THE TORTURE HOUSE
Mar 11, 2018-Boys!” Master said, stepping out of his sleek four-wheeler while I stared at his house out the windshield. It was huge with lots of windows and several balconies overlooking a lush courtyard.
“Out,” he said and my head jerked sideways. I hurtled toward the open door as Master pulled on the leash around my neck. I leapt out of the car, my tail wagging in the air.
For the first time in my life I will have a home and a family.
The excitement got me panting. I lunged at master and licked at the shiny boots he was wearing. Thank you, thank you.
“Boys!” Master called out again, his voice louder. “Shankar! Dev!”
Two boys emerged from the building. They stopped before Master. The skinny arms protruding from their oversized T-shirts looked deliciously bone like.
“What were you two doing? Shankar, take this.” Master handed the end of the leash to the taller boy. “Take Bard to his place.”
The boys simply nodded. I got the feeling they worked for Master.
Shankar and Dev led me to the right side of the yard where an empty kennel stood between a birdhouse and a cage.
Before pushing me into my new home, Shankar untied the strap from my neck. Then he locked the door, and the two boys walked away.
The kennel had a tin roof with metal bars and a wooden floor. Though it stank of the piss and poop of previous tenants, it was perfect, I had thought.
“Hey neighbour,” said a chorus of sweet voices from above. I pressed my face between the bars and rolled my eyes upward and saw several pigeons staring down at me from the birdhouse.
“Hey,” I replied.
Before any of them could open their beaks to chirp a word, another voice came from the side of the cage, “What’s your name?”
A white rabbit was poking his pink nose out a tiny gap in the enclosure.
“Bard, I guess.” That was what Master had called me, hadn’t he?
“Nice name,” the rabbit said. His voice was soft—watery blue eyes, doleful. I wondered what had made him this way. “Welcome to the torture house,” he added.
“What do you mean? What is your name?”
The rabbit ignored my questions. He turned his tail to me and skipped to the other side of the cage.
I felt weird. Why would he say such a thing?
I turned to look up at the pigeons but the spot they had been occupying was now empty.
They were nowhere to be found. They must have gone into their tiny rooms to take a nap or something.
A yawn tore my jaws wide open. I needed a good nap too as it had been a long ride home. Dropping to the floor, I closed my eyes.
I woke up to the sound of whispers. The windows were glowing gold. I felt shocked. It was already night.
“Go up,” I heard a familiar voice.
I turned my head toward the voice’s direction. Shankar and Dev were standing in the shadows, ready to climb up the ladder they had placed against the pillar supporting the aviary.
“Go up,” Dev repeated.
The taller boy quietly stepped up the ladder. After reaching the top, he slipped his hand inside the birdhouse then descended to the ground. I noticed a pigeon clutched between his palms. It was calm, deep in slumber.
Dev gingerly put down the ladder on the ground. Few seconds later, the two of them vanished into the house with pigeon in hand.
I remember thinking about that bird. Why was it taken? What would happen to it?
The next morning, I got my answer: the sleeping pigeon the boys had taken was dead. She had been eaten by the Master and his family.
“No way,” I told the rabbit. “Master is a good man. He picked me up from the street where I was always hungry and without a home. He wouldn’t hurt any of us.”
“You dogs are delusional,” the rabbit said. “I’ve been in this cage for a long time now. Trust me when I say this, he is not a good man.”
A terrible urge to bite off his nose from his furry little face filled my chest. “Don’t you dare say that again,” I snapped.
The rabbit glowered at me. I glowered back. I started pacing. My bladder was swelling like a balloon. I needed to pee immediately. I scratched at the bars for attention.
“Stop that,” the rabbit said, annoyed. “No one is coming to take you for a walk. Just piss in a corner and go back to sleep. I didn’t call this place the torture house for nothing.”
The rabbit turned out to be right. Indeed, nobody came to my rescue so I peed in a corner. Henceforth, it would become my piss pen, my shit sty. That night the rabbit was taken into the house as well. I never saw him again.
As the months dragged by, I realised Master wasn’t like I had first believed. He wasn’t going to pat me on the head, or take me out for a walk, or feed me yummy treats. I began to miss my freedom. The old days… when I was out on the street.
“You okay?” a pigeon asked me. She was new in this place. The boys had smuggled all the old pigeons one by one into the house. Now the roost and the cage were filled with new pigeons and rabbits, all clueless about their future. I gave her a nod. But, to be honest, I wasn’t okay. At all.
Master came to see me one cold morning. I was curled up in a ball, too weak to lift my head. With no treatment, my sickness had worsened. My body reeked of something foul. It was polluting the air around the house.
Master put a hand over his mouth and watched me. I let out a whimper. More than anything I wanted him to pat my head, murmur his love for me, give me a reason why I was brought to his home. Instead he quietly shook his head, and left.
Shankar brought me dinner early that evening. It was chicken and rice. Food they had rarely fed me in the past. Using all my strength, I licked at the bowl, and tasted something utmost bitter. Poison. It was clear, Master wanted me no more.
Tears oozed from my eyes as I waited for the poison in my body to take my life. Any second now, I could spew out blood. My heart could stop beating. Minutes passed by. Then hours. The poison didn’t work.
The boys stooped by the kennel, indifferent to the smell. The thick sticks in their hands told me they were there to do what the poison couldn’t. My blood turned cold. Every hair on my body stood up like steel grass.
“Sorry Bard,” they said in a voice empty of emotion. Shankar jerked his head to the left, signalling to start. I shut my eyes tight. This was it. My end.
The sticks slammed my back with a force of a running car. Pain coursed through my veins like fire. Stars danced behind my eyeballs. One after another they kept bashing me until they were sure my bones were all broken.
“Let’s go,” Shankar said suddenly, probably wiping the sweat off his face. “He’ll be dead in a few moments.”
“Yuck! My slippers have turned bloody!” Dev complained. “I’m never wearing these again...”
The sound of their voices and feet trailed off. Silence filled my ears. My body had gone numb. Before the last breaths of air clinging to my crushed lungs could make its way out, I said my farewells.
Goodbye neighbours. Goodbye Master. I forgive you.
Published: 11-03-2018 08:23
- THE TORTURE HOUSE