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Friday, December 8, 2023

F³ Shock 42

             The realization popped something in my brain. I felt detached. Numb. And thoughts began racing about the implications.

            So many crates. So many people. Trapped. Sold as what? Slavery? Cattle to be slaughtered and eaten? Worse?

            “Matthew.”

            The noise came from outside of me, but I couldn’t locate it. My eyes darted around, looking down at the figure in my hands, at the others on the floor, at the crate in front of me.

            “Put it back in the crate, Matthew.”

            Nikki. That was Nikki’s voice.

            She was right. I tried to put the figure back in the crate, but my arms and hands didn’t obey. Still felt disconnected.

            “Oh, God!” said a new voice. No, that was my voice.

            Nikki was suddenly in front of me, her hands gently taking the figure from mine. As soon as my hands were empty, they began to tremble, even when I clenched them into fists.

            Hundreds. No, thousands of people. Imprisoned. Yet still alive. Are they aware? Do they know what’s going on around them?

            I watched, still detached, as Nikki carefully placed figures back in the crate, layering the shredded material so that they were protected.

She took my face in her hands. “Matthew.”

I felt something warm drape itself over me folding over me like a blanket on a cold morning. It wanted to ease my panic, but instead it felt smothering, and my panic rose. I thrashed, throwing Nikki back. The warmth disappeared, and I lurched into a stumbling run to get out of the container. I got three steps out when something seized me and hauled me around.

Nikki’s arms encircled me, holding me close. “Shh, Matthew. You’re safe. You are not alone. I am here.”

The panic wavered, and I hugged her back.

Part of my brain got back in the driver’s seat.

Calm. Breathe. Focus on breathing. Push the thoughts away. Gather senses. Know where you are.

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