Its been this way for all my life.
As the sun's rays begin to touch the top of the trees, I wake up in a new leafy nest that I built the night prior. The first objective due to my dry throat is to reach the vast bowl of water.
Around that time, there are low amounts of machines out patrolling their paths. It's quiet, allowing me to easily make my way around.
Without hassle, I soon stand on a large boulder as water sloshes around it.
Tender in my movements, I dip my muzzle into the ice cold surface to quench my thirst. I cast the occasional glance for danger, but I am well aware as to how alone I am in that moment.
Once finished, I vanish into the underbrush. I've always been taught to never stay in one place for too long. I take a familiar path, alert for danger. Another stray passed by not too long ago, but there is no chance that they would retrace their steps. There is a taste of fox in the air, but with luck I make it to my destination without facing the predator.
An old abandoned den that used to house horses.
I can still smell the creatures, but their scent is stale. It is more of an ingrained scent after the years they had spent here, never to disappear but not necessarily dangerous.
Time to rest. As my ears remain on watch, my eyes watch a Tall One Den in the distance. From a young age, I've discovered that this Tall One places out delicious dry pellets. I've never allowed myself to trust him, but his kindness helps to keep me alive.
Only moments after I've settled down, the Tall One opens his door and brings out the bowls of pellets.I wait for him to return to his den before approaching.
Something immediately feels different today, but my grumbling belly leads me forward. A closer inspection reveals that there are large, hard wires surrounding the bowls today. Strange.
My response was to take tentative steps forward. The metallic smell in the air was barely covered by the smell of the pellets.There was no noise, and it didn't seem like I was about to be in any lethal situation.
Hunger got the best of me, and I stepped inside. Each move was provisional. There was only one step away from the bowl when...
I felt the whole cage jolt forward, forcing me into the bowl as it spilled everywhere.
One swift turn revealed that the wiring had snapped shut behind me. There was no escape. At first I launched at the spot that I had just used to enter moments ago, snarling and flailing in an attempt to find a way out.
Then the Tall One walked out.
Retreat. I pressed myself against the back of the cage, attempting to hide under the bowl. This was the closest I have ever been to a Tall One, and it made me anxious. No one cares for a stray, and most who intend to get close to us also tend to hurt us.
This one seemed to have different intentions. He lifted the wire up with me inside, carrying it. I fell, hitting my chin on the bottom. It was difficult to stand up. The Tall One then placed me inside the Machine.
No matter how much I cowered away, there was no escape. The Machine rumbled to life, striking a new sense of fear into me. It moved, bringing me into a panic.
After what felt like an eternity, the Machine turned off. I began to pace, fearing the worst. I would have rather been anywhere else but here, for I could already smell a stench of death before the Tall One even retrieved me from the Machine.
He took me inside a Tall One den.
More waited inside. He placed me to the side for a bit while conversing with another one. I couldn't understand their foreign language, but what I did understand were that there were others around me. Tame Strays. They were all terrified of this place, which was an addition to my own fear.
Soon, another Tall One retrieved me. She brought me back, placing me off to the side before placing a large piece of fabric over me. I could no longer see, but I could still smell blood around me. Then there was the noises; howling and hissing and crying Tamed Strays all around me.
Eventually, they took the fabric off me. It was only for a moment as they quickly pricked me before re-covering me as if I was vermin.
I curled up, feeling my heart race. Yet a wave of exhaustion flooded over me. I didn't think I would be able to sleep in this much fear... but I did.
When I woke up, my lower stomach felt different. It didn't hurt, but it felt as if it had been pressed against itself with strings. I was back with the Tall One who had captured me, except he left me off to the side.
Days passed, and he fed me but kept me surrounded by wires.
Eventually, he picked me up again.
The Tall One brought me outside.
He opened those wire doors.
Without a second thought, I was gone.
Running, escaping. I continued, until I was too far for anyone to catch me. Only then did I pause, looking back. What now?
Rays of sunlight were beginning to stream through the branches of a tree near me, reaching to touch the tips of the branches. It was time to restart my day.
So, I padded towards the vast bowl of water once again.
Stray Language Key
Machine - Motorized Vehicle
Den - Any covered place where something lives
Tall One - Humans
Vast Bowl of Water - A body of water (lake, river, ocean, etc)
Wire - Cage
Path - A common route of travel for something