It’s been a while since we’ve seen anything new from Oz. This is a small update, but even a little step is one step closer to the end. That’s a good thing, right?
“Wake up, little one,” Noriko coos. Her voice is soft and gentle even as she nudges Oscar’s side. He opens his eyes and sits up to stare out at her. The glass front wall of his doll room is gone. Only her big smile remains to wall him in.
“Good morning, sweet baby,” she greets him. She can barely contain her squeak of delight as Oscar rubs sleepily at his eyes.
When he stands, he’s right in front of her, looking up. She always has food for him in the morning, and it’s usually fresh fruit. He likes the food, even if he doesn’t like being her doll.
He has to remind himself. He doesn’t like being her doll.
“Are you hungry?” she asks. He nods. It makes her smile again.
A hand looms in his vision and Oscar shudders, but has nowhere to run and hide. She pats his messy hair down with one fingertip in a gentle, caring motion. It’s not the worst. Oscar knows to let her, and the motion will be over with sooner.
Her fingertip trails back and Oscar’s heart skips a beat. As it approaches his shoulders, he opens his mouth to ask her not to touch his back. She can’t or he’ll-
A wave of pain twinged down Oscar’s back as he woke with a start. A muffled squeak escaped his throat and he slowly came out of the weird dream. His surroundings were darker, not as colorful. He lay on his front, because lying on his back was still agonizing.
After nearly two weeks, his burns hadn’t healed yet. The human that gave them to him came once a day to check on him and sometimes applied new bandages. Other than that, Oscar was kept alone in his own small cage.
Something about already being conditioned. They didn’t want him to talk to others of his own kind, lest they influence him. Oscar never was sure what that could mean. They’d still all be trapped.
He heaved a sigh and winced. Even the simple movement of his torso from breathing agitated his sensitive skin. He couldn’t tell if he was getting used to the pain or if it was lessening by the day.
Whatever the answer, Oscar had woken thirsty. He glanced across his cage where a plastic dish of water waited. Several inches separated him from it.
He shifted, clenching his jaw as he did. With the same care he’d grown used to, he scooted himself off the folded cloth that was his bed. Cold metal touched his bare front, but he didn’t mind. Crawling like this was the best way to keep from moving too much and hurting his back. It was almost soothing to feel something other than the sharp sensation over his back.
Oscar didn’t pay much mind to the world beyond his cage. Only the front was uncovered, and it didn’t offer a very interesting view, only a nightmare room with dingy lighting and more cages on shelves.
It was kind of like his old doll room in a way, except not as comfortable.
No cage is comfortable, he reminded himself. Not even Noriko could dress up a cage enough to be anything but a trap.
Oscar reached the water and propped himself up next to it the best he could so he could scoop some out. It soothed his throat, despite being the same temperature as the room. That, at least, was nothing new.
There were footsteps somewhere in the hall. A human approached. Oscar closed his eyes and sighed. They might leave him be. They might. If not, he was ready. His nightmares never got better, but he at least knew what to expect.