Snake-Tail ProverbMature

Lloyd Lian, part Chinese and part English, is a Wild Child in 2084 America attempting to avoid the government's right-hand enforcer of peace, the Calvary. He is a Wild Child because of the body he has to share with a tiger roommate, the Instinct, whose origins are due to the attempts of a group of rebellious scientists seeking to create the perfect human soldier spliced with animal DNA, all in order to destroy the Calvary. See the collaborative version on STORYMASH.


“How pathetic you are. I’m almost sympathetic…almost.”

                The words surprised even the man who spoke them, and in them he found a certain betrayal of his own self, as though he’d stabbed his own back without the ability to reverse what he had done. His breath felt staunch and naked leaving his mouth, and above the hard lines of his eyes his brows furrowed close to his lashes, perpetuating in self-criticism.

                He watched the encaged tiger in front of him with eyes of stone, devoid of any wariness or fear, and allowed himself to waver on the edge of perceptibility in this specimen’s current body language. The black scrawls across that brutal face arranged themselves like a puzzle, and if he could permit himself to look long enough, he could read what they said. For one thing, he learned It was a she. Her claws flexed in a curling gesture of her feet, and at the same time she blinked, moving her gaze onto his face. In a split second, those irises became sharp, golden; glistening like twin fires behind the rectangle of shadow she lied in. His attention to her was not mutual or kind and she knew it: that bristling, instinct-bound drive in the back of his mind struggled to reveal itself from behind the clenched muscles of his face. The pouches of her cheeks thickened and rose against the bridge of her nose, and then her animal eyes – her selfish eyes – began to sear the skin of his face with an iciness only created by a creature threatened.

He begun to see the decipherable components of the resentment she radiated towards him, but he kept himself teetering on the edge of unknowing – pulling back when he could hear the faint whispers of her voice starting. He didn’t want to know more about a worthless creature that matched the one in his head. Clenching his hands tighter around the cold iron of the rail, he continued to stand upright, a challenge with the bulk and mass of his body. Disappointment and frustration for his initial comment to the tiger refused to reach his eyes, and instead his mouth became a thin line of carelessness for the beast trapped behind its five-inch thick layer of titanium glass.

And, for a discernable second, the man reacted with a disregarding roll of his eyes - as not a drop in his demeanor, but in an extension of it – and the tiger reacted by springing up and rushing towards him with fangs bared. Her rush took a hair’s breath, and the combined, unexpected quickness of her attack with the suddenness of it startled him and those around him with a jolt of fear through their hearts.

Though he didn’t want to, his instinctive human reaction was to step backwards, and so he did, his demeanor now marred with a flustered yet livid air as he watched the tigress snarl against the glass. The visitors of the zoo around him turned towards the scene and gasped, clutching their chests: zoo animals now were supposed to be tame! Didn’t they take care of that centuries ago? How long had it been since an animal reacted with aggression; absurd!

<Lian Liezhu, look what you did. You’ve attracted attention.>

There he was, after his goddamned nap: Lao Hu. The pressure at the back of his head increased: Lloyd’s mental roommate shifted into activeness, a sturdy presence encompassing his whole conscience while a full, booming voice palpitated at the front of his mind. 

<Pay attention! There’s guards coming at your left.>

Despite desires to ignore his Instinct (as the government so liked to call his surgically implemented other half), he peeked over his left shoulder down the indoor walkway, where, sure enough, he found a couple of men garbed in police uniform rushing to the scene.

They arrived within seconds, panting, and the first question on their lips was, “What happened here? We heard there was a misbehaving animal?”

<You’re looking at him,> Lao Hu said without laughing.

“We you the one the tiger attempted to attack?” the second guard asked after a long while, interrupting Lloyd’s thoughts. He didn’t wait for him to answer. “What’s your name?”

“Lian Liezhu.”

“Liam Lea Jew—?”

“I mean” – Lloyd cleared his throat – “I mean Lloyd Lian.” God, these pathetic Americans. Fuck Lao Hu, too.

The first guard both narrowed and raised his eyebrows at the same time, causing a suspicious and slightly incredulous look to cross his face. The second had a similar expression, though his lips twitched with an imperceptible frown as he scribbled things down on a tiny touch-screen Blackberry he had withdrawn from his belt.

“You’re going to have to come with us, sir,” the first guard demanded. Lloyd could almost hear the unfamiliarity of this situation in the man’s voice, however, and began to wonder if he could cheat the system just a little…

But then that same guard noticed the thoughtful pause of his suspect after mentioning “coming with us”, so he reiterated, in a more firm voice, “Sir, you’re going to have to come in for questioning.”

The End

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