The Death Penalty/Execution
Warning: Due to adult themes and the dark nature of this story, do not read if you are under the age of 13.
"Utau Tsukiyomi Hoshina, you are sentenced to be taken hence to the prison in which you were last confined and from there to a place of execution where you will be hanged by the neck until dead, and thereafter your body buried within the precincts of the prison. May the Lord have mercy upon your soul."
Utau kept her chin raised high as the judge spoke these words to her. In truth, she felt as if she had already died. Her fleeting thoughts focused on her family for a moment. Her brother, her mother, even her deserting father crossed her mind. She would never see any of them again. All of those people she had struggled to befriend would not hear from her.
How on earth could a teenage girl cope with these realizations? As she was loaded into the police carriage a sickening feeling washed over her. Suddenly her body was racked with sobs as she tried to come to terms with her fate. But how could she? She didn't deserve it!
"If I was being executed for a crime I committed, I would accept my death. But, as I am innocent, I cannot accept it." Between the anguished cries that escaped her lips she managed to speak aloud this statement. But no one would hear it. And, worse so, no one would care.
The ride to the prison was sluggish and hot. The horses were exhausted from driving the condemned woman to hearings and meetings, and finally her sentencing. A normal rainy England was dry and scorching. Being trapped in the escape-proof carriage (an oven, really) most certainly did not help. Utau wiped a bit of sweat from her brow as she considered her options. Death, death, and more death. A painful death, an easy death, a purposeful death.
Back in her home of Japan, suicide was honored and much pride could be found in it. She could try to escape, but should she fail, it would surely result in more punishment. Finally, she could offer no resistance and accept her death. No, she couldn't. That was not an option. There had to be a way out of it.
Her jail cell had new warmth to it. Not one resulting from the incredible heat, but rather from a sense of comfort. As long as she was in this cell, she was not being hanged. She chose not to dwell on the fact that as long as she was in the cell, she was also approaching the time of her hanging. Perhaps it was madness that allowed her to ignore such an obvious detail; she did not care.
"Wench, you have a visitor." The red-faced woman looked up to see a man in a black robe being ushered towards her cell. At first, she believed he was the executioner and began to panic, but on closer examination she realized he was a priest.
"Hello, my child. I have come to give you the last Sacraments," he told her, his voice calm and soothing. Surely he was used to making prison calls, because he knew how to help Utau relax. If such was possible.
"No, Father. I do not believe in a god. If there was one, would he not release me from my torments? Would he not spare me the punishment of a crime that I did not commit?" She had gone from calm to hysterical in a few words. Yes! This 'god' was to blame! There was no one who would know a girl innocent and allow her to die. Only a monster.
"God is merciful, but God is also just. Can ye think back to your Sunday school teachings and remember your catechism?" He questioned with sincere curiosity. Utau could not resist scoffing.
"Father, I am from another country. I never learned of your deity, just as you have never learned of mine." She allowed herself to come closer to the cell bars and watch the priest more closely. He seemed unphased by her mocking tone. "And besides, should there not be a minister here? Hasn't your religion split in two?" While she did not pay too much attention to England's religion, she knew something called the Protestant Revolt had recently occurred and that there was great controversy surrounding it, as well as many deaths on both sides. Who was that queen again? Elizabeth I?
"I am not here to debate my religion with a condemned woman. I am here to offer her the Sacraments and teach her the truth, if she is willing to listen." The priest adjusted his robes, probably due to the heat. Utau was quick to snap back her response.
"I am not. Unless your lord can free me from prison, I have no business with him." The priest seemed saddened by her words.
"Are ye truly innocent?" He questioned. Utau nodded firmly, a new hope rising in her. Perhaps he could do something to help her! "We can always hope the truth will come out in the end. But, before I can assist you, I must ask that you tell me exactly what has happened to get you into this mess." Utau sighed and began her long explanation.
It was very late in the evening when she had finished singing. Just two months earlier, a wealthy English business man had offered her a job singing in his hotel. It had taken some debate, but finally she accepted and began the long boat-ride to England. She was on her way to her apartment (which was nothing more than a shack) when a little girl appeared in a dark alley. Concerned, Utau went over to see if she was alright.
It wasn't the blood pooling around the girl that frightened her. Nor was it butcher knife lodged in her throat. It was actually the desperate, helpless look in the young girl's eyes that brought Utau to tears. The girl tried to ask something, perhaps plead for help, but instead only a strange gurgling sound came out, as well as a puddles-worth of fresh blood. Utau fainted moments after the girl fell to the ground, dead.
When Lord Mayor William Ryder had learned that his daughter was found gruesomely murdered next to a foreigner, he did not take any time to investigate. The official story was that the murderer was a malicious woman from Japan who was jealous of the mayor-family fortune.
"I know it strange, but I believe you. However, to save you, we must work quickly," the priest said, nearly silent.
"What do you have in mind?"
