Considering my most successful piece of writing on here is a comedic zombie poem, this seems a bit out of place...
Alone In The Dark
They kept us in cages. From the moment we could toddle we lived, separated and confined by four glass walls. We never knew what privacy was, or modesty. They had no place here.
A few of us wondered why it was us in the cages, and not the people in white outside. After all, we looked nearly the same as them. We had two legs, two arms, two eyes, two ears, a nose. We stood upright, we talked, we thought. We acted as they did, though we were more.
They called us Crosses.
There were five of us in total.
Back then we never really wanted for anything. We were fed well. Water was always available and our clothing was warm and comfortable. A man came by every few days to teach us reading, writing and basic mathematics. He told us jokes, encouraged us to tell him jokes. He always smiled, and we always smiled back. We loved him.
Between the days the man came, they took us out of our cages to do tests. Physical tests, sight tests, hearing tests, intelligence tests, blood tests, temperament surveys. We didn't understand, but we were happy to comply. They rewarded us with huge meals and a few hours in a secure compound outside to see the sun and smell the grass.
We were young. We were happy.
We were growing. The man who taught us reading began to teach us battle strategy and military protocols. The tests were gradually replaced with shooting practice and battle simulations. We were concerned, but didn't question the change. The tests had started to become monotonous so we welcomed it.
We didn't welcome the change in ourselves though. All our lives we'd been united. Helping each other through tests, teasing each other, laughing and joking, sharing comfort. Then the smallest of us, a male the people outside called Romulus, began to act strange.
He would pace his cage, bouncing off the walls, growling and snapping at any one who came close. The people outside gave him drugs to calm him, but that did nothing to quell whatever madness had been released. Maybe if they'd paid more attention, saw how his yellow eyes were fixed on our only female, Usagi, like a piece of fresh meat, maybe she'd still be with us.
The battle simulation had gone well. They were rewarding us by giving us some free time outside the cages to socialise. We weren't in the outside enclosure for some reason, just wandering around the room that housed our cages. Usagi sat at the table with the big male they called Yogi, an average height male called Hudson and myself. We were playing cards, a friendly game. We were engrossed. Hudson, sharp eyed and quick thinking usually won these games, but that night he'd been distracted by something behind Usagi. Yogi and I paid no heed, thinking he was bluffing, trying to catch us off-guard and win.
He was the first to react when Romulus attacked her.
It was quick and brutal. Romulus had his pointed canines sunk deep into her throat. She barely had time to issue a scream. Neck vertebra snapped like twigs. Her blood ran in small rivers over Romulus's chin. The sight of it made my chest constrict with something I'd never felt before. The smell of it triggered something inside me. Then Hudson was there, clawing away, trying to release Usagi. Romulus just bit down harder. Her head hung limply from her neck.
The men in white ran into the room with guns. Romulus and Hudson were the first hit. They both went down quickly, their chests still rising and falling. Then Yogi and I went down. The last thing I saw was them trying to pry Usagi from Romulus's mouth.
We came round a short while later. They'd placed us back in our cages, hand and legs cuffed. We couldn't move. We were confused. Romulus wasn't in his cage. Usagi was dead.
We were never told what they did with her body.
Things were never the same after that. Two new Crosses replaced Romulus and Usagi, but they never said much to us, and we never learned their names. We were curious where they came from, since we didn't know where we came from ourselves. They gave vague answers about gene donors and mothers. They seemed terrified of us. More timid than Usagi on her worst days. Maybe it was because we were becoming as bad as Romulus.
Something inside us had been triggered that day. It might have been the shock of seeing someone die for real, or the scent of blood that still hung around the room and cages. Hudson took to crouching in the corner of his cage, eyes watching everyone. In simulations his sharpshooting was second to none. His hair changed, almost becoming feathers. He started to eat his meat raw. We all did.
Yogi was always so hard to read it was difficult to tell if he'd started turning like us. His hair grew shaggier, his canines longer, but that seemed normal. It was only when he ran into simulations on all fours, swatting away holograms with large hands and a roar that we knew.
I welcomed the change when it happened to me. My nose could pick up the tiniest traces of blood. I was quick and flexible. My lungs started to dry out, so I had to keep drinking. Gallon after gallon of water passed through my system. I only worried when my teeth fell out. They grew back quickly enough. Sharp needles growing through my gums. I felt more powerful than ever before.
They let us out less and less as time went on. The Smiley man we'd loved, who taught us to read, to strategise, and to think morphed into a man we couldn't stand. His smiles made us feel threatened. Yogi took a swipe at him.
He never visited us again.
We soon grew jealous of the two new Crosses. We growled, screamed, hissed at them. We banged on the glass walls that divided them from us. The people outside watched us more closely than ever before. The tests started again. Behaviour tests, blood tests, physical tests. They wanted to find out what was wrong with us. We hated that. There was nothing wrong. Things were so perfectly right.
They didn't take us out as a group any more. We were too dangerous together. They stopped taking us to the shooting range, stopped running us through battle simulations. They drugged us often. Most days were spent in a haze of confusing colours and strange hands on our bodies.
Hudson had always been the cleverest of us. He figured out how to act 'normal'. He started asking for his meat to be cooked. Stopped lurking in the corner of his cage. Stopped picking on the new Crosses. He even smiled occasionally and they fell for it. They allowed him out.
As soon as they opened the cage, he ran for the outside. Hudson had always loved the outdoors. The long time inside the cage had done nothing but increase his need to spread his arms wide.
