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Today's Story by Mike Putnam

When the young boys would brag to their friends later on after the fact it would be about how they had seen the Executioner in action.


The title ascribed to the man by the government officials that had created his job was Cleanser, but when the young boys would brag to their friends later on after the fact it would be about how they had seen the Executioner in action. The man’s name, for the sake of this story, was Anderson. But only his wife knew that despite a wide popularity in cities and towns across the five states that made up his territory.

Anderson had entered the Warks limits early that Wednesday in August. He stopped at the Dine & Go to fill up and eat his first meal since the previous afternoon. He was greeted by Denise with her usual candor while she took his order and brought him a glass of milk.

He had an hour.

He made eye contact with the woman facing him in the next booth over. She stopped talking and nodded at Anderson, although not as a form of greeting. Her husband turned with his entire body and exchanged pleasantries for himself and for his wife and went back to his food not two moments after he finished.

There was an MP3 player in his pocket he still wasn’t too sure about. But it was situations like this that always made him thankful his wife had bought it for him two birthdays past. It was one hundred and sixty gigabytes she had told him, able to play videos as well as run applications. Applications!

Out of those one hundred and sixty gigabytes, Anderson had filled up roughly one, downloading the entire discography of The Who to the maddeningly small device. It had been a “Who’s Next” kind of day, and as he started the album over and ate his food he thought himself clever.

There were only a few blocks to the police station from the Dine & Go, straight down the road he had come in by. The only one in Warks with stoplights. Anderson tried to get lost on the side streets and failed, pulling into the Reserved spot at the station with more than enough time.

Inside, there was a newbie behind the desk who told him to go down the hall and knock lightly (he emphasized the lightly) on the last door on the right marked Chief. He couldn’t miss it.

He didn’t.

Upon entering the room, Anderson was smothered in a blanket of stale cigarette smoke and sat down in the chair across from Chief Nichols. It was he who spoke first, exhaling away from Anderson’s face like it made a difference, “Nice kid, I ‘spose, dense if you ask me. Today will be good for him.”

“Would have used innocent before dense, but a nice kid all the same.”

Nichols huffawed to himself and took a massive drag, “How you doin’ these days, Jonesy?”

“Can’t complain, making a killing.”

Another huffaw, “Every time, and she’ll never get old. Not like us. No sir, not like us.”

“Speak for yourself, I’m immortal.”

“That you are, and why shouldn’t you be Imp? You don’t mind that I call you Imp do you?”

“You never will like me, will you Chief?”

“And sarcastic to the end, no I never will, but not for lack of personality. You’ll never lack for that, covered in it. Personality dripping out your eardrums. Running down your face and I would tell you to wipe it off but you’re just too damn charming and it looks really trendy on you. Truth though, none of these static flesh bags, me included, would touch that ax.”

“Speaking of?”

“Yes, of course, you theatrical bastard. We better get out there. Been a crowd gathering since ten. You’re a celebrity.”

“Surrogate, you mean.”

“So clever you are, let’s go Jonesy.”

The bleachers outside were full and so was the man-made grass amphitheater behind them. Anderson walked over to the struggling man gagged and chained to the stone table no higher than his knees. Not as many children in the crowd as usual.

When it was over, and a nauseated police station clerk was fumbling trying to fit the corpse inside of a double-lined trash bag, Anderson found himself unable to break the stare of a young boy looking back over his mother’s shoulder and smiling.


Mike Putnam is an American writer currently living in Cleveland, Ohio. He considers himself a curious spirit and has been writing since he could handle utensils.


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