A condemned man is about to be executed. His executioner is an Officer who regards the old way of doing things as the correct way, the only way. The new Commander of the penal colony has requested that the execution be witnessed by a Visitor.
The Officer describes the execution machine to the Visitor, detailing its conception, its construction and finally its method. The method of execution is the most horrific and inhumane imaginable. The Officerï¿½s zealous dedication to this method is based on his belief that the machine has the power to bring about a moment of transfiguration in the victim, the moment they understand the crime they have committed and see the error of their ways. As he awaits his execution, the Condemned Man knows nothing of either his conviction or his punishment.
The Visitor is increasingly appalled by what he sees, but seems incapable of intervening. When the Officer realises that his beliefs will no longer be accepted, there is only one course left.
The real horror of the machine is now revealed.