The Gallows Tree

It’s always a sunset by the gallows tree.

For every man, for every hanged criminal, it is always the same. A setting sun, a blood-red sky to mark the end of a life. The guards bring forth the man, deliver the sentenced to his place of death. Then they leave, leave the sentenced alone with his destiny. They are no longer needed there; nobody ever flees from the gallows tree.

Slowly will the ravens flock forth, first only a few, then in increasing numbers as they smell their prey. Joined by vultures and carrion-eaters of all kinds, they fill the sky and the ground in huge swarms, gathering around the tree to wait.

And still the man only stands there, stands waiting for the hour of execution that draws near. It is as if some spell that he stays, stands by the gallows tree and waits for some sign to come.

And then, when all the ravens and all the vultures and all the carrion-eaters have gathered, only then will the man step forth. He will walk up, walk up to the gallows tree, and dutifully tie the noose around his neck. He will not even blink as the rope will begin to tighten on its own, taking its crushing hold over his neck. And as the ground under him will give away, he will sigh a little, a pleasant content sigh. And then the ground gives away and he will hang over nothing, and in an unintelligble croak he will be gone. And then the gallows have been fed and all will be quiet again.

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