A horror short written by Kate Bowyer
Walking at the back of the crowd my heart raced with anticipation. I tried to control my breathing as I remembered how long it took me to save up to buy this exclusive ticket. Now, moving through this place I find myself both dreading what I’ll witness and thrilled at the same time.
Following the group up a ramp I heard them first, for the crowd before me created a wall so I could not see them.
Long growls turned to slow moving moans, followed by high pitched whining. The same grotesque noises tumbled out one after another and I thought I would have to disengage myself from the display. As I moved between the bodies to finally see what I paid so dearly for, the clouds broke apart, and long slender rays of sun washed over the scene. I watched as they all turned to soak in the heat with eyes closed. It was quiet.
Trying to watch all of them at once, I spied one who opened his eyes and slunk back into the shadows. Unblinking, he never took his eyes off of me as he moved backwards in a crawl. The pale watery blue eyes spoke clearly of a tortured soul who was trapped, not only in layers of skin but behind the steel cold bars of the enclosure.
I had heard that the caged ones knew how to talk, or at least they did at one point, but captivity brought back the animal instincts in them. Their language was all but lost. Only a few, held in the dark places beneath The Exhibition, could still communicate. Now the ones on display simply make noises from their throats and bare chests. The breeze brought the strong stench of body odor mixed with feces and landed squarely on us travelers.
I’m lucky enough to be here at feeding time. I was worried that I would not be able to see the spectacle. The Keepers opened up the side door of the cage and slid bowl after bowl across the slick floor. They went wild. Pushing and shoving and some even holding back the small ones to get to the food. I was fascinated to see how a few grabbed more then one bowl for themselves. I’d heard about their need to be greedy, but thought those were myths.
I was shocked to see, one who I had thought greedy, bring bowls of food to his Gathering or what they use to call Family. A female and two smaller people huddled together waiting patiently, squatting to make themselves appear smaller. I’ll have to ask the Observer why they make themselves so small.
Using fingers, food was shoveled into their mouths. They wiped their faces with the back of their hands. Once the feeding was over many laid together while the clouds moved back in causing a drop in temperature.
Stepping back from the chipped guard rail I took notice of the plaque hanging on the wall, it read From European Descent. The droning commentary of the Observer came shouting back at me. I had lost all track of the voice while staring at them in the cage and now the group of travelers were moving on to the next set of extinct caged animals.
I trailed after them wondering how long before we end up behind bars.
The world is an ever changing place and who says as humans we’ll always be ‘top dog’? We humans have a lot of faults and a lot of compassion and I wanted to touch on both in this flash fiction.
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