Two well-known books are being interviewed for a television talk show, carefully
praising each other’s authors and exchanging witticisms with the host, when the show is
interrupted for a news flash concerning the condition of Erica, the local zoo’s pregnant
panda (the only pregnancy ever recorded in captivity for this particular variety), who is in
the zoo hospital in serious condition following an “incident” involving a misguided ice
cream vendor who barely escaped the incident unsullied and who actually died of
complications resulting from an allergic reaction to the anesthetic administered,
coincidentally, exactly one week later during an operation on his knee, which had not, it
seems, been injured in the “incident,” but had been gradually deteriorating for more than
a decade prior as a result of a college prank gone awry. The talk show host apologizes for
the interruption and wishes Erica well, promising the station will broadcast further
reports as available. The interview continues with the two books expressing outrage at the
current popularity of speed reading when they are again interrupted as the screen flashes
to a view of a young girl on crutches visiting the zoo’s hospital cage. An interviewer
questions her and we discover she is an orphan whose leg was broken in the very same
“incident” that (we now discover) caused Erica to miscarry. The girl’s answers seem
rehearsed and suddenly she seems to have forgotten her lines. She begins to cry and
reaches into the cage to touch Erica’s fur. A zookeeper quickly pulls her back and the
young girl screams “Mommy” as the screen goes dark and cuts to the talk show set where
the two books have been replaced by two authors who are sleeping slumped down in their
comfortable chairs. The talk show host runs in from off-camera and begins to interview
the two sleeping authors. They do not awaken and no one reaches into the cage to touch
their fur.

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.