THOMAS, ITS TIME.
“I know!” Thomas had meant to be whisper but the words came out in a shout instead.
At the sound of his voice, all but one of the monkeys was brave enough to remain. It’s eye, so humanlike and so … aware.
THOMAS, ITS TIME.
As though understanding it must act quickly, the monkey reached its small childlike hand through the bars of Thomas’ prison. It cocked its head and uncurled long delicate fingers. Silver glimmered in the late afternoon sunlight revealing a single Hershey Kiss.
“Where did you find that?” asked Thomas.
The monkey gently set the chocolate treasure on the dead concrete floors of his friend’s prison, twisted his head with ears alert. And then it disappeared to join its companions.
Come from the bars Thomas. It’s time.
Thomas turned and shuttered toward the voice. How long had he been a captive here? How long had he been in this place? He hated this place. All it held was hours of relentless questions, more hours of torture beyond description, and even more hours of … nothing.
“Did you see the monkeys?” It was Anna. They were holding her prisoner as well. In the time (whatever that meant) they had been held here, the two had formed a bond forged in the fire of common misery.
“Yeah, I saw them. Are you alright?”
Anna didn’t look alright. In fact she looked all wrong.
Thomas stroked her shoulder and then wiped a tear from the young woman’s cheek. “What did they do to you?”
Anna pulled away, “I don’t remember. What is it they want from us Thomas? Why won’t they let us go?”
Hours later, Thomas lay on his bunk like bed listening to the sounds of other trapped souls. He had no idea how many were being held in this place. He had no idea why they were being held here at all. The questions made his head hurt even more so Thomas closed his eyes and focused his thought on his friends, the monkeys. They were so free; able to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.
Sleep relived Thomas of his questions only to replace them with a most perplexing night vision. The monkeys were all pressed against his bars. Not the one lone monkey that always stayed back, offering to be his friend but all of them. And they were the cheerful, bright creatures he had known. Nor were they the ones handing a treat in to him. They weren’t outside the bars at all. Instead, Thomas and others stood outside laughing and cheering for the comical creatures inside their barred stage. A few goaded the monkeys encouraging them to look like peanut-craving, clapping beggars.
Struggling to wake up Thomas backed away from the bars. He almost managed to force an eye open when he felt a hand on his shoulder. A vague memory of someone filtered through his sleeping mind. A shadowy remembrance of his … mother? The memory of his … mother and he standing before the monkeys intertwined itself among other pictures suddenly flashing in his waking mind. He had to be careful, too many thoughts at once usually ended up like the ivy hopelessly merged with the aging brick outside his small window. But the bars where the monkeys lived had fascinated him.
THOMAS. LET'S GO.
“Thomas; can you hear me?”
The voice was so familiar, so pure, so right. He opened his eyes enough to see a sliver of who was speaking to him but everything looked so strange.
“He’s trying to say something.”
Thomas coughed, and closed his eyes again. So tired. So … ready.
You’ve done well Thomas. We have both done what needed to be done here. Look again.
Who was that man with his arms around his …mother?
YOUR FATHER CAME BACK TO COMFORT YOUR MOTHER. DON'T WORRY; I HAVE A PATH FOR THEM AS WELL. SOON THEY WILL UNDERSTAND
WHAT YOU SEE SO CLEARLY; AS WILL ANNA. YOU BOTH ARE SHEEP OTHERS KNOW NOTHING OF.
A smile broke across Thomas’ face. With his last effort, Thomas pated his lips and spoke. “I love you Momma.”
His eyes closed and hands relaxed. At last he was on the right side of the bars.
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