I often thought it was a tragedy—how life, as you know it, could change the moment you lost your family. How horrifying it must be as the one left behind. Yet, I never once believed that it could happen to me. After all, I was of noble birth. So who would have thought that I, the child of a respected minister, was just as vulnerable—unspared from the anxiety, fear, and torment? It was only when they came that I realised… I was just like everyone else.
It was never my choice. It was the law that governed our flawless society. Alas, with one wrong step, your blood didn’t matter. For when they came for you, just as they came for us, no amount of pleading or gold could save you from their loaded rifles. It was, after all, a merciless procedure—your fate had already been sealed. And just like mine, I was the only one left—once belonging, now alone. Once free, now a captive.
“Welcome to the cage.” The cage—introduced so indifferently after my mother told me to run. “You’ll get used to it.”
A cold metal collar was strapped around my neck—its incessant beeping tracked my every move. And with the plain white, over-sized uniform hanging loosely on my shoulders, the guards of the hidden world led me to my isolation. This was my new reality—no longer a being but a number. If only… I could find a way to escape.
“You want out?” she asked.
“You know, if they catch you trying, they’ll zap you,” he said, tapping on his own collar.
“They won’t kill you though,” she stated. “They’ll just warn you not to do it again.”
“I’d rather die,” I replied. “They might as well kill me.”
I had anticipated my cell neighbours to nod in agreement. Oddly, they laughed—a belly-aching laugh, with tears at the corner of their eyes, as if I had told a good joke.
“Why is that funny?” I asked with a frown.
“Because it is,” he said with a smirk.
At that instant, I had an inkling that they knew something I did not. And though I was tempted to ask, I was unsure if I could trust them. For some bizarre reason, they seemed rather contented with their lives.
“You’ll find out why, once you get used to this,” she said.
Life in the cage wasn’t difficult—honestly, it was easy to get used to. There was nothing to do but eat, sleep, and play—there was no work or chores, except for the 3 p.m. gathering in the hall where we would watch static for an hour. From the outside world, where I was told that no one in the cage ever saw the light of day, I was given plenty of sunlight within the confinement. So perhaps, they were right. Still, why did they laugh at my desire for more?
“You don’t know a lot, do you?” she asked. “You think this is a nightmare.”
“I had a life,” I stated. “I had parents and friends.”
“We had parents, too,” he said. “But they weren’t real. None of it was.”
I furrowed my brows.
“Don’t worry,” he added. “One day, they’ll let you out again. You’ll get new parents and new friends… if that’s what you want.”
What were they talking about? Was I missing a memo? Not once did any of the guards offer me a chance to leave.
“But, you’ll be lucky if they don’t let you out,” she said. “If they do, the cycle will repeat itself. And it kind of sucks, trust me.”
I couldn’t grasp their words—it was a strange notion that the life I knew was fake. But even more difficult to comprehend was wanting to stay, when there was a chance of a new life beyond the cage. Little did I know, they were right. Three weeks later, I was free.
The choice was a vicious cycle. At the end of every experiment, I would wish for a freedom I already had. I would ask the same questions, frown at the same notion, and realise the truth of my predicament a little too late. I would return to the test tube over and over again—unable to change my mind, before I lost all recollection of what was.
Funny, how I once thought it was a tragedy—to be trapped by fate and robbed of a future. But the true tragedy was a joke—a joke on whoever believed that that… was all what life truly was.
12 Genre Months © 2020 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)