Many times, when Kellie Elmore puts her Free Write Friday prompt up, I look at it and draw a blank. Usually, after I think on it for a bit, I come up with an idea and write a brief story about the picture or word prompt she’s offered. Today, I needed no time to think about it; I took one look at the picture, and immediately began to write. Enjoy?


It was a crazy idea, and I refused to have anything to do with it. I said, “I’ll watch, but that’s it. I want nothing to do with your hair-brained scheme.”

The rest of them gave me beady-eyed sidelong glances, like they thought I was the one who’d lost his mind. “He’ll kill you, fool!” one of them chirped as he idled past me. “Get your fine-feathered, uppity, butt out here and help us!”

“Nope,” I said watching as he attached the harness to the others. “He’s just using you, and when he finds out he can’t fly, even with all of you doing the actual work, what then?”

Several of them looked in at me with wide, knowing eyes, understanding exactly what I was saying. They knew once the fool saw his plan was failing, he’d blame them, and then cast them aside like the newspaper that lined the bottom of their cages.

I was at first shocked when he grabbed the cage, thereby including me in the doomed scheme he’d forced upon us, then realized it was all part of the plan; If I did not participate, I could not share the blame, and so I had no choice in the matter. Somehow, in his twisted mind, we were all destined to be equal; whether it was to be bounty or scraps, the spoils would be shared equally by all.

The flock began to fight, the weaker ones trying to flee, but tethered as they were, remained within striking distance of the stronger; there was no way to escape. I watched in horror as my friends tore at each other and one-by-one began to fall from the sky.

The man screamed at them to stop, but his shouts could not be heard above their cacophony of rage. When at last he stopped running, and stood amid feathers, blood, and bodies, only a few of the flock remained. The survivors fluttered to the grass and wobbled as far away from him as the harness would allow. He set my cage upon the ground and then sat down facing me. He stared blankly into my dark and angry eyes, both of us wondering which of us, truly, was caged.


Copyright © 2013 C Mashburn


  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    oooh . . . . very thought provoking!

  2. The cage bird speaks – I like that. ty for inviting me over.

  3. Heather said

    Wow, I never thought of writing a story with it. Very impressive.

    • I almost always do a story for FWF. I’m glad you like it! Thanks!

      • Heather said

        I wish I was that creative!

      • Maybe you are. Try it!

      • Heather said

        I will! LOL

      • Try this: look at a picture and think, “What if?”, then just start writing. You never know what will come out. Then, go back and polish it–several times if you have to. Change parts, add some, take some away. Have fun with it! 🙂

      • Heather said

        Cool, thank you.

  4. So creative! Loved it! I like your storytelling. 🙂

  5. Superb writing on this one Charles…wonderful wonderful!!!

  6. heidibarnes11 said

    I tried to think of a story, but this time nothing came. So poetry it was. lol I loved this and enjoy reading your submissions every week. 🙂

    • Sometimes it’s there, and sometimes it’s not.
      Glad you enjoyed my story, Heidi!

  7. Charles … your story touched my soul … extremely powerful. Thank you for sharing!

  8. neenslewy said

    Great storytelling here in your free write and an immensely powerful ending!

  9. Mary said

    Whew, that was quite a story, Charles! Impressive.

  10. Terrific story Charles that leaves one contemplating…it’s a rather sad tale but gosh I find that picture a little spooky. Great writing! 🙂

    • Yes, it is a spooky picture! It got my wild imagination going quickly!
      Thank you, Dianne!

  11. coastalmom said

    I love your brain! I am so glad you prompted me to come take a peek! I replied on my site so that others might come on over here too! ;0

    • Thank you! I don’t know if you ever do it, but hitting the StumbleUpon button at the bottom of the post is a good way to spread it around the web. I do that with yours and others where the option is available.

  12. heidi said

    That’s excellent, Charles. I liked this prompt as well, and you wrote a wonderful story.

    • Thanks, Heidi. You should stop by Kellie’s blog on Fridy and submit a poem or story. She always has great prompts. And, yes, I really liked this one. Creepy picture!

  13. seanbidd said

    What an escalation of events, the story just blew me away with the perspective… An amazing, but brutal short tale..

  14. Another entertaining read from the master storyteller! Once again you had me giggling out loud. Your humor is such a delight and I always look forward to you coming for FWF. I’m telling you, all these stories should be placed into a book/collection. By the way…How is the other project going?

    Thanks again, Charles and I am so happy that you were able to be inspired by the image! 🙂

    • Thank you, Kellie! I am always glad to hear what you have to say about my wild imaginings.
      The project is on hold at the moment; simply not enough time. A lot going on around here right now.

  15. […] haven’t written a story in a while so this was fun and when I visited Charles Mashburn’s blog to read his story FWF and saw this picture it wouldn’t leave me. I’d never heard of […]

  16. You never cease to impress this had my mind absolutely turning over itself

    Would you like to participate in my prompt? I want to try doing one every Sunday and you would be very welcome

    • It depends on the prompt, but chances are I would be delighted to participate in your Sunday prompt. I will follow your blog and look forward to Sunday!
      Thank you for the comment on “Caged”. I appreciate the kind words!

      • There was one for this Sunday which is obviously still open. The theme is old poetry but every Sunday it will be different and you are welcome to suggest prompts as well

      • I’ll check it out this morning! Have a busy day ahead, but hopefully I’ll have time to write something for it!

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Please leave a comment! We love hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: