Luci has spent most of his life in a cage behind the stage of an auction house, metal bars always obstructing his view, not that there was anything worth seeing on the other side. He could barely remember how it felt for the sun’s rays to warm his fur, or how a cool breeze felt against his face.
The pads of his four paws were dry and rough from the concrete underfoot, the cold and unforgiving stone uncomfortable to lay on and leaving a constant chill in his bones. Some straw was piled up in a corner, the soft stalks barely preventing sores from growing on his elbows when he slept at night.
The fluorescent lights above were harsh to his eyes, he’d gotten so used to the dull throb behind them he barely noticed it anymore. Those lights never stopped shining, even at night, to light the way for the keepers that were unfortunate enough to get the night shift.
The air was sour with excrement, the pungent smell of bleach and disinfectant unable to overpower the burning ammonia or foetid odour of faeces. Under all that was the musty scent of many animals, needless to say, it wasn’t pleasant, Luci’s nose felt numbed from constantly breathing it in, the sweet smell of straw a small consolation.
It was never quiet either, the keepers were always walking somewhere, chatting with one another or playing music on their radios whilst they cleaned out cages. That paired with the sound of the many animals it was a wonder Luci got any sleep at all. It was marginally quieter at night, if only due to the fact there were fewer keepers, many of the animals were nocturnal or crepuscular, Luci himself was the latter, most active during dawn and dusk.
It had been the same for so long the stressful environment had become normal for Luci, there was one thing he never got used to though, and that was his monthly health checks. This month’s one however would end in a very different way and that’s where our story begins.