A Mirage

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A simple idea which I had a wee while ago during a visit to a zoo. I hope to build on this short story so any comments or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Submitted: July 23, 2012

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Submitted: July 23, 2012

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Hearts leapt at the sound of the deafening howl from within the pen, exploding from the speakers in a cascade of fear and anger. The new visitors huddled together in a nervous mass while the experienced few stood away laughing and mocking. A few ignorant children screamed in terror and one burst into tears causing a few resounding growls as the great beast leapt upon a rock to bare its glistening white teeth. It dropped from the rock on its usual winding route before emitting a low rumbling in the visitor’s direction, eyes burning with oppressed hunger.

Once calm was restored and the performance over the guide smiled a plastic smile and delivered her scripted speech as the beast retreated into a darkened corner. ‘Now this here was the fearsome Bengal Tiger, one of the greatest hunters in the wild...,’ as the children listened and watched in awe the parents observed in a mixture of amusement and boredom, the adrenalin had worn off and many itched to move on for their next kick. As the speech ended the tour moved on. Lights dimmed and the beast vanished from sight not a single visitor looked back.

The guide led the group out into a sunlit pathway enveloped in wire mesh, for protection they were told with a grin stirring some scattered laughter. On cue a chorus of rapturous crying erupted from above. From the trees high above swung apes and monkeys of all sizes had appeared. The wire mesh ended and the group entered into a courtyard surrounded by trees on all sides.  Climbing and peering from behind bushes the monkeys threw unintelligible insults the way of the visitors. Children moved close to their parents for fear of being carried off in the trees, a threat whispered in the ear by winking adults.

  Stepping in front of the greatest tree the guide delivered yet another speech.

  As one of the monkeys dropped to the leaf strewn floor it flickered momentarily before vanishing completely. Moments later the rest had followed amidst gasps from the children. Calls, cackles and monkey laughter still remained playing through the speakers, hidden in the undergrowth, eerie among empty trees.

  Children gasped. Parents glared at the guide who scurried off for a maintenance door. ‘Daddy, where did the monkeys go??’ Trouser legs were pulled and a few more tears were spent. The illusion was fading fast.

After a few moments of anger and talk of definite reimbursement amongst the adults, who were oblivious to the trauma stricken children who desperately wanted to know where the monkeys had gone, the error was fixed. Without missing a step the monkeys flickered back into life. The particular monkey which had been scurrying across the floor moments before was now scaling to the top of a twenty foot tree.

One of the sharper youngsters looked up at her father, eyes shining with fresh sadness, ‘are those monkeys... real daddy?’ She whispered in a fearful tone. But the question was left unanswered as the guide return to a torrent of abuse and demands for the return of their paper money.

Meanwhile the monkeys leapt through the trees calling and laughing to one another as they had done day after day, year after year, until the switch was finally flicked off.

Sean Mowbray


© Copyright 2017 SeanMow. All rights reserved.

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