Ekile El'Shem

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Alice ripped the twine off the first package and tore the flaps up eagerly. There were a number of small glass cages inside, and she grasped the top one gingerly and drew it out, being careful to hold it steady. Her mouth dropped open. The glass case was about the size of a fishbowl, the bottom of which held a tiny field of grass less than an inch high. On the grass were a number of  thumb sized Giraffes.

            “No way!”

            Maya gasped and scooted forward, crouching on her haunches to take a closer look. Alice held it at eye level and both girls stared wide eyed as the tiny animals strolled casually through their miniature grasslands, bending their long, thin necks to chew on the grass.

            “How do they do that?” Alice breathed.

            “Plastic animals,” Azura stooped to take a closer look, “oh, I do so love the Giraffes.” She straightened up and continued her explanation, “they’re just cheap plastic miniatures with a spell on them. That’s why you don’t need to feed them or anything.”

            Alice set the Giraffes gently down on the floor beside her. The next glass case she pulled out was actually a fish bowl. “Sharks!”

            Her eyes widened, taking in the white, elongated body and the sharp fin on top. The miniature sharks all had nasty upper bites with dagger-like teeth, “Great white sharks!”

            “Don’t put your fingers in there,” Azura warned them, “they may just be plastic and a spell, but they act like real sharks.”

            Maya froze in the act of reaching out a hand, and Alice hastily put the bowl down beside the Giraffes. The next case had a closed top and a sturdy little bonsai tree inside. There were miniature monkeys swinging from the branches, shaking the leaves down. Their tiny screeches could be heard through the glass, and Alice couldn’t stop the wide smile that spread across her face. It seemed almost impossible to frown in the presence of monkeys, and when they were miniature, it was even better!

            “Oh look!” Maya was holding a larger, rectangular case. This one held a minute jungle scene, complete with tiny, detailed trees and hanging vines. A number of tiny Elephants were stomping through, knocking over everything in their path.

            The last two cases Alice pulled out held a pride of miniature golden lions and a herd of tiny, brightly striped Zebra.

            “What happens if you put a miniature Zebra in with the miniature Lions?” Altair had descended the back steps into the room. His shaggy hair was still wet, and he was in the process of buttoning his shirt.

            “Nature would happen,” Azura said, “and it wouldn’t be pretty.”

            Altair tapped on the glass of the lion cage, and one of them turned around, and showed him its teeth, snarling. “Very intimidating.” He told it. “But I could crush you with my thumb.”

            “Does talking to tiny fake lions make you feel manly?” Alice grinned at him.

            “Absolutely.”

            “I’m going to start putting these on the shelves,” Maya picked up the case of lions and walked into the front room. Alice heard the door bell jangle and the girl greet someone who had just come in.

            “I’ll get the sharks,” she picked up the tank gingerly, holding it out in front of her as she walked carefully to the front. There was a man standing to one side of the front desk. He looked up when she came in, squinting at her through thick, coke bottle glasses.

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