Eth had to pinch himself. He was only eight years old and already on trial for espionage. Even worse, his father was the judge and showed no sympathy for his son’s predicament. Something wasn’t right here.
“Court is now in session,” the judge announced, banging his gavel. “The trial against Eth Passin will now commence. He stands accused of spying for the enemy. Will the accused please step forward to testify?”
Eth slowly rose from his seat and somberly walked to the witness stand amid hostile stares from around the courtroom. He didn’t pay much attention to them, for his mind was at work, busily assembling pieces of the puzzle with the final picture ever slowly bringing itself into focus.
After Eth took his seat in the witness stand, the prosecutor began grilling Eth with intimidating questions. “Why did you choose to spy for the enemy?” he shouted in anger.
“But I didn’t,” Eth muttered. “I wanted to go to Busse and visit my dad. After I crossed the border I came to a clearing where I saw the Bussian soldiers talking loudly of their secret plans to invade Sulkana. I wasn’t allowed to speak with the Sulkanian military so I had to take matters into my own hands.”
“Why aren’t you allowed to speak with the Sulkanian military?” the prosecutor asked.
“Because the last time I did, the Bussian troops snuck past the border while I was talking to the commanders. I think that was part of the Bussians’ plan, to have me distract the commanders this way.” Eth sighed with embarrassment. “But at least this time I was able to fight the enemy all by myself.”
“You fought the enemy by yourself? How?” the prosecutor asked in disbelief.
“I ate vanilla beans, which makes my body grow one hundred times bigger, so I was able to scare the troops away.”
After the laughter in the courtroom had faded, the prosecutor continued, “You stated earlier that you crossed into Busse to visit your dad. Why did your dad choose not to come home to Sulkana to be with you?”
“He said he couldn’t bring himself to come home after killing some enemy soldiers in self-defense. He even got a medal of bravery.” Eth testified. Turning to the judge, he said, “Hey Daddy, you never did show me your medal. Didn’t you…”
The last piece of the puzzle snapped in place to present Eth a startling revelation.
“You didn’t kill the Bussian soliders, did you. You killed the Sulkanians.” Eth whispered. “You went to fight for the opposite side. After the war you chose to live in Busse, away from me and Mom.”
“Excuse me,” snapped the judge, “I believe you’re the one on trial, not me.”
Eth ignored him. “You made every attempt to stay away from us. When Mom tried writing you, you wrote back threats and insults to try and scare her into leaving you alone. No wonder she’s so scared to get the mail.”
“Order in the court!” the judge yelled over Eth as he pounded the gavel repeatedly until it broke.
“You didn’t want anything to do with us and sought to rid yourself of us. That would mean…” Eth started before he gasped. “You arranged this, didn’t you. You purposely had those soldiers in the clearing to fool me into thinking that Busse would invade us. You knew I would be near the border to fight the troops so you could later frame me later for espionage!”
“ENOUGH!” the judge screamed as he pointed the broken gavel at Eth. “The court finds you guilty of espionage and sentences you to death by firing squad at dawn!”
“Good, then I’ll go to Heaven and see my real dad,” Eth retorted defiantly as he was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom.
News of Eth’s conviction and pending execution spread like wildfire across Sulkana as the military personnel prepared for a rescue mission.
“I can’t believe that monster,” Sulkanan High Commander Keane snarled as he chomped on his cigar. “That judge, sentencing his only son to death. Not gonna happen on my watch. Okay boys, let’s go bring him home.”
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