You’re staring down at a meal. Could be a turkey dinner, a pizza from Domino’s, mint chocolate-chip ice cream, whatever you like. Because this is your last meal. The last thing you taste before the elected Powers That Be take your life in the name of Lady Justice.
Because you fucked up. Maybe you caught your significant other getting some on the side and lost control. It happens. Or maybe you were a dirty crook to begin with and shot some rich prick who wouldn’t give up his Rolex. Hell, maybe you’re a methodical serial killer. Ted Bundy: The Next Generation.
It doesn’t matter.
Whoever you are and whatever you’re eating, you have a unique opportunity. Unlike many, you can contemplate your death as an immediate reality rather than a philosophical abstract. The greatest thinkers themselves were never in your position, the old being too incoherent and the young never seeing it coming. Well, there was Socrates, but we won’t get into that.
The myriad of possibilities rushes through your mind. Heaven, Hell, Reincarnation, or just plain Oblivion. The greatest question ever asked by humanity: “What comes after death?” and you are about to learn the answer and, possibly, the ultimate Truth of the universe.
You may be excited or intrigued at the thought of gaining such knowledge. You might be shitting your pants; terrified of losing the only existence you have ever known. You may have found Religion while on death row and go to your fate with a sense of peace. You may be an unrepentant monster who happily recounts every horrendous act, especially the ones the cops never found out about.
Doesn’t matter. There’s a schedule to follow and your feelings don’t factor into it.
You can be thinking of this while you eat, or while the nice guards lead you down the hall. It’s okay, no one will deny you the right to daydream.
And when you’re being strapped into the Chair, or the Gas Chamber, or whatever form of egress is currently in vogue, it hits you: the banality of the whole thing. The systematic tightening of restraints (can’t disturb anyone with you’re flailing limbs), the droning voice of whatever religious authority you have requested (if any), it’s all so mechanical. Executions, the State ordered ending of a life, are carried out with all the seriousness and emotion of a routine board meeting. You’re Executioner looks like he’d rather be at the bar with his buddies. This is when you realize there is no grand finale, no climax, no drum roll leading up to a clash of symbols. It just ends.