I couldn’t say anything, he knew something was up and I knew what came next, I began to tear up. “J-just… Let me go… I’m not what you think I am, I swear.”
“As I expected, there is something about you that just doesn’t smell right… and from the shades of black in corporal Alex’s fingertips I can tell what it is…” He then smacked me in the back and grabbed onto my coat lifting me up and holding me in place. “Emmerich, shower our guest here, let’s see what he looks like for real.”
“Please… no!” I cried out.
“No honest man would be trying to mask his fur like this… Let’s see who you really are! Mister Vernon.”
A canid approached me with the
respectable indifference of a soldier following orders, he closed his hands in
a ball and ushered small inaudible words that began to resonate in bright light
followed by a wet sound. I pleaded again. “PLEASE!! I’ll JUST GET OUT OF YOUR
WAY!! I -!”
My voice was cut short by a drenching torrent of water that flew at me like a firehose causing me to close my mouth to not gag on it, the pressure was hard enough to cause my skin to sore, but I cared little for that pain… I was more worried about what came next.
As the pain receded It was replaced by a cold wet embrace as the water seeped through my body and down onto the ground carrying the black particles with it, the puddle beneath my feet was pitch black and with that I knew, there was not turning back now.
The raccoon let me down and I collapsed onto the ground, I could tell from the murmurs that ensued that they knew, that feeling of being stabbed was even worse now, I just wanted to disappear, I wanted to never have been born like this.
My mind raced as I tried to figure what to do next, my body ached as if trying to tell me to run and I wanted to, but I couldn’t outrun these guys being exhausted as I am… I could fight, but there are so many of them and they have guns, even with my skills there is little I could do.
There was only one option left, not that back then I thought I was making a choice, it was more like I was too afraid to try anything else… I sat there silently grasping at the mud crying to myself. “Please… Just let me go…”
My fur was now in its true
colors, hanging heavily from all the liquid, the bright oranges, browns and red
that I hated so much, were showing.
The captain wasn’t listening, in fact I know for sure he didn’t even see me as a person anymore, he pulled my hair back which caused me to wince then he looked at me right in the face and said with and audible excitement. “IT CAN’T BE!!”
“Please… I beg you… I don’t want any trouble, just let me go!” I kept pleading but to no response, no one in the audience responded to my pain, the only one who cared even a bit was Alex who just averted his gaze as to not cross eyes with me.
“Shh… Stop crying! This is…
Amazing!” He ran his fingers along my spine plucking a chunk of fur and
inspecting it closely like I was some sort of animal… It hurt enough that my
I hated this, I hated every single one of their faces, every disgusted frown, every excited smile, every murmur and even those who just didn’t want to look… I hated Alex and I hated this goddamn racoon.
But most of all I hated myself, for being so reckless, stupid and unlucky… I hated that I was born like this, I hated my father and our whole cursed family.
“A living and breathing Redmane! Out here in the middle of nowhere, this is the luckiest day of my life.” He said with an enthusiastic grin. “Were rich!” I wanted to kill him then and there, I could have if I wanted too… But what good would that do?
“We should kill that bastard!”
Someone said amidst the crowd.
“No just lock him up… The reward is bigger if they’re alive!”
“How much is it divided by each of us?”
I hated that this is exactly what I thought was going to happen, it’s what always happens! “PLEASE! Listen to me! I did nothing wrong… they’re gonna kill me for something I didn’t even do!” I was desperate, hoping that one of them, just one, would show some sort of mercy towards me.
As I cried out and tried to get their attention something did call them in… But it wasn’t me… A loud clanging metallic sound came from the wagon ahead of the one I was in before, followed by a vicious cry! “RAHHHHH!!!”
“HEY, HEY, HEY!! Knock it off!”
The captain rushed over and looked inside, I heard something resembling a voice
coming from inside but I could only hear the captain arguing with it. “Stay put
or we will put you down again!” The voice retorted and he lashed out. “I don’t care what you want! This is bigger
than you! I don’t care if you make it anymore!”
He said something else that I couldn’t hear then turned to the rest of the soldiers. “All of you, lets get this convoy moving again! The sooner we get there the better!”
The soldiers closed in on me
once again, I looked around trying to find even the slightest hint of pity,
someone, anyone that would listen… I couldn’t find it in anywhere… I saw anger,
fury a sadistic pleasure that consumed their souls and led them to care not of
what they were doing to me, only what I looked like, only the color of my fur
However, in all of this turmoil I did find something, a small glistening surface coming from the pockets of one the soldiers, that was my comfort, my solace… If everything had to go wrong, at least that I wanted back, THAT I COULD NOT LOSE!!
