My eyes watch the monitor next to the podium. I observe a man waiting at the entrance to the theater. He's on the other side of the door and I can feel his anxiety, hands balling into fists and relaxing in repetition, again and again. Tapping my palm against the microphone on the podium to ensure I have sound, I scan the crowd. Women stare back at me, some leaning forward in the seats.
The man raps on the door from the outside and I raise my arm.
"Open the doors for the prisoner.”
Saul swings the massive oak doors open and steps aside. Alone in the entryway, the man stares and blinks at the crowd of women rising to greet him. A murmur passes over the audience and I tap the microphone once more.
"The prisoner shall take his place in the box," I say, pointing to wooden structure built into the base of the stage. The man pauses, glancing about the theater. Silence greets him and all wait for him to make the journey. Taking a few steps forward, he approaches the box and moves to the side when Saul swings the gate open to allow him access. Placing his leg into the structure, he steps up onto the prisoner podium, flinching when Saul slams the gate shut.
“What is the meaning of this? Do you know who I am? I’m a fucking judge.” A chorus of boos from the crowd answers his tirade and I smile.
“Not anymore. Today you will stand trial.” A loud cheer erupts from the audience, causing the prisoner to flinch yet again.
“Trial?” He faces the women in the audience. “What are the charges?”
Leaning into the microphone, I wait for him to turn towards me before speaking. “You are charged with crimes against humanity.”
The prisoner begins to speak, but the roar from the crowd drowns his words in a sea of chants. Execute him! The chants swell into echoes and I close my eyes to enjoy the wall of energy emanating from the crowd. After several moments, I raise my arm and wait for silence.
“How does the prisoner plead to the charges?”
The man stammers attempting to respond, but I can’t hear the response. Pounding the podium, I repeat the question.
“I committed no crimes against humanity,” he says. “I'm not…”
“Are you not the judge that sentenced a rapist to a mere three months in jail to protect his athletic career?” I ask, interrupting him.
His hands ball into fists once more and he scans the room again. Is he plotting an escape attempt?
“I was the judge in that case.”
“Very well, you admit your guilt. The prisoner has been found guilty of crimes against humanity. Do you have anything to say before I announce your sentence?”
“What? I said I was not guilty.”
His statement is met by laughter from the crowd.
“And I said you are. I’ll repeat the question once more. Do you have anything to say before I announce your sentence?”
He begins to answer, but falls silent and I pound the gavel on the podium. “Since you do not have any final words, I’ll read the sentence.”
The women move towards the stage, crowding round the prisoner box. He spins in one direction and the next, eyes darting about in fear. I wait for him to turn towards me once more before speaking.
“I sentence you to death by firing squad.”
Meet Ella Thomas.
A beautiful 20-year-old writer haunted by a traumatic past. Trapped in a small-town where everyone knows her secrets, she flees on a road-trip across America in search of adventure and to find the man that holds the key to understanding the violent days of her childhood.
Two mysterious men stalk Ella on the odyssey from Massachusetts to Las Vegas - an FBI agent named Marcus that suspects her of being a serial killer and an assassin called Mr. Brown with a familiar face she can't quite remember.
At the core of her journey of self-discovery is the search for Ray Holden. Everyone tells her he is dead, but she refuses to believe it and her insistence on finding him sets off a chain of events that culminates in a shocking final turn.
Follow her journey to learn the answers to the burning questions. Who is Ray Holden? And more importantly...
Is the FBI correct? Is Ella Thomas a serial killer?
One reader described Ella as "Dexter meets Lolita". Read this fast-paced thriller to discover the truth about Ella Thomas.
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Three-Pack of Short Story Paperbacks
Get three paperback editions of short stories by Stephen Moran.
INCLUDES a FREE ELLA paperback
STORIES FOR THE MAD- the debut short fiction anthology from Moran Press. 13 tales of obsession, dread, and madness.
ELLA - a psychological thriller about a young woman finding her way in a man’s world. Followed by the FBI and stalked by an assassin, Ella seeks a man from her past - going on a cross-country journey to from Massachusetts to Las Vegas, leaving a trail of bodies in her wake.
STORIES - Collected stories by Stephen Moran 1992-2018
SERVER - a collection of stories that forms a complete narrative unlike anything else you’ve ever read. Scott Holden is a waiter and writer - those two worlds clash with increasing frequency as the mental state of the narrator slides towards violencE.
STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO