A Rattled Cage

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
FICTION!

Cover image: Pixabay

Submitted: April 22, 2019

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Submitted: April 22, 2019

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A Rattled Cage

The panther had long become used to the size of her cage. There would be no escaping from it, no existing outside of it. This small enclosure represented the life that was hers. She was fed, and occasionally she was gawped at, gaped at, treated with curiosity; that was okay, she did her own observations.

Human beings were peculiar creatures. Generally they seemed to mix together, get along together, or ignore each other, but occasionally there would emerge a couple that thought they were superior to all the others. Over the years she had noticed a few girls behave in such a way but generally it was boys; the ‘big boys’, the ‘bully boys’.

She would watch them as they would push and shove the others. Generally the smaller ones were picked on the most, primarily young girls. They would be pushed, shoved, insulted, until they left for home. Boys were fair game too, so long as they were not big enough to fight back. The bigger ones, she noted, were always left alone. Not only that, but there was a marked improvement in their behavior whenever those capable of dishing out similar anti-social behavior were around.

The panther knew what would happen. Wasn’t it always what happened, year upon year. They’d eventually not be able to resist it, the temptation to approach and to rattle her cage. She was in no hurry, had plenty of time and patience.

The two this year were obvious, as though somehow bearing a mark on their foreheads. One was cool, aloof, held himself proud and upright while he gave out the orders to his companion. The second one might have been as tall, but he was clearly not ‘top dog’. He was like the pitbull, held under control until commanded to attack.

The panther watched and waited, as they picked on the less confident, the smaller, the younger; those less capable of defending themselves. As they grew nearer and nearer to her cage she licked her lips.

Then came the long stick to poke her with, to prod her skin. She knew just where to sit, out of reach of that pathetic piece of wood. Oh, the pitbull got madder and madder as all his attempts to reach her missed. In his anger he took hold of the bars and shook them, while the topdog stared at the large cat.

One thing cats are very skilled at is staring another down, even large cats like lions and tigers. Panthers are no exception. The one in charge, the leader, might have bristled but it was he who broke the gaze, looked away.

They would soon tire of trying to provoke a reaction, especially when their attempts were so puny and futile. That was when she would strike, would show the ‘big boys’ that they were not so big after all. For the pitbull, the lackey, the underdog, had, in rattling her cage, freed the bolt.

The panther knew that they, neither of them, were aware of what they had done. A shame in a way, but they would be just as tasty for all of that. Set free, she would dine well that night, and until the next year and the re-emergence of a new set of bullies, life would be so much easier for everyone.

She returned to her cage and nosed home the lock. The cage was her home, she was safe behind those bars, and content to observe life going on.


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