Friday, 3 August 2012


For this assignment, we were challenged to write by borrowing a "template" in Sabrina Murray's short story "The Caprices". The elements that need to be there are: "This could be any...", "What you are witnessing here is...", and "It is a/an ... (time of the day) in ... (year)".

And here's what I came up with. 


This could be any concentration camp. The dank and dirty smell that fills any newcomers’ eyes with acrid water and grants the nose a sense of cherished numbness could be scented in any camp. The big door swings open and soon the inhabitants of the camp are roused from their meandering dreams and daydreams. One by one, their cell doors are opened and they are led outside. Some, the youths and the elderlies, are celebrating in their hearts, hoping for freedom, but others know better. Outside, a grave has been dug. This is the last time they are going to see the rays of the sun. Still, no one fights when they are placed inside a chamber, bones pressing against one another. They are too tired, too weak, too ready to give their last breaths away in exchange of a momentary release, for a little peace. Their rib and hip bones stick to their skin as if they were bosom buddies. The gas seeps in, an apparition that brings more than terror, but some of the prisoners don’t mind. Maybe at last this is their release, their little peace. 

What you are witnessing here is just a day on the job in a kill shelter. 

A gangly old man in a blue jumpsuit and a gas mask that hides his face opens the door of the metal chamber and shovels the bodies of the dogs inside a brown burlap bag. His assistant, a young man still in college, as lanky as the older man, has dug a big hole in the ground in the shelter’s vicinity. It is his first day there and he didn’t ask why. He just did what he was told to do and now he has a million feelings inside his head, and heart, and gut. The older man has been doing this for ten years and he can’t remember what he felt when he first assisted the execution. He remembers the thrills of chasing after strays, and this he tells his young colleague like a parent telling bed time stories to a child. 

He sees the young man’s knees shake but he doesn’t scoff. Instead, he puts a gloved hand on the assistant’s shoulder and gives it a squeeze, quietly acknowledging the uneasiness. We still have the other room to do, he says, but let me take a cigarette break first. 

It is an afternoon in 2012.   

The younger man nods as the senior hands him the burlap bag, heavy with bones and skins and blood, but devoid of life and emotions and breath. The older man opens his gas mask and his blond beard springs to life, catching the light as he walks outside. As soon as the older man turns the corner and vanishes out of sight, the younger man runs to the other room, the one next to the dogs’. 

It takes him a moment to open the door, a longer moment to process what he is looking at, and an even longer moment to know what he feels he has to do. Then he sees a little cage dead right in front of him, of a white cat nursing a black and white kitten. And he feels his feet move toward the cage. 


Moral of the story: Adopt, don't buy. Hopefully this photo of a caged dog will change your mind. 

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