A short story by Eamonn Gosney
(An EPUB copy of Snowy from Feedbooks — handy to read on your smartphone)
Hello, my name is Snowy -- I'm a white rabbit. Home is this cramped steel-mesh cage here inside Test Centre 47, my big glaringly-lit world. I've never been outside to frolic on the lawns, this sterile and forlorn room is all I've ever known. Hot and cold don't exist for me, the one air-conditioned temperature is all I've ever experienced throughout my whole life. I'm in a cage by myself, alone. I have no playmate to roll around and have fun with. Since I was born and taken from my mother, I've never touched or felt another of my kind. It would be nice to rub noses with my friends, but I'm not able to do so, the wire of my cage is all I have. I can only dream of the warmth of another bunny.
I don't feel very good about this place. It gives me the creeps being here constantly in this dismal room. I'm expected to lie in this lousy cage all day, doing nothing except feel sorry for myself. What sort of a miserable life is that? It's unnatural for rabbits to live such a hellish existence. A rabbit's life should be spent hopping around outside in the sunshine, in nature with the other animals. This prison is not the place for a sentient creature to be. I'm sick of it. I want out. I WANT TO BE FREE!
But sometimes (I think to myself whilst here on my own) if things are really that bad. For my human captors feed me, don't they? Lovely carrots and lettuce leaves. They also keep my little home clean. And it's not as if I'm in this cage all the time. Every few weeks they release me. They let me out — but only to then restrain me in a wretched contraption so I can pay for my snacks. And these delicacies don't come cheap, I cough up dearly for them. I'm a working rabbit, you see.
"What job could a cute little ol' bunny do?"
It's my eyes; I have prized pink ones. They're very sensitive, especially to irritating chemicals. What happened was a researcher called Draize discovered this back in 1944 whilst experimenting on my great, great, great uncle: Bugsy Bright Eyes. And ever since, we Draize Test rabbits, have been copping an eyeful at every opportunity.
It works like this: you humans like safe shampoos, safe soaps, safe face creams, safe eye shadow, safe eyelash cosmetics and the like, don't you? Well, we poor bunnies, have our eyes sacrificed so you can enjoy these nice harmless products. Us rabbits are immobilized in clamps for seven days straight. Our week starts when the substance to be tested is dripped into our lower eyelid. Thankfully, this only happens to one eye. The other is left clear, to serve as a control; for comparison. Then, for the rest of the week, we wriggle and squirm around in agony, whilst our human captors monitor us. Making an assessment: like whether or not our corneas have gone opaque; the degree of inflammation we have near our irises; by how much our conjunctive membranes have swollen up. We rabbits are specifically chosen for this torture because — not being able to blink — we can't wash the chemicals away with our tears.
Talk about pain. God almighty... IT'S DAMN WELL EXCRUCIATING! AGONY! TERRIBLE!.
I hate my job; it's the pits. But what can I do? I dream of escape, but how? Any chance of breaking free is hopeless; impossible. It's a horrid life. Horrific, I tell you — ABSOLUTELY AWFUL! Imagine having sand rubbed in your eyes for a whole week and you not being able to clean it out. This is an idea for you of how it feels. Only it's WORSE than this. It's seven long days of harrowing physical abuse. Please think of me next time you paint on that luscious red lipstick of yours.
And it's not as if there's only me here either, my friends are under restraint too. Restrained nearby, experiencing the same ghastliness. Usually six of us being subjected to a matching diabolical abomination, all pain-crazed, agonizing and suffering in a row. We try to be brave, be plucky, be courageous for each other and not squeal in terror so much. But it's most onerous to just sit back and take the unremitting distress; to try and shut out the pain and suffer in silence. Utterly oppressive, it is. We get given a number from 0 to 110 for the degree of irritancy our eye has suffered. Above 60 can be especially vile. Sometimes our eyes swell; puff-up and bleed, and many of my friends have been completely blinded. Please think of us next time you apply your mascara.
At the end of the week, our keeper unshackles us from the clamps, and it's back into the cages for us. What relief; what reprieve; what heaven. You'd think we'd be full of hatred and animosity toward our human captors after this. We're not, we just grin and bare our never-ending ordeal. Endure our demonically-assigned task, carry our cross without complaint. Not that we're able to complain, of course. Just have a few weeks off work to convalesce as best we can, allow our swollen eyes to mend, and it's back into the barbarity boxes for us, yet again. For a repeat of this infernal evil. Please think of my poor friends and I next time you reach for that fancy perfume you like to dab on yourself. Consider for just a moment, the anguish, the torment, the nightmares, the devilish horror involved to produce each and every bottleful.
No doubt — after reading of my pitiful existence — one or two of you humans out there (with an ounce of heart) will be feeling sorry for me. Well, I have a confession to make. My name hasn't always been Snowy, and I haven't always been a furry little four-legged creature. Last life I worked for the Glamor Cosmetics Corporation, in one of their experimental laboratories as a vivisectionist. My name back then was Doctor John H. Draize.
Image credit: canstockphoto.com
Copyright © 2000 Eamonn Gosney — All Rights Reserved
Other Short Stories by Eamonn:
The Two Angels (2003) | The Two Angels (2003) EPUB format
Gazers (2003) | Gazers (2003) EPUB format