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There was an abandoned car by the roadside. A large blue car, with an aged look to it. People driving by assumed it had broken down and, seeing nobody around to offer aid to, drove straight past.

It had been there for three days before a police officer pulled over to check it out. He had low expectations; either it would be empty and the registered owner would be found in the next town trying to organise a tow, or it would be gutted, wires hanging out where it had been jump-started, the registered owner waiting somewhere for news of his stolen vehicle.

He did not find what he had expected. The car was not empty. Children’s toys and picture books were strewn across the back seat. A woman’s jacket lay crumpled in the passenger footwell. A man’s shoe lay by the accelerator pedal.

All of it was covered in blood.

The policeman reeled in shock. His gaze fell to the ground. A doll, a rag doll just like one he had once given his daughter, lay on the ground. He remembered how his daughter had argued and screamed when they wanted to take the doll away for a few hours to wash it. At that moment he knew the family would not be found alive.

Almost two years later, the police officer drove up a long dusty road, up to the prison gates. He joined a group of other men, officers and journalists mostly, and waited anxiously in a plain room to be called in.

When the call came, he took a seat directly in front of the gas chamber’s main window, a rag doll on his knee.

© Kari Fay