Wednesday 13 September 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 304

This week's picture prompt was created by hungarian born, Sarolta Ban. She doesn't give this a name, but it is located in the alterego category.  It's not the first time I've used one of her images. I used one on Week 28, and Week 24 . She has some exceptional images, worth checking out. 

Took a while but then this story arrived sometimes you have to follow your beliefs. Just say no to caged birds. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

A black and white image of a box on the ground, outside, it is foggy. The flaps of the box are open and coming out of it is part of a white feathered wing. Art by Sarolta Ban


I heard the car pull up. We’d been driving for a while, and I had no idea where they were taking me. The box wasn’t very comfortable but it beat the cage. I heard shuffling and a car door open, then the box was jostled as they picked it up. I heard them walk on crunchy ground for a while. Then the box was put on the ground. I heard strange zipping sounds, and then more footsteps until the sound of them faded. I heard a car engine in the distance, then nothing. Silence.

I pushed up on the cardboard above me, not expecting it to give, but it did. I opened the flaps with the tip of my wing, and pushed up, opening them out to their full wingspan. I hadn’t been able to do that in years.

The air was thick with fog, or was that smoke? I couldn’t be sure. I had little recollection of what fresh air smelt like. I stepped out of the box and flexed my wings a few times. I hadn’t flown in at least a decade.

Cage life was torture for anyone with wings, but humans like to have you there to coo at you. They also expected you to be grateful to have been caught in the first place and kept alone, trapped, and living with the indignity of shitting where you eat. Some days they were lazy and let it get really smelly. All I could do when that happened was hide in the corner and cover my face with my wing in shame. I would hear them talk about me as though I was some tiny toy. But mostly I was just an ornament.

They had clearly had enough of me, which is why they had dumped me here. The novelty had finally worn off, and as I hadn’t died in the cage, they were now going to abandon me and force me to fend for myself in a hostile land.

I beat my wings a few times and hopped over to a rock. I needed to get above whatever was causing this fogginess and feel the sun on my body.

I beat them again, expecting to feel tired, but instead I was exhilarated, my energy rising high. And with another hard beat I rose using that energy, climbing higher and higher until the clouds around me began to brighten.

I broke through and got my first glimpse of sunshine and sky in … I no longer knew how long, but since I was a baby. It was magical. I caught a thermal and glided out above the dense cloud, until I came across a gap that showed me the ground.

It was indeed smoke. I could see patches of the ground consumed by flame and others black from where it had passed.

I stayed high, it was easy up here, the warm thermals keeping me buoyant, and not requiring too much wing strength. Then I spotted a flock ahead of me, and made my way towards them. They were white-winged like me.

I joined the tail end of their formation. The wind drag lessened and I felt I had found my place.

I soaked in the view of the sun glistening on the smoky clouds and imagined water, large expanses of it. And somewhere in my mind I knew that was where we were going, and I could see the route. I hoped my wings would hold me up that long.

But soon the light was fading and the formation was descending, fortunately to an unburnt patch of land. I tried for an elegant landing but I stumbled a little. Folding my wings hurt after such a long time expanded but it was a relief too. I joined them pecking at the ground, and followed them towards a small stream. I placed my feet in the water and squawked with delight. They joined in. And then I saw the movement in the water and caught up the little fish in my mouth. I’d never experienced anything so blissful.

Then as the light left the ground, we huddled together, and I spotted the rings on their legs, too. I wasn’t the only one who had found freedom as the world burned.


  1. The box was only just large enough to contain me. I could fit inside if I folded myself, crossing my arms across my chest. I had to lean forward, with my chin resting against my knees, trying not to breathe too deeply or fidget.

    It wasn’t an ideal situation.

    I was one among many but knowing this did little to comfort me. In fact, it made things worse, making the air seem thinner, more contaminated, the odours of the others less tolerable.

    It was difficult to know how long I’d been here. There was no frame of reference - it would have been too dark to read my watch if I’d still been wearing it, my view of the outside limited to the narrow slots of the vents which let in some air. The only light I could see was artificial and as far as I could tell it wasn’t switched on or off to a fixed routine, so I could have been here for days, weeks or even months.

    I’m not sure if I could have moved now if I’d tried. My elbows and knees had seized up, the pain I’d felt having faded as it became more familiar.

    But I could still think and remember and wonder what would eventually happen to me.

    This episode of my life began in July. The heaths had become blighted, the toxins our oppressors sprayed each night killing every animal or plant still outside. There were still a few families who’d sneaked their pets and smaller stock animals inside, but the soldiers were becoming savvy now and were destroying every illegal creature they found.

    As well as the properties of the offenders. It was a death sentence without any chance of an appeal. They would die, as surely as they’d been shot, the drones having no mercy.

    And that was why I’d chosen to travel, to escape the new regime. If I could find another home in a new country, I’d be able to live again and not need to hide away.

    1. Thanks for posting here, Mark, nice little tale.