A telltale sign of a failing culture is an inability to shock people. In a post-9/11 world, so many of us have seen in Hi-def, what previous generations could have never imagined. Our minds are jammed with sounds and images piped-in from any number of electronic devices at nearly every waking moment of our lives. On one hand, society has more opportunities to educate itself than ever before thanks to digital media. On the other, as we become more attached to and dependent on electronic communication, our ability to relate to each other on a human level seems to be questionable at best.
Is it any wonder that today, when a "death cult" posts their latest beheading of another human being onto the web, the masses react with about as much anger and disdain as when their team doesn't make the playoffs? Now that we have a self-imposed blurring of the lines between real life, and "reality TV", we enjoy a comfortable buffer from things that should shock and horrify us to action.
For a writer, such "action" could be to remind people of the horrors of which I speak. Beheading has been around for about as long as recorded history can tell us. It is the preferred method of execution of "infidels" by Muslims as prescribed by their "faith". Although, explosives, stoning, fire, acid, wood chippers, and pavement rollers are also acceptable ways for Muslims to demonstrate how secure they are in their "faith"as well. But, today we're going to focus strictly on beheading.
If there is anything left of it after years of video games and hip-hop music, I will need you to use your imagination...briefly. Imagine being held captive, while knowing that your fate is to have your head removed by a man wielding a large steel sword. Fast-forwarding past the time that you have to contemplate how this situation came to be, and the time you have to realize that you will never see your family again, we'll just get right to it.
For the sake of time, let's assume that your executioner's implement is razor sharp and he has the skills needed to do the job with one swift blow. Keeping also in mind though that neither of these are a priority. "Misses" are common, and occasionally intentional. Sawing and gauging motions are also a typical technique.
Regardless of your executioner's personal beheading style, the real horror comes after the physical trauma you experience as your head separates from your body. I have read that the human head can live for as much as six minutes after being detached from the body.
Six minutes stuck in an elevator. Six minutes waiting for a Quarter Pounder. Six minutes stuck at a construction zone. A six minute lecture from your spouse. All are unpleasant. But imagine spending six minutes - your last six minutes - watching your body thrash and twitch reflexively as the blood gushes from the hole where your head once was.
Try to imagine the thoughts that might race through your mind as you try to scream, but can't...because your lungs are no longer there to push air across your now-severed vocal cords. Your brain tries desperately to signal your arms, legs, or anything to react with some sort of defensive motion...but there's nothing. The connection is gone. For all it's pluses and minuses, what was once your body, is now being violently beaten with sticks and rocks as you can do nothing but watch...and think. For six minutes.
But don't worry my fellow infidel, this is probably not your fate...probably. Hey, what's on TV tonight?