short stories

Involuntary Guilt

The room had felt cold when they’d all come to sit in it, but now the air was stuffy, sweaty and stressed. The jurors had filed in and taken their seats. He stood and faced them all. He knew the verdict by counting how many of them could look him in the eye.

The judge did not rise, but turned to him and said, “You stand before this jury facing charges of collaboration with our country’s greatest enemy in this war.

Collaboration, he thought to himself and almost laughed. He remembered the beatings, the waterboarding, the slow removal of each fingernail. Could you really call that collaboration? He had said anything to make it stop. Was it really his fault that some of the information given thinking it was false had turned out to be right?

The judge now turned to the jury, “On the count of voluntary collaboration, how do you find the defendant?”

A jury member stood and turned to face the courtroom. She looked a little nervous. “Not guilty,” she said in a loud, clear voice.

“And on the count of involuntary collaboration, how do you find the defendant.”

“Guilty.” She sat back down again, quickly.

Not as bad as he thought. Spared the death penalty, but thrown back in the cell. He didn’t mind so much. Captivity had started to feel like home.

via Daily Prompt: Collaboration

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