Author : Summer Batton

“Oh look! They have grass ‘n water ’n little huts, too!” squealed the little girl as she ran to press her face against the glass and get a closer look.

“Milly, get back here!” demanded the Nurturer with a click of her tongue. “Don’t scare them. They won’t show themselves if you frighten them away.”

“Do you see ’em?” asked Milly, ignoring the command. Her eyes scoured the dimly lit grasslands that lay beyond the 2 inch glass wall. The glass seemed to slide into a stone slab on either side which formed into the tunnel through which all the tourist could pass by with their brochures and sticky treats to see the exhibit. The cage was illuminated by a greenish-blue light that gave Milly spots in her vision. A hand-painted sign to the right read: “Feeding Times: ⅜ Ω, ⅞ Ω, and ⅝ Ω”

“Nothing visible yet,” said the Nurturer. She turned to a lengthy paragraph in her brochure scouring it. “It says here that they are shy creatures that don’t like excitement…easily scared…and mostly inactive, even during the height of the outer lights.”

“Do they even let ’em out to see the outer lights?” Milly asked as she pushed harder against the glass and gazed up at the stone ceiling which appeared to be all part of the same walls, floor, and background.

“I don’t imagine they care about the outer lights. I’ve heard they don’t much like anything except eating and sleeping and are rarely awake long enough to notice anything except just that,” murmured the Nurturer who seemed to forget herself momentarily and pressed her own face against the glass hoping for a glimpse.

They both stood there for several minutes as if trying to summon the animals from their hiding through mind control. Presently, the Nurturer shook herself and said sharply, “Come, Milly. We’ll have to see other animals. They aren’t going to come out.”

“Awww, but this is why we came,” whined Milly, “it’s the most—”

There was a rustling behind her—even through the glass plate, Milly heard the distant sound of an ancient bamboo door climb up on its hinges and she croak open. Both Milly and the Nurturer waited—their breath momentarily ceased to fog up the glass.

Slowly, out he came; out on all fours—his belly swinging down low in between. He had a coarse brown hair growing around his head, in between his nose and mouth, and down his chin. He was naked except for several clay-colored smudges on his mane from where he’s slept. He descended down to a small stream that was herded through the grass by fake-looking rocks. Upon arriving at the water’s edge, he lowered himself again into a laying position and let his foot and tongue dangle into the water. His eyes closed again.

“Wow,” said Milly, “so that’s a Homo Sapien?”

“Apparently,” returned the other, “that’s it.”

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