Flash Fiction — “The Zoo”

I wrote this for a Friday Rapid Writing exercise at Julie Loden’s writing blog / forum.  The rules were to keep it under 500 words (mine is 499) and the theme is “zoo”.  I liked it so much I thought I’d preserve it on my blog and share it with my readers.

The Zoo

“Welcome to the night predators special exhibit, ladies and gentlemen. We’re so lucky to have this exhibit on loan to us from the Smithsonian. We do have a few rules we need to go over first if I could have everyone’s attention.” Marian paused and beckoned the visitors in with a well-practiced and elegant gesture.

The crowd huddled closer to listen; expressions of fear, excitement, curiosity and wonder adorned their faces.

“Okay first, we ask that you not tap on the glass since the creatures sleep during the day and we don’t want to disturb them. If by chance, one should wake up, do not under any circumstances make eye contact. We have them sealed in a safe environment, both for your and their safety, but they are capable of some nasty tricks if we don’t watch them very closely. So, before we start, does anyone have any questions?”

A man in his late twenties raised his hand then began speaking after Marian pointed to him. “How old are they?”

Marian turned to look at the two creatures curled around each other in slumber then back at the crowd. “The male, Lester, we think is about three hundred years old, based on paperwork we’ve been able to find. His mate, Anne, is much younger, just under one hundred.”

Audible gasps and murmurs filled the room and Marian smiled then pointed to a woman holding up her hand.

“What do they do in the evening, and is the zoo planning on having any night exhibits?”

“Excellent question. Lester and Anne usually interact with each other in the evening. Sometimes they pace around the cell and inspect it, no doubt looking for a means of escape.” She chuckled and scanned the crowd then moved her hands in a “calm down” gesture and continued, “but don’t worry, don’t worry. We inspect the cells everyday too. They won’t escape. And no, we don’t currently plan on having a night exhibit.”

“Why not?” rang out the voice of a teenager near the back.

“They don’t like it,” Marian said thumbing over her shoulder. “It agitates them and they try to intimidate the visitors.”

Heads nodded in agreement. Near the front an elderly woman said to her companion, “I don’t think I’d want to see them moving around, acting human-like. Gives me the creeps just looking at them now.”

Marian winked at the woman and smiled. “So if there are no other questions about the vampires, let’s move on to the were-panthers.”

The crowd slowly shifted to another corner of the exhibit area.

Inside the cell, Lester whispered to Anne, “I counted fifteen this time, mostly O positives, but I did detect an AB negative in the group. His name is Cal Wittington, lives at seventeen Pine Avenue.”

“I do love a good AB negative. After we hit the zookeepers, then Marian, we’ll visit Mr. Wittington, then the rest on our list. How much longer do you think?” Anne said as she snuggled closer.

“Soon, my darling, soon.”