The Birdcage

πŸ“… Published on April 21, 2022

β€œThe Birdcage”

Written by Blake Blizzard
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
Please wait...

Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Corpus Christi, TX

December 30, 2020

The mysterious artifact that doesn’t exist, but everyone is still looking for, by Ben Read.

Those in the know refer to it as “the item.” Supposedly this secret item is worth untold riches, can cure cancer, or make the Detroit Lions win one super bowl in their miserable existence. Joking, of course, nothing can get the Lions to win. But this artifact, or “item,” slowly transcends from a small group of modern-day Indiana Jones explorer to the mainstream suburban adventure seeker. A true urban legend that has enthralled thousands. One of the thousands is Ms. Ella Carter, who I had the genuine pleasure of talking to about this topic. I asked Ms. Carter exactly what this item was, physically. Her response was ambiguous at best. “It’s not really in a physical form, per se,” she stated. “I, of course, have not seen it YET, but I believe it will shift to what your mind perceives.”

I went on to ask her where this item has been all this time or where she thinks it possibly may be. “I’ve been following it for almost five years now. I can’t say where it’s been because I don’t want ill-meaning travelers to ruin those small, beautiful towns and villages. To be clear again, I have not been in possession, nor have I seen it, but I know where it has been through my investigations.”

As a side note, I will say that Ms. Carter seemed genuinely convincing. Like most people, she believes that the sky is blue in this ghostly item. I’ll go on with the rest of her response. “I will say that I have never been more certain of its current location. The item will be found soon.”

Intrigued, I went on to ask what this mystery item actually does. Are any of the rumors true? Does it cure leukemia, give people superpowers, or make you telekinetic? With a slight laugh.. which seemed a little condescending, she stated the following: “Honestly, I do not know exactly. But I do know it is life-changing. I know this. And you can find this true happiness in the land of the smallest and biggest creatures in the world.”

I sat up so fast that I knocked over my energy drink and tablet, soaking the Corpus Christi caller times virtual article. This has been what I’ve been waiting forβ€”not spilling my drink. I’ve been following the item for most of my adult life. My name is Duane Slate. People call me D. I’m a writer. I have fortunately had two somewhat successful psychological drama-type novels produced in the last six or seven years. I do freelance work and write short stories for the internet between novels. It’s creative life. I did a deep dive on the aforementioned subject for a YouTube video, and it’s curtains ever since. I’ve put every resource I have available into tracking the item down. I’m burning through my novel royalties like an (insert addict) using (insert drug.)

I start laughing as I look at the mess I made. Despite the feelings of dread I’ve been consumed with, I laughβ€”alien-like green liquid all over my desk, spiked with an unseen clear liquor. Vodka, to be specific. It’s only 11 am. I don’t start the brown stuff until at least after five p.m. Dem’s the rules.

I’m also laughing because I’m reading some local newspaper from the southern part of Texas when I live over one thousand miles away. I’m reading it because I have several Google Alerts set up for any information on this item. One is the lady being interviewed. Ella Carter.

Once I opened that alert and saw the title and the date, I knew I was about to connect a few pieces to my years of chasing the rabbit. Ms. Ella Carter, I will get into shortly. The date, December 30, is my birthday. I turned an odd 37 years old in the current year. No friends, no family left that wants to talk to me, only two books that a few thousand people gave a shit enough to read. Dread is my normal baseline in my life. Quick note: It’s just a personal observation. Shouldn’t we call it a day of birth or our “birthdate?” I’m pretty sure we only have ONE birthday. The rest of our lives are celebrating the birthday, but I’ll continue. After I cleaned my table and tablet, I looked at the article to make sure what I read was what I thought.

