WEP June 2019 – Caged Bird

This story about Dinara and her pet shop, Rendezvous Pets, on the Rendezvous Space Station is my entry for the June 2019 WEP Challenge. Dinara’s shop offers pet daycare and grooming for the citizens of Rendezvous and its many visitors, humans and aliens.
Coco molted overnight; his brilliant lilac plumage all strewn across the floor of his cage. Instead, dull brown down covered him from his tall fuzzy crest to his scaled feet. Even his voice changed: from the high-pitched melodic song to a low croak. He croaked now, demanding food.

“What am I going to tell your owner?” Dinara asked aloud, eyeing the bird with dismay. “She’s coming for you today. She didn’t tell me you’re going to molt. Are you sick?” She didn’t know enough about the species, and the owner’s instructions were sketchy at best. She poured seeds into his feeder, but Coco just screeched louder and ignored his food.

Cursing under her breath, Dinara searched the station net on her com-link for the information about Rubius native birds. It appeared, Rubius parrots always molted when they entered the third stage of their life cycles, the fusion stage. Coco was going to grow to three times its current size and develop horns. He was also going to need fresh protein, a kilo of meat every day. The fusion parrots were carnivorous predators and fierce hunters, one of the biggest avian species on Rubius.

“Drat!” Dinara stared at the com-link screen in horror. Her emotion was well-justified. When the owner came for Coco later and learned about the bird’s new fusion state, she refused to take him back.

“I’m a vegetarian,” the woman cried. “I can’t have a carnivore as a pet. And he is so ugly now.”

Coco screamed at her and mantled his wings. Then he attacked the metal bars of the cage with his formidable beak. The cage held, but the woman flinched and bolted.

“You can have him,” she tossed from the doorway before disappearing into the station corridor.

“Can’t you force her to take him back,” Manie asked from the aquarium she was cleaning. Manie was Dinara’s cousin, a designer at the local theatre, but she worked part-time for Dinara’s business, Rendezvous Pets. “Some legal action, maybe.”

“No,” Dinara said gloomily. “My contract doesn’t specify it. But it will. From now on. What am I going to do with Coco? I don’t have a cage as big as he is going to need. He’ll be the size of a five-year-old child. He needs to fly.”

“Oh-oh.” Manie ducked back behind the aquarium, but Dinara heard her sniggering. “Send him back to Rubius.”

“Argh!” Dinara said, which prompted another indignant cackling from Coco. “Oh, shut up, you overgrown chicken,” she muttered and hit the station net again, looking for a solution. “I don’t have enough money to send a live cargo all the way to Rubius.”

Two hours later, she had a plan. “We are going to submit Coco to an art contest on Rubius.” she announced.

“What?” Manie said. “I’m done with the aquarium. Do you need me anymore?”

“Yes. I want  you to make an art installation out of Coco and his cage. I just fed him vat protein laced with sedative. He should be asleep soon, and it will last for twelve hours. The ship is leaving for Rubius tonight. Could you go and get some art supplies?”

Manie stared at Dinara. Then she transferred her gaze to the parrot’s cage. “Ye-e-es,” she said slowly. “I suppose. But what will happen, when he wakes up?”

“He’ll start screaming and demanding food, but that won’t be my problem. It will be his owner’s problem.”

“But she is not here to submit her art,” Manie argued.

“I have all her contact info and her payment info. And her visual print. It’s all in my files, and she hasn’t cancelled it yet. I’m going to submit the art online on her behalf, in her name, and deliver the cage to the ship by a drone.”

“The ship crew would be furious, when Coco wakes up.”

“Not with me,” Dinara said. “That woman shouldn’t have left him with me. It’s her bird. It’s her cage. It’ll be her account to pay the contest fee. With her visual print for confirmation. Please, make art, Manie. You’re the designer here. I’ll just fill out the submission forms.”

She opened the contest page and started carefully transferring all the information from Coco’s owner’s contract with her to the contest’s application.

Manie wasn’t done with her objections. “When Coco wakes up, the ship will charge the living cargo rates.”

“Not me. Not my problem,” Dinara repeated firmly.

“Okay,” Manie said at last. “I need to go home to bring my supplies.”

“Hurry,” Dinara said absently.

She liked Manie’s masterpiece. With one ugly sleeping bird, one snatch of golden cloth, and all the feathers Coco had shed this morning, Manie created a true work of art. The cage glittered with a multitude of tiny stars encrusted with mirror fragments.

“Excellent!” she commended her cousin. “You’re so talented.”

“I know.” Manie grinned, as she took one snapshot after another of the Coco’s transformed cage. “I really like what I’ve done. Unfortunately, when Coco wakes up, he’ll ruin it all.”

“Har!” Dinara said darkly. She packed the cage into a padded transport box. With air holes. “Let’s go to the central drone station,” she said and lugged the heavy box after her on a floating pallet. “I don’t want to call a drone to the shop’s address.”

“You know, Coco’s owner might sue you,” Manie remarked, while they waited for the drone.

“How?” Dinara shrugged. “By her contract with me, Coco was in my shop until tonight. If after that, she took him, made an art installation, and sent him to the contest, I had nothing to do with it. She’ll have trouble proving otherwise, and even if she does, I’m not responsible for this bird. She is. Coco’s pet license is in her name.”

“You’re devious,” Manie said. They both watched the drone speeding away. “I guess she deserves it. For abandoning him like that.”

“I guess she does,” Dinara said. “Poor Coco. I hope they’ll release him to the wild on Rubius.”

