This story is by S. E. McKee and was part of our 2018 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
My heart races as I hear my owners coming home. I start to shake with anticipation as they open the front door of our house. As they walk through the round doorway, I notice they bring in a box. I wonder what surprise are they are bringing home today. Could it be, a gift for me?
“Hello! I see you,” says my female master happily in her language. For it really is a strange, foreign language. She is always happy when she talks to me. Perhaps she has a new toy for me to play with.
I push against the sides of my cage, wanting out. Please play with me, I beg with my eyes. I just want to be loved. Harder, I push and the cage rattles.
“Stop!” the male master commands. He towers over my cage to remind me he is nearly three times my size. His shadow looms over me like a dark fog.
I exhale slowly, trying to calm myself down. My knees shake and I regret making noise. I must be good. I must obey.
They don’t trust me alone. That is why I am kept in this cage whenever they are gone. I break things I don’t understand. I simply wish to learn about their strange world.
The sound of a large thud gets my attention. I watch as the female picks something up off the floor. Carefully, she puts it back in the box, so that I can’t see it. She and the male exchange a look.
A surprise for me, indeed, I do believe.
She walks towards my cage and let’s me out. I greet her happily and close my eyes in delight as she rubs the top of my head. She is always kind to me.
Her finger points to the wall as she asks, “Outdoors?”
I move my head quickly to show her that yes, I wish to go outside.
When she takes a step back, to retrieve my collar, I run for the box. I wish to see.
“No!” My male master bellows. His long arm stops me before I can sneak a peak.
The female tightens a thick, heavy collar around my neck. She gives it a soft tug to make sure it will not fall off. The round back door opens and I walk down the porch steps.
Maybe when I go back inside, I can see my surprise.
I run in large circles around the backyard, so fast I feel like I am flying.
Free at last! Free at last, I think to myself. Free at…
I collapse on the ground in pain and my left foot twitches. That’s what I get for getting too close to the eclectic fence.
Someone is watching me, I can feel it. My eyes look at the house, but my masters are not in the window. I look at the woods beyond the fence. There, behind that tree, is a young boy in filthy clothes. A human boy. It has been months since I have seen another human, like me.
I notice that he has no collar on. He is at great risk. When our kind is found outside, with no collars, we are killed.
You shouldn’t be here boy, I think. He wants me to go with him, to be wild too. But, he looks sickly and thin.
He waves his mud covered hand and starts to walk down the backside of the fence. He stays low to the ground, hidden.
I follow him until I reach a shed. Behind it, he shows me a hole under the fence. It wasn’t there yesterday. He must have been digging last night. Slowly he crawls under the fence.
If my masters see him, I will be punished. Out of fear, I shake my head no and I try to stop him.
He crawls underneath the fence any ways. His hand reaches out and touches my own.
My heart is pounding as he squeezes my hand.
His lips are moving as he points to the woods. But he has no voice. He raises my hand to touch the large scar on his neck. It looks like the same scar as me. They took his voice box away too.
My masters do not like loud noises so they had my voice removed. My voice was an inconvenience. Like declawing a cat. Cat. I had a pet cat once. Her name was Peppy.
He points to the woods again as his dry, cracked lips move quickly. I wonder when he ate last.
It would be unwise for me to leave. I am taken care of here. There is always food and snacks. Besides, I belong to them. My hand touches the thick collar around my neck.
The boy pulls something sharp out of his pocket. Gently, he pushes down on my head and I feel his hands near my neck. I hear a clicking noise and the collar falls to the ground. He points to the woods again and I hear his stomach rumble.
No thank you, I think, as I shake my head no. My hands tug at my shirt as I look down at my big belly. It’s all the fattening foods they feed me. I don’t think I will fit under the fence any ways. It is time he goes and I wave my hands at him.
His eyes tear up as he moves his lips again. He hugs me goodbye and runs under the fence.
I watch him run into the woods and across a field. My heart jumps as I feel myself being lifted off the ground. The female alien is holding me tight around my large waist. I can see over the top of the fence from here. The boy is running faster now. My master tries to cover my face with her gray hand, but I still see through her long fingers.
The male master is chasing the boy now. I watch in horror as the alien creature jumps halfway up a tree and his giant wings expand. Like a bird of prey, it glides down and lands on top of the boy. A small straw-like tube emerges from the alien’s mouth and pierces the boy’s back, sucking out his bodily fluids.
I scream in horror, but my voice barely sounds like a whisper.
The female starts to carry me back inside the house.
That is the word the boy was saying with his lips. Remember. I think of the day they arrived. The aliens came and took away everything and everyone I loved. They kept us children alive, but killed all the adults. They ate all the adults.
My legs are shaking as she sets me down on the floor, inside the house. She throws a small chocolate bar into my cage. It is my favorite flavor and I immediately run after it. My heart sinks with a thud as I hear the cage door latch shut. Why did I fall for that again? I turn around and watch her go outside. They will fill in the hole under the fence now.
My stomach is in knots and I can’t eat the candy now. Sadly, I sit down on the floor of my cage. Something sharp pokes at the top of my leg. I reach into my pocket and find the tool the boy had. Somehow, he gave it to me.
I look at the mystery box across the room with wonder. Quickly, I use the tool to unlock my cage. With sliding feet, I go to the box and peek inside. My heart fills with betrayal as I focus on two of the items: a cookbook and a meat mallet.
Slowly, I back away and walk out the front door. Across the street and behind the neighbors house I go. My eyes are fixed on the small patch of woods.
Suddenly, something sharp stabs me in the back. I fall face first onto the ground. There is a cold poison running through my veins. It makes me paralyzed and unable to move.
I feel the tool being removed from my hand and I flip over and onto my back. My male master looks down at me with hunger in his eyes. He opens his mouth to eat me.
Just then, the female stops him and they start fighting, over me. Is she hungry too, or does she care about me?
My eyesight starts to go and I watch the clouds fade away. In this moment, while I am out of my cage and without a collar on, I am truly free. My limbs grow cold as I realize the sad truth. I thought I was the family pet. Now I realize, I was a pig to them. They were fattening me up not out of spoiled love, but for a darker reason entirely.