By and copyright Eric Chambers
No redistribution, or alteration without permission
The Grand Reinhold Hotel
6435 Savanna, New Sierra Leone - (978) 555-3354
As I type this, I’m game.
The predation laws have become lax. I’m trapped here, this crumbling building in the middle of New Sierra Leone. How could I let myself be chased here?
For anyone who reads this – maybe the predators have moved on, maybe things are different when you find this; as I’m stranded here, I will try to pass the time by writing, even if to no one but myself, and hopefully this letter will live beyond me. Right now; however, my energy is drained from the chase, and my nerves on constant alert have left me worn, I will try to sleep tonight. Maybe tomorrow, during the afternoon, I can come out of this burrow and find my way home, if not...you will be hearing more from me.
6:53pm – I wish I remembered what day it was, my watch doesn’t have that feature. After all my wife’s gentle joking about my absent-mindedness, I forget what I’m watching on the TV if the commercial break is long enough, I should of spent the extra money.
The things you think of when you think of what you should of.
But I digress. I didn’t make it, I must confess, I didn’t think I would of gotten this turned around; amazing how alike every degrading building looks. It’s sunset right now, so I have a little time. If you are ignorant of some fact, reader, hunting becomes legal at night.
I am now afraid I have mused too long over this half-blank page, the sun has set and I’m afraid my typing will call attention to myself. I will search for a safe hiding place now, that would be the best measure, so until tomorrow...I remember what I want to live for.
5:36am – I am thankful for found typewriters, and I am thankful for forgotten pens; there isn’t much light, of course, but it’ll do. I only slept a few hours, the howling jerked me awake, and now I worry they are on my scent...
That was hours ago however, and I have cleared my thoughts enough to write...you don’t know much about me, do you, reader? As my wife said, I’d forget to write the words if it wasn’t for the story...I don’t understand her either.
I am George Kroger, for the time being. I am male. I am a mouse, or Mus musculus to be specific. I am 5’4”, 120lbs, and 34 years old. I drink too much coffee and eat too many sunflower seeds (nasty habit, trust me). My wife, Maria – 27, makes a very nice Chile Chicken (spicy food...another bad habit, so says my wife...but then, she has to sleep next to me), and I love her, of course , even the kidney shaped birthmark just above the left side of her eyebrow.
...I love you.
Now, after I stop crying...I fancy myself a writer, if you couldn’t tell from how I just don’t get to the point. I’ve never really had anything published, and I’m more of a poet really...I’m doing it again.
6:05am – Sorry about that, they found me...almost. I’m pretty sure they were on my scent when they came through the door, thankfully I was in the next room, and, thankfully, there was a can of turpentine above me. That should cover my scent until I leave at sunrise . I have to admit, I would be mad at God right now if I believed in him, so I serve as my own effigy for now. Well, I’m off to find home...I miss the smell of Maria’s shampoo.
6:42pm – One more day, I think I’m close now...or closer at least. I have some time to kill since I duct in a little early, so since you know a little about me, let me explain my situation, from the beginning (I have an avid interest in history, humor me). Prior to 1923, there were no laws governing hunting, it was free game no matter the time or place, but as the Prey Defense Party was founded and rose to power it was reasoned that we live in a civilized society, at the very least we need laws for civilized hunting. So they passed the Prey Defense Act (original title, huh?) stating (I’m paraphrasing of course):
1. No carnivore may stalk to consume any herbivore or other carnivore from sunrise to sunset. Hunting during sun-up may result in homicidal proceedings.
2. When said prey has been successfully brought down, it must be consumed entirely, with no meat wasted, what can not be consumed must be taken back to the carnivore’s residence. Any remaining relics must be taken to the nearest law enforcement facility for proper burial; no remains may be left on public or city property. Failure to do so may result in desecration of a life proceedings, and/or a fine up to and including fifty thousand ($50,000) dollars.
3. All possessions (clothing, fiancees, personal affects, ect.) must be either delivered to the consumed’s surviving kin, or to the nearest law enforcement facility. If all affects are not accounted for by the consumed’s family or representative, this may result in theft proceedings. The names of the consumed will be put on the Prey Defense’s list and no search will be made for them. Failure to do so may result in homicidal proceedings.
4. Hunting will be suspended on national and local holidays. Failure to do so may result in homicidal proceedings.
5. Hunting small children or mothers accompanying small children is illegal. Failure to comply may result in homicidal, homicide of a minor, and/or endangerment of a minor proceedings.
6. Intercourse with prey before consuming is illegal. Failure to comply may result in rape, and/or desecration of a life proceedings.
7. No manufactured weapons of any kind may be used in the act of hunting, only natural offensive and defensive weapons, including surrounding objects. Failure to comply may result in homicidal proceedings.
8. The suffering of prey must be kept to a minimum with a quick demise. Failure to do so may result in desecration of a life proceedings.
There’s more going into how the prey may defend itself, but this is rather boring, isn’t it? I never could see myself as a teacher.
As you may have guessed, there have been amendments over the years, along with a few riots, but, surprisingly, most have accepted their role and fate; however, this doesn’t stop them from fighting back at the moment of attack. Poor things.
I remember this cheetah boy I didn’t know in my high school days. I call him a boy because at the time he was, I would say, sixteen or seventeen, though, at the time, I wasn’t much older. I only knew him from plays the drama club would produce from time to time – cliché things like “Romeo and Juliet”, “A Streetcar Named Desire”, ect., and I would always go just to see him; that’s why anyone went. The rest of the drama club were mediocre at best, only there because either it looked good on collage applications or they knew someone else taking it. However, he was always the lead, and rightly so. He was Romeo. He was Stanley. He was every role he would play, with no trace of himself. You would love him, hate him, wish he would die, and hope his role was eternal, his time on stage uncut, all the span of five minutes.
There was one aspect he brought to his roles, I remember, as I sat in the back row, enthralled only after he stood on stage – there was a sadness about him, an unsmiling depression I was personally familiar with. With this bond I felt, and his sadness itself, as I sat in the back row...I wanted to make love to him. Not in a lustful, sexual way...I just wanted to see him smile, to change that constant, beneath the surface expression. I wanted to love him, to be loved by him.
Once, and only once, did I meet him, in a sense. The play was over, “Hamlet” I think it was, and as I walked out, past the auditorium’s doors, I ran across him in the hall leading to the cafeteria . I looked up from the floor, registering that someone was there. He was still in his costume from the play, looking very much like the mad king, fake blood still splattered over his neck and chest...only those eyes, big brown ones, hinted at feelings underneath; he walked in my direction, looking past me until we were, I would say, two feet away, passing each other in opposite directions. At that point our eyes locked. I wanted to shoat, “I will be your biggest fan! I will be your unrequited teenage love! I want you to be happy!”, but as with most of my life, I just cast my eyes back to the floor, shuffling by him until I was out the door, in my car, and driving home.
I saw his picture in the paper two years ago, I remember because I clipped it out and have it in a scrapbook somewhere...I never would of saw it as I flipped through the pages, but those big, dark eyes caught me...normally I try to avoid the obituaries. He killed himself, I found through a little research - pills. He was survived by no one.
That was obvious.
2:34pm – If you’re wondering, I cried last night. I haven’t cried in ten years. There was nothing therapeutic about it; I feel worthless, alone, and lost – mentally and physically.
I’m walking now, hungry, and of course there are no street signs. I had another lucky night, I was able to sleep after I found some old candy bars...not very good, stale rather, but enough to stop the pain that’s been building in my stomach. So, after feeling at least a little better, I went out again, heading east. I’m sure this time I’m headed in the right direction. God, I hope.
Funny...I just past the smell of cooking meat.
I want to go home .
6:31pm (I think it’s Tuesday) – No offense, reader, but I’m beginning to hate you.
I hate still writing to you. I hate still wanting to write to you. I hate myself for being stupid enough to get lost. I hate making Maria worry.
I hate how I lost my virginity.
Hell. Memories...My life on paper.
20 and stupid, but kind. Naive but unwilling to admit it – however you would describe being young.
I had made my way out west, just traveling because I had nothing else to do. I managed to make a few friends (how exactly is beyond me), and with them, a place to stay. Nice couple (they were a couple by the way, I met her first though; I was always better with females than males), Stephanie and David, I always laughed when I saw them though, inside at least – she was a wolf, he was a fox. They could of eaten each other then come after me if they wanted. This was the west, however; free-thinkers all around.
I stayed with them for almost a year, and I can say without hesitation, I loved them – I didn’t have to, but I did. We looked after each other...well, they looked after me from being killed, I helped out where I could. I went through job, after job, after unemployment there, making money where I could. When I wasn’t out looking, I was inside doing...inside things; I never had a date, or even really talked to anyone. Stephaine and David were my only links to society.
Needless to say, I was lonely, crushingly lonely.
I have this habit of not sleeping some nights, just sitting in the dark, listening to the sound of blood beating through my ears, or that high-pitched hiss you hear when everything is absolutely silent - just staring into space, thinking. As I was in my own world one night, Stephanie came out. It was three a.m. I think and I heard her footsteps in the carpet, slowly paf paf pafing towards the living room where I had made the couch my bed.
She past me at first, walking right by me smelling like some flower or another; I actually expected her to turn around and see me, as if my staring had weight. She drank some milk straight out of the carton (I loved that about her), I remember the light hurt my eyes as she turned around and found me. If I may say here, I must of looked pretty pathetic, sitting up in the dark, hair and paw over my face, and I know I felt sad, I couldn’t imagine my expression.
She said hi, I said hi – only quieter. She walked towards me in this long, pink T-shirt she wore to bed (shamefully admitted, you could kind of see through it from the light behind her) and sat down, asking me if I was ok. I looked over and, of course, said yes, I was. She didn’t believe me (I loved that about her too, she never believed me), and told me so. After awhile I spilled what was wrong, my embarrassment only rising as her paw rubbed my shoulder, nearly passing out when she nuzzled against me. Her exact words: “If you want, you can sleep with us tonight.”
