Just

Two men stepped onto the scaffold.

“You want me to kill you?” the prisoner asked.
“To execute me in your place, yes.”

Both wore hoods, one black and menacing, the other a simple burlap sack.

“Then what happens?”
“You get to keep your head,” the grizzled older man replied. “Freedom within the jail and an indefinite postponement of your sentence, at least until you give the job to someone else. Don’t know how long it’s been, but way back someone decided that no righteous souls should be tarnished by killing, even for the sake of justice. Now only someone sentenced to death can carry out that sentence for someone else. Leave it to those already damned to ferry other foul souls off to hell.”

An axe blade rose, glinting in the sunlight.

“How long has it been for you?”
Eyes stare blankly at stone walls. “Thirty years.”
“And how many have you killed?”
“Enough,” he answered “to grow weary of death.”

The axe fell with a sickening thud.

“So what do you say? Free an old man from his torment?”
The prisoner looked into dark, weary eyes, saw a soul in agony. He answered, “No.”

Blood ran across the boards.

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