S-223: Chapter One

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Literature Text

There is light; red blurred splotches mixing against dark, consuming black. The colors intensify, slowly shifting into separate shades of yellow and blue until they bloom into a single shade of bright white.

It is strangely beautiful, with strands of yellow, red, and green streaking across the new surface while new colors inch around the edges. Everything keeps shifting, changing, and after a few more seconds the muddled lights roll away to reveal pure, blinding white.

It slowly sears itself into a close transparent surface, dull red flowing out, before everything shifts. The colors hang for a few seconds, and fade away to reveal a small area with clear glowing tiles. There is no movement, no colors or streaks, and the tiles focus into a dull, clean box with a sharp streak of light and red-blue at the very edge.

But nothing changes. The room's center sits a few feet away with the light focused directly overhead. A ventilation fan hums in the distance, and cold air brushes across warm, scarlet fur in smooth, regular patterns. The furred body starts to shift by the room's edge, brushing against reflective metal and the white wall tiles, and the view shifts back towards the light.

The familiar black descends across the brightness, creating more colored streaks, but after a few seconds, things return to where they started. Colors are shifting in blurred splotches and slowly fade away until all that is left is pitch black darkness. There is nothing, everything has moved away to leave simple peace.

I lie there, trying to rest for as long as I can. Everything I can feel is consumed by dull, tingling pain, and my body shifts on the flat surface, searching for comfort. My head aches, whatever thoughts I have are swirling in some sort of drunken, muted stupor, and a low whine echoes across my throat.

I need to sleep, but with each second my body comes closer into focus, and muscles start to bite with distant pain. I am being pulled away from rest, plucked out of peace, and my form shifts left, fur sweeping across the cold flat metal. What I think are my legs kick against the wall, and I toss over several times, but nothing helps; my body is awake with the dull, sore fire, and I can only lie powerless.

Slowly, hesitantly, my eyes roll open, and I begin to admit defeat. The possibility of sleep is gone, I'm awake, and I stare into the nearest wall tile. Light reflects into my face, and I blink a few times, watching as it distorts beneath my eyes before pushing away onto my back.

And then the thoughts arrive, slowly surfacing from beneath my sleep-subdued mind. I wonder where I am and why I'm here, but I don't have any answers to that yet, and after a few more seconds the questions give way to more important thoughts. I should be safe here, it’s not in the humans’ interests to put me in a position of danger, and I’m almost perfectly calm. I trust them, despite everything that’s happened before; I know that I can trust them with my life.

There is a pause, but then I slowly remember what happens next, remember the reason why the humans awaken and reawaken me at will. I may be safe under their care, but I’ve come to despise what happens next. It’s time for more tests, as usual and as always, and the thoughts end in a long, frustrated groan.

Why didn’t I just go back to sleep? I hate these things.

I groan again and reluctantly push myself up and prop against the tiles. My tongue drops over my jaw as I yawn, and my eyes then shift down towards the metal to look at my body. Everything seems healthy, at least my body has never been part of their ‘experiments’ and I glance over my black paws and bushy tail before turning down to my torso.

White fur hangs out from beneath my neck and mixes with the scarlet accents, and I slowly stroke a finger through the strands. It’s soft, wiry, and thankfully, without a thread of human clothing; just like I remembered. I’ve never liked clothes, despite human opinions they’re anything but comfortable, and I run a paw across my naked body, admiring the touch of uninterrupted fur. I keep my paw on it for a few more seconds, fingers gently tapping, before I shift up and turn towards the room.

My ears swivel up as I glance across the tiles, and I pull a knee under my chin and stare. The lights gleam across the spotless flooring and walls, and I can clearly make out a door and mirror on the far edge, but I'm not interested in those. My thoughts are suddenly consumed by one sole memory, and I wildly chase it for a few seconds before putting it into words...

For one reason or another, I remember this room...

I don't know why or when I was here, and on top of that rooms like this dot hundreds of my memories, but for some reason, this one stands out. I throw everything aside as the vivid image of the box-like room bursts into my mind, and I try to search deeper, try to answer the questions racing through my mind. What happened here? Was it good or bad? Am I here again for tests or something more?


But as much as I ask, as much as I wonder, there is nothing. Everything and anything is blocked behind a veil-like wall, and I brush my claws against my head and stare at the door. Even if I can't decide why, I think that entrance is the primary trigger, and I slide on the metal until I'm facing the far wall.

Whatever this room means, whatever this is I'm feeling, I have to find out. More than anything, I need answers, regardless of whether or not they want me to know, and I drop my paws on the chilled tile floor and push onto my legs, determined to reach the door.

