The Mercy Seat -1-

Author's note-the song is not mine and I make no money from it.

It all began when they took me from my home
And put me on Death Row,
A crime for which I am totally innocent, you know.

Not Death Row anymore, but Swap Row, but many prisoners prefer to call it
by the old name, as the result is the same. When you go to the swap chair
, also known colloquially as the "mercy seat" you may not be fried as in
the electric chairs of old, but you'll still die. A total identity death
with all your memories changed to that of your victim and your very body
changed by the magitech into that of your victim down to the very last
detail is still death just as much as it would be if you were strapped
down and fried, gassed, or injected. Capital punishment in the old sense
was on it's way out anyway; many called it barbaric and it didn't bring
back the victim, not like what they had now. For a long time there was
only magic, high, low and dark.

Low magic is the kind everyone learns at school; how to pilot a broomstick
or a flying carpet; how to heal small wounds, lift heavy objects and the
like. It's fully accepted and legal unless used for evil. High magic is
for megaspells, hugely powerful spells that only governments know how to
cast. Megaspells have only been used aggressively twice, to destroy the
Japanese towns of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War Two, but
they are used often in their healing form after disasters, where they can
heal everybody who is still alive over a large area. Dark magic (it used
to be known as Black magic before the end of segregation in the sixties,
now only a few racists use the old term) is necromancy and the like.
Highly illegal, the sort of thing you can spend your life in a Supermax
prison for. If you're wondering why I can't magic myself out of here; the
prison has iron running through it, making magic of all kinds impossible

With so much magic around tech was slower to develop, but develop it did
and twenty years ago, the swap chair was born. Earlier attempts to bring
back a murdered person failed at best and created a zombie or a demon
possessed corpse at worst. Exactly how the chair works is shared amongst
governments but not with the average person; they don't want vigilantes
making such chairs at home. But what is known is that you strap the
murderer in, throw the switch and the murderer becomes his or her victim,
who can then be set free. The US federal government and the states of
Texas and Oklahoma still keep the death penalty in the old sense, but only
for those who commit spree killings or multiple murders. The only other
countries who still have the old style death penalty are dictatorships
like China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia. The EU adopted the swap chair on
a trial basis five years ago and has kept it ever since, although Norway's
maximum penalty is still twenty-one years in prison.

And the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this weighing of the truth.
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
And I'm not afraid to die.

Amanda. I spend a long time thinking of her, with her soft brown eyes, her
long brown hair and her elegant clothes, for she is the reason I was
sentenced to the Row in the first place. I entered the row as a man, and I
will leave it as Amanda, my ex girlfriend. I keep on telling myself I'm
not afraid to die, but I am. I have no idea what it will be like when
they strap me down and throw the switch. Will it hurt? Will I just pass
out, never to wake again? Or will my soul be ripped from my body and
hurled into the netherworld? Or, and this is what scares me most; will I
wake helplessly trapped inside a body that is no longer mine? Unable to
move or speak, forced to look out from Amanda's eyes and hear her speak as
she goes about her life? Feeling her make-up and lipstick, helpless to
wipe it? Feeling it when she...makes love to a man? Never free to speak or
move of my own accord again? That for me would be a true hell on Earth.

I hear stories from the chamber
Christ was born into a manger
And like some ragged stranger
He died upon the cross
Might I say it seems so fitting in its way
He was a carpenter by trade
Or at least that's what I'm told

There are five of us counting me on the Row; whilst the new form of
capital punishment has not stopped all murders; nothing will, it has
greatly reduced them. A sixth was here by choice, a crazed fan of the
country music star Ami Strange. He handed himself in by choice and pleaded
guilty to capital murder, and made no appeals other than his one mandatory
one. They came for him yesterday, and marched him away to the chair. He
was smiling all the while. I guess you can't get closer to a person then
being them.

Into the mercy seat I climb
My head is shaved, my head is wired
And like a moth that tries
To enter the bright eye
I go shuffling out of life
Just to hide in death awhile
And anyway I never lied.

They are coming for me now. I've had my last meal, my first good meal
since I entered this place three years ago. I've prayed with the chaplain
and said my last goodbyes and made my will. I've seen three others go to
the chair since I was sent here; one fought for his life until they
tazered him into submission. Here we go, the Last Mile, six guards on all
sides. And there it is, the swap chair, looking very much like the
electric chair of old. All too soon I am strapped into it, glaring at the
witnesses. Amanda's parents and boyfriend are there, along with a doctor,
the Warden and five people from the press. My parents did not come, they
did not want to see me swapped, but my best friend on the outside is there
to see me go.

And the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this weighing of the truth.
An eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
And I'm not afraid to die.

"Do you have any last words?" the Warden asks. One prisoner tried to do a
massive filibuster of his swap as he knew if he could keep talking for
twelve hours his Swap Warrant would run out and it would take thirty days
to get a new one. After two hours they found out his plan and swapped him
anyway. "I'm innocent, I never killed your daughter, and making me
replace her is so wrong."

The mask goes on, no chance of speaking now, and my warrant is read out.
"Thomas McGhie, you have been convicted of capital murder in the death of
Amanda Swann, and sentenced to be swapped by a judge of good standing in
this state. The sentence will now be carried out."

And the mercy seat is smoking
And I think my head is melting
And in a way that's helping
To be done with all this twisting of the truth.
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
But I'm afraid I told a lie.

I shudder in the chair as the raw magic flows through me. Suprisingly, I
don't feel much pain, instead I feel my pecs swelling into breasts, my
hair growing down my back, my hair that was shaved growing again at a
rapid speed, and my organs churning away inside me like I'm on a funfair
ride. As my mind starts to go mushy, my memories changing to hers, my last
thought is that I am guilty after all, despite what I said, I did murder

"The sentence has been carried out, untie Amanda," the Warden said, and as
soon as she was untied Amanda hugged and kissed her family and boyfriend.
"What happened, I..."

"We'll tell you on the way home sweetheart. We're just happy to have you

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