Author's Note: It's been a long journey but I'm finally here with the last chapter of Cage. I hope I do not disappoint. I'd like to thank everyone who has supported me while I've been writing this. Thank you, readers. Thank you, reviewers. Thank you, friends.
All grammatical errors are intentional.
Everything you recognize is property of JKR. Everything you don't recognize is property of me. Stealing is bad for your conscience.
Did you ever see that movie The Breakfast Club
? It’s an American movie and it’s about these five misfits that are stuck in school for Saturday detention. There’s this one part where the jerk guy sacrifices himself so the other four can get away. And he’s running down the halls and making lots of noise, banging on the lockers and shaking the locks. And he’s singing this song really loud and it actually has nothing to do with anything, but he sings it so that the principal will hear him.
I felt like singing that song. About being an Air Force ranger. I felt like screaming those nonsense words at the top of my lungs so that someone would hear me. Not Luna or Neville. But the cops that would save my life. I wondered if they were at the station already. Wouldn’t it be funny if no one even noticed we were gone?
You know what? Fuck Spain. Some joker fucks around and kills someone on a train in Spain and now I’m the one stranded in the middle of nowhere with crack-heads like Luna. It’s their fault. If Spain would just keep their kids under control, we wouldn’t be in this situation right now. Maybe they should start purifying the water or some shit.
Do you think they have cigarettes in Spain? If they do, they probably call them something weird like… ciggos. Cigarettos. Everything over there ends in –os. Maybe that’s why that guy flipped shit. Maybe he didn’t have any more cigarettos so he killed a kid. They’re so fucked up in Spain.
Oh, my God, I am so fucking hungry!
How long has it been since I ate? Fuck it, I can’t think about that. If I do, I’ll just get even more hungry. What if Luna took some baloney with her or some shit? What if she – aw fuck!
What if there was food in our suitcases? They’re still on the train. Fuck it, I can’t go back. I’m almost at the station; I can feel it.
But, damn, some baloney would taste like sex right now. Anything.
I tried to stop thinking about it and just kept crawling. It was still dark, but it was the almost-morning dark where the sky was just starting to get light. It was the kind of dark where it’s too early for even the sun to be up, so it’s not trying as hard to make itself seen.
A cramp shot through my stomach like lightning. I actually had to stop moving because it hurt so fucking bad. I stopped crawling and clutched my stomach. So there I was, hunched over on all fours in the early hours of the morning on a railroad track, screaming in pain because I was starving. It’s all Spain’s fault.
And then I heard this noise escape from my mouth. It was not my voice. It was a snarl that made my throat raw. It echoed in the early air – it was probably the first sound of the day. I sounded like an animal. Looked like one too. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...
The pain in me ignited. I couldn’t bear it. I scratched at my stomach, wanting to get it out of there. But it wasn’t working. I couldn’t escape it.
Finally I looked behind me and saw the lump of limbs that was Neville and Luna. They were a long way back, on the straight-away section of the railroad. I wondered if they were dead. The throbbing spread to my whole body and soon I was convulsing in it. My eyes started focusing in and out – things became blurry and then cleared all of a sudden.
I heard a rumbling that didn’t sound like hunger. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from or even if it was real; maybe my ears were fucked up too. The pain was clawing at me from all over. It was under my skin, trying to get out.
I couldn’t stand it anymore. I stood up on the train tracks in the dark of early morning, and screamed something fierce. I started screaming at the top of my vocals, “MY BALOGNA HAS A FIRST NAME!”
The rattling of sounds and names and memories in my brain. The rumbling gets louder. I still don’t know where it’s coming from.
Now I know what that guy felt like in that movie. At that point I didn’t care if anyone heard me. It felt good to be able to just fucking scream. Liberating.
“MY BALOGNA HAS A SECOND NAME, IT’S…”
Liberating. From what? From that hell hole? That only shelter from the elements we had? My friends that had been with me my whole life? I’m free of it. Yay me.
