PRELUDE TO A TRIAL
I stop in front of a set of steel double doors. To the side in a machine with a hand-print reader extending into the hall-way. Charles surveys the scene with wonder and I wait for him to piece together the puzzle.
"I've never been in this part of the mansion. Is...this where you hold the trials?"
"Very good, Charles." I place my hand on the palm reader and wait until the bell rings and the light turns green. Smoothing the dress of wrinkles, I pull the door open.
A wall of noise greets us and I smile. Chants and cheers echo in the hallway and I lead Charles into the theater. Walking through a small tunnel to reach the stage, suddenly the main space opens in front of us. Every seat in taken and the crowd roars when I approach the microphone placed center stage. Charles stops, mouth open, eyes studying the number of women screaming from the seats behind the glass.
Behind us on the stage there are several cages suspended in the air by metal cables and covered with thick sheets. I stand at the microphone for several moments, letting the energy of the crowd wash over me. How I've missed this feeling. Closing my eyes, I search my memory for a certain image - John from Utica.
"Welcome to Holden Farms." I speak into the microphone. "Today there will be a trial."
A deafening roar rises from the crowd and I tap a button on my phone to begin the first song. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica.
"Take a look to the sky just before you die, it's the last time you will..."
The women sing with one voice and an energy fills my veins for I know the moment ticks closer. Nothing makes me happy like a trial at my mansion. I hum along with the music, waiting and waiting. As the final guitar chords ring, I raise my arm and silence falls over the theater.
George walks onto the stage, all eyes upon him. He hands me a remote control with three buttons, each labeled with a purpose. I press the first button and the sheets covering the cages fall to the stage, revealing the men inside. Charles gasps and I fight the urge to laugh at his sensitive soul.
Eight men hang in cages above the stage, most missing limbs and covered in bandages. A few have IV wires sticking from arms, necessary to keep the prisoners alive. I hear hoots and cheers rising from the crowd, but keep my eyes on the men, surveying the condition of the prisoners. Wild terror on their faces, I press the second button to lower the cages. When the metal hits the stage, I again signal for silence in the theater.
"Are you ready for a trial?"
The crowd screams in one voice - the answer is yes. Holden Farms is ready for the trial.