Mortimer paced back and forth, watching the sleeping form in front of him. He was not sure exactly how he should take the intrusion. Excitement? Giddiness? Joy? Perhaps, he felt some of these things. Although, Mortimer also felt anxiety and fear.
When had he become so afraid of change? Sure, the last major change in Mortimer’s life had put him into this cage in the first place, but it seemed unreasonable to hate further change from that. Mortimer reckoned that his situation could only improve from this point onward. Maybe that was not true, but he needed to be optimistic if he was going to survive.
A moan escaped the sleeping person’s mouth, and it caused Mortimer to stop in his tracks and his heart skipped a beat. The sound was so normal. It was not clipped or strange like the voices of the aliens. It was deep and melodic. It was something that Mortimer himself could relate to.
He eagerly went to one of the tires and sat on it, watching and waiting for the new person to wake up. Idly, he wondered what this person would be like. What would they talk about? Had he been in a cage himself for long? How long? Or was this whole experience completely new to him? Would it be Mortimer’s job to guide him through the transition?
Perhaps this person could even help Mortimer escape? It was a fleeting thought. Something so hopeful that even Mortimer’s blind optimism could not stomach it for long. Still, what if they could escape? Maybe this person would know something Mortimer did not? Maybe he could speak whatever these aliens could speak. Mortimer himself had long since given up trying to apply words to the gibberish that came out of their mouths.
On more than one occasion, Mortimer had attempted to engage with the spectators that watched them. He would show them water and then say the word ‘water’. He’d do it over and over again, and the spectators would just watch. He would go over to the water and stick his finger in it. He would splash it. He would splash it at them. He would shout water, he would say water, he would beg water, and the spectators would keep on watching.
When Mortimer made a ruckus, more spectators would watch. They would become animated in there watching while waving their hands and pointing. Their sounds would increase in ferocity as Mortimer’s words increased in ferocity. However, they would never repeat what Mortimer said. They would gasp, they would cry, their babble would grow in excitement, but they never would how they understood.
As Mortimer pondered this, he began to feel lonely. He realized exactly how little contact he had. He realized how lonely he truly has been. These months, it had to have been months by now, were a literal hell. This complete stranger would be Mortimer’s salvation from that life.
There was another moan from the man’s lips, and he began to turn his head. Mortimer watched intently as the man began to rouse. His eyes fluttered open and he let out a breath. He put his hand up to his head, feeling it and starching at his temples. Did the man have a headache? Mortimer knew he did after one of the alien druggings.
The stranger’s eyes began to focus, and he glanced around the room. Those eyes locked on to Mortimer’s for a brief second and then passed by. He glanced around the rest of the room, grabbing a large rubber tire to help himself move to his feet. Mortimer frowned at that. The man seemed to be dismissing him completely!
The stranger coughed, grumbling to himself incoherently as he stretched his body. Mortimer had waited patiently, but enough was enough. He moved up to the front of the man and introduced himself, holding out his hand. Mortimer’s new roommate was a very tall and muscular man. He had dark black hair with a bit of white in it. Mortimer guessed that he might be older. The man had harsh features, his face was worn and hard looking, and his knuckles were full of callouses.
The man finally met Mortimer’s gaze, but his eyes seemed to be looking through Mortimer as if he was of no consequence. The stranger showed no sense of recognition whatsoever. Mortimer tried again, repeating his words slowly so that the man had time to comprehend. Perhaps he still had drugs in his system and was just a little slow on the uptake.
The stranger neither took Mortimer’s hand, not acknowledged his words. Instead, he moved forward just short of pushing Mortimer to the side. He rambled forward, his feet sluggish but deliberate as he made his way to the water. He fell to his knees, taking several big gulps of water. When he finished, he rose back up.
Mortimer kept a respectful distance, watching the man as he walked. It seemed like he was getting a feel for the surroundings in much the same way that Mortimer when he had first gotten there. However, if he had any questions, it irritated Mortimer that he wouldn’t ask him.
Mortimer once again moved to block the man’s movements. The man looked up at Mortimer, a look of irritation clearly on his face. Mortimer pointed very deliberately to himself and gave his name. He then pointed at the stranger. If that wasn’t clear enough for the man, he didn’t know what he could do.
“Grug frug drug dug frug grug.” The man said although it came out more like a shout.
Mortimer demanded that he repeat that. Maybe Mortimer had heard him wrong.
“Grug lug grug gug grug!” The man seemed angry now. He put out a hand and pushed Mortimer out of his way.
Mortimer fell down to the ground scratching his arm in the process. He glared up at the man, but he was already ignoring Mortimer and walking on, completing his circuit around the cage. This man didn’t speak any language Mortimer had ever heard before. It went beyond foreign. Mortimer could handle someone who spoke another language. They could always learn each other’s ways. However, this man acted as foreign and as strange as any of the aliens outside. What kind of creature had these aliens put him in with?
He looked like Mortimer, but he was most definitely not someone Mortimer could relate to. The stranger stopped suddenly and sat down near the door. Mortimer realized that the two trays of food were now sitting in front of the door. Mortimer had been so concerned about his new friend, he hadn’t been thinking about breakfast.
