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Flash fiction: The Box

October 5, 2012

A piece I wrote and performed at the Warwick Words Flash Slam! Enjoy. 

I am running. The heat spirals and shivers around my powerful muscles, I feel the whip of the long grass against my hide, the dry dirt against my paws. I can run forever, I ache with fatigue, but here, I can never hit the walls of the box. The sun is a huge yellow eye staring across the plain.  I can see prey, and snarl, the naked apes running and screaming, dropping ice-cream in their panic. I snap with my large teeth, but they jump out of the way at the last second…

I always wake up. I cannot stay in my yellow hot dreamworld, I wake up into the grey cold of the box, where the sun is only visible part of the day, and then it fails to break through the smog. I was born here in the box, and I will end here. There used to be another with me, a soft warm rumble, a sandy heap of muscle, claws, fur. But no longer. A naked ape with some dead-prey comes three times a day. I used to pretend the dead-prey was alive and play with it but I cannot be bothered anymore. I can walk thirteen paces from side to side, and seven from the back to the bars. Most days I count my steps. I keep going until I cannot pace anymore, and I can sleep again and go to the hot dreamworld. I lose count after nine hundred odd steps and I have to start again. One two three four…

A lot of the naked apes come to stare at me.  They smell sick, like dirt and iron and milk. I ignore them now. They just stare and walk away. One day a smaller naked ape came to stare. I paid her no mind. I was counting. Three hundred sixty eight, three hundred sixty nine, three hundred seventy… She stayed longer than most. The next day she came again. It was after noon feed, before night feed. Not many other naked-apes about.  She started to walk with me. No one had done that before.

She came every day. She walked with me and made noises at me. I came closer and closer to the bars, and so did she. We kept pace with each other on either side of the bars on the box. After a while I didn’t bother to count when she was there. One day, when we had walked for a while I stopped and looked at her. She looked at me. Naked face and furred, we stared separated by a mere pace and the bars of the box. She was short and we were eye to eye.

She started telling me about her very own box. The one she lived in. It wasn’t concrete and iron like mine, but it was there.  It was small and pink, and polite. It was no trouble. Every day it opened for a few minutes and then she came to me and we walked. She came every day for a long time, through hot times and cold times. She got taller.

One day she stopped coming.

Eight hundred twenty four eight hundred twenty five eight hundred twenty six….



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  1. I loved this, really felt the caged animal’s pain. Welcome to friday flash!

  2. There is such a sadness for the creature in this story, one can’t help but wish freedom for it.

    The depth of the beast’s understanding of its surroundings and predicament gave the story a rather unusual, and in its way a rather wonderous twist

  3. I am glad it did its juob and struck a chord with you!

  4. What a sad story. Nicely done.

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