Furious Fiction – Jan 2019

New month means a new Furious Fiction entry! This month’s rules: must start with ‘New’ and contain the words ‘present’, ‘nineteen’, and ‘desert’, and it needed to contain a list. As always, 500 words or fewer, and 55 hours to complete. Anyway here it is!

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

New arrivals every day. Guess it’s just that time of year. I still have twenty on the list to process before the end of the week in order to make space. It is the season of excess I suppose, and it’s inevitable not everyone will want to keep everything. I mean, better giving them to us than throwing them in the trash, lighter on the conscience for them. I should be thankful maybe. Eighteen years in the job though, and every year the same thing happens. I guess it just makes me numb to it all.

I steel myself as I insert the syringe into his paw, gently stroking it to keep him calm. Still, I feel the old boy tense, and my colleague’s firm hand is needed to keep him in place, a final tired effort to survive threatening to jolt the needle free. It’s too late now anyway. He looks at me, the anaesthesia taking hold and his eyes gently closing. What a way to go. An old, worn bench, in a room smelling of sterilisation chemicals, still within earshot of the others. He looks peaceful as he sleeps, but I imagine he knows what’s happening. They always seem to. Maybe it’s just my imagination. Maybe not. I don’t know. I’ve always thought they have a better idea than most people though.

Sometimes I wish I could understand how they felt. Is he angry, upset that his life ends simply because we no longer have the room? Or does he understand that we’re already three to a cage, and at his age with the time he’s spent here, there were simply no other options?
Or just glad to have someone present with him?

I wish he was the last one. I wish he hadn’t even been on the list to begin with, to be honest. Not this year, not any other year. Yet resources are finite and the demand will only increase the next few months.

“I’m sorry,” I whisper, even though I know he’s already gone.

I lied. I’m not numb to this. Every one of them breaks me a little. How can people just desert them like that? I’m furious, and I want to rage, to find these people, to hurt them even.

But I just can’t. I need to move on. One down. Nineteen to go.

I turn back to the cages, feeling all their eyes on me. What are those looks they give me? Wondering why I went in with their friend and came out alone? Did they wonder if they were next? Is it accusation, indifference, or simply appreciation for a place to stay in their eyes? I probably don’t want to know.
Maybe they understand. Maybe not.

Either way, I fucking hate this time of year.