Cage [Flash Fiction]

The motorcycle gang was at it again. Cage rolled over, belly to back. He listened to the mindless, formless screams coming from the highway, wordless whooping shouts between men playing chicken or racing or whatever it was they were doing. Keeping him awake, that’s what.
The cat made a noise between a burp and meow as she jumped onto his bed. She’d been throwing up all over his apartment, and he wasn’t sure he should have her anywhere near his bed, but he’d forgotten to close the door and now here she was. He heard the motorcyclists getting closer again. They seemed to loop around the section of the I-whatever it was that was near his place. Cage didn’t drive. He kept track of street names. He knew that Carrigan Way led to Archduke Avenue and that Archduke intersected with the ten plague streets. He knew where he could jaywalk by sound rather than sight and where he should look everywhere because of the twisty streets that drivers zoomed down with no consideration of walkers like him. He knew nothing about highways, except that he hated the motorcyclists.
The neighborhood he’d settled in recently was a strange one. The cat, for instance. She wasn’t an isolated case. There were ferals all over the place. Especially around the ten plague streets, he’d noticed. Some fanatic, a rich one, had erected the city about a hundred and fifty years ago. Who knows what religion the man had believed in, but everyone seemed to think he definitely didn’t belong to their neck of the woods in terms of belief. Cage didn’t know who to believe, but what seemed to be established fact – what everyone agreed on – was that the run-down neighborhood where Cage lived now was the original town that had grown into the city, and that the ten plague streets were the first ones built, all along Archduke Avenue.
They were still tourist draws, too. When Cage went on his walks, he saw people, almost every day, taking pictures under the Blood Street and Frogs Street signs. He noticed, not without a smile, that some people looked up nervously at the Lice Street sign, as if worried that there might be some up there, left by a higher being, or more likely a high school student, just as a prank.
The cat nuzzled her head into Cage’s armpit, which was uncomfortable because of the heat, but he was also much too exhausted to try to move her. He also vaguely feared that trying to move her in any way could induce another round of vomiting. He didn’t pet her, just let her lie there, and listened to the motorcyclists go round and round. The yelping had stopped. Maybe it was just one of them, now. Driving around the highway, lonely.
What am I doing here? Cage thought. What on earth am I doing here?


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