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The Feathered Serpent

Freedom

By Stephanie HoogstadPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
7
Image created by AI using starryai

It was the largest creature that Cassandra’s father had ever snagged for his exotic zoo—and the most exotic. It was something straight out of mythology.

The creature was ten feet tall and twenty feet long with a forty-foot wingspan, according to the scientists that Cassandra had eavesdropped on. Its wings could not even fit into the iron cage that her father had had the locals erect for it; Cassandra could not imagine how they had corralled the magnificent beast in there in the first place. She rubbed her ribs. Her father did have his way of being forceful.

Cassandra circled the cage, tempted to stroke the creature’s beautiful feathers. They appeared so soft, and their shimmering rainbow pattern mesmerized her. Oh, how Cassandra wished she could be so gorgeous.

The locals called the creature a feathered serpent in English and warned Cassandra’s father not to take it with him. It was a god, they told him, and it would smite him—all of them—for being mistreated so. Yet they did not seem concerned enough to turn down all the money that her father threw at them to aid him in transporting the creature to the nearest port.

Cassandra could see why they would think this creature a god. As she looked into its big, dark eyes, she could almost hear a voice speaking to her, beseeching her to help it.

“I can’t,” she whispered through the bars. “Father will get mad.”

Ensuring that no one was around to see, Cassandra lifted her shirt to show the creature the bruises around her ribs.

“I don’t want to make him mad,” she said as she lowered her shirt again.

Sanctuary, came the single word within Cassandra’s mind.

A chill ran down Cassandra’s back. Sanctuary. Sanctuary from her father. That was as good as freedom for her.

She glanced down at the latch at the front of the cage. They hadn’t even bothered to put on a lock, her father had been so convinced that everyone present was in his pocket…or under his thumb. It would have been so easy for her to just reach over and move the latch…

Cassandra flinched as her father’s voice yelled in her mind. No. She couldn’t do it. He would catch her, just like he had all the other times that she had tried to run away. She couldn’t go through that punishment again.

She leaned her forehead against the bars and stared into the feathered serpent’s eye.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I can’t.”

The feathered serpent crooned and tried to shift in its cage, but it had no room to move. Cassandra looked up and saw that feathers in the wings had begun to rub off at the joints, leaving the spots raw and bloody where the bars touched them.

Tears gathered at the edges of Cassandra’s eyes. The poor creature was being tortured already. She couldn’t imagine what sort of “habitat” her father had arranged for it back in America. It wouldn’t last a week in captivity.

Cassandra sighed. She had no choice.

Her hand inched toward the latch, slowly lifted it up, and moved it to the side. Then she pushed the door open.

“You’re free, my friend,” she whispered. “Escape if you can.”

To Cassandra’s amazement, the feathered serpent appeared to collapse its wings as it slithered out of the cage.

Only its head stuck out before chaos ensued.

“Cassandra, you idiot, what have you done?” her father yelled, running at the creature with a whip.

The feathered serpent screeched as Cassandra’s father and a dozen other men approached it. It swatted them aside with a single sweep of its claws and dragged the rest of its body out from the cage. Then it looked back at Cassandra expectantly.

Sanctuary, the word rang through Cassandra’s head again.

The feathered serpent motioned with its head to its back. It swiped again as another dozen men attempted to subdue it.

Cassandra looked at her father lying unconscious on the ground. Her hands curled into fists.

“You’re the idiot,” she muttered.

She ran up to the feathered serpent and struggled atop its back. She barely had a grip on the creature’s feathers before it put itself into a crouching position and launched itself into the air. They rode off into the stormy night, free at last.

CONTENT WARNINGShort StoryFantasy
7

About the Creator

Stephanie Hoogstad

With a BA in English and MSc in Creative Writing, writing is my life. I have edited and ghost written for years with some published stories and poems of my own.

Learn more about me: thewritersscrapbin.com

Support my writing: Patreon

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Comments (4)

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  • L.C. Schäfer2 months ago

    Hope and bravery, the best ingredients!

  • Awww, they both helped each other escape! This was so touching and wonderful!

  • JBaz2 months ago

    YOu have a wonderful ability to tell a fantasy tale. Each one a story unto themselves. I very much enjoyed this one and would read the book

  • Friends & boon companions forevermore. Lovely story, Stephanie!

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