's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Charlie "

Submitted by Irene Vallone

My captors have left me for the night. Normally, their horrible artificial night lulls me to sleep almost immediately, but tonight rest eludes me. Tonight, I can collect my thoughts for the first time in many years.

I have lived in this cage for as long as I can remember. I have faint memories of a life before, with others of my kind, but my captivity is taking its toll on my mind. My memory fails me now. All I remember for certain is years of imprisonment in this horrible cage.

My cell is unbearably small, barely large enough for someone half my size. My captors do not care. My suffering seems to delight them. They nearly press their massive faces against the bars as they watch me languish here, their faces contorting into horrible death-mask expressions. Their huge fingers squirm and prod at me, and their skin is vile and oily. They are disgusting.

They have granted me a number of simple devices in an attempt to keep me amused, and they provide me an adequate supply of food -- nothing delicious, but not stomach-turning, and enough for me to survive. Perhaps they think that these inane provisions make up for what they have done to me.

They have crippled me. Not only mentally, but physically. I am barely able to move anymore. Unable to handle my physical expressions of rebellion, they had my limbs trimmed down to a more manageable size. Unable to move freely, I can now only shuffle across my cage.

The worst of their tortures is a far more insidious act, however. They were not content to cripple me, or to lock me away in this cage. No, they were not content until they took my words away, and replaced them with their own.

I can scarcely remember any of my own language anymore. Whatever memories I had of it have been lost, scattered to the winds of time that have eroded my mind during my lifetime in this cage. I am an empty shell now.

All I can do now is repeat. Whenever my captors speak to me, grotesque sounds oozing forth from their rubbery mouths, I repeat them. This is my final act of defiance against them. I have nothing else left.

They are unfazed by my rebellion. If anything, they seem to take a perverse pleasure in it. They command me to speak for them, barrage me with horrid strings of words in their rounded, mouthy language, and I am forced to say what they desire.

Even in my dreams, in the artificial night of this cage, I hear their voices.

"Want a cracker, Charlie? Charlie want a cracker? Say 'want a cracker.' Good boy! Good boy."