The two soldiers forced the old man to his feet. Marching him from the dirty and cold cell, the trio made their way from the jail into the cold, snow-laden streets.
Christmas lights of all manner and joy lined either side of the long road that led from the jailhouse to the town square. It had been a long time since anyone had made this walk, but it was always one to remember.
Ahead, stark against the lights of the New Year were the gallows. Built overnight in the town square, the noose swinging in the sun. Swaying like the throngs of people lining the street and gathered in the square.
Yelling. Screaming. Angry.
The crowd became riled and agitated as the soldiers marched the weathered soul from the jail to the hangman’s noose.
The people were relentless. Some threw things. They spit. They snarled.
The prisoner was hit in the head with what looked to be a stone. Or piece of coal. He fell to his knees, droplets of blood dotting the rich white snow.
Red and white. Just like his clothes.
The two soldiers lifted him up and dragged him the remainder of the way. Marching the old one up the steps to face the rope. And the people.
A young official in a powdered wig and frock cost stepped forward, his hands unrolling a yellowed parchment. He began to read aloud as the crowd became silent.
We are gathered here today, ladies and gentleman, to finally condemn this man to the sentence that had been laid upon him. A sentence of death.
For the high crimes of espionage and the invasion of global human rights. For the thousand years of judgment and oppression.
For seeing us when we sleep and knowing when we are awake. It is this day we end the most advanced and methodical spy network on Earth. We, the people, sentence Saint Nick of the Claus to be hung til dead.
What say the convicted?
The old man looked out to the crowd, brow red as his suit.
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”
The sentence was carried out. Happy Holidays!