"It is customary that the criminal be hanged on the third day after the sentence. The third day in your case is Sunday, so it will be delayed until Monday. That gives us time. We Englishmen are fearful of you Japs. You are so foreign and vicious-"
"You Englishmen are the ones about to execute an innocent eighteen-year-old woman!" Utau spat. The priest calmed her and reminded her that he was only stating how England felt about Japan.
"As I was saying, we know very little of your culture. If, perhaps, you claimed to be part of the royal family, they would put off the execution to investigate. We are so wary of your nation. Have you any family that might be willing to come here? That would put off the execution even longer and maybe even save you." Utau thought for a moment. Who would be strong enough to come to England? Certainly not her mother. None of her friends would be willing, although Amu would offer. Maybe Kukai would offer, too. But neither of them would actually come. There was only Ikuto.
"I have a brother who would do anything for me. How long before we can send him word?"
"Be patient, child. First we must make people believe you are royalty. After the execution is put on hold, we will offer the 'proof' of your royalty by sending for your brother. That will take months. When he arrives, we convince England that you must be sent home to avoid a war. Feel free to exaggerate your culture; cannibalism would work very well." Utau couldn't resist smiling at his plan. It… it could work. But when she was optimistic, she was suspicious. What was his reasoning? Why would he help a foreign girl? Sure, she had blond hair, but everything else was very Japanese. What was he going to gain from helping her? A great distrust had formed in her heart from a very early age, and this man was no exception to it.
"I'm Utau, by the way." She said. Her pride was slowly returning as she learned more of their plan. She held her hand out through the cell, although she still didn't trust his motives.
"And I am Father Robert Middleton," he replied, shaking it.
The letter dropped from his hands moments after reading over its contents. His heart began to beat faster than during his samurai lessons. Tears were forming in his eyes, though he did not realize it. Only one thing was going through his mind at that moment. Utau.
"Kukai! Kukai, get over here!" He called, a sharp twinge in his voice. As a child, the monks had taught him of the stages of grief. The first two, he recalled, were denial and guilt.
Kukai scanned over the letter quickly and fell to his knees. No… this can't be.
"This has to be a mistake, Ikuto. This… this has to be. You're messing with me, aren't you!" But Ikuto was paying very little attention to Kukai. Instead, he was collecting money from around the house.
"I should have stopped her! I should have told her how I felt while she was still here! Maybe, if she felt the same way, she might have stayed. This is all my fault!" Kukai, who was very masculine, freely let tears flow. He was going to tell her how much he cared for her. He was going to suggest marriage. He was going to provide for her, father her children, and stay with her throughout their old age. And now everything was ruined. His plans were over. Just like her life.
"Shut up, Kukai. Go get some money. We're going to England." How much would they need? And when was the next sail-boat going to England? Ikuto had gotten over the emotional aspects of this problem. His mind was cool and calculating. Instead of crying, he was taking action and being productive. Tears wouldn't save his sister.
"It takes months to get to England! She'll have been long dead!" Kukai's thoughts stayed with Utau. He barely even recognized what he had said. Utau. Utau. Utau. That sweet, stupid, competitive, talented, crazy woman. He loved her so much.
"Read the letter again," Ikuto commanded coldly. He had already collected the money and was working on packing. Kukai ignored the feeling of his gut being set on fire and obeyed.
Ikuto, there isn't very much time to explain, so please forgive my rushed tone. I am in prison, awaiting execution. And, yes, I am innocent. Thanks to assistance from my new friend, I have staved off execution until you arrive. We had to be very secretive to ensure that those in charge could not read this letter. If you are reading this, it has probably been several months. If another letter follows quickly after this one, my plan failed and I am gone. I just want to take a moment to remind you how much I love you.
When you arrive, you must pretend to be royalty. Tell them we are not a peaceful nation and that we have cannibalistic ninjas and samurais who will wipe out their population in days. That should get their attention. With any luck, they will decide to release me. If they still will not, nearly half a year will have passed and I will have a backup plan. Come with great haste and appear as Japanese as possible. I am not afraid to die, Ikuto. But if I am to live, you must help me.
"Oh…" Kukai murmured, vaguely understand Utau's plan. "But it's possible she is already gone?" Ikuto nodded as he completed packing.
"It must have been difficult to get the letter to Japan from England because the date on her letter is August 15th, 1599." Ikuto added. Exactly 4 months had passed and the cold winter was setting in to Japan.
"Utau is so proud. There's no way she'd allow herself to be executed." Kukai mused, mainly to himself.
"It won't be simple getting to England, but we have to try. Go pack, we're finding a boat and leaving."
All of the people listed in this story actually existed. There is historical accuracy throughout this entire story. I did a great amount of research on England's execution system. Just to clarify, this story is NOT a religious one. I am merely sticking with the facts of the time.
As always, the stance I take in this story is not necessarily my own. And, of course, the ending won't necessarily be a happy one.
There is a poll on my profile that helps me choose which should be my next controversial story. This was the winner so it is being eliminated from the options. Please feel free to give me suggestions for another poll option in a review/a PM.
So what's your view on the death penalty? Do we really have the right to impose capital punishment on our citizens? What are the consequences of if we do/don't?