SHORT STORY: The Hallex

“Test #1743. Subject Name: Samantha Horice. Age of 23. Convicted for the murder of long time friend Terrence Smith and her husband Eric Horice.” Samantha winced at this. She couldn’t kill Eric. She loved him so much and was heart broken when he commited suicide. It was just unfortunate that he jumped out the window when she shot Terrence. Very bad timing in
her opinion. The police chief continued to speak.

“The court has found you guilty, and sentence you to death in the Hallex.”

The Hallex. She had heard horror stories about this thing. They say that all who enter the
Hallex shall never leave it. The machine was made by some guy named Professor Dobble. She
supposed that was the man approaching her.

“Now ma’am,” he said, “let me tell you what’s about to happen.” He had a dash of
excitement in his voice. “The Hallex is a device of my design. Its purpose is to execute criminals,
like yourself. It chooses one death out of millions of other painful and fun ones. A real fair way
to deal with lawbreakers.”

You have a disturbing amount of passion for this, Samantha thought. He continued to talk
about all the fun ways people had died in his contraption.
The chief cleared his throat. The professor stopped in the middle of his story of a lad
drowning in fresh cow-milk.

“Hm? Oh yes. Follow me.”

She was forced into a big room. It was a pure white box with a strait jacket in the middle.
She was put into the jacket and the officers left, leaving just the professor. “Now this box was
designed to bring death to hardened criminals.” he said, “But there is a way to escape your fate.”
She lit up at this statement. “How? How do I live?” The quirky man smiled and said, with a low
voice “Answer the riddle.” The he turned around and walked out. “What riddle? WHAT
RIDDLE?” The doors closed and the Hallex was activated.

The straight jacket was loosened. She threw it off and looked around. The only thing in
the room was a small, white box, almost blending in perfectly with the walls. Samantha looked
around. “What’s the riddle?!” she yelled to nowhere. The professor’s voice entered the room.
“You have to find the riddle.” he said, clearly enjoying himself. “Look at the box. It might give
you a hint to find it.” Samantha turned to see the wood box catch on fire. After it finished
burning, a beautiful flower laid underneath. This “hint” lowered down into the Hallex and
disappeared. “Answer the riddle correctly, and the Hallex won’t kill you. You now have 5
minutes to figure it out. Good luck.” The room went silent.

Samantha started to panic. She ran to walls to see if there was some type of secret door,
but the walls were just walls. She was pacing back and forth wondering what to do. The hint
showed a flower. Was the hint something about the plant. It’s color, scent, or texture? Maybe
something to do with the box. About 1 minute in, the wall of the Hallex pulled down. Flames
began to shoot out from the behind. She sprang back to the middle of the room. “Death by fire.”
she thought. “’Fun way to die.” She had no idea where to begin. Another minute passed, and the
walls began to close in. As those walls moved in, all Samantha could think about was the future
she was supposed to have with Eric.

She thought of the plans they had made together. “We always wanted a baby.” she said out loud to herself. “We would spend days just thinking about how great parents we would be and how’d we raise him. Had already been thinking of what to name them. Found all sorts of fun names. We even found our names. Apparently, Samantha means “God Heard”, listener, and…” Samantha sprang up. In Greek, Samantha could mean flower as well. Her mind was racing. “The flower was covered by a box,” she thought, “it was confined.” She looked around the room. The only thing she saw was the straight jacket given to her at the start… “It’s a long shot.” she thought. She grabbed the strait jacket and put it into the flame. The whole thing began to burn up. She had 1 minute left. “Please let me be right. Please let me be right.” The jacket burned up. Among the ashes she noticed two strips of metal with engravings on each. She picked up one and read, “Made in Canada.” She threw away the strip
and picked up the other one. This one actually had something useful.

“I am inevitable, and yet you run from me. No matter how I appear, I am all around you. Who am I?”

Samantha started to think, more than she ever had in her life. She paused to reflect on that
sad fact. She immediately jumped back to it. “Inevitable? All around? What could it be?” The
fire started to get closer.

She only had 30 seconds left.

“What is inevitable?” The fire was pushing its way forward. “Why would someone run
from that.?” She kept thinking and thinking, but still had no avail.
15 seconds to go.

Samantha sank to the floor in defeat. “I can’t win,” she said to herself, “I’m going to die.
I’m…” Then she paused. She looked at the flames getting closer to her.

1742 people before her were killed in the Hallex. The professors words suddenly came
back to her. “It chooses one death out of millions of other painful and fun ones.” She felt the
flames lick at her skin. Every person in the box had died differently. Many forms. One common
outcome. “Death.” Samantha whispered. Then she started to yell, “THE ANSWER IS
DEATH!!” The flames were immediately extinguished. The device spewing out flames sunk
back into the wall. She let out a huge sigh of relief.

The door to the Hallex open. A gunshot echoed in the room. A bullet had entered her
skull. She fell to the floor, dead. The police chief holstered his pistol. “I told you it’s easier to
just shoot them.” The professor looked disappointed. “I was really hoping to see her expression
as she burned.” The chief stared at him. “You know you have a problem right?” The professor
shrugged. “Let’s just get the next guy in here,” the chief said. They grabbed Samantha’s corpse
and brought it into the body of the Hallex. She was settled next to all 1742 other victims of the
machine. For all who enter the Hallex shall never leave it.


By Caleb Owens, Contributor

Featured photo by Henry Be on Unsplash

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