The Condemned

... or, "Had To Be Done, People." They gathered in the town square at noon.

The sun, towering at its apex, offered no shade. Dust that had baked in the heat for years crunched under their footsteps, as a bone-dry wind threw swirls of it onto their shoes. All eye contact was accidental, and swiftly averted. No one wanted to admit to each other why they had come, because to do so would mean admitting it to themselves. And they wanted to postpone that particular truth as long as possible. Moments played out among the crowd, unseen in plain sight. Here, a woman dabbed at her brow with a handkerchief given by her late fiancé. There, a man sipped courage from a worn, smudged flask, an act he no longer bothered to hide. When the last of them reached the square, stillness fell, as if they would be allowed to abandon their task and go home, if only they remained perfectly silent. Overhead, vultures started to become curious. The mayor stood on an upturned crate. "Come on, people. Let's get this over with." He ushered them past the bench beside him, where they took turns choosing from the stack of red. "They're all the same, people. Doesn't matter which one you take." One by one they hefted them, feeling the edges, running their hands over the pits and scars, brushing off the dirt. Then they surrounded their mark. None harbored any illusion about turning away now. The line had already been crossed, and they knew it. So they drew back their arms, took a breath.

And threw bricks at the person who invented the "Reply to All" function.

Their work finished, they began drifting back to their lives. A voice in the crowd spoke, "Holy shit-faced Mary that felt good."