene/Beat

 

[Grainy and unfocused looped gif of Frame 311-315 of the Zapruder Film is projected onto SUBJECT 17’s chest. On each Frame 313 SUBJECT 17’s head snaps forward as if their head were blown apart by a sniper’s bullet. Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left, back, back, back]

 

A Ps_-/_ mur/DdeR of ///Civilians///

aAcht _ scEen _#_

 

[Grainy and unfocused footage of a drone strike overseas is projected on SUBJECT 17’s chest. The volcanic drumbeat of Valkyries-by-proxy erupt upwards from the earth, shaking the stage. SUBJECT 17’s body is psychically blown apa]  r   t

 

GENOCIDENGINE

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

 

[Grainy and unfocused footage of the nuclear bomb being dropped on Nagasaki by the United States is projected on SUBJECT 17’s chest. Bright white light and unimaginable noise incinerates everything in its wake. All that is left is the Hiroshima Shadow of the stage and SUBJECT 17.  All is deathly still. You are unsure if SUBJECT 17 is still breathing. You are unsure if the air itself has been slaughtered. And then SUBJECT 17 stumbles forward. One foot. In front. Of the other.]

 

VOICE (modulated): HIT HIM WITH THE FUCKING SYM-EMBOLISM!!!!

 

[High-definition depictions of the crucified Christ are projected onto SUBJECT 17’s chest in rapid succession. Every depiction of Christ on the Cross—from renaissance paintings to Piss Christ, from DeviantArt illustrations to Chick Tract crucifixions to stills from Passion Of The Christ and beyond—crucify SUBJECT 17 in place. As the images flash upon their chest faster than can be fully perceived, SUBJECT 17 poses as if they are upon the Cross. Blood pours from their scalp, their palms, and their feet. Heavenly light radiates from above. The simulation continues until the depictions run out. Once the Sym-Embolism ceases, SUBJECT 17, unmoving, remains hung upon a neuroelectrical crucifix.]

 

[Beat. STAGELEFT/RIGHT SCIENTISTS emerge from their respective wings, smoking. They converge upon SUBJECT 17 as if 17 was a bad day at the office. STAGELEFT takes a gun out of his labcoat and shoots SUBJECT 17 in the side. SUBJECT 17 collapses to the ground, dead.]

 

STAGERIGHT SCIENTIST: ….

 

STAGELEFT SCIENTIST: ….

 

STAGERIGHT SCIENTIST: We’re definitely not getting health insurance after this….

 

STAGELEFT SCIENTIST: Not even dental.

 

[Beat. THE HANGMANAGER, aka VOICE in the flesh, emerges from the audience. He’s wearing an FBI Director-chic suit and a medieval executioner’s hood. Neither scientist notices their boss enter the room.]

 

STAGERIGHT SCIENTIST (vaping a fat, weary cloud): I’ve got this motherfucker of a toothache—

 

[THE HANGMANAGER shoots them both in the head. Pause. He walks over to the dead body of STAGERIGHT, kneeling down on one knee next to his subordinate’s head. He takes a well-used pair of pliers from his pocket.]

 

THE HANGMANAGER: You’ll get yr dental, lads.

 

[Lights fade to black as THE HANGMANAGER  brings the pliers down to STAGERIGHT’s open mouth, ripe with teeth.]