I never considered myself claustrophobic, but maybe its because I have never been in this situation. The crate is too small for me to lie down and to low for me to stand. The only position of any comfort is to sit back to one corner. At least I can stretch my legs this way.
Cracks between the planks let dull light seep in, but there is precious little of that in the room where my crate is. I worry the edge of a plank with my fingernail to pass the time.
The smells are strange, none that I had ever experienced before. Greasy and oily smells, maybe some exotic chemicals. Smells you try to get away from. Smells of death.
People enter the room. Talking gibberish. I have never heard this language. Their smells were stale. Cigarettes. I know that smell.
They surround me. My box starts to move into the air. Erratic. The smell of sweat and cigarettes stronger now. Grunting and swearing.
Then light! Powerful light sneaks through thin gaps, burning slivers of white, against me, and on the walls.
I am put down.
They argue, raised voices, then one capitulates.
Then the latch of my box is being worked. I back up into the opposite corner from the intrusion.
Hot and bright light slams into me. Blinding. Painful. I react to get away, but the only way is toward the light. I shut my eyes and lunge at it.
There is commotion, grunts and yelling, but I can smell life. Wood, earth, and the sweetness of flowers gone to seed. Somewhere I can smell the unmistakable sent of fresh snow. It intoxicates me. Energizes me.
I run. Run as fast as I can.
The sweet freedom is exhilarating. I run deeper and deeper into the forest. I cannot hear them any more. My captors, my masters are left behind.
Food, water, is what I need now. Anything will do. Berries, mushrooms, even leaves. Then a stream. water, fish!
With a full stomach, I am feeling a heavy fatigue and now crave shelter. Peace and quite for a while. A place I will feel comfortable to shut my eyes and forget the world for a while. There is more snow around now.
A cave, perfect. With a few evergreen branches for comfort, will serve exceptionally.
I fidget around on my new bed and find a comfortable position and snooze.
Sleep envelopes me like a warm sweet summer breeze.
Birds chirping and the smell of flowers wakes me. I am not sure where I am for a moment as I shake out the sleepiness from my foggy head.
A ravenous hunger grasps my innards like a drowning man gripping a lifesaver. It hurts.
I venture out to sate it, along with the burning thirst.
Standing on the edge of a clear and bubbling stream I go to take my first gulp. I ignore a dull “thwap” sound somewhere far off, but the sting in my side moments later is the last thing I remember.
I wake in a steel cage. Others around me. I try to speak to them but they look at me blankly. I rage against the bars, but the others have tried. I can see it in their eyes. Resigned looks stare back at me.
I hear cheers and clapping in the distance. I will get to know these sounds well as I am only fed when I can make the people cheer and clap. I do certain things. Stand up, roll over, play dead, …
I even learn to ride on a stupid uncomfortable things with one wheel. I am quick to learn, which my new captors take advantage of. I am the star of the show now.
I hate it. I get no extra food for more tricks, so I stop being so cooperative. I grow sullen and easy to anger. My captors are confused and frustrated. I get less to eat now. I try to do more of the old tricks but this gets me nowhere.
I refuse to learn new ones. It is my power over them. To hell with my constant companion: the gnawing ache deep within. Is it hunger for food, or for freedom. I can no longer tell.
I take satisfaction at the chagrin and frustration I can conjure in my masters. They grumble and complain. Sometimes they poke and whip, but not enough to change my ways.
The whip cracks. Again and again, but I am not climbing to the top of the ladder. No no no. I will not! the crowds surrounding us are silent.
I can smell them. Perfume, cigarettes, beer, sweat. And a faint, but unmistakable tinge of fear.
The gaudily dressed man with the whip and I lock eyes, and in our stare, we understand the inevitability of what must comes next.
He raises his whip again with a slight tremble. I launch at him. Arms out and mouth open. Roaring.
He is not fast enough to get out of the way and I find his upper arm in my mouth. I jerk my head back and forth till the weight is gone. The arm remains in my mouth but the colourful body is now on the ground. I taste sweet metallic blood in my mouth and my hunger is aroused. In that moment I knew my gnawing ache was for freedom.
I leap into the rafters and now smell fear everywhere. Screaming, crying fill the air. I move unopposed to the tent door.
Now outside. It is night. A man points at me, and fire comes out of his hand with a bang. He looks suddenly very frightened, turns and runs. I run too.
I find the sweet forest again and my nerves are calmed. Soft earth under foot. Water and food are again mine. I am home.
Barking dogs and the smell of fear suddenly everywhere around me. How did I not notice.
I run right into their trap. I am hanging in an awkward position in a net swinging from a rope, then “thwap”, and then everything black.
I am in a box again. Again I can sit but not stand or lie.
There is something familiar about this box. A smell.
Something makes me run my hand over the planks. I feel a smooth spot. I know that spot. This is my old box! Damn!
Off in the distance, I smell something else: the first fresh snow of a new winter.
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This is incredible! Cleverly written and I was hooked on every word. Amazing. Xxx
thanks for the kind words. Its the first time I try to write from a non human perspective. I wanted the reader to be unsure of it all till the end, but the story began to require non human reactions, so I think I failed at that goal. When did you start to think the narrator was not a person?