“You have been indicted for conspiring to die, Thorogon,” Judge Norrim began, “how do you plead?”
“Your honor,” The frail old man before the court began, “why is it a crime to want to rest from this life? I realize that it is natural, this immortality we have raised ourselves to, but I am tired. Worn out. I am far older than many who sit on your council and yet, you wish to punish me for wanting to end a life long lived. Why?”
“I will ask the questions here,” the judge roared, “not you.”
“Your honor,” he quietly deflected, “I was there when we conquered death. I was among the first generation to enjoy the extended life. In reality, I am your elder…and yet, you treat me as an inferior. I am entitled to choose the method in which I finish this journey.”
“And so,” Norrim snorted, “you believe that you have a right to die?”
“Precisely,” he nodded, “it is a curse to live any longer. I have already outlived all of my contemporaries. But I refuse to commit a crime in order to be sentenced to death. And by crime, I do not speak of wanting to die so I can rest. I speak of the other unspeakable crimes. Rape. Murder. Theft. Greed. Hate. Covetousness. Pride. Sloth. Fear. Gluttony.”
“And you do not see wanting to die as a crime?” The judge was incredulous.
“Not in the same way that you do,” he shook his head, “while suicide, death by my own hand would be a crime, allowing the system to put me to death would not. It would be reaching the end of a well lived life. One that was ended in its latter days through the mercy of the system.”
“but the system does not execute innocent men and women,” Norrim stated bluntly.
“Who said I am innocent?” He countered. “none of us are truly innocent. We all have criminal thoughts from time to time. It is just that we do not all act upon them. some of us are wise enough to live much cleaner than our thoughts might be.”
“And what crimes have you dreamed of?” The judge begged, exasperated.
“I have thought long and hard on murder, your honor,” he smiled sadly, “in the past. It was my job to catch murderers and so, I had to think like them. In many ways, I was no better than they.”
“But you sered the public!” Norrim exclaimed. “You were not a common criminal!”
“What is the difference?” He returned. “I killed many a man in my mind. I even had to kill many a man before they could be taken in for sentencing. I am no better than those I had been sent after.”
“But these crimes were in the service of man,” the judge objected, “they were not committed against man.”
“What is the difference?” He frowned, knowing that there really wasn’t any difference.
“the difference is why the deed was done,” Norrim attempted.
“No, your honor,” he shook his head, “there really is no difference. A crime is a crime. Murder is murder.”
Norrim knew that he was caught. Thorogon was correct. A crime was a crime. No matter whether it was committed in the service of society or not. Murder was indeed murder whether or not it was justified or in the line of duty.
And this made him question other accepted lies. Lies such as the illegality of desiring execution instead of immortality. Or the lie of there being no crime in the hearts of man.
He sighed in resignation. He had no choice. He had to rethink things. Or recuse himself from the proceedings.
“This inquiry is adjourned until tomorrow,” he stated quietly, “so I might explore the validity of the claims of the accused.”
He slammed down the metal knocker he used as a gavel.
“Sir?” The Bailiff inquired. “What do we do with the accused?”
“Put him into a holding cell,” he replied, “at least until tomorrow.”
“Very well,” the bailiff responded, then turned to Thorogon, “come with me.”
Thorogon obediently followed the bailiff from the courtroom. He smiled. He had won this round.
Norrim sat in his chambers defeated. Thorogon was right. By all rights, he could not stop him from choosing his exit from life.
Even though it was illegal to die, the law was immoral. Immortality, though normal, was not something that one could take lightly. Nor was it something that was for everyone.
Thorogon had pointed out that many committed the unforgivable crimes in order to get out of living forever. He had also pointed out that some had committed the unforgivable in the service of the society he represented.
In essence, there was a deep hypocrisy within that very society that forgave crimes committed in its service while damning those that were committed against it. Even though crime was still crime, no matter what it was committed for.
He would have to recuse himself. Thorogon had brought doubt to his mind. A deep seated doubt.
It was something he could not shake. Something he could not deny. He had to investigate it. He needed to know the truth.
He needed to know, no matter how hard it would be to accept. After all, the truths that Thorogon had revealed had been damned hard to accept. And yet, he had.
Thorogon sat in his cell. He was finally alone. In solitude.
Here, he could rest without being assailed with questions about his why. After all, he had chosen death over living with guilt. And without regret.
He did not want to live forever in regret or with guilt. He had suffered with it enough. In fact, he had suffered it for centuries too long. Now, he wanted it to end.
He was tired. Worn to the bone. He needed rest.
Immortality, as it was, demanded no sleep. No slumber. No rest.
So unnatural. Even though it had been a natural advancement for mankind. Yet instead of being a blessing, it had become a curse.
Like the vampires of myth and legend, mankind became monsters. Not in the conventional sense, though. Instead, they had become intolerant of those who desired death.
It had become a crime to want an end. To die. To seek a mortal rest from life.
In reality, they had forbade all from being human. In seeking their humanity, they had lost it. They had advanced past their mortality only to lose that which made them more than animals.
And he was the only one who could see it. He was the only one who could see that immortality had destroyed humanity. Cause it to become savage. Inhumane.
Now, he wanted out. He wanted to return to the very dust that man had risen from. By the time this trial was over, he would have his wish.