Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Work of Fiction #1--The Canary, Part One : The Animal House

"His name is Lucy."

"His name is Lucy?" Anthony asked, raising an eyebrow. The goblin nodded. "But that's a girl's name?"

"So it is," the goblin agreed, patting the canary on the top of the head. "Feel free to give him a new one if you'd like."

"How much is he?" Anthony questioned feeling inside his coat pockets for some pounds. "Something reasonable I hope."

The goblin looked him up and down, taking into account his appearance, his clothes, his hair, everything. "Are you sure you want this bird?" he asked, slowly. "Absolutely sure?"


"Then he's yours, free of charge."


Anthony's dad was under a lot of stress. So much so that he was beginning to tear his hair out. He was shedding all over the steering wheel on their drive to Ipswich from London early that morning, that Anthony was starting to worry.

He remembered a long time ago when he'd visit his grandparent's home in Ipswich, the tiny little zebra finch Henry, with its little grey and white body and orange beak, bobbing around in its silver wire cage like a silly fairy. He'd follow Anthony around the house all day like a puppy, and he'd laugh as the bird beeped and chirped at him, climbing all over his shoulders, hopping on top of his head, and ruffling his feathers.

After his grandmother passed, his grandfather gave Henry away to the neighbor children down the street. It broke Anthony's heart to see the little bird go. Even after his grandfather's numerous explanations, he could never really understand his reasoning behind getting rid of Henry. He was such a perfect tiny little guy. It was almost cruel.

Just recently Anthony's grandfather had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, and his father had to sell the house in London to take care of him in Ipswich. At the time Anthony didn't know how he felt about the situation. He loved his grandfather, of course he did, he was family, but no matter what, he always had that hole in his heart. The one that Henry left when he was taken away. For that, he resented his grandfather.

The thought of seeing his grandfather again brought back Anthony's memories of Henry. His father seemed to sense this in him. He knew that moving was hard for Anthony, and the resentment bestowed in his heart, like a black bug. That's why he offered Anthony a gift: a zebra finch of his very own.


Real Goblin by madeincg
Animal House was scrawled in red calligraphy across the sign hanging above the front door. A little eerie, Anthony had to admit, but he was willing to shrug it off, for the itch of possessing a zebra finch of his very own was almost more than he could bear.

A tiny bell tinkled over Anthony's head as he eased open the front door of the Animal House. Almost immediately a man appeared before him, grinning orange teeth, his dark leathery skin pulled tight across his face like a lizard. He wore lavish robes of brilliant turquoise draped around his gaunt shoulders. He looked like a goblin out of a fairy tale.

"Welcome to the Animal House," the goblin smirked. "You may call me Mr. Plancka."

"Right." Anthony hesitated. Where had the man come from? He appeared out of nowhere, almost as if he knew Anthony was coming.

The place was circular to his surprise, with a black and white checkered linoleum floor and a long hanging crystal chandelier. Large red castle bird cages lined the curved walls encasing the room in something familiar to a jail cell. Stacks of green bird feed bags lay piled on the counter, spilling seeds and peanuts onto the veiny polished marble. Anthony read the label composed into one of the green sacks: Bird Bait.

He got the strange sensation that he was standing in the middle of a giant chess board.


Anthony shoved his fists into his jeans and slowly walked farther into the store. The goblin, Plancka, watched him, a smile beginning to stretch across his lips. He made Anthony feel uncomfortable; uneasy.

A kind of static had started in his stomach as soon as the bell tinkled over his head. Now, he looked over his shoulder at the goblin, and the static surged inside him.

Birds, only birds.

Anthony looked for the corners of the store. Possibly there was a hamster tower or or puppy dog cage that might be hiding in the cracks. But there were no corners, no cracks, no crevices. Only smooth edges. Smooth edges lined with birds.

Curious? Where were the other animals?

"Erm, Mr--" Anthony turned around. The goblin stood very close to him. So close in fact that Anthony could smell his cologne. At least he thought it was cologne. Actually, it smelled kind of like the Head and Shoulders brand shampoo that his grandfather wore.

"Plancka." The goblin finished Anthony's sentence. "Just Plancka."

"Uh," Anthony scratched his head. "Where're the other--you know...the other animals?"

"Why? You're looking for a bird aren't you?" Plancka asked squinting at him with his golden goblin eyes.

"Well yeah, did you--"

"You're looking for a bird; I have many birds," Plancka interrupted.

"Do you have zebra finches then?" Anthony asked, ignoring the goblin's rudeness.

Plancka looked him up and down, as if what he'd said something bizarre. Anthony felt very uncomfortable.

"No," he said finally, rubbing his fingers across the leathery skin of his cheek.

"Are you sure?" Anthony asked, wilted. "Couldn't you look in the back or something."

"I only keep one bird in the back, boy. And he's no zebra finch."

Anthony was taken aback. He hadn't expected for there to really be any animal in the back. The thought made the static in his stomach ripple dangerously. What kind of person keeps a living creature hidden away like that.

"You mind if I have a look?" he asked, despising the goblin even more than he had before.

Plancka grinned, revealing his orange teeth. "Follow me," he said, and spun on his heel.

Anthony followed the goblin to the far side of the Animal House, past a row of humungous colored parrots and white cockatoos with spiky yellow sprouts atop their heads. They reached a blood red shower curtain that Anthony had not noticed upon arrival. Plancka paused in front of the curtain as if to take a final breath.

"Why's there no door here?' Anthony asked curiously.

"Broke," Plancka said. "Shattered; split to bits. Nothing left but a pile of pencil shavings."

"What happened?"


"Huh." There was the static, fizzing in Anthony's stomach, popping and smacking like lighting. What kind of earthquake pulverizes a door but leaves its frame shiny and new?

His thoughts quickly vanished as Plancka peeled back the curtain. Immediately the other birds began to screech and scream, banging against their cages, nearly toppling them over. The goblin ushered Anthony past the curtain grumbling to himself in a language Anthony did not understand, and flung the thing closed behind him. Almost instantly the birds were silent. All Anthony could hear was the rapid thumping of his own heart, like a battering ram against his chest.

Plancka turned, and at the same time so did Anthony. In front of them stood a domed bird cage with a red silk sheet draped over the top. With one clean sweep of his hand Plancka whipped away the sheet.

Perched atop the single metal swing inside the cage sat a tiny bird the color of a yellow marigold flower.

"Is that a canary?" Anthony asked taking a closer look. Plancka nodded morosely, his eyes boring into the tiny creature. 

"He's a little beauty isn't he," Plancka whispered. "His name is Lucy." 

To be continued...

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