The stranger shoved food into his mouth like an animal. Each bite was barely chewed before he shoveled in another. He snorted as he ate, his mouth open and his lips smacking at each bite. Mortimer tried not to stare because it quickly made him lose his own appetite.
When the man finished, he belched, then stood up again. Mortimer went to grab his own plate, and to his mortification, he realized that his new roommate had consumed both of their plates of food. The stranger moved over to Mortimer’s carefully made straw bed and flopped down on top of it. Mortimer’s eyes widened in outrage. That was his bed!
Before he could even say a word he heard the snoring of his new roommate. This had to be a mistake. There was some kind of mistake. Mortimer pondered that question as the crowds began to come. There weren’t nearly as many of them today as on certain days. However, it seemed worse because Mortimer had nowhere he could hide. His hay pile, his refuge, was now being lied on by the behemoth of a man.
He decided that he would call the man Grug. That was, after all, what the man had said his name was. After staring hatefully at Grug’s snoring back for a few hours, Mortimer finally decided that he should probably give the man another chance.
After all, he had just woken up from being drugged. He’d probably be a little hungry. Mortimer himself hadn’t been all that hungry anyway. Grug would undoubtedly be very tired from the drugs as well. This began to make Mortimer feel a little better.
He put aside his anxiety and worry from this morning. He would make this work out with his new companion. He had to make it work out. The person might be speaking something Mortimer didn’t recognize, but it couldn’t be that different from Mortimer’s own language, could it?
Eventually, the sleeping giant woke up and began pacing around the room. As soon as he left the hay pile, Mortimer dived into it for some much-needed privacy. It felt good, even for a moment, to have those eyes off of him. His stomach groaned, and as the day wore on he found himself becoming increasingly hungry.
He finally came out of his pile awhile before he knew the food would come. He could not have Grug thinking that both of the plates were his and eating Mortimer’s again. He would have to set him straight when the time came. Grug seemed to be noticing the large groups of aliens outside. To Mortimer’s dismay, Grug’s extra movements and the fact that he was not hiding under straw like Mortimer increased the number of spectators.
Grug seemed to think that the spectators were funny. He would move his head to the side, and the spectator’s eyes would follow. He’d open his mouth, and some of the spectators would open their mouth. Mortimer was amazed by all of this. In a way, it was like he could control the spectators. He was able to lead them by the nose simply by interacting with them.
Grug took a step back, and his foot caught on one of the smaller tires. He fell back, landing on his butt. The group of aliens went wild, making a cacophony of heckling sounds that Mortimer had long since determined was their equivalent of laughing. Grug stood and in a swift motion, kicked the tire. It flew forward and hit the glass. The laughing was cut short and replaced with a shrill scream.
Then the laughing started to come back, although it felt more strained that it had before. Grug had made them all nervous. Although, it seemed like Grug found this to be immensely satisfying. He let out a long roar of laughter. He went to another tire and shoved it forward and it fell up against the glass. Some of the aliens clapped their hands together. This only seemed to encourage Grug.
He threw another tire, and then another. The more motions he made, the more people came to watch his performance. Mortimer hadn’t realized he had walked so close to the show until Grug’s glance suddenly fell on him. Mortimer took a step back at the feral, excited look in Grug’s eyes. Grug ran forward and grabbed Mortimer, and without another thought threw him. Mortimer stumbled forward and fell face first into a tire.
There was more heckling laughter and more clapping. Grug reached forward and grabbed Mortimer again, picking him up and throwing him again. This time, Mortimer didn’t hit a tire. He landed hard on the ground, his knees getting scrapped and his head striking the concrete floor. Mortimer decided that trying to get up again was a bad idea. He felt like a mouse being played with by a cat. Perhaps if he played dead, Grug would leave him alone. He didn’t.
Grug continued to toss Mortimer around, scrapping and bruising him with each fall. Mortimer tried to fight back, but he was terrified of the bigger man. What was he going to do? Grug wasn’t even angry or intentionally trying to hurt Mortimer. What if that were to suddenly change? The crowds eventually began to break away and Grug seemed to get bored, finally giving Mortimer some peace.
By the time the food was distributed, Mortimer was starving. He moved up to his plate, but before he could pick up a bite, Grug was there. He shoved Mortimer aside, grabbed both plates and began to stuff his face much like this morning. He acted like he hadn’t eaten in forever. Mortimer tried to reach to grab a piece, but the man growled, his mood turning foul in an instant. Mortimer retreated to the other side of the room.
When Grug was done, he walked up to the stream and began to piss directly into it. Mortimer cringed at that. He drank from that part of the stream. It was on the same level as the pump. When Grug finished, he collapsed back on to Mortimer’s straw bed. Mortimer looked down at the plates. Grug had left some red mushy stuff that he must not have liked.
Mortimer watched Grug carefully, and once he was sure Grug was asleep he ate the remaining leftovers. Tears Mortimer had long since thought were dried up began to fall once again. Mortimer had thought that things couldn’t get any worse. Mortimer had been wrong.