I stopped walking and I almost fell over. My legs were wobbly and my head was throbbing. Something was going wrong with my eyes and I couldn’t breathe good. And I could swear that rumbling sound was getting louder.
I looked up to the sky and raised my arms, hoping to see someone comforting. I wanted to believe that someone was up there, watching me. Even if that someone was watching me suffer, that was okay with me. As long as there was someone up there that could see me and Neville and Luna; knowing that there was some kind of higher power up there would make me breathe a little easier.
“FUCK ME! LORD, WHY DO YOU HATE ME?!”
Because even if I think He hates me, believing that He is there will make sense about why this happened. It will mean that this is not the end.
Do I believe in God? No. But I’m not really sure of anything anymore.
Tears are coming from my eyes and I don’t even care that it means I’m a pansy. I’m crying, trying to find the answers to why my life is going to shit. I think this is an acceptable time to cry, don’t you?
God didn’t answer me. But He’s a busy guy. I’m sure He’ll get to me when He can.
I opened my eyes and looked straight ahead again, put my arms down. I saw some kind of weird shadow in front of me. It was my shadow, but I hadn’t seen it before. It was being cast by some new source. Somewhere behind me.
I turned around and saw the source of the rumbling. It was a fucking train. A train was coming down the track, and it looked like it didn’t notice there was another fucking car right in the middle of the track, or two crumpled people.
Panicking, I turned straight and started sprinting toward the platform. I have never run so fast in my entire life. I couldn’t breathe, but I was nearly flying. It’s a miracle I didn’t fall through the cracks between the ties. I only looked over my shoulder once, and the train was coming closer and closer to hitting the stopped car. And Neville and Luna were not far from the car.
And then I stopped as soon as I heard a clunk.
My heart was hammering and I was panting like a fucking dog. My ears were ringing and all I could hear was the echo of that thump and my heart going crazy.
I turned around and saw that the train had slowed (I didn’t hear it screech to a halt because I was running so fast) and it rammed into our stopped car at the very last second. Things started moving in silent, slow motion then. The stopped car was pushed out of stopness and started moving toward me. Toward Neville and Luna, who had no idea. I could see them moving, so they were not dead.
I watched it happen. I watched our cart, where we were united as one group of misfits; where we were once, whether we liked it or not, dependent on each other; where Vandy’s body was lying and probably rolling around inside as the cart moved. I watched as that cart moved from the momentum of the moving train along the track, right over the shadows in the morning darkness that were Luna and Neville. They did not scream when they died, which I thought was very… them.
After watching that, Vandy’s rampage seemed like a child’s temper tantrum. I just watched my best friend get run over by a train car. And I could have saved them both if I wasn’t such a prick and wanted a cigarette so bad. I watched them die, and I could have saved them. I am a terrible person. I should just die right now. I should have been under that car.
But if I don’t live to tell the world our story, no one will ever know. And Neville and Luna and Vandy’s lives would have been in vain, which I cannot let happen. They were good fucking people, no matter what I thought of them. And out of everyone, I do not deserve to be the survivor.
But I will be.
I had a moment of silence and had a private conversation with God. I asked Him to take personal care of Neville, Luna, and Vandelia.
And that was the day I started believing in God. Because I would not be able to deal with the fact that the three of them died if I didn’t believe they would be taken care of. Yes, before this, I thought it was fucked up to believe in some floating man in the sky. But if I convince myself that He exists, He exists.
I turned around and started back toward the direction of the platform. Nothing else important happened. Nothing else that could trump watching my best friends get killed in front of me.
When I got to the platform, everyone was there. The police had blocked off the rest of the platform. People from the Prophet were snapping photos like crazy. Worried parents had gathered, along with concerned citizens and assholes that wanted to put this on the internet.
“Young man! Young man, are you all right?” said a cop, ushering me off the train tracks. Everyone was shouting from behind the tape. The snapping of pictures was fucking up my eyes even more.
I just nodded. And the cop put a blanket around my back and helped me to lean on the back of a police car.
“Where are the others? We were told there were four of you that were stranded.”