I darted for it, shoving my hands in it and pulling it out, this cat was not pleased with me, he shoved me aside and back onto the mud. “What you trying redmane?”
I collapsed onto a ball and hid it inside my hands protecting them with all my might, as little as it was… This I could not lose! “Eh took something from ya!” One of the others grunted. “A knife?!” This gave the other guards pause, they didn’t want to get close so they started drawing weapons.
“What did you take uh?” This had gone south fast, they started pointing guns at my face and the cat paced angrily towards me, however someone intervened…
“STOP!!” Alex ordered. “There is no need for that, let me handle it…” He ordered them away and then approached slowly. “Vernon, there is no point in fighting us, you will only get yourself hurt.”
“Please don’t take this from me!” I begged once again, the more I did the worse I felt, but this wasn’t the time for pride. “Lock me up! Arrest me, I’ll be quiet… But don’t take this!”
“Easy there.” He said once again, slowly approaching me and ever so gently touching my back. “What is it?”
I opened my hand to reveal its content. “Please…” I begged again.
He carefully reached in, I tried
to hold them tighter as I didn’t want to lose them but he whispered. “It’s ok…
don’t worry.” I looked at him once again, this time he wasn’t as happy as
before, he had this bittersweet expression, I could tell that at the very least
out of everyone there, he took no pleasure in this and he really wanted to ease
it for me.
I let go, he took it and stood up. “Captain, it’s a pair of googles… Strapped with leather and dirty.”
“Hu? What does it matter to me?” The racoon said with contempt.
“Remember Annie said they are not magical in nature, and they look old and worn out… I doubt he can do anything with them…” Alex negotiated. “…Can he have it?”
“You’re being too kind with that thing…” The racoon waved him off. “Don’t get attached, the red inquisitors are gonna take him and you know what happens after that.”
Alex dissuaded. “I believe he is stressed sir, with all of this, at least it should calm him down... For now.”
The captain took a long and hard time thinking about it then sighed in agreement. “FINE! If it will shut him AND YOU up then you can let him have it. Everyone else get a hold of yourselves and move! We’re wasting precious time here!”
Alex gave them back to me and I clutched them like my life depended on it. I know before I said I hated Alex, but for what it’s worth, he was the only one around there to think about me… “Thank you.” I said in a resigning tone, I appreciated his help, I just wished this wasn’t happening to me again.
“It’s the least I could do…” He
turned his eyes away for a moment. “It’s best if I’m the one to escort you.” He
reached his hand out and helped pull me up from my miserable state, helping me
lose some of the mud while the rest of the soldiers went and cheered their way
to the rest of the vehicles.
I silently stood up and followed him, ears lowered and tail between my legs, he didn’t look too happy either. He did stop at one point and asked. “Those pills… They are not really drugs right? It’s not for you to get high on?”
“No… I do need them.” I answered apathetically as I put on my googles around my neck like a necklace.
“Okay, I’ll try to get them before we move on… Hands…” He commanded and I obeyed holding my hands in front of me which he promptly tied up. “To bad it had to be like this…” He hesitated, he was struggling to complete his sentence. “… Redmane.” He said.
And just like that… I’m no longer Vernon. “Don’t worry about it... Corporal.” And he was no longer Alex.
He gulped as to clear his throat. “Where do I put him captain? The cell is occupied.”
“Put him with the other one! It doesn’t matter!” The racoon screeched.
I looked at the Corporal and he seemed troubled by that statement, like he was trying to wrap his head around it for a moment. He shook his head in and begrudgingly proceeded to motion me forward. “You heard him!”
I complied at first, but soon
enough I had some hesitance… You see, as we approached the next cart there was
this eerie feeling in the air.
It was the same cart where I heard the loud cries earlier. There was this uneasy quietude, as if everything was still for a moment and I could feel the overbearing presence like something was watching me menacingly from the darkness within.
Every piece of fur in me stood up, my legs hardened, it was like every fiber of my being was telling me ‘DO NOT GO IN THERE!’. Here is the thing, I felt scared for my life before, but this felt way worse… There was this intent that triggered a primal fear in me, like when you see a large predator and he looks hungry and ready to lunge at you.
And you could say… In a way… That is exactly what awaited for me inside…