They tried to stop him. They brought out the guns. They found the cuffs and rope. Hudson was on a mission though. They'd trained us, him, too well for him to be stopped without bloodshed. They shot him, but Hudson kept running. He snapped at anyone who came too near. He clawed at anyone who was in his way. He screamed at everyone. He was almost there. Yogi and I roared for him. We wanted to see him free. We wanted to follow him.
Ropes brought him down.
They piled on top of him. Men leant on Hudson's arms, more holding his legs to the floor. Another was straddled on his chest, a bottle and cloth in his hands. We could smell the choking scent of the chemical through the cage doors. It made us dizzy. Hudson was out cold. They cuffed his hands and feet. We watched them drag him to a small door set into the wall. We'd never really noticed it before. Never used it. We soon found out why when it opened.
More cages were through the door in a smaller, darker room. I saw things in the cages. Lumps that moved. I could hear wheezing gasps and something that almost sounded like screams. I breathed in. The stench of rotting flesh and despair was like a wave coming from the room. Underneath that was a smell I recognised.
I may not have been smart, but I realised what they were.
Ones that came before us, before the people outside figured out how to make us look human, act human. They were just lumps of flesh, organs, bones, brains barely functioning. Vocal chords and lungs developed enough to let out continual screams of agony.
Was this how the new Crosses saw us? Saw Hudson, Yogi and me as malformed creatures that should've been put out of their misery long ago? We didn't understand. We couldn't understand.
They dragged Hudson into that room and left him there.
We never made a fuss again. We tried to act normal. We didn't try to escape. We tried to make peace with the new Crosses, but the damage was done. They didn't trust us. Their eyes were terrified when we approached. We gave up after a while.
The people outside began to approach us again. They realised the threat of being taken into the Failures Room was enough to keep us quiet.
It was depressing. We'd grown up together, learned to talk and walk and play together. Now, out of our original five, just Yogi and me were still here.
More new Crosses were brought in. Now the five cages were full again.
Things settled into monotony. Yogi and I still weren't trusted. Our legs were cuffed when we were let out, but we weren't allowed into the outside compound. Strangely, none of us were. Days went by. The people outside began to act oddly. We wondered if they were about to change like we had changed. They didn't, but a weird feeling of time running out seemed to settle over them.
It made us restless and on edge. All of us. Even the new Crosses became aggressive, preferring to stay in their cages than go to simulations or tests or whatever they made them do. Yogi began to sleep more, refusing to be moved for anything. He stopped eating. I worried for him. I didn't want to be left alone.
Nights were becoming unbearable at this point. The new Crosses, always fairly silent during the day would cry out into the dark. They wailed for each other, wanted comfort they couldn't get through glass walls. It annoyed me.
Their cries turned my dreams into nightmares of the failed Crosses in the small room across from us. I wondered what happened to Hudson in that room. Yogi never said anything when I asked him. Never seemed to want comfort in the pitch black of the night either, even though the cries scared him too. We slept as close to each other as we could anyway.
Our world was destroyed days later.
The new Crosses had been let out of their cages for a few minutes. Coaxed out by food and the promise of games. We watched them, Yogi and I. Something in the air was off. We wondered if it was just us, going mad from being caged up for so long. Then we noticed the smell transformed into a feeling of terror. The Crosses out in the room started to cower, sneaking back to their cages to curl up into small huddled balls in the corner.
The people outside didn't understand our behaviour. They just noted it down and came to lock the cages. Explosions put a stop to that. The shockwaves were loud enough to pop eardrums. Yogi roared as his ears bled and a few of the new Crosses shrieked in pain.
We saw men swarm into our world. Faces covered in masks straight out of nightmares and weapons we'd never seen. They shot down the people in white. The Smiley man who'd looked after us and the people who supplied us with food and water. We clawed at the locked cage doors. We cheered on the new Crosses as they charged into the invaders. We screamed in rage when they were cut down in seconds.
The invaders stared at us. They talked. They left us alone. They said they were only here to cover up. It wasn't in their job description to fight freaks of nature. We'd die soon anyway.
One of them ventured into the Failures Room. They opened a few of the cages there and prodded the lumps inside. They left them well alone after that.
Hours passed. They collected data from the machines, burning discs of our test results. They trod on the bodies of the people outside and the dead new Crosses to get to everything. Yogi pounded on his door in a rage. It was no use though. The locks were too well made and he was weak from not eating. We could only watch.
They began to leave. We were happy. Finally, our world would be rid of them. We would break out of our cages eventually and escape. It was all we wanted. A few of them looked at us in pity. We roared at them. We didn't need their pity. They turned out the lights as they left.
Yogi didn't last long after that.
We were alone in the pitch darkness, surrounded by the smell of blood and rotten flesh. The door to the Failures Room had been left open and the eerie chorus of the failed Crosses deformed voices drove us mad.
Yogi pounded away at his door for an entire day. I heard the moment his fist smashed through the glass. It was the same moment his body lost to starvation. He smashed into the floor and didn't rise.
Now it's just me. Alone in a cage in the pitch black. I can already feel my lungs seizing up from lack of water and my stomach cramp from lack of food. I wonder what will kill me in the end. I don't mind though. I want to die. I need to. All I can smell is death and all I can hear are the moans of the failed crosses. I don't want to hear them anymore. They're in my head now, calling me. I want them to stop. I want Yogi back. I want Hudson to be here to come up with a plan. I want Usagi and Romulus and the Smiling man who taught us jokes.
I want anyone.
Just so I don't die alone in the dark.
I think I was obsessing over Viral from Gurren Lagann when I thought of this story, otherwise I've no idea where this came from. I don't usually stay serious for so long in my writing...
I'd really appreciate any constructive comments you can give me on this, so send a review and I'll love you, unconditionally, forever :D