Shalom, haverim! Today I’m participating in the weekly #BlogBattle writing challenge, where the host, Rachael Ritchley, gives a randomly chosen one-word prompt, every week. I’ve been following along for a while now, but this is the first time I’ve actually participated, with the word, “Menagerie.” I combined this with another prompt I received somewhere else, “Broken.”
A lot of the BlogBattlers participate weekly, which I most likely will not do as that might be overwhemingly often, but we shall see if I participate again after this.
Aaaanyways. Without further ado, my fantasy flash fiction piece,
A rustle of feathers.
Netra opened her eyes, slowly uncurling from her place at the back of the enclosure.
The Eagle was awake in the next cage.
Folding her ears back, she moved over to the bars, glancing around quickly. The Keeper wasn’t around. Good.
Netra stopped beside the bars, letting out a low whistle to get the Eagle’s attention.
The man looked up, his wings folding down even as his eyebrows raised.
He probably thought she was threatening him. Genius.
“You’re new.” He said, his voice low.
Netra hesitated before nodding. It felt like she had been here for a very long time, but she realized, now that she thought about it, she had probably only been here for a few days.
Eagle nodded, giving her a wry smile which was much more condescending than Netra would have liked. “Welcome to the menagerie.”
Menagerie. So that was the name of this place.
“They were faster than you, mm?”
Netra sat down, crossing her legs, and shrugged.
“Got a family?” Eagle asked, moving over toward the bars that separated them.
She nodded, almost imperceptibly. She had a pack, or at least she had before she came here. Who knew what the Keeper had done with them. If Netra wasn’t fast enough, there was no way they could be.
Netra straightened, eyebrows shooting up. Did she look old enough to have cubs?
Eagle dropped into a crouch. “Okay, then. No cubs.”
Netra sighed, frustration edging in. This bird was hopeless. Did he even care that they were trapped here, in cages, no less?
“… Can you… Not speak?” Eagle asked, his voice oddly subdued.
Netra wasn’t sure how to answer the question, when it was phrased like that. She shook her head.
Eagle gave a nervous laugh. “Was that no you can, or no you can’t?”
Netra just looked at him.
He cleared his throat. “Can you speak?”
Netra shook her head, once, abruptly.
“Ah. Well. I’m sorry.”
Netra shrugged, glancing around.
There were cages lining the walls, but the one on the other side of Netra’s was empty. She could see some kind of small scaly animal past that.
“So… If you can’t introduce yourself, what am I supposed to call you? Wolf?”
Netra was somewhat amused that he had chosen that, when she was mentally calling him Eagle.
She shrugged again, studying the bars. She hadn’t gotten much of a chance to study her enclosure in the past few days—or was it weeks?—that she had been here, with the Keeper there. He was always there. She wondered why he wasn’t there now.
“If you’re looking for the Keeper, he’s not here.”
Netra shot him a glare. She could tell that much.
“He’s only constantly here when there’s a new person coming in. He had to break you.”
Netra lay down on her back. She only remembered snatches of what went on. She knew for certain, though, that the Keeper was dangerous, and he was alpha around here.
Netra was not an alpha. She had never been an alpha, and in her pack, probably never would be. Not with the competition.
But here… A delta was high enough to challenge the alpha.
Netra looked over at Eagle, and he looked back.
Eagle wasn’t broken. He didn’t seem like it, anyway.
Netra wasn’t broken. The Keeper may have tried to break her to the menagerie, but she was stronger than he thought. It took more than a few days to break a wolf.
Netra took her wolf form, pacing around the cage until she came to the door. Locked, of course.
“Wait, Wolf. I know what you’re thinking, and it won’t work. He’s too strong.”
Netra gave him such a glare that he faltered. Was he broken, really?
“You’re strong,” Eagle said, “I can tell. But he’s too strong right now. You know how I know?”
She tilted her head at him. He lifted his arm to show a long scar. “I had to be broken more forcefully than most, not counting you. I took longer, though.” He paused, “Though I guess you weren’t broken, were you?”
Netra remembered the fear. Maybe she had been broken. She had woken up in a cowering stance.
But whatever had happened, she wasn’t broken now. She knew it.
“Wolf.” Eagle’s fierce tone caught her attention. She looked over at him.
“Wait, for a little while. We’re let out into the yard once a day. If you’re in, we can try and get out then. A few others will join. Okay?”
Netra growled. It wasn’t like her to wait. She didn’t like it. But if it would get her out of the menagerie, shouldn’t she go along with Eagle?
She turned toward him and nodded. She could wait.
But tomorrow, they would get out.
Netra was a delta—she wasn’t broken.