Zoo by R. Schlaack

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SUMMARY: Some animals can't adjust to their new conditions.

The alarm shrieked.

Barry sat up in bed and stretched. It was six a.m. The sun peeked into the room through the Venetian blinds, and Barry opened them so he could greet the sunrise.

"Yessir, another fine day!" he said.

He went to the bathroom and took a shower, brushed his teeth, combed his hair. He got dressed in shirt, pants and tie and went down to breakfast.

"Hi, Honey!" he said. "What's for breakfast? I'm starving!"

His wife Martha just looked at him. She had a cigarette in one hand. There were dark circles under her eyes.

Unfazed, Barry bustled about the kitchen. He put on an apron and got out his favorite frying pan. Whistling a tune, he soon had two eggs sizzling merrily.

The toast popped up, and Barry picked it up in two fingers.

"Yow, that's hot! Honey, do we have any jam left?"

Martha just looked at him. When she spoke, her voice was no more than a croak. "In the fridge door."

Barry found the jam. He buttered his toast, and then slathered it with jam. He brought his plate to the table.

"Mm-mm!" he said. "Nothing like eggs to start off your morning, eh, Honey?"

This time Martha didn't even look at him. She stared at the floor and said nothing.

Barry contented himself with looking around the place. The floor was a little dirty, and it looked like everything was covered with dust. Over in the kitchen sink, there were dishes stacked up.

A dark cloud passed over Barry's sunny face. His smile faltered. He ground his fork against his plate, back and forth, emitting a high-pitched squeak. There was a well-worn three-pronged groove in that plate, as with all the plates in the house.

Martha shuddered.

Barry looked up at his wife. He smiled.

"My, look at the time," he said. "I've got to get to work."

Barry grabbed his briefcase and his jacket. He bent down to kiss his wife, but she shied away. Barry appeared not to notice.

"All right," Barry said at the front door. "See you this afternoon!"

He opened the door and ran smack into a wall.

He backed up. Then he ran into it again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

The Zookeepers came running, Little Green Men in silver suits. They rushed in through the living room and caught Barry, holding him down by sheer weight of numbers as he thrashed.

Martha stared absently out the window. Little Green Children and their teachers stood in front of the iron fence outside. They were separated from the house by the fence, and then a moat, and then huge panels of unbreakable glass. They had pamphlets in their hands. Doubtless they were reading about the "Humans", savage beasts which once populated this planet. Before the invasion.

She should probably help Barry. He was her husband. But then again, Barry was more of a husk nowadays. The Barry-ness, the soul, was floating somewhere out there in the cosmos. The thrashing, flailing thing at the front door...that was a sack of meat.
Like me, Martha thought. A sack of meat.

So she just sat there, listening to Barry's howls of rage and fear, and puffed her cigarette. Outside, the Little Green Children watched.