Carissa Dixon is a current student at Full Sail University pursuing her bachelors in creative writing. In her free time, she works on finishing the first novel in a series and sharpening her skills in the writing craft.
Nothing but A Cage
He reads a message from his phone. The Boss, saying to finish the shift without a hitch. Keep the hybrids contained and tended to, and then they would discuss more on getting better pay or days off on holiday another time. He flicks on the lights of the “lab” as he enters. Charts and diagrams on the wall, microscopes, and vials by the only two computers in the building. Looked like a kid played mad scientist with cheap chemistry sets rather than a facility funded by the government on DNA research. He gave a laugh and grabs a canine skull from the desk corner.
“Stuck here during the holiday too,” he says. He flips through a folder of documents and sheets on the genetics and so on. “I am not even getting a bonus for working tonight.” Skull still in hand he leaves the room, wandering to his post.
He set down the skull with him and sat in the chair at his table, his “office” on a balcony. The kennels down below being the only view. He pulls a flask from his pocket and tips it back. A sigh and he set the flask on the small table he has as a desk. The skull fit in his palm, small canid teeth, and snout narrow. “Ya’know, they have the healthiest bunch of mutts this fall because of me,” he says. “You not included, but they should show me some more appreciation.”
The kennels were quiet, all asleep at this hour. The enclosures warm and clean, all twelve gates secure for the night. The loud chorus of breath gave him a calm clear mind. “The mutts do not even get holidays,” he says “How wrong is that? No appreciation or reward, just nothing but a cage.”
The metal railing of the balcony came into focus. “Nothing but a cage,” he says. He clenches and works his jaw and pulls at his shirt collar. A laminated sheet of feed times and other tasks taped to his too small table. “Like I would forget. Been doing this job for a year now,” he says. He tears up the sheets and scatters papers and objects from the table top to the floor. Table cleared of everything, he rests the small skull in the center. He eases back into his chair a slight smile on his lips.
He bangs his fist on the tin siding of the kennel fence, his other hand on a control pad opening gates. Claws on the pavement, low growls, and jaws snapping bone fill the air along with a musty and metallic smell. His grins and he leans against the fence “Happy Thanksgiving. Thought you guys deserved a treat.” he says. The fence rattles as the mutt’s yank and wrestle for a bite. He steps back as one stood on its hind legs, front paws, and claws where he had been leaning. Wild black eyes looked back at him.
Heart beating fast he punches in the passcode to enter another room. Monitors that record the kennels and the “yard” lined the wall and desk in the small space. Another control panel on the desk that opens the gate into the yard and a final gate that would give access to the forest next to the facility. Fingertips hover above the open. “Just letting them have a bit of fun, we all need a little freedom,” he says.
After an hour the mutts still sniff or laid around the grass enclosure, none attempt to return to the kennels. Each kennel the same size as the room he stood in, smaller than some closets. “Should be wild animals, forced into small cages,” he says. The final open option on the control panel glows a soft red. He pauses. A nod and an intake of breath he presses the control panel a final time.
The last canine hybrid walks its way out of the facility, its head the same size of his if not larger and eyes too dark to distinguish from its black fur. Back at his post, he sat and reaches for his flask. He stops “Ya’know, I feel great,” he says. He leans back in his chair feet propped on the table next to his skull companion, he smiles and closes his eyes