Life is like maze: Filled with dead-ends and only one exit.

We spend our time searching for it only to find new things to baffle us. Ironic. A maze is what I'd like to describe the place Mike and I are stuck in right now.

I'd rather not be lost in one either .Loss...the word itself is frustrating to me.

It's terrible thing to deal with alone and it can happen in so many ways; Lose your home, lose your family-"To weep is to make less the depth of grief". I understand that now, to be honest I'm more fortunate then othersit's something I've grown to notice over time at least.

"Who's a guy gotta to beat up to get some sustenance around here?!" A monkey exclaimed his cries echoed in the building.

Many of the inhabitants ignore him as they continue to eat their food. In response to the outburst a raccoon cowered in the corner of our 'lunch area' from what I've seen he sits there all the time clutching his chest—I've seen him holding a phone on occasion but he pulls away if anybody gets close to him. Others animals try to help but the guy but he just stays there motionless. It's sad really.

I Placed a half eaten carrot on the ground, then I sliced it to bite sized pieces for Mike the mouse with my claws. He eats it wholeheartedly and gives me a thumbs up. Unfortunately my kindness doesn't go unnoticed as a monkey makes his way to me and my friend in this... warehouse? Yea, I'll go with that considering I haven't seen the outside of this place since I got here—Months agoand the humans that bought and brought us here don't visit often.

I've only seen them in my cage in the wee hours of the morning once—If only to bring food for us so we don't starve or...do the natural thing. Don't get me wrong were animals; we need to survive but we're all in the same situation we don't need to add the thought of being food on the list of problems. However, this guy is off to me, It's been quiet since I've been here. No one has caused an outburst like this. The monkey that shouted at the top his lungs was quiet before, even talked to the various animals here...Then some of them started to disappear. Rumor has it around here that animals that leave their cages get snatched up and eaten...I doubt the monkey can take a bite out of anyone here but those missing animals have to be taken somewhere.

Regardless he's mean mugging me and my friend. Great. Another pointless fight over something so trivial, I'd rather someone of equal strength and smarts. I scratched the back of my left ear:

"Why are you giving your rations to some poor rodent? It's pointless he's food." I smiled briefly. I knew how this would turn out anyway, might as well have some fun with him. Give him a taste of snark.

"He's an inhabitant of this dump. He deserves food as much as anyone here and he's so small he won't eat much. Plus, I've had my fill of carrots and peanut butter." It's a rarity to even get meat around here, the humans treat us once in while, but it's far from consistent. May also say that's It's great to have a deeper voice, but I've barely grown not that I mind.

The Monkey snorted. "Freaking smart-ass"

"Better being smart than an ass like you." Mike said under his breath.

"What?!" Damn it mike. Do I always have to cover for you?

"Better than being lost in Timbuktu" I quickly added.

"That—What even is that?" He rose an eyebrow.

"Ask bear-butt over there." Mike pointed to me.

"It's a city in a desert." I replied. Huh, history information was useful for once.

"If only I could desert this place right now." Mike paused and looked at him annoyed. I chuckled for a moment. Hey, gotta get your laughs somewhere. Even if it's a terrible joke.

"Cheeky monkey." Mike replied bitterly.

"I try," He smiled genuinely. "Look I know your both are new here, but I've been here for a while..."

"You want to show us the ropes? Make example of me or something? The list goes on." I've been in similar situations like these. I've been thrown around like property at this point so this situation is common. But he suddenly got quiet? Odd.

He pulled his arm back ready to punch and swung at me. I caught it causally. The simian pulled away while he turned his head cautiously. I shrugged and turned my head away from him, option two it is. He doesn't seem like he wants to fight, so I relax and close my eyes—Till hear a thud beside me. He was on the ground with animal's tail around his neck. A Yellow Mongoose grabbed him. He was out cold from the looks of it. It was about 9 inches tall, but slender, it had purple eyes.

"Aren't you a ray of sunshine." Mike smiled, Let it be know that irony never left the mouse, but it also seemed to go over his head. At least one thing hasn't changed.

"Malcolm wishes to see you." She spoke in a calm demeanor, her voice sounded honeyed but her expression didn't change. It was like an employee addressing a customer, In that case she must have been a bouncer then. "I'll show him to you right now. Don't lag behind me … ' She turned head slightly. 'or I'll drag you there."

A bitter smile crossed her lips as she walked forward pulling the unconscious monkey by his neck. We both looked at each other dubiously. We shrugged and followed her. To be honest this obviously felt like a trap, but who are we to just decline her "invitation." Seemed fun right?

It was there I realized...Things were about to get unsanitary-

Present

The black bear sat there silent as he watched his inhabitants eat their respective meals. On the right was the Mongoose that led him here. Eating some lettuce and stray bugs that crawled into the plate. All while still holding the monkey there but he was starting to move, at least he wasn't dead.

On the left was a Jackal with brown fur and a jet black back that matched his paws. A visible scar could be seen across his forehead it was shaped like a crescent moon as he gobbled up his food from the floor. Bits of meat could be seen on the dog's face. It was at this point the bear had to say something:

"Y-You brought me here of all places?" He asked dubiously.

"This wasn't what I expected." Mike frowned.

The mongoose looked up at him with her purple coloured eyes. "What's wrong?"

The jackal smacked his lips as he tore into the meat. "Five stars, right?" The bear scratched the back of his left ear.

"That's putting it mildly. Because when I think ominous meetings, the best place to hold one isn't a BATHROOM!" He held his hands out for emphasis. Mike nodded in agreement.

But none of the other occupants seem to care. The jackal smiled cockily, his voice sounded smoky and mocking. "Sorry, we expected you bring some cheese here, since you brought the finest whine."

"Tch. That's was so much of a stretch I think you pulled my leg. hehehe" The bear chuckled softly.

