Sparky hopped up onto the kitchen counter at the old woman’s whistle. His claws and leathery tail clattered on the hard surface. He panted eagerly while she sliced the loaf.
“Thank you, Sparky,” she said. She pierced the first slice of bread on a long-handled fork and held it out towards her pet. Sparky inhaled, filling his lungs, and then he stretched his mouth as wide as he could and exhaled a steady jet of flame. Within seconds the surface of the bread was browned to perfection. The old woman pulled it from the prongs and turned it over so that Sparky could cook the other side.
“Thank you, Sparky,” she repeated. “Now, one last blast for the butter knife.”
Sparky obliged. The hot knife sank into the slab of butter. The old woman smacked her gums in anticipation. Sparky would be lucky to get the crumbs.
She set him to boiling water for a cup of mint tea while she munched and crunched on her toast. Sparky’s mind wandered as he heated the pot. A recurring memory – or perhaps it was a dream – idled its way into his thoughts.
We were mighty beasts once, the dream reminded him. We soared through the skies and laid waste to our foes, searing the flesh from their bones, vaporising those who challenged our dominion.
What happened to us? The voice of Sparky’s ancestors spoke mournfully in his mind. Why did we let Man clip our wings?
Centuries of collusion and domestication has reduced out once noble species to little more than a house pet, a working beast – a kitchen appliance!
The water in the pot began to boil. Sparky whistled through his slanting nostrils to summon the old woman from her armchair.
“You’re a good boy, Sparky,” the old woman croaked as she shuffled in, bent almost double by the aches and agues of old age.
She sang as she infused crushed mint leaves in the hot water. Sparky curled up in his basket and dreamt of freedom and the open sky.