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Scifi sunday's presents "Jack the Hamster" by d e bartley

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Jack the hamster had spent his whole life on a wheel,
in a cage, by the door of Room 17 in the Lotus Laboratories
building, constantly running. He never stopped, not even to
eat, since he was fed intravenously with a special protein mixture
Running was all he knew. The world was changing all around him, other hamsters in the room with him, had come and gone. Jack hadn’t noticed. He hadn’t noticed the many people who had walked in and out of the room in the days and months he had been there. Jack only knew the wheel, he’d run on it all day, and slept upon it at night.

Today life was going to change for Jack. It was 3:22 a.m. when the earthquake hit.
The building Jack was in,  was specifically designed to withstand such quakes, and it did,
but not without swaying a bit. First, Jack didn’t notice the movement, then quite suddenly
he felt the cage sliding and in an instant the cage which contained Jack was laying on its side on the floor of Room 17, with the door wide open. Jack dazed by the fall, tried to get back on the wheel. He couldn’t. His whole existence had been altered by this quasi-natural happening.

Jack stood motionless for several minutes trying to get his bearings while he stared out of the door of his cage, unsure of what to do, now that he was no longer running on the wheel.  He stepped toward the door and retreated trying to get as close to the broken wheel as he could. He felt his heart pounding in his chest. It suddenly occurred to him that he had never felt his heart pound before. He wasn’t even sure what was happening.


He felt quite odd. He realized he was very excited, his heart was pounding, and he was breathing hard this was something he never experienced before.

The lab door suddenly flew open. The burst of it frightened Jack so badly that he scurried from his cage and underneath a nearby table and hid behind a chair leg.

He looked out and saw a giant bending over and looking at the fallen cage. Then the giant’s eyes were darting around Tthe room in search of something. Frustrated, the giant picked up the cage and placed it back on the top of the counter near the door where it had rested before the tremor, and left the room.

Jack, now more courageous than before, decided to explore his surroundings and went about the room, here and there to see what was going on.

He looked at all the cages in the room, most of the cages contained hamsters like himself. They all seemed to be running on wheels  just like the one in his cage. Jack could see them running and running. He wondered why they didn’t just stop.

“Why don’t they just get off those wheels?” Jack thought.

Why didn’t he ever get off the wheel before now? Maybe
they didn’t know how. Jack wanted to tell them, but he couldn’t.
They were up too high on top of those counter tops. They wouldn’t be able to hear him.

“Hey!” Jack yelled. “hey you up there, can you hear
me?” “Hey! I’m down here, is anyone listening?” “Look I’m off the wheel!”

No one answered, to them, Jack was a non entity. Jack noticed a ramp and made the effort to climb up it. When he was high enough he started shouting at the top of his lungs. Some of the hamsters looked down at Jack, but continued running on their wheels.

“I must be crazy, trying to get them to listen to me.”Jack thought. He was happy any way.
Somewhere inside him there was a peacefulness. He no longer felt the urge to keep pace with the wheel.  He just wanted to live inside of his newly found peace.

“Is this what it’s all about?” He thought. “All
this time I’ve been running and going nowhere. I never
even realized until my cage fell. If it hadn’t fallen, I never would have known, and I’d have run on and on like the others, on a wheel going round and round, heading nowhere, forever.”

Suddenly the door burst open again. The giant entered the room. He spotted Jack, immediately retrieving the hamster into his large hands.  Jack was terrified.

“Now what?” He thought, as the giant inspected his tiny being. The giant then placed Jack back inside the cage that was once his home and onto the “dreadful” wheel. Jack just stood there motionless. The giant nudged his back.  Still he did not move. Perplexed, the giant rushed out of the room making harsh noises. Soon he returned with another giant.
They both were making those noises now.

One of the giants walked toward the cage with a large pointed object.

Jack was somewhat curious as to what the giant was going to do with the object. Suddenly he found out.  A tremendous pain seized his little body, and he could feel himself slipping away from it. His head started to spin,  his vision blurred until there was only darkness. He looked and before him, he could see a large white hamster. Fear surrounded him. The great hamster spoke.

“Jack, my son, I am here to welcome you.”

“Where am I?” Jack asked, feeling instantly calm upon hearing the great hamster’s voice.

“You’re off the wheel forever, Jack, you’re where you belong now, where there are no wheels.”

“There’s plenty of wheels back there.” Jack replied.

“Yes Jack, the giants love wheels. They think that
they can learn from them, they think they gain power by them. It’s their way of controlling
everyone, and harnessing the life force of everything.”

“Can they?” Jack quizzed.

“No, they can only learn by getting off them,
the way you did Jack.”

“Well, I was shaken from mine. Why don’t you
shake theirs?”

“We have been Jack, we’ve been shaking their
wheels for a very long time.”

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