Rated PG. Contains some violence, and a number of circus creatures.
“I’ll Gnaw Your Bones,” the Manticore Said
by Cat Rambo
There is a tacit understanding between a beast trainer and her charges, whether it be great cats, cunning dragons, or apes and other man-like creatures. They know, and the trainer knows, that as long as certain lines aren’t crossed, that if certain expectations are met, everything will be fine and no one will get hurt.
That’s not to say I didn’t keep an eye on Bupus, watching for a twitch to his tail, the way one bulbous eye would go askew when anger was brewing. A beast’s a beast, after all, and not responsible for what they do when circumstances push them too far. Beasts still, no matter how they speak or smile or woo.
At any rate, Bupus felt obliged to maintain his reputation whenever another wagon or traveler was in earshot.
“Gnaw your bones,” he rumbled, rolling a vast oversized eyeball back at me. The woman he was trying to impress shrieked and dropped her chickens, which vanished in a white flutter among the blackberry vines and ferns that began where the road’s ground stone gave way to forest. A blue-headed jay screamed in alarm from a pine.