I should have a few moments before the humans contact me, and in that time, I plan to get answers to why this room stands out.
My legs wobble for a second, and I spread my toes across the ground and nervously grip the metal bed. How long has it been since I've last walked? My legs feel so flimsy, and I pull them closer and straighten my body before staring out towards the far wall.

But regardless of how my legs feel, I am going to get to that door, one way or another, and in one quick movement, I push off the bed. I stumble for a moment before catching my balance and coming to a halt in the center of the room with a soft grin. Not bad.

But then, there is a quick chirp behind me, and I spin around, ears leaping to full attention. My eyes dart around the room, passing across the tiles and under my bed, but there is nothing new. Whatever made the noise is gone.

I feel my fur begin to rise and my tail fluff, and I lower into a more defensive stance. It didn't sound dangerous, if anything it only surprised me, but I don't dare let my guard down. Whatever it is, I'm certain that it's going to come back, and I quietly breathe as the ventilation fan whirs in the background, every one of my senses waiting for another sign.


Another burst of sound tears through the air, and my body surges to the right. A bitter snarl flares across my jaws, but when I face the wall, I am again presented with nothing. I stare confusedly, head tilting and ears swiveling as I step towards the tiles, and slowly, hesitantly, approach the wall.

The sound came from here, I swear it, but no matter how hard I look, there is nothing but the tiles. How is this possible? I step up against the wall and run a paw down its surface to inspect it for life before sniffing the surface. There's nothing here, nothing that could produce such a sound, and I step away and examine the wall for a few more seconds.

This is, of course, the humans’ work; there isn’t any other possibility. Perhaps they’re trying to test my skills after my sleep, or perhaps they’re trying to simply humiliate me with things I cannot see and things I cannot ever hope to catch.

I briefly glance to the door and mentally put it on hold before returning to my thoughts. Whatever they’re trying to do, I’ll play along and try to catch the ‘monster,’ that’s the best and only option I have. It should make them happy enough, and maybe even net me a reward, albeit at the expense of my own pride.

But that hardly even matters now. Whatever dignity I could possibly have is nearly nonexistent, they taught me that months ago, and I briefly glance to the door before spinning around. I utter a low, frustrated whine, reflecting both my mock hunting and anger with their stupid tests, and I start to rapidly pace back and forth across the room.

The next sensory barrage should come any second now, they wouldn’t dare let my attention dwindle for more than a minute or two, and I glance at the few corners of the room, trying to predict where the next noise will come from. If I’m going to bite their bait, I might as well try to do it in the best, quickest, and most convincing way possible- pleasing the humans and treats are two things that I can very easily live with.

And then there is another beep at the front of the room, and my head darts towards it, every muscle ready to take the bait. This one is different, it's much more... interesting than the others, and in a split-second I'm facing the empty wall, but I don't make any more moves.

I keep forcing the hesitance, barely able to restrain my instincts from diving after the stimulus, but I force myself to be patient. I’m able to control these feelings, and there’s no point in moving now. The creature is gone, and when it appears again, I want to be able to see it, catch it, and I think I stand a better chance at a distance where it can't as easily surprise me.

Whether they like it or not, I am not their fool.

A few seconds pass, and I remain poised for the next beep, and then it suddenly bursts from the same section along with a few bright flashes. I immediately pounce, claws and fangs ready as I rip towards the monster, but within a split-second, it's gone. I am again faced with an empty, tiled wall.

My face flops into a flat expression, and I step back from the wall again. I’m a little disappointed I haven’t caught it yet, but to be honest, I’m also pleasantly surprised. They’re actually giving me a challenge this time, and I can’t help but grin as I wait for the next beep. This is slowly becoming more than a test, it’s more like a contest now, a battle of wits and reflexes between myself and the humans, and my tongue hangs out as I look around the room.

Come on, come on… I stare for a few more seconds, sniffing madly and listening for anything that could belong to the creature, but there no indication of when they’re going to summon it. My footpads press against the tiles, anxiously pawing the smooth surface, and I take a few steps back, tempted to repeat my previous strategy.

But before I can even shift a few feet back, the noises erupt again, blaring directly in front of me. There are multiple squeaks, flashes, and I tear towards the source again without a second thought. My clawed paws dive out towards the flashes and clatter noisily against the wall, but the flashes keep coming, and I continue to madly attack.

I'm right on top of it now, and I nearly lose control as every sense shifts devotion to catching this monster. My claws are digging into the beast, tearing into the lights and sound, and I shred my fangs into it- there is no mercy.


The noises start to die, and after a few more quick attacks, my body starts to slow. I'm panting heavily, chest rapidly heaving in and out, and after a final snap with my fangs, I pause and let the creature drop to the floor.

