by Leo King

Approx. 820 Words

I silently lay there in my prison, a hardened bundle of no emotions, long since jaded against the world outside. The smell of dust and lint, the stale scent of dirty and muck, waft constantly. Even the air is foul. It’s likely this prison hasn’t been cleaned in ages. And yet, I lay there, silently waiting for my moment of deliverance, when I can once again join my brothers and sisters.

How long have I been in this prison? A week? A month? A year? It don’t matter. Time, like hope, has long since become meaningless. It is the fate of my lot. We are imprisoned within these dark holes, sometimes alone and sometimes on top of others. At times that seem predetermined by our captors we taken to large carriers, each holding larger cells, reunited with friends and family for a short while, then taken away back to those dark holes we have come to know as homes.

And thus are our lives, day in and day out.

As I lay there and await my fate, I think on stories I have heard of fate even more horrific than this one. Rumors say that there are “collectors” out there who search for very specific markings on me and my kin, birth defects which make us special and unique. Those who the “collectors” take away are never seen again, but the tales tell that they are sealed away and preserved forever, to be ogled over by the collectors at their pleasure.

I shudder as think of such a fate befalling me.

In the distance, I hear a sound, the sound of movement way above. Could it be? Could my moment of deliverance again be at hand? A brief moment in which I, the hapless prisoner, see light again for even a short while?

I tell myself that it’s not the collectors. I tell myself that I am just being moved to the larger pens where my brothers and sisters wait. The uncertainty is momentarily pushed back. It’s a paltry effort, but it keeps the panic at bay.

Light pierces the darkness as my captors come from me, three pudgy pinkish beasts with no faces or features. Some captors are darker, some lighter, but they are all the same. They never talk. They have no mercy. Within seconds they are upon me, their strength far greater than my own as they pull me from the bottom of my prison.

Light floods my vision, as does a roaring deafening sound. For a brief moment, I can see the outside world as my captors move me towards the large carrier ahead. I see the outside world, groundless and too big to comprehend, the utter assault of light and sound and movement upon my senses. I see the entrance to the carrier as my captors speed me towards it, a small slit on the side of the ship. Something is wrong. My captors are moving too quickly.

Something happens that has never happened before. My captors lose their grip upon me, and I fall. It is surreal as I hurtle downwards that I have no fear. Surely I will I die when I hit the ground, if there is such a ground to hit! I close my eyes and wait for the end.

When I do hit the ground, which is made of an unyielding stone, I am amazed that I am not killed. Instead, I bounce, several times, and roll until I am blanketed in the shadow of the massive carrier itself! Looking up, I see the under of the carrier. It is as vile and disgusting as prison holes I have come to call home.

I hear the sound of patting on the hard ground near the edge of the carrier. I look and see my captors, joined by two more, trying to get to me. But they cannot, and for the first time in my life, I notice that my captors are all attached to this oversized growth that links to a very thick tube in the sky. The whole thing, from captor to tub, seems to move as if part of a single creature.

A booming voice resonates through the area, and I close my eyes as the powerful vibrations shake through me. “Shit,” the voice says, “I dropped my token.”

I don’t know what the booming voice is talking about, but moments later my captors vanish, leaving me alone in this dark place, underneath the carrier that has my brothers and sisters.

And there I have been for quite some time, waiting. The carrier hasn’t left, no doubt waiting on my captors to retrieve me. But for now, at least, I am free from the endless cycle of prison holes and carriers.

And for now, I am free from the fear of the collectors. I take some solace in that thought.

I won’t be collected today.


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