[From pp. 191-195, in Native Tongue III: Earthsong]
The judge is sick at heart... He hasn't eaten this morning, nor will he eat this day; he never eats on torture days. It seems to him unspeakably obscene that anyone could cause another human to suffer agony and, on the same day, feed himself. He will take a little water; nothing more.
In another ten minutes it will be time for him to go into the little cubicle where the torture takes place. And it will be like it always is. He will sit down beside the table where the prisoner lies waiting for him. The prisoner will be motionless because of the net of energy fields that restrains him, but his eyes will be moving; their eyes are always dancing, frantic, trying to get away for the sake of the terrified body. The judge will sit down beside the prisoner and he will say the prayer he always says: "Merciful Lord, guide me in this work, and guide this man that he may profit by it, Amen." And then he will give the prisoner the injections.
There are two injections. The first paralyzes the vocal tract, so that there will be no screams, no moans, not even whimpering, during the torture. The second administers one hour of the fiercest pain this young world's scientists can devise; it is, they tell him a whole-body pain. ...
The judge will not do what he longs to do after he has given the injections. Unlike other judges who have filled this post, he will not get up and go away and come back in an hour, when the torture is over. He will sit beside the prisoner for the entire hour, holding the man's hand, tears pouring down over his cheeks and falling from time to time on the man's suffering flesh, and he will explain.
"My friend," he will say, "I want you to understand why this is being done to you. I want you to know that this pain has purpose. You were brought here to this place because you have tortured another human being. This procedure, this process that you are undergoing now, is administered only to torturers. Please understand that. ... If I wanted only to punish you, this is not what I would do. I know that you are not evil, my friend. And I know that when you understand what torture is, when you truly know how it feels to suffer the kind of pain that you inflict on others, you will not do it. Not ever again. I understand that."
"The point of this procedure," he will say, "is to show you what it is like, so that you will understand. There is no other way... We know that. Because everything else has been tried, since the beginning of time, and the torturers have gone out and been torturers still." ...
With some mysterious things there is at least a thread of meaning that can be grasped. If only by the grace of metaphor, there is a way to say, "I could not do that myself, but I can understand how someone could do it." Not with torture. Torture is different. There are no metaphors for torture. ...
He will go into the cubicle this morning and do what must be done, as he always has; it will be like it always is. He knows that no man could commit torture if he knew what his victim was feeling; it is just a matter of making it absolutely clear. It is a process of education, nothing more, and it must be done.
Except that this time it is not like it always is.
This time, when he leans over the prisoner to administer the two drugs, it is not the same. Because this time he recognizes the man who lies there... This man has been on the torture table before, has had the injections before ... the judge remembers this man.
The judge sets down his instruments without a word. For a moment he looks into the terrified eyes, and then he turns his back and walks away.
There is another cubicle in this facility of the Justice Department. The cubicle has no floor, and no proper door; it has a small square panel that covers an opening shaped to receive the tidy bundles of daily trash. A fat human being would not be able to fit through the opening, but the judge is thin. With almost no trouble at all, he slides the panel back and climbs into the opening. He makes not one sound, although he has had no injection to paralyze his vocal tract, as he falls toward the vaporizer.