Onus

He's locked in a cage, in a windowless room, where he has always been. But he dreams of something more, he dreams of better things, of light , and warmth, of a better life. Maybe there is more to his prison.

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2. Part Two

It was light. The room was lit with natural sunlight creeping in from behind the dark curtains. An oddly bitter stench filled the room. He still sat in the cage, the only time he moved was to watch the moth or to sniff at the bowl for any more water.

 

He was waiting, waiting for the man to wake.

 

Slowly his world was being revealed from behind a wall created from pure cowardice. The lonely fortress was fading rapidly and it could’ve been too much for him, had he not realised that he had lost much of his life due to the man. He never did like Solus, but he didn’t have anyone else.

 

He lay crumpled in the cage, curled up like a foetus, far from ready to enter the world. He watched Solus with his piercing eyes, and dark dilated pupils he was hypnotised by the stillness of the man.  He yawned and felt a certainty of delight from the moth as it pranced about the air above him.

 

The whole house soon became concealed in a fog of the sickly odour. Neighbours began to complain, there had been more knocks on the peeling door in the past seven days than in the entirety of the man’s hopeless life. They had thought the house to be vacant for a long time, but now they realised that the man was still there. Rumours concerning what the man was doing began to spread. Children told of the false horrors that lay in the dead house.

 

He couldn’t sleep, because he had slept all day, and now he was hungry, and he thought he could hear something. He looked up at the man, his head was still tilted to one side and his eyes remained closed, his arms were crossed awkwardly on his lap.

 

The moth left its perch on the unlit bulb of the lamp and fluttered around the door frame. As if it suddenly realised it wanted to escape.

 

He raised his head, as a noise closed in on the house. Voices of youth strolled up to the dark house and muffled words neared the frail ears that he had depended on for so long.

 

“I don’t want to do it,” a worried voice stated as the others climbed the fence.

 

“Don’t be a chicken!” one replied.

 

“What’s the worst that could happen?” a braver boy urged disastrous outcomes into the worried girl’s head.

 

“We’ll leave you here, all on your own in the dark,” the oldest of the boys snapped as he jumped down on the other side of the fence.

 

“Don’t leave me,” she whimpered, and she followed her friends over the fence and into the garden where a rusty swing set creaked in the midnight breeze. The four children walked over to the back door of the house, where sheets of old newspaper covered the glass pane from inside. The oldest of the boys rolled up his sleeves and pushed the sliding door, quickly realising that it was open and easy to manoeuvre.

 

The one in the cage crawled over to the door of the cage and sat looking at the door, waiting for the voices to get closer.

 

 “Ladies go first,” the oldest of the boys gestured, once the door was open, and the dark corridor was just visible from the dim light of the crescent moon.  

 

“No way,” She crossed her arms and frowned at them.

 

“I dare you to,” the youngest of the boys smirked. The bravest boy held out the torch for her, and she snatched it out of his hand.

 

She switched the torch on and a circle of white light appeared on the front door at the end of the corridor, she crept forward, making sure the boys were behind her. They followed, not wanting to look scared; they put on their fearless faces.

 

As she flicked the torch around she cast long shadows that looked like black ghosts appearing and then vanishing into the night. The bravest of the boys crept beside the girl, followed by the youngest, the oldest keeping up at the back of the cluster.

 

The captive was unsettled by the noise of intruders, but he kept looking over at the man, who was not reacting to the sound of the trespassers.

 

Most of the doors leading off the corridor, they soon found, were locked. They searched the kitchen, only finding old tins of fish and meat in the sparsely filled cupboards, the fridge was empty except for a bottle of milk, which was now no longer drinkable. The door to the bathroom was open, but they soon decided that that going into the tiled room was not something they wanted to do. After checking the rest of the doors they came to the study.

 

He could hear their breathing outside the door. The moth was settled on the arm of the chair that the man was slumped in. He stood in the cage and he was unnerved and maybe even frightened as he didn’t know how to respond, how to react to the intruders.

 

She pushed the handle down, overjoyed to hear a click as the door was opened. The smell was overwhelming and they had to step back, they doubted whether they actually wanted to know what was inside the room to cause such a putrid stench. The bravest boy pushed the door open fully, the torch shone straight into his eyes, and he screamed and turned away from the sudden light.

 

The bright light was a shock and he forgot how he was forbidden to make any noise, he wailed and cried ferociously.

 

The youngest boy turned and ran out of the house, and threw himself back over the fence. The girl pointed the torch away from the cowering body.

 

The caged one kept wailing.

 

She saw the moth fly over to the source of the light and the oldest boy swatted it away with his hand. She stepped into the room and saw him cowering in the cage, crying at the sudden light that entered his world.

 

She saw its frightened eyes and she was heartbroken to see something so cruel, so selfish. She was upset at the man for doing such a terrible thing, for keeping the captive from its rights, from its freedom. The scene upset her companions just as much, the boys held back tears and their fearless faces soon became grim expressions of horror.

 

The bravest boy spotted the man in the armchair he flinched and shut his eyes tightly, turning away from the corpse. She saw what he had seen. She gasped and dropped the torch, she nearly fainted, the bravest boy put his hand behind her to support her. It was too much for a child.

 

The one in the cage screamed. What was happening? He didn’t know, everyone had just stopped moving and talking, it was as if he’d done something, he stopped whining and sat looking at the young ones that stood in the dark.

 

The man’s face had sunk to show his brittle skull. His grey skin deformed as it always had been. It was a horrid scene, but the girl didn’t look away, she just saw his sagging eyelids and flaking lips, his white hair and moth eaten clothes.

 

The captive hollered and wept.

 

She began to cry, even though she didn’t know him, she had a fragile heart and felt sympathy for the deformed man. He reduced his screaming to a whine to be able to hear the girl’s sobs.

 

The bravest boy wanted to pull her away from the scene. He wanted to get away from the horrors in the house. The oldest boy saw the crying, shaking body in the cage and suggested that they leave and call the police.

 

She looked over at the mess upon the desk and then down at the cage.

 

She wanted to open the door of the cage and get him out. How long had he been kept captive like this? But she knew she couldn’t, they should leave, and she picked up the torch. They left the room and closed the door silently.

 

They didn’t need to call the police, the youngest boy had run home and done it for them, saying there was something strange going on in the house, he’d given them the address and remained anonymous.

 

They saw the blue lights before the eldest boy had taken his phone from his pocket. They climbed back over the fence and walked around to see two police men coming out of the car, the children explained that they had heard stories about the house and thought there was nobody in it, that they went in for a dare and they found something in a cage and a dead man sitting in his chair.

 

If the moth could understand what they had said it would’ve been upset to know it had been left out of their story.

 

He whimpered quietly, hearing the outburst of cluttered voices explaining a confusing story. He was still hungry and he would’ve eaten the moth next time it came near had it not escaped the study when they opened the door.

 

The police broke down the front door and the children showed them where the study was. The cage was lifted out of the room. There were people lining the street, all wearing dressing gowns or pyjamas, a young child used one hand to hold her mother’s and her teddy bear in the other.

 

He cowered and whined as people talked and carried him out of his home. He didn’t know what was happening. They put the cage into the back of a vehicle, and the doors closed around him.

 

In the early hours of the morning, a forensic scientist that was investigating the incident found a piece of paper torn out of a book in the man’s hand. The last words of Solus, hurriedly written over the small printed text were:         

His name is Onus

 

 

 

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