Day and night, the ovens burn. Much more so now than usual. I sense that my captors are nervous, but I don’t know why. I hear talk of television and football, but I don’t understand. I never sleep, nor am I ever fully awake. My left leg is broken, I am sure, and my rib cage is so badly injured and infected that just breathing causes me agony. The pain is constant and unrelenting. It is my only companion, the pain, though a ridiculous bird keeps coming to my window. It isn’t so much a window as a vent, really, but it’s ineffective as either. I cannot imagine, even with the imagination of a mind going mad, why this bird would keep returning to this place, to my window. The stench of my cell stabs my eyes and nose, and my own waste smears my skin and poisons my wounds. Worse than that, worse even than the pain, is the constant fear and gut-twisting dread that surrounds me and suffocates my every miserable breath. I know I’m going to the ovens. Or to one of the pits. I just don’t know when, or by what torturous means I’ll get there.
At first I welcomed the bird. I saw it as a sign of life, of freedom, as an inspiration, or a messenger of some kind. I imagined that the bird and I would fly high and fast and far away from this wretched place. Me: flying with my new friend the bird…the cool, moist air soothing and healing my wounds. The bird: showing me how small the world looks from so high, laughing in a good-natured way as I try to keep up with him, me never having flown before. At first I thought the bird was here to rescue me. I imagined these things. But soon I realized that he returned only to mock me, to jeer at me, betting with the other birds about when I would die. Me: “Help me, bird”. The bird: “You’re already dead, you just won’t die”. I now hated the bird and planned to kill it at my first opportunity. I would crush its tiny body and enjoy it. I would do so over and over again. I found a reason to live, to endure, in my hatred for the bird. But as time eventually passed, I lost all interest in the bird, concluding that it was just a bird…a simple, stupid bird living a simple, stupid bird’s life…and its presence or absence meant absolutely nothing.
I don’t understand, have never understood why I am here. Others have said it’s who we are, why we are born. Not that we are born bad, just born badly. I don’t remember choosing any of this. I’ve committed no crime, no transgression against society. Oh, I’ve killed before…my own kind and others. But they (my captors) made me do it. The killing, I mean. They wanted me to do it, taught me to do it, demanded that I do it. And they derived pleasure from it. Planned parties around it. Made money from it. And if I didn’t do as they wanted, it would mean certain death for myself. I couldn’t know then that death was certain anyway. I have killed plenty to be sure, and have seen unspeakable suffering, but my only crime is that I was born in the wrong place at the wrong time. Can you see me? I’m right in front of you. Do you know who I am? For my crimes, I’ve been sentenced to a horrible life followed by an even more horrible death. Look at me! Evil men do evil things, all around you…to my kind, to your own kind, and still you watch. SEE ME! I am right in front of you. I may be just a dog, but I can tell you much about yourself.