(WP) Unexpected Voices

(WP) Unexpected Voices

               It all
started with the whispers. She had no idea where they’d come from, this strange
chorus inside of her head.

               They
took me from my children and locked me inside of a cage.

               My
young are dead, and I am barely alive.

               She’d
begun to think she had cracked, but that all changed when Minerva took her kids
to the zoo. Hand in hand with her daughter and son, they eagerly explored. Safiya
and Virgil squabbled good-naturedly. She wanted to see the elephants first, but
Virgil was adamant that they go see the new wolf pups.

               “They
might not be out, sweetheart,” Minnie said, running her fingers over his hair. “They’re
tiny, they might not have even opened their eyes yet,” “So let’s go see the
elephants!” Safi said, one hand on her hip. Virgil frowned up at Minnie, his
bright green eyes sparkling in a way that told her he was on the verge of
tears. “Could we at least go check, Mommy?” He asked, and she nodded.

               Safi pouted,
but she returned to her place at Virgil’s side, slipping her hand into his.

               Relieved
they’d found a solution, albeit one that didn’t please everyone, Minnie and the
kids walked toward the wolf enclosure, which was in a little old-frontier style
trading post. The cool dark was a shock, after such bright sunshine. Virgil ran
forward, pressing his face close to the window. Safi followed, though she
stayed a few steps back.

               Minnie’s
eyes were drawn to the cavern that served as the wolves’ den, and she gasped
when she realized that one of them was staring right at her, bright blue eyes
hiding something she couldn’t read.

               Then
the voice in her mind spoke, endlessly sad and impossible to ignore.

               They
took us from the mountains and put us here. To replenish our numbers, they
said. We have forgotten the taste of fresh air, and of hunts and fresh kill,
blood speckling our faces.

               Minnie
gasped in horror, but her children were too absorbed in watching the animals to
pay any attention. Who did they think they were? These animals were beings
worthy of respect, and it was all she could do not to gag on sobs. Freedom
stolen and blood spilled, all in the name of supposed conservation.

               Minnie
was soon brought back to herself when Virgil tugged lightly on her hands. “Mommy,
I think the babies are in there,” He said, pointing to the black that stood
behind the animals. She nodded absently.

               “Can we
please go see the elephants now?” Safi asked, stomping her foot.

               “Yes,
Safiya, just a second.” Minnie said, frowning at her daughter.

               She
nodded in response to Virgil’s statement, unable to tear her eyes from the
wolves.

               She
wasn’t cracked at all; Minnie was beginning to realize that she had somehow
gained the ability to understand animal language. How was this possible? What
did it all mean?

               This
stuff only happened in the pages of comic books, and Minnie was certain that
those weren’t real.

               But she
could not deny or ignore the voice inside her head. This was her blessing and
her curse, and she was going to do something with it.

               **