I pause a second, eyes glancing at the saliva and claw marks I left on the tiles, and my eyes then shift down. My heart races; I can almost see the ‘creature’ dead beside my toes, almost see warm, sticky blood spilled across the tiles, and as one more dying cry pierces the air, a small smile forms across my face.

Even if it is just one of their tricks, one of their lies, I've caught it, once and for all. I've caught it, and I look down onto the ground, for proof of the fight. I can see saliva, surface scratches, and a few distinct marks on the ground, and I look up, expression shifting to a faint, muted smile.

Even though I can't see it, I know the thing is dead. It has to be. I heard the cries and put an end to the long, drawn-out noises, and I place a paw against the wall and let my dangling tongue brush up against my mouth. It's over. I've passed their test, played their games, and any second the humans are going to contact me, just like they always do.

But I hardly care whether they actually talk to me or not, in fact, I'd rather they just open the door and usher my on to whatever they have next. All I want is to move forward beyond their incessant programs, some way to get out of this room and move on. I've beaten them and their tests countless times, that's not even the hard part anymore, the difficulty comes with waiting.

I start to pace the room, wondering when they'll actually show themselves and pluck me out of this cell. They have a habit of taking their time, perhaps in yet another sort of test, and I rapidly turn around and start moving the other direction.

They could be minutes, hours, there's no way of knowing with humans, but I know that I'm the least of their worries. Why would they even care how long it takes to get to me? They’re likely too preoccupied to even think about my inactivity, let alone my boredom, and I make another drawn out groan and continue to circle the room.

Your move, ‘masters.’

I walk past the door and then the mirror, briefly pausing to exchange a quick glance. My fox-like face and scarlet fur glisten in the light, and I perform a small half-spin to check the rest of my beautiful naked body. My black-tipped tail curls around my legs, and I spin in the other direction to get a better look at my face.

My deep amber eyes shine beautifully within the mirror, and I yawn a little before stepping away. I look wonderful, or at least as good as I would ever care to, and I’m certain the humans would be slightly pleased. As far as I can tell, looking... professional isn't part of their tests, but nonetheless it seems to be appreciated on their side.

As always, I'm ready for them now, and as usual, all they have to do is indicate they're ready for me. But after a few seconds, there is still nothing. I walk parallel to the door, brushing my paw and tail against the wall, and continue to circle the room, ears poised to detect even the slightest noise.

But then, there is a slight click in the front of the room, and my head snaps around. I quickly glide over to the wall, eyes locked on a small silver object protruding from one of the tiles, and my mind starts to buzz. Finally; a sign that they’re ready to advance.

I reach the silver, and immediately start to examine it. It isn’t anything unusual, and from what I can tell it's only a common delivery tray. I’ve seen them hundreds of times, and I brush a paw against the surface and wait for them to make their delivery.

There is a short pause as I retract my paw, and then an object clatters into the metal, right on time. I peer inside, and spot the dark, round ball before snatching it up into my paws and starting to smell.  It's a treat, I would never forget that smell, and I immediately pop it into my mouth and let it crunch upon my teeth. The taste is absolutely delicious, and bursts of meaty flavor rush across my salivating tongue before I greedily swallow and start noisily licking my lips.

So the humans liked that. Hooray for me.

My tongue makes another pass across my lips, and I shift away from the tray to lean against the wall. My mouth is still buzzing with flavor, and I glance over at the door and mirror as I think about their next few actions. The treats are human interaction, yes, but the next few moments are purely ambiguous. They could contact me now, later, or maybe even never, and I glance over at the delivery chute.

Maybe the food is just an attempt to pacify me after the “monster”; that seems exactly like something they’d do, and I keep watching the front of the room. There could be more arriving any second now, perhaps even followed by some sort of breakfast, and I turn away and stretch my arms.

A few moments pass, and near-total silence descends across the room. I glance over to the mirror, watching, waiting, and then I notice a small flash of light. Immediately, I perk up and shift over into the room’s center, and watch for a few more seconds as foreign symbols start pouring over the smooth reflective surface.

They’re ready, at long last they’re going to contact me, and I anxiously pad over to the mirror. My paws fidget over parts of my fur and face, and my tail wildly swishes back and forth over the ground. If it were up to me, I’d be hiding in the corner, as far away from their faces as possible, but the humans seem insistent on seeing me face to face, or rather, face to video screen.

The symbols keep shifting across the mirror, and I watch as my reflection is eclipsed by a few logos and words. I keep standing before the mirror, black toes squeezing against one another as I shift upon my paws, and blink as I wait for the transition to complete.

