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Journey to Freedom

Bright and beautiful macaws escaping a dark and terrifying situation...

By Jaquelyn CannonPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
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Journey to Freedom
Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

It was the darkest, yet most vibrant hallway I had ever walked down. Beautiful bright macaws locked away in cold dark cages.

The macaw. I wasn't sure if I would ever get to see one up close since the Feds put them on the endangered list for this exact reason.

The sight made my stomach turn and I felt my eyes welling up with tears as I watched the man in front of me walk down the hallway, he held his stick out to the side and let it drag along the side of the cages, which made a horrid rattling sound; it was as if he was reminding them where they were - and that he was in control. The thing I noticed most about this man was that he did not even look at them - he did not see or recognize the beauty and magnificence of this creature. If he ever did look at them, I would imagine he only saw the power he had over them and the monetary value they were worth.

That's the kind of stuff I hated about this job. I had been an undercover animal cruelty investigator for a little over three years when I got my assignment in Belize to expose the illegal poaching and selling of the endangered macaw species.

So far in my time undercover, I had witnessed the most ugly and vile things done to the most beautiful creature. I was taught about the techniques used to capture and smuggle the birds. I had to tag along as glue-traps and nets were set up for their capture. And I saw babies ripped from their nest. And, as hard as it was, I had to pretend like I wasn't disgusted by it. If I blew my cover, I don't know what they would do to me - these people are ruthless; they have no respect for animal life so why would they respect mine? Especially if they view me as a threat to their "business" (if you can even call it that).

By the time I got to the end of the hallway where the babies and eggs were kept, a million thoughts had run through my mind. They were cram-packed in the cages and I thought about how, in this moment, at least they were together. I also wondered what they thought of me. Did they know that I was on their side? Or did they think I was just another person walking down this hallway who didn't care at all? That thought haunted me as I tried my best not to look in their eyes that were stricken with fear.

But this was it. This was the moment we had worked so hard for. This investigation had been going on for almost 8 months. I had to gain their trust so that we would find out where they were housing the birds and eggs. And now here I was here. But the day I had been waiting for suddenly didn't seem so exciting. The only part that was exciting about it was what I knew was going to come next.

Little did the man walking in front of me know that the "potential buyer" was actually a team of law enforcement agents - this was a sting operation. And it was my job to make sure the operation went as planned.

I felt my work phone vibrate in my pocket. I knew what that meant - it was the signal that they were on their way. I instantly felt my heart beating faster but I knew I had to do something to keep calm; if they see my nerves, it could tip them off. I took a few deep breaths...in...out...in...out. I tried to focus on the life these macaws would have, starting in less than an hour. I pictured them flying together in outdoors just as vibrant and beautiful as them. The door being kicked in is what brought me back from this daydream.

It was as if everything was in slow motion. I turned behind me to see the team of agents running down the hallway in bulletproof vests. They ran past me, nearly knocking me down; and handcuffed every other person in the building. As the men were being loaded into the back of police cars, the macaws were being put into cages to be transferred to a sanctuary where they would receive medical attention and be taken care of until they could return to the wild. As I watched all this happen, I felt tears streaming down my face. Tears of relief. Tears of joy.

As the tears fell, I met eyes with one of the macaws and, in that moment, I saw that he knew I was on their side - that I had been all along.

Short Story
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About the Creator

Jaquelyn Cannon

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places." -Ernest Hemingway

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