Chapter seven

Nearly the instant they loaded my tank in to the truck's hold, my eyelids felt almost impossible to keep open. There was something about the complete darkness of the vehicle they transport me with every time the carnival goes to a new town that allows me to sleep. I have slept before, during the all-too-short nights in the tent, but never as deeply.
There's something about it… I suppose it might have been simply not being in that horrible tent with all of the eyes, the eyes that still seem to be there even when they shut down the lights and leave me for a little while. I've only been moved once or twice before, but I've now come to know this truck as a haven, of sorts.

There was quite a bit of scuffling, and then some more. I thought for a moment that someone had climbed in to the truck with me, but my fuzzy thoughts couldn't come up with a good reason as to why, so I dismissed the idea. Only moments later, I had drifted in to a dreamless, blissful sleep.

As I woke up, I was able to feel the temperature of the water, even if just barely; cold, but not freezing, as it sloshed around my skin. The drug's numbing effects were beginning to wear off.
I started to panic a little, knowing that if they didn't give me another dose soon...

They'd only ever let me go more than a few hours without giving me another dose once or twice, and then a few times by accident. It was a hard feeling to describe.

First, my stomach will start to hurt. Nothing too horrible, just a slight cramping feeling. Then I'll start to shake. Sometimes there will be a headache, but not always. For the first hour or so, it's bearable. Annoying, yes. Uncomfortable, yes - but nothing I can't simply sit through.
Then it will get worse. My entire body is wracked with uncontrollable shuddering as my stomach begins to feel as though it's turning itself inside out and pushing through my skin. I want to vomit and cry and curl up in a little ball, but the ropes around me don't let me do that.

Instead, I feel somewhat like Prometheus - chained to my rock, wishing I could die.

I don't know what it's like to wait until the pain passes. I don't even know if it will pass. It seems like too much to possibly just fade away, even though I know it would. Of course, they always remember to give me the drug before the pain fades.
I wish I didn't feel so happy when they inject it in to my bloodstream, but I can't help it. The happiness goes away as soon as the pain, however, and I quickly go back to not feeling anything.

At the moment, I was just beginning to feel the combination of stomach pain and nausea, as the feeling slowly returned to my body. It was like a strange sort of slow-motion ripple, starting in my very core and spreading outwards towards the very ends of my tail and fingers.
The feeling reached my hand, and I became aware of a sort of… pressure on it, oddly like something was wrapped around it.
As my nerve endings began to function again, there was a strange sort of rhythm, emanating from beneath the back of my hand.

Just like a heartbeat.

My eyes flew open. It was still dark, except for a few small cracks in the inside of the truck, letting in just enough light to tell that I wasn't alone.
I couldn't see much over metal edge of the tank. My arm, which I could only just barely tell was attached to my body, was draped over the edge, my hand disappearing in to something, perhaps covered up by a black silhouette of something. It shivered, ever-so-slightly, and let out a small breath of air.

A person, I realized. A human. If I had been at my full level of alertness, I would have instinctively tried anything to get away from them, but the drug had suppressed that well-learned impulse to perfection.

The person was huddled against both the edge of the tank and one wall of the trunk, clutching my hand to them, as though it would give them warmth. Somewhere, deep down inside my mind, I snorted. There wasn't warmth here. Even I knew that, and I couldn't really feel where my tail ended and the water began.

My stomach gave a painful lurch. I automatically began to curl up on myself, trying to draw my arm away from the person in the process. But it didn't come away. That didn't seem right. Ignoring the pain in my abdomen, I struggled to control my muscles enough to haul myself upright to a sitting position, where I could see further over the edge and figure out who it was.

I couldn't. The strength flooded out of me, and I sank back down in to the tank with a small splash. I think my head might have hit the bottom a little harder than I wanted it too, but I couldn't tell. I let myself go limp as my head started to ache. I didn't know if it was because of the withdrawal or because I had hit my head, but it probably would have been same either way. As I closed my eyes, I idly wondered if -