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Pack Animals

Part I

By Christy MunsonPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 2 min read
6
Pack Animals
Photo by Thomas Bonometti on Unsplash

Had the oppressive heat not choked his throat, he'd have yelped for help.

No help would have come.

He'd have blistered his shrill vocal chords at the risk of collapsing his graying lungs, if given half a chance. Instead he gasped for air amid fits of silent anger.

Breathing—shallow, panicked, tortured breathing—was all that remained within his control.

He could feel his exhausted rib cage rising with every pull of oxygen.

He could feel decay dripping inside his sliced-open mouth.

He thrust his chin from side to side, daring Fate to break his will—just as Fate had broken his neck. Fate volleyed back with silence and indifference.

It wasn't the snapping of his vertebrae that signaled the end.

It was the removal of that horrid thing, that infernal neck brace, that did it.

Doctors had said he'd have to live with that blasted thing. Until the day he died. And today the men in the blue coats peeled it off of him without any explanation. I think that was the thing that did him in.

Some of us didn't care.

Others watched, incredulous.

I cried, picking at my fingernails and smoothing the antique lace affixed to my red cotton blouse. I watched as beads of sweat pricked his jaundiced, slumping skin. His blue eyes widened as he started to slip.

I hadn't known the man.

None of us had. He was a stranger. He'd kept to himself.

But I knew his name. He'd whispered a great many things to me during those hateful hours between brace removal and the 3 cents per hour aides discovering him out of bed.

They carted him off in a white medical bed. Never did return him to his room. Dropped him, just there, at the edge of the cliff. The very one that slips into the river below my window.

He stood there for minutes. Teetering.

They waited.

His legs would give out. Or his broken neck would end it.

Some of the attendants smoked cigars. Others took bets. A few jockeyed for position, fighting for a better view.

The alpha laughed. I noted his demeanor in particular. Those gray eyes, that angularity, the sharpness of his teeth. Everything that made him him I locked in, because I'll need it.

Wouldn't call it a steel trap memory anymore. I'm not as sharp as I was. But it'll do.

When he fell, he fell forwards. He never turned his face away from the wind. He leaned into it. He laughed, as best he could, into the fall.

I remember every second as if it happened to me.

Of course it had. Years before.

__________________

Copyright © 04/16/2024 by Christy Munson. All rights reserved.

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6

About the Creator

Christy Munson

My words expose what I find real and worth exploring.

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Comments (4)

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  • Flamance @ lit.about a month ago

    Great story I like it

  • Cathy holmesabout a month ago

    This is fabulous writing. The story is quite intriguing. I'm wondering what happens next...and before.

  • Dana Crandellabout a month ago

    Off to a stunning start with an air of mystery. I'm looking forward to reading more!

  • ROCK about a month ago

    Here we go with part 1! I love wolves and you give them so much character. We have a group of three I believe being tracked in our area. It's exciting, except for the sheep.

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