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The Menagerie

I’m trying to get back into the habit of writing things, especially with this blog. As part of that, I’m posting a short story (more a piece of flash fiction really) fr0m a few years ago.

There’s a story to it: it was a dare from a friend, I had half an hour and had to include five words (god knows what they were looking back now, but if there’s anything in there that seems weird, it’s an attempt to include these words.) If you think it’s shit…well, that’s because I wrote it in half an hour, but even looking back on it now, I’m not that disappointed.

Whatever they’d done in here, the place was in uproar. It was like Hell had opened up its bloody vagina, birthing evil itself into the world.

Okay, perhaps she didn’t need to be quite so dramatic, but she would’ve been lucky to get out of here alive.

She held the monkey close, its lithe arms clinging around her neck. Its grip was tighter than she thought possible, its feet curled under itself, pressed against her breasts.

“We’ll get out of her, little guy, don’t you worry.”

Sometime soon, she might even convince herself.

Holding it closer, something brushed her cheek: the hair on top of his head was matted. Blood. She hoped it was her own and not his…then regretted thinking it.

His? She wasn’t even sure if it was a male, and at this stage, she sure as hell wasn’t going to check. But she couldn’t keep calling him…couldn’t keep calling it a him, or little guy.

Somehow, it just came into her head. ‘Darcy.’ It covered it all, male, female and everywhere in between. And her head started reeling with Darcys. Reading “Pride and Prejudice” in school; her first Smashing Pumpkins concert; that…date (she spat the word in her mind) with Neil, the first time she’d let him…

But no, she couldn’t think about that now. Her goal was to get out of here, to get him…Darcy out of here. Alive, if possible. Though she didn’t know how possible it would be…

“Last bloody time I come to the zoo,” she said to nobody in particular. Darcy’s head nuzzled closer into her: the crust was definite blood. Her hand wrapped around…him protectively, stroking his head, only then realising that it was her blood, running from under her cheek. Now that she was aware of it, she licked her lips and tasted it: it was metallic, it always tasted that way, something like drinking cheap cola from a cheaper can.

It seemed to come from nowhere, a slap across the back of her head, and god, it hurt. Felt like a fish. She turned, looked down, realised it was, her eyes drawn upwards.

It was there, on the rocky crevice, lit from underneath by the flames. Gutting the whales had set their blubber throughout the lake, easily set aflame by the stray cigarette sparks. The fire set an eerie glow on its face, the white of its chest in stark contrast to its black sides and wings and the shadowy background. Turning, she knew she had to move now, or they’d never get out alive.

In her way, there was another one.

“Goddamn fucking penguins.” The brains of the whole operations. They’d fucked it all up. They’d killed Neil…not that she was complaining.

Just…there was no way out now, no way out except to fight. Or else she could give up the prize. She’d become attached to Darcy in their short…minutes together. There was something comforting about his warm orange fur pressed against her face and her arm.

She didn’t want to do it, but it was the only way. It was the scientists’ job to create these things: they were all dead now, and that was where she came into play. It was her job to end it all. For the good of all mankind.

A cross of genetics and technology was never meant to happen. Not like this. Living, breathing weapons of mass destruction. They’d thought it was so goddamn funny calling the zoo Wildlife Made Docile, so wrapped up in their own intelligence they never thought what would happen if it all went wrong.

No. When.

“I’m sorry, Darcy, it’s the only way.” She pulled her head back from his, causing them both some pain. The blood had crusted over his hair, and the movement had pulled skin and hair alike.

She closed her eyes, raising her hand once more as if to cradle the monkey’s head. He leaned into her, nuzzling her hand as she held its head tight. Fuck, as far as she was concerned, it was a he, she didn’t care anymore.

Something stung the cut in her cheek. She hoped it was sweat and smoke from the fires. She didn’t get paid to be emotional.

Somewhere in her wrist, she felt the click as Darcy’s fragile neck snapped with little more than a flick. It was over. It was all over now.

His body began to grow warm, the start of the process. She couldn’t let it go, couldn’t bring herself to run, wouldn’t have gotten far even if she could.

There’s nowhere you can run from an atomic bomb, especially not when it’s been given legs and arms. She hoped someone remembered that next time they tried to fuck with nature.

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