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They had to move. Rent had increased. He was the only one working. She had been injured and was no longer able to work; she was hooked on all kinds of pills to deaden the pain. No one could blame her for that, the nerve had broken through. 

And then there was the it. The thing. The burden. The one with the forked tail.

But they weren't going to take the it with.

The it remained in its cage, the leather gag in its mouth, its hands tied behind its back, its ankles tied with ropes in front. The forked tail attached to the cage. 

It wore a yellow t-shirt, a diaper, dirty by now, but they weren't going to change it. They just wanted to get the hell out of the apartment and into the new condo.

They had new identities. They were getting a fresh start, away from it. So fuck it all. They were packing up and moving, moving away from it.

Someone would find the it eventually, probably from the smell.

It squirmed in its cage, a cage marred with three-day-old feces and piss. It whined. It winced. It cried. It shivered. It knew what was happening. It knew what they were doing...

When it saw the first cardboard box two days ago, saw the man place the silverware directly into the box, just dropped it in there, it knew what they were doing...and what they weren't going to do.

They smiled as they packed their belongings. Who does that?

Most of the boxes were packed now, he was taking them from the apartment, but he was leaving the heavy things. She supervised and told the it to shut up. It was all she could do. 

Which means they'd both been too busy to check the bindings. They'd become loose. Its hands had slipped free. So had its feet, its tail. It grabbed the metal bars of the cage, created an opening large enough to evacuate.

The front door was wide open. 

The it dashed from its cage, dashed across the living room and dashed out that open door and it disappeared.

He and she gasped at the flash of it across their field of vision. Then they looked at each other. And they shrugged.

END

Bio:

Laura Shell took up writing again because her mother told her to just before she died. Laura has been published in Short-Story.me. She will be published in Calliope, Chiron Review, Literally Stories, WINK, and will have an anthology of horror stories published in 2024. When she isn't writing, she watches horror movies with her dog, Groot. And her mother.

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