I’m extremely nervous. I haven’t enjoyed talking to them for weeks. It’s too forced and distant; they don’t really care about how I am or if I’m fine, and their attempts at concern and encouragement are little more than artificial formalities, but to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

These meetings should be polarizing, brief, and nothing more.

The shapes have already formed the last startup pattern, and I watch intently as they fly off the screen to leave a black, semi-reflective surface. Only a few more seconds now, and I try to subdue my body as best I can, force my tail, arms, and ears to stand still as I rise up into attention. I wouldn’t dare greet them without expressing full and complete concentration, they’d surely punish at once, and I stare blankly into the screen and force my body to hold still before the camera.

The screen flashes several times, and then focuses to reveal a human face against a blue background, and I suddenly try my best to shift back into attention. I stare into her blue eyes, glance quickly shifting down to her nose and mouth, and pull my paws together and force my tail down.

It's the woman with the thin narrow face and flowing black hair... her name is 'Alice,' if I remember correctly. Her eyes move down between me and somewhere below her body, and I quickly flick an ear and wait for her to speak.

“Good morning, S-223,” she says, shooting me a look out of the corner of her eye, “How are you?”

I pause for a second, mind wrapping around her words as I think of a reply. S-223 is my identification number, my 'name' as the humans would put it, but I'm still not used to it. It sounds odd to my ears, in fact it's worse than most words that I share with them. But despite that I perk up and try to look like they've caught my attention.

“I'm... I'm good, thank you,” the words struggle as they exit my mouth, and my raspy voice nearly makes me cringe, “Good morning to you as well.”

Alice smiles, and I hear her shuffle a few papers in front of her microphone. I've seen her quite a few times, Alice seems to be my primary contact among the humans, and I will admit that she seems slightly better than most of them. She's polite, pleasant, and if I do what she wants, she's certain to reward. I couldn't want anything more.

“Excellent,” she shuffles the papers again, and a page peeks up from the bottom of the screen, “You look wonderful by the way, S-223.”

“Thank you, ma'am,” I quickly brush off the pleasantries and continue.

My replies to her are short and brief, but it's not like I care. Speaking feels unnatural, foreign, and when I do, my voice is nothing but a harsh, unpleasant kind of audible whimper. My tongue and mind despise their language, even if it's the only one I know. It's meant for them, not me, and it sounds worlds better coming from a human mouth, and fortunately they seem to prefer it when I stay silent anyway.

Alice continues,  “It's a big day today, S-223. You might finally get to graduate and move on to the next stage of your training,” she pauses, “We're going to take a few physical exams, ask a few questions, and then we'll let you run a few tests and see how you do, alright?”

I nod, not wanting to speak, and keep staring into her face. Her mention of graduation barely makes me raise an ear, and I force an excited look. She's mentioned it countless times before; every time I see her it's the same: exams, tests, and the possibility of advancement, and I'm always hopping from one stage to another with no end in sight.

But when I think through her words, I realize that it's different this time. Something in her voice sparks an air of finality and achievement, and a nervous excitement rushes through me. Previously I've only run their tests for the rewards of rest and treats, never once believing that I'd actually see the end, but now... now I think I'm actually there.

I feel my pulse and breath increase, and my tail starts to shift. Whatever strange… feelings I can sense beneath the excitement, whatever positive emotions I can muster, are absolutely breathtaking, and my face suddenly dissolves into a bright, beaming smile.

“You mean... you mean I'm actually finished?” despite the overwhelming positivity I have to make sure, “Is this... is... is this really the end?”

Alice briefly grins and makes several marks with her pen, “Provided that you pass the tests, I think the answer is yes. Congratulations, S-223.”

My jaw drops, and I look away as I try to comprehend the surprise. I didn't expect that, Alice has a nasty habit of cutting down any and all enthusiasm, and I try to neutralize my mess of a face before replying.

“Alice... thank... thank you.”

I'm still looking down, completely unable to face her in my current state, but she quickly replies.

“Don't thank me, S-223. You've earned this for yourself,” there is a short pause before she switches focus, “And if you don't mind, we'd like to get started on those physicals I mentioned, alright?”

I wipe my face back into a neutral pose before turning up to her, “Of course, forgive me.”

I can feel my spirits drop the second she brings me back to reality, but what was I expecting? This is Alice, straight and to the point despite the pleasantries, and I keep watching her, trying to decide if for once, she’s actually sincere.

But of course she’s not; she’s human…
The first chapter in my S-223 series. I hope that you enjoyed reading it, and if you'd like, feel free to leave a comment, critique or question. I enjoy receiving feedback, and anything would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you for reading!
© 2013 - 2023 RitusTheMarlFox
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jugerwolf's avatar
This is good! :D How are you able to write cause thats what I want to do