Flash Fiction / Writing

Caged by L.A. Murphy

January 31st 3015

“But Daddy, you promised!”

“Not now Ming Wai!”

I attempt to cry out again but I’met with a swift smack to the back of the head. Not Father, but Grandma. She glared at me, lips pursed, wrinkles making her mouth look like a butt hole. Her permed hair sits on top of her head, barely moving, just lightly tremoring as she tries to contain her anger. Father sees her glaring at me and something in his face softens.

“Ok, we can go. But only for 5 minutes!”

I can’t contain my excitement! I start to skip happily, bobbing my head from side to side and whistling my favourite tune. Grandma hisses for me to come back to her side. I do as I’m told. She speaks to me, her accented English nowhere near as good as mine or Father’s.

“Why you go to these places all the time! Make you unwell! Make you sick! Then me have to make many tea for all of you!”

I stare at her in defiance. Father said yes, so that means yes. Her once tanned skin is now more a putrid yellow. Although I would never dare to admit it to anyone but myself, I hate her. She’s the one who makes me sick, not the people I like to see. No not people, Father says I mustn’t call them people. He never gave me a replacement word so it’s hard to know what to say really.

We head for the underground train. I love it down there. We step onto the escalators, we three generations heading to my favourite place in the whole of Hong Kong. Father says that we must not forget our manners and we must take off our shoes when we arrive. I reach down to loosen my shoe laces, Grandma smacks me again.

“Not here! Foolish girl! You lose me have to buy more!”

Father pretends not to notice until I ask him a question.

“Daddy! Tell me again about the…the…the caged people.”

“Remember Ming Wai, they’re not people like you and me.”

“I know, I know. But tell me again!”

Grandma doesn’t try to hide her disapproval. She pretends to turn around but she only does it so she can push me into carriage wall. Father bends down and scoops me up.

“Well, years and years ago, there were a lot more of them in Hong Kong…”

“Too many! Come here, steal money, make noise!” Grandma turns on her heel and faces the doors.

“As I was saying, that was a long time ago. They lived in a big, big country and they lived everywhere.”

“Then what happened?”

“Well, then our big country got so big, we needed the space they had. So we took it. We went up first. Into Russia, then over to the rest of a big place called Europe.”

“Then what happened?”

“Then we renamed everything. Instead of lots of little places, we now have one big place, China Europa. Slowly but surely, the people left. Now we’re so big, and there are so many of us, we take up a lot of space.”

“And America?”

“America’s still there. But after the big war, you know, the one Grandpa died in, well after that, America is pretty much desolate.”

“Why you tell her these things?! Aiyah! Child is going to be too curious! Not good for girl!”

I snarl Grandma. I only ever do it if I’m safe with Father. I know I’ll pay for it later but it’s worth it.

“And so the people in the cages, where do they come from?”

“Well, they are what was left behind. It gives us a good chance to see what the world used to be like, and teaches us a lesson; never let material become more important than blood.”

I never understand what he means by this. How can material ever be more important than blood? With no blood I’d die. That’s what Mother once told me. We’re here. Huge building surround us and excitement stirs inside me and I see the big sign. K-TOWN. We enter the building closest to us and Father pays the man some money for all three of us to go into the elevator. I hit the number 5 and we fly up to the floor. The doors open and run out to the left, Grandma tries to catch my arm but I’m too fast. I see a big, silver gate. I go straight to it. I press my face to the cold metal as hard as I can.

The people inside are pale, pinkish really. They have dark hair and the most peculiar eyes. Blue, hazel, sometimes even green. There are three of them. Two men and one woman. She has long, golden hair, her legs are on show and she wears a black vest. She’s eating some food from a bowl with a big metal spoon. It’s all so fascinating. The only other spoon I’ve ever seen is the one we use to scoop up rice, but that’s small, angled and made of clay. She stares at me for a moment, then smiles, flashing shiny white teeth. One of the men is on the couch. He has a very big belly, not at all like my Father’s. He lifts a metal tube and I hear it click, he puts it to his mouth and gulps down whatever’s inside. He lets out a loud belch when he’s finished. Father does that too sometimes. The other man is sat on the floor, he’s much younger and is holding some sort of black rectangle. Every time he pushes it,the lights on the box in front of him change. I once asked if I could have one, but Father and Mother said reading is much better for me. It looks like fun.

Their cage is huge with lots of nice things. At least I think they’re nice. Mother always told me they’re the materials I shouldn’t want. I’d give a little bit of blood if I could have the flashing box. I’m lost in my thoughts when I feel a vice grip on my arm. It hurts so much I cry out. Grandma spins me around and lashes out on my legs.

“Stupid girl! No run off!” She hits me again.

Father scoops me up and holds me tight. Grandma has butt hole lips again but I’m crying too hard to look at them. I don’t want to leave but I know not to speak out now.

“Come! Me get sick here! All go home. Granny make tea.”


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