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The chain gnaws at my neck, ripping through skin, painfully pulling off barely scabbed-over wounds.  Bitter wind blows into my eyes, hurling knife-edged ice into my face. I don’t complain, I can’t.

Rough, sparsely-haired hands drag me across the barren dirt yard, forcing me towards the rusty metal shack that reeks of dried blood.  I am thrown inside. Unforgiving concrete greets the bottoms of my cracking feet, it smells so metallic my nostrils begin to burn. I catch a whiff of something else, something alive, and something not. A dark silhouette lays on the other side of the shack, pulled hastily away by another set of rough hands, leaving behind a thick swatch of glistening red paint.  A growl emanates from the shadows, radiating the strong smell of urine and fear.

It wasn’t always this way.  Hands used to be gentle, concrete used to be carpet, indifference used to be love.  Not anymore.

The growler reveals it’s bloodstained maw.  The chain loosens around my neck.

We lunge.


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