I snap awake as the screech of metal awakes me. Glancing around, I realise that my dreams were nothing but liars, and the surrounding world around me hasn’t changed. For over twenty years now, I have been thriving in a fake jungle, which in reality is an experiment lab. Since the bizarre disappearance of millions of animals worldwide due to an intruding plague, humans have become freakishly eager to attempt to take samples from us: The survivors. The atmosphere is dull, as if a cloud of misery hangs over the world. We are never to see our families again, and we all have to put up with the burden to losing a friend at a time to the experiment lab. Sadness clogs everyone’s inactive minds, sucking up all of the remaining joy that lingers there. My only company are the stars, who are stunning, sparkling diamonds in the sky that come and go, similar to the animals that come in and out of my life. All I know is that I have a surge to find out, and one day, I’ll free all of the captive animals. Maybe with the scarce luck I have slipping through my paws like sand between human fingers, I will succeed… My spotted fur becomes dappled with golden sunlight as I creep soundlessly towards a thin sheet of dividing glass. I glance ahead at what appears to be a colossal dome, where the faceless, bone chilling figures of the white coated humans dash in and out off. My plan is to break through the glass and criss-cross my way to the lab through a maze of jumbled supplies and fuming chemicals, where I can unlock all their secrets and watch them flutter out of a box like trapped doves. I jerk slightly as a figure pounces beside me. Glancing into two, orb like honey coloured eyes, I realise with a stab of relief that it was my partner in crime: Goliath. ‘Why are you straying so far from your enclosure?’ he asks, searching my expression for an answer. I whisper subtly to him about my suicidal plans to try and make a narrow escape, which to his horror, involve entering the dome. ‘But how?!’ he snaps, his face flaring with sirens of worry. I lunge towards his mouth with my paw, hushing him entirely. ‘There is a way, Goliath.’ I tell him encouragingly. The two of us raise ourselves up on two hind paws, pressing our pan sized forepaws against the glass. On a count of three, we both heave with unimaginable effort, watching the glass explode with a deafening crash as the pieces collided with each other and slammed the floor in a flurry of glassy missiles. We make our way towards the humans’ dome, which towers menacingly above us, dark grey polluted fumes billowing out from tunnel-like holes in its roof. The door is left open a crack, flashing a colossal machine inside. Struggling to fight down the bubbles of excitement that fizz inside me, I beckon Goliath over to the door. He looks as uncertain as I am, shaking his head in disagreement. ‘’We can’t fit in there…’ he warns, his tail lashing defensively. Suddenly, I see red flash before my eyes. Before I knew it, anger was taking control, grasping my calm and obliterating it from my body. My eyes flash with fury, my claws sheathing instinctively. ‘ ‘’So, we just escaped for nothing?’’ I snap at Goliath, whose fur is bristling with annoyance.
‘All my life I’ve yearned to escape from this place…’’ I add, through gritted teeth. Goliath fixes his gaze with my infuriated glare for a few moments, un-twitching. ‘Go yourself then. I don’t have to come.’’ He retorts with an impulsive snort. That did it. In one smooth swipe with my clawed paw across his face, I sent my best friend spiralling to the ground. There was no time to allow the shock to seep into my bones, before I was tugged along with him. My heart begins to thud like a drum in my ears as the ground swallows us up, flinging out helpless selves into the looming darkness. I gaze up in desperation as the cold rush of the wind bites my cheek, watching with horror as the light above disintegrates into a speck, as miniature as a sand grain. After that, we were engulfed into the cruel grasp of pure darkness… I realise that the rush of darkness has ended, and that I’ve come to a standstill. I am lying on a cold, hard surface, similar to marble. I scent the bitter tang of chemicals, and suddenly notice the familiar metal screeching noise piercing my ears. It’s the same noise that’s woken me every morning, and it comes from the dome: Goliath and I were probably inside it. My vision is slightly blurred, and all I can see is flashes of neon slicing through my view of the surrounding dark, dingy interior. I squint as a musty taste creeps into my mouth…it reminds me of sucking a sour lime. Rolling onto my back, I leap from the floor. It’s fascinating but freaky, with whirling galaxies spinning sickeningly around. My fur prickling, I advance towards a gigantic, looming shape in the pitch blackness. Raising a cautious paw, I scratch away at the cloth concealing it, shock suddenly overwhelming me. Inside, is an antelope I recognise from my enclosure. His limbs are replaced by mechanic parts, which screech like chalk against a black board. He stands motionless. Deathly motionless. I hear footsteps swiftly approaching, and nervously glance around for cover. Goliath is nowhere to be seen, although a white coated human carrying a terrifyingly long needle blocks my view. The last thing I see is the antelope staring at me, almost saying: ‘You’re next.’ And I suddenly wish that I never escaped at all. Despite this, I knew it was worth trying rather than giving up entirely…I had achieved something that will benefit leopards to come.
To be Continued…