The prisoner lay still in the metal cage, listening to the voices she could not see.
“But are you sure it won’t escape this time?”
“I’ve been telling you all along ‘it’ is a ‘she’ and ‘she’ will not escape.”
“How can you even tell?”
“Because I made that cage and I know—”
“No, stupid. How can you tell it’s a girl? I sure don’t see any lipstick and mascara on it.”
“Who you callin’ stupid, stupid? It’s obvious to anyone looking at it.”
“Well. It sure isn’t obvious to me.”
“That’s because you’re stupid and I am a genius.”
“What a sack of baloney.”
“Baloney, huh? Oh, eesh! Is that the time? I’m goin’ to lunch. Come with me and I’ll tell you all about my genius observations.”
The prisoner listened to them leave. She waited for others to come to take their place.
No one came.
But she waited a few seconds longer.
And still no one came. She rattled her chitlin spurs in relief.
I’ve been saving up for this moment. She had heard one of them sing those words. The words made no sense to her. But she liked how they sounded in her head. She loved the way they made her feel. Her chitlin spurs made it impossible for her to speak their language. But she would have sung those words if it were possible.
She glanced around the cage. It was the same as before. Dark metal punctuated by small round holes up at the top. Those holes puzzled her. She couldn’t understand their purpose. They didn’t seem to have one. They were far too small to use as windows. Then, what was their purpose?
She reared up and examined the holes, smelling them with her feelers. Probing them with her antenna-like fingers.
But they failed to tell her anything.
But it didn’t matter.
This cage was just like all of the other ones they had put her in. She had escaped them. She would certainly escape this one too.
This time, however, she would escape for good. This time, no one would be able to catch her.
This time, she would return home.
She spread out all of her feelers and tapped on every space in the cage. It was a steady rhythm.
It was the sacred rhythm.
Tap. Tap. Taptaptap. Tap. Over and over.
The walls trembled.
The walls shook.
The walls crumbled into dust.
She retracted most of her feelers and glanced around the room.
There were no windows, just four walls made out of a dull metal.
She slapped her front feelers on the ground in delight. This would be a lot easier than she’d expected.
She skittered over to the southern wall, spread all of her feelers on it, and tapped.
I’ve been saving up for this moment. The words circled throughout her thoughts. And she didn’t mind. Those words were special. They gave her courage. They fueled her determination. Even if she had no idea what they meant.
The door behind her opened. “Well, how’s our little—Hey!”
The wall trembled.
“I thought you said it wouldn’t escape.”
The wall shook.
“Well, how was I supposed to know that she would try again?”
The wall crumbled into dust.
“Some genius you are. Just shoot it.”
She could hear them pull out their weapons. She ducked low and skittered off into the night.
She would find her ship and it would take her home.
Those aliens would not keep her captive.