After slamming down the remaining energy drink, I made my breakfast: Two 7-11 breakfast burritos. Talk about living the life of Riley. I’ve always been interested in urban legends. I first found out about the “item” when I was a teenager. I can’t remember where exactly, but I believe it was in a library book. I didn’t have much to do as a kid, and reading was my escape. If you remember the book fair or the mobile book day, there was always a tiny section of urban legend and weird books for kids. Sasquatch, aliens, ghosts, general spookiness. Made our little brains go crazy in the imagination department. I happened to read this paragraph about an item that could grant you any wish you desire under a forgettable modern urban legend paperback. Even as a youngster, I understood this was probably all made up, but I loved the idea. And I never forgot it.

I’d find mentions of it in many media. I dove deeper. I found a subreddit dedicated to the item. I traveled to places in the US I heard it might be. I believe I was closest when I red-eyed to Savannah, Georgia. For those that know, they know. For the uninitiated, it’s one of the most haunted places in the United States of America. It was here that I found the missing link. Ella Carter.

My research led me to one of the hundreds of cemeteries dotting the mossy landscape. Usually, cemeteries are peaceful. Most souls here have been buried according to their wishes. The dread I feel now, though.. Damn. As I looked for the tombstone I believed was where the item would be, I saw.. nothing. “You missed her,” a voice whispered from behind me. “What the fu-” I slightly jumped, spinning in a 180, to see a nice old woman standing in front of me. “Oh, I’m sorry, child, don’t be afraid. I tried not to scare you.” Holding my chest, I took a deep breath and spoke. “No, I’m sorry, miss. I’m sure everyone here is tired of tourists trouncing through your beautiful cemeteries.” “Heavens, if you boys want to attach yourself with multiple voodoo or God knows what else spirits, we don’t mind. Less for us.” She said that last part with a wink.

Ok, lady, I thought in my head. “Um, you said I missed her. Who could you possibly be talking about?” “Ella,” she said, looking at me like I had three heads. “I know what you are looking for. She’s already closer than you. She’s always closer. She comes by here a lot and says the energy always pools in this location. She also says she’s not afraid of competitors. No one is better than her.”

Geez, lady, she sure is confident to brag to strangers. I thanked her and backed away out of the cemetery slowly. The old lady watched me the entire way. I surfed the web as hard as I ever had that night in my hotel. Wifi was exceptional. I shredded the waves of binary that night. I found the Ella I was looking for through my usual research sites and my subreddit friends: Ella Carter.

For lack of a better term, she’s the expert in the field of the item. She’s closely guarded the lore and locations of the item. The gatekeeper, if you would. After setting her name as a google alert, I’ve gotten a few crumbs here and there, but nothing like the big carrot I just got. She said you could find the item in the land where the largest and smallest creatures exist. I knew from some random JR. high school, the fact that the smallest mammal and largest fish could be found in the area of the small Asian country of Thailand. The bumblebee bat and whale shark call Thailand home. Next stop: Thailand.

It’s not like I jumped on a plane that night. I had to sober up. I needed to clear my head. Funny that I could solve that sentence that Ella uttered immediately. You know how we all remember strange, random things. Why would I retain the knowledge that the smallest mammal and largest fish reside in Thailand? I’m sure it was interesting to me at the time from whatever teacher uttered that dumb fact. I do like bees and whale sharks, so maybe that’s all there is to it.

I’m sitting at my local airport 10 hours later. I never planned to board a plane to freaking Thailand in my life. I know only about the country is that the “Streetfighter 2” character, “Sagat,” calls his home there. He’s no slouch either. He’s the second to last boss on the arcade-to-console fighting game. Seriously though, that’s all I know about Thailand. Well, and they may allegedly have these ladyboys around as one of their prime sources of entertainment. I won’t be able to find out. I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Quick note and insta update: I’m hammered. I treated myself on a Delta flight. I bought whatever package got me FREE booze. Preemptively I can’t wait to shake off the impending hangover so I can find the item. The liquid courage is coursing through me, telling me that I will finally be the first to uncover what this otherworldly beast is. Maybe it really is a beast, an animal. No one knows, so it could truly be anything. Maybe it’s a candlestick. Maybe it’s a bar of soap. Maybe it’s a three-million-year-old demon. No one can say otherwise. Not even Ms. Ella fancy pants. Ok, I think I’ve finally imbibed too much free drink, which is a sentence I hate typing. I’ll go to sleep now. See you in Thailand.

