'Before the clock scratches seven a barber will enter without knocking and remove every hair below the knee of your left leg. You will be reminded of visits to the beautician in Temuka, of the hours you spent wriggling in that cool leather chair, watching Mr O'Shanessy drag a razor over your mother, watching Mrs O'Shanessy fit that helmet over her head. Wearing your navy blue overalls again, you will be pushed by the superintendant and the Minister down a corridor which may seem endless, but which in fact stretches fifty-seven and a half metres. The storeroom, which was emptied of tinned bully beef and toilet rolls last Thursday, measures six by seven metres. The chair was made of oak, in 1923, by twenty-seven inmates who took turns on the task, so that the whole cellblock could share in this guilt, in this triumph, eighty years later. You will expect a clock on the wall ticking towards the moment of action, but there will be no clock. Time does not pass through the storeroom. Time has congealed there, like the sea-water trapped between the dunes behind Paritutu Rock. Time is grey-green algae, the scummed surface where dying midges and blowflies squat in mid-summer, just beyond the sound of waves. Time is the tattooed hands of the superintendant's assistants cinching the straps around you, thirty fingers and thumbs working automatically, efficiently, like flowers opening to bloom or a frog swallowing flies. You will be offered the chance to speak - to confess, or to protest your innocence, or to talk about some entirely unrelated subject. As you begin to speak the leather hood will fall over your face, and the headpiece will be attached. Time is the second before the hood completely covers your face, when you try to make eye contact with the blowfly that you imagine to be sitting on the storeroom's eastern wall, when you admire your seven hundred and eleven reflections in the creature's eyes, the seven hundred and eleven fat bottom lips, the seven hundred and eleven crooked noses, the seven hundred and eleven broken crescent scars above your left eye, where the stone from Torrance's sling shot landed. Time is seven hundred and eleven dead blowflies. In the dark you hear the thick sound of circuits being opened, the rich hum of a BMW engine, or of the main current connecting itself to your left leg, to your left hip, to your left testicle. You can see the barn at the back of McGregor's block the night Brendan Ball got out of the army, the night he and Torrance got drunk and filled the empty bottle with lawnmower petrol, you can see the flames leaping like rats from rafter to rafter, the walls peeling like burned skin, the beams and rafters like charred ribs, because - '
He is not listening.