A glimpse into the near future. The series starts here.
The officer stared at the quivering naked buttocks before him. The world was changing. The punishment frame gleamed with its newness.
He tried to ignore the camera shooting over his shoulder.
He gripped the birch rod tightly and waited for his cue.
“Stand by everybody,” the television director whispered in his mouthpiece. “We’re live in twenty seconds.” Sweat glistened on his top lip. His heartbeat raced. He couldn’t understand why. He had done countless live broadcasts in his time. But, none quite like this.
The twenty-two-year-old prisoner heaved his body this way and that. It did no good. He was going nowhere. His wrists were secured by plastic ties. His legs were roped to the frame.
The director breathed deeply. He knew his show would get record ratings. The first-ever broadcast of a youth flogging. The pubic had been clamouring for it. They wanted to see the thugs suffer. They demanded all of it. The screams. The blood. The works. And, live on TV. Beamed by satellite into their homes.
Much had changed in the past few years. After Britain left the European Union, there was a massive collapse in the economy. Political turmoil followed. A political party, the New Democrats, formed to save the nation. Now, there was order. The young suffered most. First, they brought back the cane to schools. Then, they extended corporal punishment to universities. Then, all young people under thirty could be beaten by their employers. Juvenile criminal offenders were flogged. The older public loved it. It made them feel safe.
“And, five and ….” A green light shone. It was the officer’s cue to deliver the first lash.
It was a heavy birch. Sixteen branches. Tapped together at the end. It looked like a bundle of wires. It had been soaking for a day in a bucket of brine. That made the birch rod supple. And far more painful. Conscious of his own moment in the limelight, the officer made great play at swishing the birch through the air. Droplets of brine spread across the bare floorboards around him.
It was a small room. They didn’t need much space. The punishment frame, newly designed, recently built, was propped close to a wall. Apart from an old enamel bucket there was nothing else. Automatic cameras, like you see at football matches, manoeuvred on wires. The room was probably no more than ten feet by eight.
It didn’t need to be large; but the ceiling had to be high. The birch was three feet long. The officer needed to be able to swing it high above his head. Then, bring it crushing down into the naked haunches of the prisoner.
Dramatically, enjoying every moment, the officer rolled up the shirt sleeve on his right arm. Muscles rippled. Gym-honed. He took his duties to the welfare of the public seriously indeed.
He took a step back, measuring his distance. His was an accustomed eye. His expertise had developed over time. Satisfied of his position, he griped the birch, scowled his face and swung the birch around his head. It missed the ceiling by three inches.
Then, he brought it down with a sensational upper-cut in the victim’s naked flesh.
The prisoner, taken by surprise, caught his breath with a gasp and strained desperately at the unreleasing bonds. His shoulders and arms quaked convulsively, in a desperate bid to free his limbs. The frame shook, such was the youth’s determination to break away. He threw back his head and screeched.
Camera one moved in. A great red blotch mark spread across the prisoner’s flesh where the lash connected into beefy buttocks. Across the nation millions of people leaned towards their screens, intent of enjoying a closer look.
The punishment had only just started. A second merciless cut broke the skin. Blood seeped. The prisoner, his face and neck as scarlet as his hind quarters, repeated his howling.
The officer paused. Bent down towards the enamel bucket. A camera closed in. He reached for a damp sponge. Slowly, allowing the camera to reposition, the officer wiped it across the prisoner’s arse. The water turned crimson with blood.
Again, and again the officer swung the birch rod around his head, bringing it down with merciless vigour. Then he paused. He ran his fingers through the clotted birch rods, flicking blood from them onto the floor.
“And we’re out,” the TV director mopped his brow with a handkerchief. A five-minute break for commercials. The satellite channel could have sold the space a dozen times over.
The prisoner sobbed rhythmically, numbed and stupefied by his pain, unaware there were another dozen lashes still to come.
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second