Yet another dawn filters through the bars of our cage and I know that this will either be the last one for me or for my only remaining brother. Once the first rays of the sun warm the chills from our bones the alien will arrive... as she has done for what seems an eternity. She will either choose me or my brother who lies huddled in the furthest corner away from me. His legs are drawn up tight to his body and his head is turned away. He won’t meet my gaze any more and he won’t answer my soft call to him. I fear that what we have gone through has caused him to lose his mind; I can’t blame him as I think I am slowly losing mine. We’ve watched helplessly whilst our friends, our neighbours, our family have been taken one morning at a time and put to her test. Each one has failed and the results of their failure lie in silent testament across the floor outside of our cage. Bodies crushed and battered. When she comes again I will be taking the test... or my brother will. If he is chosen and fails then I will have one day left to live until it is my turn. Then my crushed body will join all the others unless by some twist of fate I am the one she has sought all along and will pass her test. But I doubt it. I do not feel ‘special’ in any way and don’t believe my brother is either. He moves quietly and I look up.
‘Are you awake?’ I ask.
‘I haven’t slept,’ he answers.
‘Neither have I,’ I reply and am shocked that he has responded for he hasn’t spoken to me since our father was chosen and put to the alien’s examination.
‘We shall have sleep soon enough…’ he says and tries to crawl farther into the corner.
‘When she comes this time I think we should try and escape.’
‘Why bother?’ he replies, ‘it didn’t work for any of the others.’
I shrug but he doesn’t see it.
‘Perhaps one of us is the one she is looking for…’ he murmurs softly.
I know he is only trying to keep his morale up but I can’t help but snigger, ‘yes, perhaps…’
‘Do you have a plan?’ He asks. I guess his morale isn’t all that high anyhow.
‘Not really,’ I reply, after all, what plan could possibly work? The alien is much larger and more intelligent than us. But what choice do we have? Should we just sit quietly and await our fate? ‘But we may as well try something... anything.’
‘Ok,’ he sighs, ‘what do you want to do?’
‘The next time she opens the cage I think we should both rush her. You jump high and I’ll go low. She’ll have to go for one of us and perhaps the other will have a chance, a slight chance I’ll admit, but…’
‘…it’s better than nothing…’ He finishes my sentence for me.
A ray of sunlight creeps across my leg and its warmth begins to soak into my flesh, blood and bones. I stretch and flex my limbs. They are still stiff from the cold night but I know I need to be ready and so does he.
‘Get up and move around. You’ll never get past her if you are all stiffened up. You’ve been stuck in that corner for I don’t know how long.’
He does and I’m surprised by how thin he has become. I wonder if I look the same. Silently we stretch and shake ourselves in an attempt to become more mobile, but we might have left it too late. A sound from outside freezes us on the spot. She is coming. The warming rays of the sun are blotted out by a vast shadow whilst our cage vibrates to her footsteps as she approaches. My brother whimpers quietly.
‘Be ready!’ I whisper hoarsely and he nods as the cage is opened and a giant hand reaches in.
‘Now!’ I croak and my brother leaps high whilst I scrabble beneath her grasp and almost get out.
‘Oh no you don’t!’ The alien says and sweeps me back into a corner with a careless flick of one hand as she grabs my brother with her other. He looks down at me in fear and resignation as she raises him to her cruel lips.
I’m alone now. She has gone. My brother’s small body lies pitifully discarded amongst the others outside my cage. Another crushed corpse. Another failure. Tomorrow she will come for me. Tomorrow I will be put to trial. However, if by some chance I do pass the alien’s test, if I do transform into this ‘prince’ creature she is searching for then I will exact a dreadful revenge upon her. I will seek retribution for all the lost friends, lost family, lost neighbours, every last one of us that she has ripped from our pond…