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Rated: E · Short Story · Nature · #2269785
An unusual zoological exhibit.
Zoological Reflections

“The All Creature Temporal and Finite Exposition Zoo,” announced the sign. Which seemed an excellent method of attracting those wishing to know what exactly the words meant. Without further ado, I entered through the gate surmounted by the sign and approached the first exhibit.

This consisted of a large cage with sturdy bars sporting the label “Philosopher.” The environment within the cage consisted of bare concrete with a single chair attached to the floor. A man of unkempt appearance sat in the chair, his attitude reminiscent of the pose of Rodin’s Thinker. I stared at the man, waiting for him to do something. He stared back.

After what seemed a long time but was probably only a few minutes, I grew tired of this and voiced my thoughts.

“Well, this is a bit of a waste of time. They ought to provide us with sticks to prod this creature into activity.”

“I was just thinking the same thing,” said the man.

Good grief, a talking exhibit, I thought. But I recovered quickly from my surprise and decided that the point was worth arguing. “It seems to me that it’s your job to entertain and mine to be entertained,” I announced.

“Why so?" he replied. “I don’t recall reading any rule that sets out who must do what for the benefit of someone else.”

“It’s implicit in the situation. Clearly the exhibit in the cage has to provide amusement and interest for those outside the cage.”

The man shrugged. “Which proves only that you, as the exhibit, should be a little more entertaining than you have managed so far.”

“What do you mean?” I was puzzled by such an illogical response. “Are you saying that I am the exhibit?”

His eyes rolled upward, as though searching for meaning in his brow. “That is fairly obvious,” he said. “These bars are patently for my protection from any savage intent in your uncouth being. Ergo, you are the exhibit and I am the spectator. Although you make a decidedly boring spectacle at the moment.”

“That’s ridiculous,” I replied. “Look how small a space is allotted to you by the bars while I have no limits to my freedom in the outside world. Clearly you are the one whose animal passions have to be contained.”

“That seems to me to have no bearing on the matter. It merely indicates that your nature is so wild and unpredictable that you and others like you must have an extensive area in which to exercise your beastly habits. I, on the other hand, am controlled enough not to need a vast space. My needs and wants are simple, considered and easily satisfied within my small area. If I have a man whose duty it is to bring me food and ensure that my demands are met, whereas you must hunt and strive to provide yourself with the barest of necessities, then surely you must see who is the more civilised and advanced of us. You’re an exhibit, man, and you’d do best to recognise it.”

I was a little befuddled by his explanation of things. All I could manage to answer was, “I don’t hunt.”

He looked at me sharply then. “Ever been in a supermarket?”

It was unnecessary for him to say more. He made it clear that everything depended upon which side of the bars was in and which out. From his point of view and once it was accepted that the bars were for his benefit, not mine, it was a much more difficult question to answer than I had assumed.

“Anyway,” I announced, “I don’t have to stand here and listen to this nonsense. I can leave and forget you ever existed. And that freedom will decide who is the prisoner after all.”

“If all I desire is to stay here and not be bothered by the likes of you, then I am receiving the benefits of freedom just as much as you are. It’s not about the ability to move about. What matters is the time and space to think.”

I had him at last with this statement. “Good luck with that,” I said and walked on to the next exhibit.



Prompt: Using one of the following prompts, write 250-750 words of a nonsense story about a day you spent at a: zoo, circus, garden, or haunted forest.

For examples of what I mean by "utter nonsense," read several entries in "My Day" . Here are two. "Sleeping like a log..." and "Burger King" I'm looking for that sort of nonsense about how your day at one of the above locations went.

Written for "The Whatever Contest." *Right* "The Whatever Contest

Word Count: 700
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