This entry was posted in Olga Godim, WEP and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to WEP June 2019 – Caged Bird

  1. Poor Coco indeed. A caged bird (let alone an unwanted caged bird) always yanks on my heart strings. They are meant to fly free.

  2. Denise Covey says:

    I found this so sad Olga. No matter how annoying Coco was or what ominous things would happen during this cycle, I think it was a harsh fate for the poor caged bird. I agree with Maria. Dinara is devious.
    Will will find out what happens when Coco wakes up? Could be very funny to see the stars and mirror bits flying.
    You really encapsulate the theme of ‘caged bird.’ Love these Rendevouz Pet stories.

  3. patgarcia says:

    I thought this was so funny. Why? Because Dinara found a way to make the woman take over her responsibility of taking care of Coco. Maybe, it is my weird sense of humor, but I don’t you did an excellent job of bringing humour into your story.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

  4. Jemi Fraser says:

    Oh, Dinara!!! Devious indeed!! A fun way to get some revenge on a horrid pet owner!
    I hope Coco can fly free when he reaches Rubius!!

  5. Yes, Dinara is devious. I didn’t see her solution coming. And like the others, I hope Coco will fly free.

  6. A tragic and relatable tale, of how pets are frequently abandoned when they grow larger than their owners thought they would. Unable to go back into the cage, their owners bought for them. Well done, Olga.

  7. rolandclarke says:

    Brilliant, humourous and sad. I pray Coco the Rubius parrot is released at the end of his artistic career. I’m wondering if Dinara was left with any other solution. Any owner abandoning any pet deserves to pay.

  8. Cara H says:

    I hope that Coco is released and has a wonderful life ahead of him. His owner sucks.
    The owner reminds me of the sort of people who will get an obligate carnivore such as a cat for a pet and then feed it a vegan diet. These people make me furious. Vegan diets are lacking in taurine, an amino acid which cats need a lot of. A cat can go blind from lack of taurine in their diet. If one does not want to feed their pet meat, one should opt for a pet which is a natural herbivore, such as a rabbit.
    Cie from Team Netherworld

    • rolandclarke says:

      Totally agree about diet. When I was a vegetarian, I ensured that my Golden Retriever was fed properly – I even forced myself to cut up the fresh meat for him.

  9. lgkeltner says:

    I love these stories so much! That owner truly does deserve this little piece of revenge for abandoning her pet like that. Dinara is brilliantly devious. I would never want to get on her bad side. Excellent work!

  10. hilarymb says:

    Hi Olga – I thought was a great story … loved it and it’s good to know it’s part of a sequel and we’ll read more. You’re clever … such fun to read … lilac feathers … and using a drone to transport … I hope we get to know what happens next – brilliant – cheers Hilary

  11. Clever girl! That was an awesome, hilarious story of abandonment, and revenge. So many interesting things can happen in a pet day care.

  12. Pat Hatt says:

    haha came up with a great plan. Poor Coco got the short end of the stick, but hopefully will fly free while the owner gets hers.

  13. Let us hope the employees of the ship where Coco will wake are merciful. Interesting story and well written.

  14. Nilanjana Bose says:

    I never understand why people abandon pets at the first hint of illness or when they stop being cute, why take them on if they’re not willing to take responsibility? You’ve tackled a serious subject with humour and sensitivity. I always admire those who weave the diverse prompts together into one story. Kudos.

  15. This was great reading, an excellent take on the prompt.

  16. Beth Camp says:

    Oh, I want more! Will there be another installment? Dinari and Manie transform Coco into art, illusion, beauty. But when Coco wakes up? Another story. There’s that dark thread that calls for blood, echoed by threads of revenge, abandonment, and a coming transformation that bodes well for no one. I hope you develop this story . . . it’s lovely. Well-told. Stays in my mind.

  17. lissa says:

    Poor Coco and yet, I don’t find Dinara at all bad at sending him off like that. Perhaps, Coco will have his freedom after the contest.

    Have a lovely day.

  18. Tyrean Martinson says:

    I wasn’t a big fan of Dinara’s actions, but I understood her decision – if she had provided the crew with enough food and water for the bird until they go to where they were going. Sure, the bird was the owner’s problem, but I still feel for the bird.

  19. Kalpana says:

    Poor Coco! Dinara was in quite a quandary and the owner was really wicked to abandon her pet like that. Despite my distaste of her actions, I know, from volunteering at shelters that this isn;’t unusual at all. Lovely story Olga.

  20. Why do people only want pets when they are cute or beautiful? Doesn’t seem fair on the poor bird.

  21. jlennidorner says:

    I feel for Coco. I hope it works out!
    A very interesting solution to the problem.
    Good work with the story.

  22. Bernadette Braganza says:

    Haha, what a smart idea. I hope Dinara remembers to make that change in her contracts from now on.

  23. Rebecca Douglass says:

    So glad to see another installment from the pet shop! I do hope that Coco gets to fly free where he belongs, and that woman who took him on without paying attention to his life cycle deserves to get the bill. Too many heedless people who want a puppy or a kitten, but not a dog or a cat. Coco is just an extreme case 😀

  24. Toi Thomas says:

    Another great installment for Dinara. I feel bad for Coco but I understand Dinara doing what she did. Hope everyone got what they deserved in the end.

  25. cleemckenzie says:

    Rubius better let that bird go! I’m pulling for him to be free. I hate to see animals in cages. I especially hate to see birds in cages. Very nice contribution to this month’s contest. I enjoyed reading it.

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