Moist air. The smell of sweat mingled with mould. All too familiar; I was here again. Trapped. I forced the biggest scream I could, but managed only a pathetic murmur. So drained of energy. I pushed myself onto my haunches, gripped the bars and hauled myself up, claws wrapped around the bars to keep me upright. The window was sparkly clean, a mocking contradiction of the stink and squalor of my cell. I could see him outside in the fresh air. Free. Back turned to me purposely, trying to force my existence from his head. My captor.
He had a shovel under one arm, resting on it like a crutch. He bent down to inspect the ground, then turned to the wheelbarrow beside him and tipped its contents into a hole. Nothing like burying a fresh corpse to start your day. The body slipped into the makeshift grave, freshly dug soil the last thing to pass over it. Such a waste. I could feel the anger warming my blood and my heart pumped the lava around my veins. I pounded the bars with my claws, screams coming much easier now. What right did he have touching her? She was mine. My corpse. Now I’d have to miss a meal.
I took my paws away from the bars. My bloody paw-prints had left a red shimmer on the metal. At least I could have a taste. My tongue traced the stains up and down the bars, savouring the iron-richness. Intoxicating. My rage burned hotter, fueled by anger and blood lust. It wasn’t enough. What use is sauce without any meat to cover? He turned to me through the window and I answered with a guttural scream. He tensed his grip on the shovel, knuckles clenched white. He threw it to the ground and disappeared from view.
I turned my attention to my arms, fur all covered in sticky, red blood. I gorged on the memories of the night before while I licked myself clean, the echoes of screams a welcome accompaniment to the taste of their blood. It had been a good hunt. A whole gang of them had turned up, exactly as planned. Two of them managed to get away, but they’d be back. They’d have to come back to rescue the others. As soon as I’d escaped this cell, I’d have them.
Someone was at the door. It was him. He entered the room, eyes fixed on the floor. The coward; happy to lock me away, but couldn’t look me in the face.
“You spineless bastard.” He slid a bowl of food under the cage, saying nothing. “You know I’ll get out. You can’t contain me.”
“You killed three people last night.” It came out as whisper, ashamed. “What was I supposed to do?” Shoulders slumped, he looked exhausted.
“It never bothered you before.”
“Of course it did. I just never knew how to stop it.”
“You think you can just say a few words and it’ll make up for all those people we killed? That we fed on?”
“That was never me!” He stood up straight now, shoulders thrust back, finger pointed right at me. “I should’ve stood up to you a long time ago. I’ve let those people you go. They’re thankful enough to be alive that they won’t report us. At least this time I’ve saved lives.”
“You’ve done what?!” I sprang forward, swiped my arm through the cage, claw outstretched, but scratched nothing but air. “You bastard! That was my set up, my game!”
“I won’t sit by and watch you murder these people anymore. I can control you now. I’m stronger. Clearer, with you caged up like the animal that you are.”
“How can you say that to me? You made me this way!”
“Well now I’m undoing it.” He put his back to me.
“You can’t leave me in here forever! You’re not whole without me!”
“Then I’d rather be half a man.”
I popped a piece of food in my mouth, swallowed it whole, not even bothering to chew. The meat slipped into my windpipe, got wedged halfway. I slumped against the cell bars, limbs limp as my body focussed its efforts on keeping me alive.
“What the hell have you done to me?” Is what I would’ve shouted had there not been a bone wedged in my throat. He’d turned back to face me, to face what he’d set in motion. Tears ran down his cheeks.
Between the sounds of my wheezing I heard the lock open, heard his footsteps approaching me. He just couldn’t help it, the spineless weasel. Even as he thrust his arms around my chest to force the blockage from my throat, he had no idea how pathetic he was. He couldn’t let me die; it’d be like cutting off his own legs. We needed each other. As soon as the food dislodged itself I turned and clawed him in the side of the head. He had the gall to look betrayed as I left the cell, locked it and ran for the door. Any sympathy I might have conjured was buried under the image of that pathetic expression on his face. How were we the same blood? I passed through the door and slammed it shut.
Clean air. The smell of fresh grass. Freedom. I opened my eyes, took in the blue sky and earthy ground at my feet. I stretched out my arms, flexed the slim, agile fingers of my hands, cradled them in front of my face and cracked the joints. I turned behind me and glanced through the window, sneered as I saw him pressed against the bars of the cage, eyes still wet. He was yelling, but I put my fingers my ears and began to whistle. In control again, just how it should be. I bent down and collected the shovel, slung it over my shoulder and set off along the path. I had hunting to do.