Clyde glanced at the bear. "At I'm at least pulling something, Tali couldn't even pull someone sensible to the dinner table." The bear pointed to the tile floor they ate on. "Better than nothing." He went back to eating.

The bear gave a playful smirk. "I don't think you can table this conversation. Let alone be able to see the problem here. Ey pooch?"

The Jackal stopped and looked at the bear dubiously. "Really?" He gave an annoyed expression, but then it turned into a wry smile. "The lack of a table, should leave you able, to grasp the situation at hand. Regardless of this little fable we got going on here."

Mike groaned louder. "Stop. It's bad enough I gotta hear these from you now this guy is joining in?"

"It's about as sharp as the dullest knife. it's not even that clever or charming" Tali chimed in.

"Charming? You pulled a monkey here by his neck." The jackal added "What couldn't bring a date here willingly?"

The bear chuckled jovially, Oh boy, here comes the pain-

"To be honest, I'm still waiting for yours?" She responded with a smirk on her face. The jackal looked down frustrated, at the same time the guests tried to covered their mouth before they burst out laughing, the monkey included.

"Clyde, Tali..." A voice spoke above them. It came from a top of the toilet, a small polar bear sat on the seat. He had a glass of red liquid in his hands as he watched them converse. The sound it self had a monotone to it. It had a baritone to it as it filled the room.

"So your Malcolm? Unless there's someone else behind that toilet I should know about?" The black bear said as he tilted his head. Mike chuckled softly, Malcolm narrowed his brow at the little mouse but made no effort to acknowledge his presence.

"I've brought you here to offer you a proposition. My associates and I provide a service for the inhabitants: We provide safety to the animals here and stop those who wish to cause problems."

That explains the silence aside from television on the create near my cage. I need to watch more wrestling, oh wait—the sopranos should be on. The black bear thought.

"We bring order in this unorganized cage we live in. We have a limited supply of food that the humans stored here. As such we need to ration out our food accordingly so that everyone can eat without complications..."

"So no one eats each other?" Mike responded as Malcolm nodded his head.

"I need someone like your friend protecting everyone here as well as something else.' He growled ' the humans need us to… fight other animals to gain money." There was hint of bitterness in his voice as he scowled, but also something else. "We fight, they get more money and thus more food for us." He licked his lips.

"Any catches I should be aware about?" The black bear stated knowingly.

"I need to test your worth." Malcolm gave a sinisterly toothy grin as he hoped off the toilet seat. He cracked his knuckles and got into a fighting stance, his paws were open and claws ready. The black bear grinned in response with albeit a wry smile, not malicious but a fun-loving one. The others moved out of the way of their leader. "May I ask what your name is? "

"Fighter, Pleased to meet you."

"Really?" Clyde responded he shaking his head in disbelief.

"Yes my name is Fighter, what'cha you expect my name to be Brun the bear or something?" He gave the Jackal a dismissive look.

The jackal rolled it eyes and the mongoose watched intently as the two began to spar.

….

The fight between the two mammals was one of attrition no definitive blows were made against the two combatants, Fighter was testing the polar bear as well. Most of his attempts were dodged or parried by the polar bear. Malcolm upon closer inspection had a more unkempt look to him. His muzzle had a scratch going down his mouth while interestingly his right eye had was lighter than his left eye which was a serene blue. If he didn't know any better he say he was blind in that eye.

The onlookers watched them.

"They're both formidable." Tali had a small smile hidden, it seemed she enjoyed the display.

I wish he wasn't playing with him… Kid shouldn't be taking him lightly. Mike worried.

Fighter wanted to test something mid bout. He dodged a blow that was aimed at his head and struck the polar bear in his blind spot. Malcolm smiled grimly as he nonchalantly tucked his body to the side and grabbed him by his neck, both of his arms just under his arms. He struggled to get out the hold, it seemed that grappling was the bear strong suit considering the strong grip he had on him. His arms were made useless but he had another way of getting out. He slammed the back of head against Malcolm he recoiled back smiling.

"Enjoying yourself? Can't complain here." He said

"A little, but it's still very predictable." The polar smacked his lips and wiped the blood from his nose..

Malcolm stepped forward and with a wild swing, Fighter dodge it with little effort, but what he didn't notice was the his leg that followed. He used the momentum to swiftly land a blow on his head. Fighter gritted his teeth as his mind went blank for a moment. "And that's.." He didn't get to finish his sentence: His opponent was still conscious.

Malcolm eyes widened briefly before he slashed forward aiming for his neck. But just before it could reach Fighter landed a blow directly in his gut, twisting his fist for added power. Malcolm gave a pained smile, blood dripping from his lips. He rubbed his them with his paws.

"Goood. That is what we need tomorrow."

Fighter spat to the side and shook his head. "Question, snowy".

"Don't...Call me that".

"Right. How many am I fighting?" The polar bear walked away from his opponent toward the monkey, not bothering to answer. "Get in your cage before it locks you out," He placed his arms behind as back while looking at monkey on the ground.

"Now leave—To kill or to be killed...was there even a choice?"

All of them left the room without a word to the polar bear: Tali spoke first as Clyde left them sulking away with his stubby tail.

"Stay alive out there." She was about to walk away from the two as voice called out from the bathroom.

Tali a word. She growled before walking back into the room.

Mike sighed relieved. "Did you have to go easy on him? For Pete sake, it looked like he would've killed you at any moment!"

Fighter nodded. He noticed the last move he made. "Let's just get some sleep."

The two made their way to their cage to sleep of today's trial.

...

In the lunch area, A single animal was left, a brown raccoon, he held his chest as he looked down forlorn at the object he held in his hand. If any was there to gaze at his animal he'd look lost. He stood up and walked to toward the bathroom area.