Cage, Part One

Chapter 1 - hiring

The point of the cages wasn't something anybody ever really had to be told. I, for instance, don't remember ever not knowing about them, or what they did. I suppose at some point I must have come across them--a reference, or an overheard description--at some young age, and I think whatever I heard about them must not have been very exciting or unexpected, because it didn't strike me in any way. It's like trying to remember ever not knowing what food was. Or the sky.

I went to work on one of the farms almost immediately after I escaped school, not really expecting that wasting my years pursuing higher education would benefit me or my family. Public attitude toward purely intellectual labor is fairly positive among humans, but my kind don't look very kindly on a person who can't work with his hands. Scholars aren't very useful contributors to the community.

The owner of the farm was a man named Rorkel. My first day of work consisted of convincing his Labor Master, Gaun, that I was useful. I showed Gaun how much weight I could lift with both arms; I morphed and ripped the stuffing out of one of the other candidates, while the rest stood around on the sidelines and waited their turns. That was the way we auditioned for the position I wanted. Cooking or cleaning were all right, and organizing the farm's paperwork was easy, if mind-numbing, but I wanted a job using my jaws. Or at least my fists. Not the least because it was the best-paid.

It wasn't to be, though, at least not early on. I was good, but not good enough; others were better. They had only six available spaces. So I was not hired that year to be a guard at Rorkel's farm, but I must have sounded smart--or perhaps I came off charismatic or persuasive; it seems more likely to me now--because as I was leaving, with my clothes draped over a shoulder that was drenched in sweat, the LM took my arm and turned me around.

He had a different job to offer me. Not a guard, he said, but a liaison.

"A what?" I asked, about as knowledgeable about the position as a mole was of the sun.

I didn't know it, but it was quite a valuable job and, although not as well-paying, much, much more interesting.


I accepted immediately, even not knowing what a liaison was, because I was in desperate need of anything at that point. If Gaun hadn't offered a position to me, I probably would have been back the next day asking if there were any openings on the cleaning staff.

"Oh, yes," said the head cook when I was introduced to him. Although I would not be working in the kitchens and did not report to the cook, the Labor Master still took me to see him first because he was, as Gaun put it, my most valuable contact. "You look the part, too."

I frowned uncertainly. "How so?"

He nodded and waved a hand up and down my full height, giving me the same once-over with his eyes. "Strong, but not too intimidating. An attractive face doesn't hurt, either."

"Uh--thank you."

"You'll do all right," said the cook, and sent me off to meet my real boss, the Organizer.

The Organizer was Rorkel's only direct appointment to the farm's labor force. Rorkel owned several such facilities and could hardly be expected to oversee them all himself, so that was what the Organizer did. When she saw me, her eyebrows went up--way up--and she said to Gaun, "Let me guess. You found a new liaison already."

I guess I did look like one.

We were in the administrative quarter. As the LM disappeared into an office, the Organizer explained to me, "So here's what we're paying you for. You will act as a direct contact with the cages on behalf of the cooks and administrators . . . the only direct contact, in fact, along with the other eight liaisons. It is your job, as your name suggests, to act as a go-between for us and them."

I nodded seriously. "Them is . . . the humans we're trying to fatten up?"

She gave me a narrow-eyed look. "They make them so smart these days."

I flushed, but didn't apologize for clarifying. It couldn't hurt.


I would be staying on the premises for the duration of the season, with meal allowances and irregularly spaced "weekends" that were staggered with the other liaisons'. The first two weeks was my training period, during which I shadowed the senior liaison, Eras, on her duties. She showed me the farm's four wings, each divided into twenty cages. These "cages" weren't the tiny metal boxes I'd been imagining when I first heard the word. They were actually pretty nice, with furniture spread throughout numerous rooms and the simple but functional amenities of an apartment. Each cage housed five humans who were in the process of being fattened up, so each wing housed a hundred, with four hundred all told. The wings ranged in size, and were known as Smallest, Small, Large, and Largest--but it wasn't the size of the architecture that gave them those names. It was the size of the occupants. As a newcomer, I was put in charge of a single cage in Smallest, with rotating duties to help out the other liaisons as needed.

What I wanted was to prove as quickly as possible that I was competent enough to stay on as a full liaison. After my training was finished, my real test started.
6 chapters, created 11 years , updated 11 years
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Shavip 11 years
Link to part two:
Kamina 11 years
I find the concept of it rather fascinating. Your "predator" main character is something that constitutes a very clever twist....
Shavip 11 years
Thanks! smiley Part two should be up later tonight or tomorrow.