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You knew that monkeys can be tricky. They told you that enough times. But you being your curious self, you decided to sneak into the monkey cage at night. You know you’re smart: you’ve got your banana, your black clothes on in case something goes awry. You’ve even got your backup excuse: a piece of paper which shows you’re here to clean the cage. Just in case the night guard comes in.
The monkeys are all sleeping, but an eerie feeling crawls through your skin. Almost as if they’re actually awake. “But that’s stupid,” you tell yourself. “The monkeys are all asleep.”
The floor of the cage is slippery with stuff you don’t want to think about, and you trudge on, looking for what’s been on your mind since this morning. The human mind is an odd thing, you think. One small idea that you can’t get out of your head can get you to do the strangest things…like breaking into a monkey cage. You smile even though you just heard a faint crackling sound behind you. You push it away, thinking it was just a bug, or a monkey shifting its position in its sleep.
Paper, paper, where art thou? I’m looking for some white, so come out now! You know you should’ve pursued poetry. After all, it’s genius what you come up with on a regular basis.
You crinkle your nose as you search the cage in which a snake would feel claustrophobic. How the monkeys survive is a mystery, but you remind yourself that you’re not here to free the monkeys. Unfortunately, they must stay in their little cage as you must stay on your own path.
Then, you spot it. Crumpled up, it sticks out and you wonder how you could’ve missed it for this long. But then you walk up to it, and an arm curls around the paper, shielding it from view. That’s proof that people evolved from monkeys; we both enjoy playing with strange objects, and this paper is most certainly strange to this monkey. He is holding it against his chest as if it’s the most precious thing in the world.
You feel something trickling on your brow, and you slowly wipe the sweat away. The tight black clothes constrict your airway, the walls seem to be shrinking in towards you, the monkeys are awake-
You blink, and time stops once more. The smell from the animals hits you full force as you remember to breath, and you plug your nose, only to have the disgusting smell dance across your tongue. But if you move, the monkeys might wake up, and then you’ll lose your chance at whatever’s written on that confounded piece of paper. A thought appears; what if the writing’s so faded, or the paper’s ripped, that all this was for nothing? Or worse, what if it’s blank?
You push the thoughts away, letting your mind fill with the excitement of the search and the adrenaline. No thoughts of what might not be true, or what might just be your imagination.
Your hand reaches out as slow as your breathing, which is practically nonexistent by now. You force yourself to breathe in deeply and, ignoring the foul stench once more, you breathe out slowly. Just a bit closer, one more inch…there! The paper’s in your fingers, now you have to pull it out without waking the monkeys. You take a deep breathe once more, but almost vomit this time. Your grip on the paper falters for a moment, just as the monkey turns in its sleep…tearing the paper away from your grasp. Yet again, you must reach for it, with the same agonizing, teeth grinding slowness as before. The monkeys are asleep, but you still feel their eyes on you, judging you. Your hands reach for the paper, but once they latch on, the monkey’s fingers tighten around it, almost as if it can sense you attempting to steal its precious unknown object. You pull, and it merely strengthens its hold. Then your brilliant mind decides to attempt petting the monkey in order for it to relax; you let your fingers dance over the matted, bug-infested fur, and the monkey’s fingers slowly relax.
The paper is yours. Like a ninja, you slip away into the darkness, through the family of monkeys and through the side door. I never want to see a monkey again, you think. The paper is in your hands, it’s tangible, and you can feel it almost throbbing along with your heart beat. The light of the moon guides your hands as they unravel the slightly torn, crumpled piece of paper, only to find it reads Congratulations! You’ve completed your first dare. Now go make friends with some monkeys!