“Caged In,” by Adam Millard

Dec 20th, 2017 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

We sat, seven of us, in a room with surgical white walls, and for the first time since arriving I felt discomfited. Being an addict is one thing, but being addicted to… to the thing that each of us present were addicted to, well, it was just plain embarrassing. Alcohol, drugs, sex, all were preferable addictions. The sooner this madness was over with, the better.

“Okay,” said the moderator, an amiable enough fellow by the name of Sprocket. He looked like the kind of guy that danced to Olly Murs when no one was looking. In other words, he couldn’t be trusted as far as he could be thrown. “Who wants to go first?”

We all looked at each other, hoping someone volunteered. The woman sitting directly opposite me pretended to faint, as if that might somehow get her out of it. She wasn’t very convincing, and a few seconds later sat back up straight and cleared her throat.

“Come on,” Sprocket said, “we’re all here for the same thing. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. The hardest part is coming through that door.” He pointed to the door in question, and to be truthful it wasn’t much to look at. Nice handle, lovely bit of Blu-Tack on the inside, but apart from that it was unremarkable. “Plus, we’ve only got half-an-hour. The karate club wants to get in here by eight, and I’ve got to shift all these chairs.”

I wished I’d never come now; I could have been at home, eating butter and drinking food colouring. I hadn’t done my weekly big shop yet, so snacks were a bit thin on the ground.

“You!” Sprocket said, thrusting a finger in my general direction. It wasn’t even his finger, something he must have quickly realised as he tucked it back into his coat pocket. “Um, yes, what’s your name again?”

“Memphis,” I said. “Memphis Raines.” And everyone around the room cheered, I felt silly, almost regretted switching from Toby Smythe by deed poll a little over five years ago. But that’s what being an addict is. It’s doing things you wouldn’t normally do, not if you were in your right mind, as the black Shelby GT500 parked out front proved.

“Well, Mr. Raines, why don’t you get us started?”

There was a collective sigh of relief, and also a squeak from somewhere about my person. I didn’t want to do this, be the first one to admit I suffered from this debilitating illness, but I knew there was no point arguing with Sprocket. Best to just stand up, say my piece, sit down, and shut up.

“Okay,” said I, rising slowly from my chair. All eyes were on me. The door opened a crack and a little man in a white karategi poked his head around, apologised profusely, and disappeared again. He didn’t really disappear; it’s never wise to mix up your karate masters and your ninjas.

“In your own time,” Sprocket said, but in a tone which suggested I’d ought to get a wriggle on.

I cleared my throat, wiped the sweat from my brow, loosened my tie, and said, “My name’s Memphis Raines, and I’m addicted to Nicolas Cage movies.”

“Hello, Memphis!” everyone said in haunting unison. A couple of people applauded, until Sprocket held up his hands to silence them.

“Please continue,” said the moderator, settling back in his chair and throwing one leg over the other.

“Well,” I said. “Up until last night I was having a good week. I’d managed to limit my intake to just a couple of Face/Offs and a half-an-hour of Con Air. For some reason, last night it all went wrong. I… I don’t know what came over me—maybe stress at work, or the fact I haven’t heard from my wife in almost twenty-five years—whatever the reason, it’s no excuse for such a bad relapse.” I hung my head in shame, all at once aware that the room was deafeningly quiet.

“We’re here for you, Memphis,” Sprocket said.

I dry-swallowed and lifted my head once again. “Last night,” I said, “I watched The Wicker Man all the way through.”

There were hisses of disapproval, and someone—I think it was the fainting woman—threw a stuffed Con Air rabbit at me.

“Hey!” I said. “I thought we were all in this together? So, I like all Nicolas Cage movies, even the awful ones.” But I knew why they were all so disappointed with me, could understand their rage. If Leaving Las Vegas was the best crack cocaine money could buy, The Wicker Man was a dirty needle, riddled with AIDS and syphilis and all the letters of hepatitis you could think of. I had relapsed in the most grotesque way imaginable, and it would take weeks for me to climb out of the hole I had created for myself.

“Are you having withdrawal symptoms today?” Sprocket asked, rubbing at his chin in that way therapists do when they’re trying to appear interested.

“I… I took the edge off this morning with a National Treasure marathon, but…” I collapsed back into my chair, sobbing like a baby and blowing bubbles of snot from my nose, which I’d had altered, made crooked, so that it looked just like my hero’s. “I’m a disgrace!” I cried. “I keep thinking of him, up in that burning giant, peppered with bee stings! Oh, the humanity! Oh, please, I need help!”

“Have you finished yet?” asked the karate man from the door. He seemed eager to kick some kids about the chops.

“Five minutes,” Sprocket told him, but I was already up on my feet, wiping the tears from my eyes and making for the exit.

“I can’t do this anymore,” I said. I was in denial, for who was I to think that there was a cure for what I had? Who was I to deny myself the simple pleasure of Nicolas Cage?

I said my goodbyes, and was gone in 60 seconds.


Adam Millard is the author of twenty-six novels, twelve novellas, and more than two hundred short stories, which can be found in various collections, magazines, and anthologies. Probably best known for his post-apocalyptic and comedy-horror fiction, Adam also writes fantasy/horror for children, as well as bizarro fiction for several publishers. His work has recently been translated for the German market.

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