I wasn’t going to say anything until I got what I wanted. I came here to get a fucking cigarette and I was not going to comply until I got one.
I looked at him and my eyes fuzzed around. I was wobbly and I almost fell over.
The cop put his hands on my shoulders and balanced me. It felt so weird to feel his concern for me. I felt like I didn’t deserve it, but I wanted it. I needed it.
I took a second to gather myself, and then looked at him again. I made sure my face looked serious. “I need a cigarette. Please.” Those were the words that were going to save my life. I had to concentrate to make sure they came out clear and not frantic-sounding, because I got the feeling that if I said it and I sounded like a freak, they wouldn’t give it to me.
“Sure, sure, of course,” said the cop, turning to one of his colleagues. The other man pulled a small box out of his breast pocket, and it looked to be shining. He opened it, took out a tube of life, and handed it to the cop who was helping me. He handed it to me, and my hand was shaking when I took it from him. I balanced it in my lips and I almost cried when I tasted it. I didn’t wait for him to brandish a lighter. I flicked my thumb out of my fist and lit it up, then inhaled.
It was the absolute best feeling in the entire world. Better than falling in love. Better than sex. It was literally putting life back into me. I had been so long without it and I’d gone through so much shit to get it. My first smoke after that ordeal was the best taste ever.
“Son?” said the main cop.
“They’re all dead.” And that was all they needed to know. That was all I needed to say. I got my cigarette, they got the truth, everyone’s happy.
They tried getting more information out of me, like where they were, how they got killed, but I didn’t answer. I just shook my head and kept inhaling. I didn’t care about anything else. And I didn’t need to feel guilty that I didn’t care about anything else. I already had my little one-on-one with God about it. I’m sin-free.
The main cop gave some instructions to the rest of the cops, and then took me in his cop car and took me home. The other cops went down the track to find the bodies, and they obviously did because I saw them in the newspaper the next day.
The cop took me to my house, and this time it wasn’t empty. My dad was home for once in his life, and he was waiting on the couch, anxious. When the cop rang the doorbell, I thought my dad was going to cry.
The cop left us alone after some information was exchanged. And then we sat across from each other on opposite sides of the living room in silence. We just looked at each other. He didn’t ask me anything or say anything.
And then he said, “Well?”
So he really didn’t change. His only son is almost killed after being left to survive on his own, and he’s still the same old Dad.
“What do you have to say for yourself?”
“You’re finally here and that’s
what you say to me?”
Dad had no response. He just kept looking at me with that stone-cold, emotionless face.
“Fuck you, Dad. I hate you.”
And with that, I got up from my armchair on my side of the room, and crossed to his side. It didn’t matter at that point if I made him uncomfortable, but I sat on his lap and hugged him. He hugged me back and I just cried. He didn’t say anything to try and comfort me. He just kept hugging me. And that was really all I needed.
Five years later
I’m a mute now. After I couldn’t speak up to save Neville, I didn’t think anything was important to say. If I couldn’t shout to save my friends, nothing else would be worth saying.
I never finished school at Hogwarts. Instead, I went right into the work force. My dad got me a job at his work place as a janitor. It suited me well. I could just do my job and not have to talk to anyone.
Smoking is still a big part of my life. The way I see it, cigarettes were the driving force for me during that whole ordeal. The promise of a cigarette at the end of the journey was what kept me determined to get to the end. They saved me. So why would I abandon them?
But even though I don’t talk about what happened, I have not forgotten. Every day when I wake up, I think of Neville. It’s especially hard on Tuesdays. There’s no Neville to go get coffee with on Tuesdays anymore. And Luna’s voice was annoying at the time, but now I think it would sound like music. And even though I didn’t know Vandy that well, I still miss her. She had a lot of important things to say to me back then and I never got to thank her for putting my life back in check. I don’t sleep around with any chick that comes my way anymore. I’m looking for one girl that will tolerate me and one that I can settle down with. That girl has yet to come.
Now that my real friends are gone, my best friend is God, who showed me that believing in something (even if you can’t see it) makes life not so bad.