The Klansman by Deus X Machina
The first thing Chuck Barnhill noticed when he regained consciousness was the tightness around his neck. As he struggled for each breath, he lifted his hands to his throat and found a noose made from a thick metal cable. The noose led back to a beam two feet above the ground that stretched between two opposite walls. A coldness filled Chuck's gut as he eyed the vertical groove in each wall, suggesting that the beam was able to rise all the way up to the high ceiling. If the beam were to rise, taking the noose with it, Chuck would hang.
Chuck frantically looked around, hoping to find an escape. At his feet were a remote control and a small skinning knife. Ignoring the remote, Chuck seized the knife and began frantically sawing at the noose. Chuck dropped the knife in despair, realizing that he couldn't cut the metal cable. Seeing a television and VCR across the room with a note that read "Play Me," he picked up the remote and turned them on. When he pressed the power switch, two things happened. First, the tape started playing. The second was an ominous mechanical clicking, like the grinding of gears in a clock.
The white face of a clown-like puppet appeared on the screen. Its blank, wooden stare slowly turned towards the screen. "Hello, Chuck. I want to play a game. As a Cyclops in the Ku Klux Klan, you have devoted yourself to the cause of hate. You have slandered, intimidated, and attacked those whose only crime was being born in a color of skin different from yours. Now, you must suffer the pain you have threatened so many others with. In about five minutes, the beam to which your noose is attached will rise towards the ceiling at a speed so high it will snap your neck. On the beam are three keyholes. Unlock these and you will detach the noose. The keys to your salvation are hidden in your body. To get them you must cut away that which has given you so much unwarranted pride. Live or die. Make your choice."
The remote dropped from Chuck's limp fingers. "In my body…" he whispered, looking down at himself. He saw a circle of stitching on his arm and another around his stomach, as if someone had peeled away
patches of skin and sewn them back on. Lifting his hand to his face, he felt more stitching on his cheek. He could feel the lump of the key underneath his skin.
Chuck understood the meaning of the game. He had to cut away his skin. His white skin.
The timer ticking loudly in his ears, Chuck held the knife to the stitching in his arm. After a moment's hesitation, he began to cut. He clenched his teeth against the pain. When all the stitches were cut, he peeled away the patch of skin, screaming freely. Dropping the sheet of skin on the ground, he retrieved the first key from inside his arm. Sobbing from pain and fear, he did his best to wipe the blood and sinew from the key as he stumbled to the beam. Trying the first keyhole, he found that the key did not fit. He successfully pushed it into the second keyhole, praying to God that the blood would not interfere with the lock.
Next, Chuck pressed the knife to the stitching in his cheek. He could not see the stitches, so he accidentally cut his skin many times. Blood spurted into his eye. He tore away the white shreds of his cheek, dug out the second key, and stuck it into its lock.
Finally, Chuck had to skin his own belly. It was by far the largest patch of skin he would have to remove. Feeling his stomach, he tried to find the key so that he could minimize the amount of flesh he would have to cut away. Unable to find the key, and with the clock ticking, Chuck began cutting away the skin of his stomach. The heavy skin dropped to the ground with a wet plop, the key stuck to it. Chuck collapsed, the final key in his hand. Blood spilling from his body, he struggled to stand and insert the key, granting him his freedom. But as he stood, he collapsed. Again and again.
There was a loud, final snap as Chuck's time ran out. He felt the first jerk as the beam prepared to make its final journey to the ceiling.
Chuck barely had time to scream before the noose snapped his neck.