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March 1, 2011 / Samuel DiPaola

The Cage – A Daily Serial Adventure –

I knew my plans had gone a bit off track when I woke up the next morning, naked in the lion cage.  I could still see the imprint of her form on the straw bed to my right, but she was gone, and I was to blame.  A chain was connected to a collar around my neck which extended to the central bars above.  I was hungry and it looked like rain.  I sat and ate from the dried carcass in the corner; it was all I had for sustenance. I was thirsty and my muscles were already weak.  I had no idea what I was eating, probably some indigenous beast from the northern jungle.

My story begins in the late fall of 2015.  I was sitting at my desk, trying to work out the weekly rations report when the phone rang.  It was Lola and she was inviting me to a party in Soho.  I told her that I was growing tired of the revivalist art scene and would rather just go to dinner.  She said we already had tickets and was going to pick me up in an hour.  I hung up the phone and realized that my report was due within the next 30 minutes.

The streets were crowded with self-proclaimed merchants, the buyers and sellers of raw materials scavenged from abandoned homes in the forgotten suburbs.  Lola and I pushed our way up the street past crowds of eager customers, all hoping to trade their wares for something more precious or desired.

Lola whispered to me, “Why don’t the authorities do something about this?”

“There’s no way to stop it.” I said.  “Let’s just be glad they’re not ripping the shirt off your back as you walk down the street.”

The sky was hazy as the setting sun burned through the multicolored smog, and the streets smelled like sulfur and vomit.  Without warning, a police siren cut through the ambient noise of the street, and a man rushing past us nearly knocked Lola to the pavement.  I grabbed hold of her and pulled her close.  The police, in pursuit, fired a volley of bullets causing the crowd to scatter.  I rushed Lola across the street and we entered the seclusion of an alley for safe cover.  The man they were pursuing was not so lucky.  He fell to the ground and was swarmed in a matter of moments.

I said to Lola, “Let’s get the hell out of here.”  We escaped up the alley and cut back along the side street.

By the time we arrived at the party, I was very much in need of a drink.  I ordered us two vodka martinis and looked for a place to sit down.  The evening theme was urban vampire.  Women walked around the event, barely clothed in shear white, medical exam gowns, and painted, blood-stained mouths.  The host was a man named Justin, a local art dealer who believed himself to be the reincarnation of Emperor Justinian.  To complete the effect, he wore a purple robe, a crowned halo and carried a scepter.  The scepter had a secret compartment which held an ample supply of cocaine.

Justin walked up to me and waving his scepter in my direction said, “Are you in need of a pick-me-up?”

I said, with a half-twisted grin, “That’s why I’m here”

He smiled brightly, turned his head in the direction one of the female attendants to his left and said, “Bring them whatever they want.  I don’t want them to go home disappointed.”  Before turning to leave, he addressed his next comment towards Lola, “Be sure to visit the penthouse, it’s the main attraction.” The flash of his teeth was momentarily carnivorous.

Stay Tuned . . . To Be Continued 

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