250-Word Flash Fiction Competition: Second place – Em Dawson, ‘Cadence’

Behind my back, rope binds my aching wrists. I can’t wipe away the blood that drips into
my eyes with each bump of the van.
“Again? Really?”
The driver ignores me, his ball cap shading his face.
The man next to me holds a gun to my head almost nonchalantly. Its barrel is frigid
against my skin.
Cracked leather seats rub against my ankles as I shift my weight. Rain drums against the
roof, echoing through my mind.
The executioner’s cadence. A firing squad surrounds me already.
I raise my voice, trying to keep emotion from edging in.
“Hang me, stab me, slit my throat. I don’t care. Just get it over with.”
The driver slowly shakes his head. His gaze is fixed on the empty highway.
The moon isn’t out tonight. Will it be back tomorrow? I know I will.
“Where are you taking me this time?”
A gruff laugh escapes the driver’s throat. It’s odd—he’s usually silent.
“Get out.”
We pull over. I’m forced out of the car and into the ditch. I can barely hear over the
downpour that washes the blood from my face.

I don’t bother to run—there’s nowhere to go. It’s a miracle I’ve lasted this long. Usually
I’m dead by noon.
It never gets easier, even after eighteen years.
“Stay dead for once.” His voice is bitter, scornful. I definitely won’t. I’m alive just to
spite him.
The gunman pulls the trigger.
I can’t hear the rain anymore.

Em Dawson

Em is a fifteen-year-old poet and novelist based in the United States. She has recently finished her first novel, and is now in the process of finding a publisher.

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