(In the late 1800’s, the battle between two competing electric technologies, AC and DC currents, turned brutal. For Thomas Edison, it was a life and death struggle. This is a fictionalized version of true events in history. If you're just joining us, you can start at Part 1.)
Dr. Alfred Southwick watched the footsteps of the man being led into the room. Chains clanked against tile. The shuffle made the man something less than human.
The eyes would be a different reality. Dr. Southwick was careful not to look at them.
Despite the pull of travel fatigue, Dr. Southwick's excitement shivered down to his fingers. So much effort and study to arrive at this moment. After seeing a man accidentally killed by electricity, devoting himself to learning its properties. The many experiments. All of the stray dogs and cats he killed.
His dental practice was insignificant in comparison. Electricity would shine the light of reason into the darkness of superstition and brutality. A new era was about to begin.
The warden stepped forward to the rows and rows of chairs. All were occupied. Flash powder popped and sizzled from the hand of the state photographer.
The warden read the death warrant in a single river of words. Dr. Southwick couldn't hold the sentences, and they lost form. He stared at the unmoving fabric of the prisoner's shins.
The man didn't shift from foot to foot.
Perfect stillness. Yet, Dr. Southwick sensed the rock hard life beneath.
But technology would prove capable of slipping life from skeleton and muscle and nerve. Like a magician's sleight of hand. Electricity would bestow mercy on the merciless act of execution.
The man had a name, but Dr. Southwick covered it in his mind.
No, Kemmler the murderer.
And now the murderer sat in the chair. Dr. Southwick tensed.
It was happening. Time lost friction, and the world was sliding.
The warden bent to the ankle and leg restraints.
His hands were shaking.
On to Part 8.
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