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I think I am

By P. D. MurrayPublished 2 years ago 4 min read
"Janvier" Acrylic, 2013 P. D. Murray

I killed a goldfinch yesterday. I felt nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true; the moment before I struck it, I felt something like lust. I envisioned the stupid bird split open, blood seeping through its brightly ruffed throat, and I was aroused. But then, after the murder, as with all of my killings, I felt nothing. Certainly not remorse.

Was that yesterday? I’ve never been too good with time, and my current situation surely isn’t helping. I’m fairly certain it was just yesterday.

I know Erwin is out there. That bastard. I can hear him circling my prison, his idiotic house shoes shuffling, his obnoxious pipe smoke wafting. I should have puked in his slippers when I had the chance. I should also have guessed his plans for me. But even I, with my superior deductive reasoning and malevolent imagination, couldn’t have dreamt that he would stoop so low.

I knew he was up to something when he started tinkering with the vial and the hammer. And of course the suspicious brown paper package. Why did he punch three small holes in its side with the ice pick? Why prepare the packing tape so carefully? Would you have foreseen his evil design? I doubt it, dear reader.

I refuse to call Erwin by his last name, unlike his sycophantic, moronic students. I’ve heard them fawning all over him at his impromptu soirées: “Oh, Herr S., you are so brilliant.” “Oh, you are such a thinker.” Thinker, my furry ass.

I should have taken action as soon as he started fiddling with the lead cylinder and the Geiger counter. But I was feigning sleep. I should have made my break for it when he poured the poison into the vial. But I yawned with ennui and contempt, even though with my superior sensitivity to olfactory cues, I could detect a trace of toxic chlorine.

Too late. The bastard can move with some speed when he wants to. He grabbed me. I fought, slicing open his thumb with a nasty swipe. But I wasn’t ready. Before I knew it, he had thrust me into the box and sealed it.

A dim light seeped through the packing tape, just enough for me to perceive the diabolical contraption he had prepared within my confinement. Element one: a radioactive source. My guess would be a very low-level waste product, but physics simply isn’t my strong suit. Element two: a Geiger counter ready to detect even a single decaying atom. In which case, element three would come into play: a small hammer that would strike the vial and release the poisonous gas. Oh, and element four: me.

He could not know whether I was alive or dead, and I did not choose to favor him with any sound. Could I have cut open the tape with a single claw and darted for freedom? Of course I could have. But I would not give Erwin the satisfaction. I know how to wait. For hours, if need be. Motionless. My eyes gleaming with suppressed rage. Even my tail stilled. No purring. My heartbeat slowed. Nary a whisker a-twitch.

While we wait together in this grey, indeterminate twilight, dear reader, perhaps I should share a few biographical details. My name is Oskar. My mother claimed to have Persian ancestry. I never met my father. My best feature is my dominant right paw, which I wield as skillfully as an assassin plays with a stiletto. A vole, you say? Dead, I say. A hummingbird? Lunch. Erwin’s thumb? Let’s hope he’s still sucking on it.

I am not certain how much time has passed. The light has shifted slightly, I think. A miniscule draft of fresh air weasels into the box from the three pinprick holes. Somewhere, perhaps a block away, someone is cooking kidneys.

I feel a pang of hunger but still I refuse to play his game. If he wants to know if I’m alive let him open the fucking box and I will spring out into his face, remove his spectacles and gouge out his eye in seconds flat. That is my kind of physics.

At some point, though, a curious thought occurs to me. I imagine there are, in fact, two boxes. The one I’m in and the one I’m not in. That is to say, everything beyond my box is a kind of box in itself. One that holds everything but the damned apparatus of potential death and myself. One that holds Erwin, and the apartment, and the world.

I realize I haven’t heard or smelled him for a long time. Is he even still there? Perhaps he has had a heart attack, fallen in his foyer, his corpse already cooling. Or maybe he’s off to visit his creepy friend Albert, bragging about my plight and his brilliance. Is there anything outside my box at all?

Suddenly, I’m afraid. Not of the tiny hammer or the poison. Not of subatomic particles. I’m afraid that everything outside of the box no longer exists. Or that it does.

Or both.


About the Creator

P. D. Murray

Murray is an accomplished painter and writer.

Through 2010, he was shown exclusively by Treehouse Studio Galleries. His work hangs in private collections around the world. He's also published 5 books. You can see more at

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