“Fat, ugly, HUMANS!”
I moaned and fluffed my feathers. What were those two babies in the cage below me screaming about now.
“Hey, hey, HEY!” they squawked.
“What’s the matter?” I chirped, irritated.
“They forgot to feed us again!” Snow said.
“It’s been two days,” Vinnie squeaked.
“Help us get their attention,” Snow pleaded.
What I really wanted to do was get back to my nap, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen with the birds downstairs chirping their heads off. I yawned and stretched my wings, then hopped from the top of my ladder to my cage wall.
On the other side of the bars I could see our people surrounding their kitchen table, laughing and talking as they made sandwiches. My person, the tall yellow one, had already fed me this morning. The middle-sized brown one was supposed to feed my downstairs neighbors, but he’d forgotten to do it on lots and lots of mornings. I banged my beak against the cage bars and chirped, trying to get their attention. Nothing happened.
I say the people are brown and yellow, but that’s not quite right. They’re actually all pink, with only a little bit of different colored feathers on top. And it’s not quite feathers either, it’s long stringy stuff. It’s the only way I can tell them apart.
“Hey,” I chirped. “Quit feeding yourselves and get over here and feed us!”
The people kept on ignoring us. They usually did, unless one wanted to take one of us out of the cage to go play for a while.
I tried all the tricks I knew of. I bounced from wall to wall in my cage, something that they used to watch in fascination when I first came home from the pet store. I hung from the ceiling and flapped my wings so fast they buzzed. I took my seed dish and rattled it until seeds sprayed onto my cage floor and onto the kitchen tiles far below.
Meanwhile, downstairs, those two feather-heads kept up their chirping and squawking. It was no use. I was going to have to pull the trick I’d been saving for a special occasion.
I knew I could get out of my cage. I’d known it for a long time. The little door my person used to change my food dish could slide up pretty easily if I grabbed it with my beak. I’d done it lots of times, but then just let it drop back down. If I escaped, where would I go anyway? I liked my cage, it had the food and water in it, and plenty of toys, and my favorite mirror.
Of course I would rather have been downstairs with the other two. Most of the time. They had better toys down there, and a bigger cage, but I’d been in solitary confinement since I pulled out the wing feathers of the unwelcome newcomers. Noisy little brats.
If I was still downstairs with the other two, my person would be feeding us all.
I lifted the little sliding door over my seed dish, then let it crash down again. That should have gotten the humans’ attention, but they were all busy stuffing their sandwiches into bags and stuffing the bags into bigger bags full of books and things. I knew they’d be leaving any minute, so I had to work fast. I lifted the little door, but this time I didn’t drop it. I eased myself through underneath, carefully holding on with my beak, and reached my feet around for the outside of the cage bars.
“You can do it, Max! Go Max, go Max, go Max!” the two birds downstairs set up a chant. It really wasn’t helping me concentrate. I wanted to get out of the cage without dropping the door on myself.
Finally I was clinging securely to the outside of the cage. I let the door drop with a bang, then launched myself for the table. If I landed right in the middle of their sandwich-making party, that would get their attention for sure.
Only one thing I forgot. The biggest human had just clipped my wings.
I fluttered to the floor, struggling not to crash. And then I noticed something else.
All the people were gone.