their ears. Their lungs were drawing quick, shallow breaths. They hyperventilated and the white hoods billowed out in front of their faces with every exhalation, only to be sucked in by the next desperate gasp for air. In this last moment before death every synapse, every sinew was alive with the most acute sense of the present, the here and the now.
That long second ended as the hangman, in a smooth and practised movement, disengaged the clutch and pushed the lever forward. The escorts, acting as if on an unspoken command, simultaneously let go of