It’s the last alphabet for Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Had some trouble finding a topic for Z but here it is at last. A little story based on one of my favourite places, a zoo. Enjoy!

“Did you hear what happened to Chang?” Susie asked as she stirred the pot of soup.

“Yes, heard Cyril talking about it to his assistant this morning,” David answered without looking up from the hand drawn map slotted between the newspapers.

“Why couldn’t he wait for another month? Doesn’t he know that the anti-viral serum would be ready by then?” she whispered.

“I told him that but I guessed he got impatient.”

Susie took the pot off the heat, stared at the steam rising as if looking for answers in the vapour. “Min must be devastated, and the kids, they were so close to their dad. Gosh!”

“Be patient. It’s going to happen really soon,” David said under his breath, not meeting Susie’s eyes.

Just then, there was a thud at the back door. David looked up from his map and Susie’s hand holding the scoop, stopped in mid-air for a second before she dipped it into the soup.

“The trash is full, I’ll empty it for you,” David said. Susie nodded.

With the black trash bag in one hand, David walked out the back door and deposited it in a large bin at the corner of the yard. On his way back in, he discreetly reached down to retrieve a small remote control toy car and hid it under his jacket. He headed straight to the bathroom, turned up the heater and undressed.

As soon as the camera lens at the corner of the bathroom fogged up, David quickly dismantled the toy car and retrieved a tiny piece of rolled-up paper. He face lighted up as he finished reading the message.

Ten minutes later, David came out from the bathroom, fresh-faced and smiling. He went over to Susie who was setting the table for dinner, cupped her face in his hands and kissed her gently.

“Serum is ready. Plan in motion as we discussed,” another kiss on her lips, “which means we will be leaving in two days.”

Susie hugged David tighter, her lips locked even deeper into his; the scent of lavender on his skin, a whiff of freedom.

“I’ll call the kids in for dinner,” she said happily after they separated.

There was a spring in her steps but Susie tried to tame her leaping heart as she did not want any of the cameras in the room to catch any abnormalities in her behaviour.

“Carl, Jenny, time for dinner,” Susie called from the front door as she looked beyond the gates.

The steel bar enclosure loomed overhead. Similar structures were neighbouring theirs with a single house in each cage. Guards consisting mostly of chimpanzees and orang utans were patrolling the perimeter of each cage, keeping a watchful eye on each exhibit at the human zoo.

Her lips lifted a little at the thought of freedom. It had been two decades since the virus almost wiped out humanity and turned animals into intelligent beings. She had forgotten how it felt like to be watching from the outside of the cage.

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