I was shaking as I stared at her, then, in an even more pathetic gesture, I started crying. I cried and buried my head in her shoulder.
Something gave and broke, I suppose.
When I looked up and dried my eyes with my shirt sleeve, I remember saying, “I want to...I really do. Every fiber tells me to, but in my head I know I can’t. What about David?”
She then proceeded to caress my cheek, “Honey...I said “us”. I love you, as does David.”
Like I said, free-thinkers.
She quietly “shhh”ed me, and took me by the paw, helping me up. I don’t think I ever felt as cold as when I followed her down that hall. I felt naked. In the winter. In the arctic.
When I entered the room I got that feeling when you walk into your parent’s room when your small – everything was foreign, and much, much too big. I saw David on his side, a pile under two or three blankets, just smiling warmly at me, two spotlights, ignited from the orange glow of the streetlight outside, followed Stephanie and I – his eyes always creeped me out when they did that (I loved that about him). I stood there like an idiot when I was lead to Stephanie’s side of the bed, she had to coax me to just sit down, even more so to finally crawl in next to David; I remember, which brought me laughter later, I was still fully-clothed at the time. From then I went a little numb, just moving on instinct really. I felt David roll over, I followed, putting my back to his chest, my heart still beating as if I wind-sprinted. Stephanie gracefully slid under the covers, pressing her chest to mine; I felt strong paws across my waist then, as soft ones caressed my cheek.
I think I fell asleep for ten minutes after that, the best sleep I ever had until later that night, between the two of them.
I think I’ll stop there. The rest you don’t need to know. As an epilogue, however; I left not long after that. I still loved them, of course, even more so, and they loved me, but I know the nature of sentient beings – if something feels good, mentally and physically, you keep on doing it. I didn’t want to lust after them, and I didn’t want to be lusted after. Very few have room in their hearts for more than one at a time, and they loved each other first.
11:05pm – I found water along with food. The water was stale, if water can be stale, and the food...what does any survivor end up eating? I’ll give you a hint, they’re everywhere, they’ll survive a nuclear war, and, surprisingly, they’re almost higher than us on the food chain – roaches.
And me without the luxury of fire.
11:50pm – They’re here, at the door. I heard their car driving slowly a few blocks away, music loud. I didn’t know to relax or shit my pants; when they do that it’s normally a way of taunting the prey, meaning they know someone is here. However, if they’re in the car, they’re not out searching buildings for me.
I’m so damn scared...
I have to pause to stop shaking enough to write. I’m in a closet now, turpentine under the door. I can hear shuffling in the next room.
I want to get one last story out – how I met Maria.
Three summers, and nine months homeless, later, I was sitting on top of the tallest building I could find, just sitting – thinking. I guess, now that I think about it, seeing this young and dirty male looking over the edge must seem a bit...distressing, if you care about people. Maria did.
I was pulled off the ledge , hard, harder than I thought a 120lbs librarian could muster up. Well, from there we both ended up on the ground, I on top of her – god, what I must of smelled like – I was pretty embarrassed, not to mention surprised as hell. I must of had that scared bunny look because right before I tried to jump off her, her paw found and caressed my cheek...needless to say, reader, if you’ve ever lived on the streets, cuddling and being nice is the last thing anyone wants from anyone else – and it had been awhile.
It had been hot that day, I remember, hot and humid – cloudless too. We managed to collapse in the shade, thankfully – I knew nothing about her, and we just lay there and cuddled. I held to her as she did to me (it wasn’t until later I found out she was a librarian...or 120lbs for that matter). I still can’t imagine how I must of smelled to her in the heat, but her arms around me and her muzzle nuzzling into my shoulder made me think she didn’t care.
If you’re looking for an explanation as to why this happened, reader, ask the higher being – it didn’t tell me either.
I remember her fur was cool from the air conditioner inside, and she smelled of lavender and some other unknown flower. It’s funny (if you were there), as time has pushed me further from that event...I could swear that the brown that made up the majority of her fur smelled differently than her white markings...maybe it’s just me. All I cared at that moment was this sweet-smelling, soft, kind person was holding me and showing me affection, which was more than I had had since my time further west.
I remember she wore this modest gray and white, short-sleeve dress (heavy material, thick cloth of some sort – cotton I assumed), and I thought she looked like she was ashamed of her body...not that I was much better – it was at least 90 degrees and here I was in jeans and a flannel shirt, but that was just me.
We didn’t talk, at all. No noises between us, just the birds and traffic below, the hum of the A/C, and even an airplane passed overhead; we only held each other – my arms and tail around her and she the same...for hours. In fact, it was dark when I finally opened my eyes, though I had to brush her cheek so she would open hers. We looked at each other, still silent, with...confusion would be the word I would use, but then she smiled, and getting a surprised squeak out of me (which she told me later was probably the greatest complement I could of given her...she said that with a smile, by the way), kissed me.