I have lived so many lives I’ve lost track. With each one, I am met with pain and suffering. There is no way out and nothing that can ease the torture. This is the punishment of a murderer.
The Lord is making me pay for my sins. I have been brought back as men, women, and children. Death never comes quickly. Instead, he follows me slowly and leisurely but always making his presence known. Death can not come quickly – I must suffer first.
I am a man now, with a wife and a child. Each time, I believe my life will be more fortunate, and my God more forgiving, but that is never the case.
I am a farmer, and in this drought, I have no food to provide for my family. Aid has been offered from other nations, and yet all have been declined. Millions are starving. The government takes nearly all of what I can grow to provide for the politicians and aristocrats in the capital. I have nothing to provide for my family, and so I must steal.
The police always hold the most food, and it is from them that I steal the most. I took – or stole – a police uniform from a dead man once. I use it to blend in. Yet, I was caught. I was leaving the station with a small bag of grain stuffed in my trousers. I saluted the chief as I left.
“Halt!” He yelled. Three other guards came towards me. “Put your hands up, pig!”
I did as I was asked. I was tired. I understood that I was to die again, here and now.
“Where did you get the uniform?” The officer asked.
“A graveyard,” I answered. There was no use in lying. I was too tired for that. He stared at me for a moment, then jammed the butt of his gun into my rib cage.
“A graveyard? I don’t believe you. I’m sure you killed the officer yourself!” He brought down his gun on me again. I was knocked out. I woke up minutes later, chained up in the back of a wagon. The chief gave the order, and we began moving.
I was too tired to put up any fight. It’s what happens when you’ve lived so many lives, so many hundreds of years. I slept through the ride, through the countryside, waking up when we reached the city. I had no idea where I was being taken this time – I assumed I would be killed on the spot, yet I was still alive. I paid no attention to my surroundings.
We stopped in front of an eerily familiar court. A crowd was present, jostling one another for a view of something at the top of the stairs. Two guards unlocked the chains and pushed me roughly up the stairs. The pushed me through the crowd to the very top, where I saw a rope tied in a noose. They brought me up to a stage, and the crowd jeered at me as they realized I was the victim today. The propaganda of this nation had been very effective.
The noose was put around my neck. The noise of the crowd was deafening. The courtroom doors opened, and many guards came through, surrounding a single man. The crowd cheered now. Some cried and wept. I could not get a good look at his face yet.
The king strode up to the podium to address his people. He seemed so familiar.
“Today, we show an example to all our enemies! We show what happens to the murdering, stealing farmers in the countryside who leave us hungry! We will make an example of this criminal today, in the name of our country!”
The crowd cheered throughout. My eyes were fixed on the king. I knew him, but I could not recall how.
The king gestured to the executioner to stand at the lever. The crowd went quiet, waiting for my end. Then, the king met my eyes. I understood now. It had been so many lifetimes, I had nearly forgotten. I had tried push aside that time. I had forgotten the appearance, but looking into those hateful eyes, how could I mistake him? I remembered this moment as I realized those eyes were mine.
The ground gave out from under me.