The Level

HE swung the lamp around in an arc, past the chair that had constrained him.

He froze.

The chair, made from crude slabs of wood held together by large screws, was squat and square, devoid of any aesthetic pretense. Yet, its presence was palpable, exuding a terrible pride that one associated only with living things.

Although no larger than an ordinary armchair, it seemed unbounded by the circle of light cast from the paraffin lamp, like an echo reverberating across a vast void is unbounded by its source.

There were several marks etched along the edges of the armrests where his hands had been. They resembled scratches from the clawing of human nails. Wires and electrical cables ran from it into a pipe in the ground.

Old Sparky.

The phrase popped into his head, although he couldn’t connect it to any particular memory. Even so, he knew this monstrous thing, which had been his home for heaven knew how many days, was no ordinary chair.

It was an execution device.

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