Shunning and Radioactivity | Brad R. Torgersen

A man indicted for a crime is confronted by the police. His punishment is not jail. They apply a device to the criminal’s forehead which alters the shape of his forehead, leaving a grotesque mark. No matter how the man tries to cover the mark with clothing, the mark simply burns through, and anyone and everyone who sees the mark knows to shun the man. He cannot engage in business, talk to friends or loved ones or neighbors, work a job, or have any contact with humanity at all. Anyone caught interacting with the criminal or helping him will themselves become a criminal, thus also enduring the shunning and ostracising of the mark on their foreheads. Even medical help is off limits, as the man discovers when he becomes targeted by other criminals, and is injured badly. He ultimately limps through his term of punishment, scavenging what he can from the margins of civilization. And when the time comes, the police return and the mark on his forehead is removed. Relieved to have been freed from his prison without walls, the man re-enters society as an acceptable citizen. Except . . . one day he sees a woman who is marked as he was marked. She spots him and recognizes him from the days when he was still marked like she is. She pleads with him to not ignore her. He tries to pass by her without stopping, but her piteous cries for his mercy soften his heart, because he knows her pain and anguish, and he turns and embraces her while the robotic drones of enforcement surround them both and announce that they are engaging in criminal activity.

via Shunning and Radioactivity | Brad R. Torgersen.



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