The sun is burning through my 28th-story hotel room. It’s a decent view. I have a giant glass window that lets in entirely too much of that view. I don’t even remember how I found this room. I think I decided to rage when I touched down. Looking around with that familiar day after haze, I correctly identify my most crucial possessions: Keys, wallet, and phone. My clothes were in my suitcase too. So far, I’m up. I hope I didn’t decide to visit one of those legendary ladyboys last night. I wouldn’t remember anyway.

Downing the crappy coffee provided in my room’s suspect coffee maker, I clean myself up and head down to the lobby. My journey is just getting started. Luckily, I am a professional at recovery, so the hangover will subside very soon. The caffeine is a good head start. All I need is some grease to back it up. Look at thatβ€”a good ‘ol American Mickey D’s just ten steps from the front door of my hotel.

I’ll be headed to the capital today. Damn place tasted like Ronald himself from Illinois cooked my sausage and egg McMuffin. Delicious. I don’t have any good reason why, but I have a burning sensation in my body that that is where I will find another clue from Ella if I don’t find her in person. I hope that’s the burning sensation I am feeling, and it does not relate to anything else..

Hey everyone. D here again. Sorry for the lack of updates. It has not been a good week here in Thailand. I found something, though. I found JACK SHIT. I also did find that the Thai cremes here are loaded with Thai rice wine. I bring them all to my room. I’m live streaming as we speak to my seven or eight thousand viewers on twitch. This is “in real life,” as it gets. Yep, another day of nothing. I even have a dumb note on my table by the TV. Wait.

What follows is a really fancy script:

Dearest Duane. “D,”

Thank you for completing the puzzle. Almost. I’m more than impressed that you’ve traveled more than 5000 miles to find the item. You’re so close. Closer than most have ever been in the history of the world. I won’t make it too difficult. Come to where the 24th meets the N. It’s easy like I said. You might be asking why. I don’t have a clear answer for that right now. It’ll be easier to speak face to face about it. See your face soon πŸ˜›


I tossed the note towards the stupid glass wall that exposed me to the glorious view of downtown Taiwan. As depressed and anxious as I was, I can easily admit how pretty the skyline was. The dread has once again started to eat at my belly. Wait. The note said 24th and N. I’ve looked hrough every possible combination of 24th street and street, starting with the letter N. Nothing. Big ol’ fat zero. I was stuck with the dread. Consuming me like the Venom symbiote consumed Eddy Brock. Then it hit me. Ella said face not once, not twice, but three times. I drunkenly walked by one of the most popular franchises in this wonderful country. Face to face to Face Noodles. That’s how it translates to English. It’s not that wordy in their language. Now all I have to do is find the noodle store with the number 24N. A simple search reveals that it is merely 1 mile away. Even though I’ve ravaged my body with booze, I can still walk and run without too many issues. Non-smoker, too. Despite all my issues, at least I don’t smoke dirty cigarettes. That must be why my cardio is still decent.

I had a good pace going as I came upon the Noodle store of destiny. I could see the sign from quite a distance. The neon sign flashed yellow and red in what I’d guess are 1 to 2-second intervals. It comprised of a big bowl of noodles, shocking, I know. One motion was chopsticks in the bowl, the next lifting out with a huge ass helping of tasty noodles. I tried my best to sober up in record time and focus. I called my years of metal gear solid PS1 experience to make my way to the noodle shop stealthily. The dread was releasing. The realization that I might accomplish something in my pathetic life was covering me like a fuzzy sherpa blanket.

That lasted for a good 10 seconds. I tripped into the door, rocking those alert bells that some older stores have above their door. This was an accidental trip, mind you. It was not from the rice wine.

I could tell it was her from the moment I regained my footing. She was facing me, cupping a moderate size bowl of noodles. When she lifted her eyes to meet mine, she aggressively inhaled and simultaneously expelled a huge amount of broth and noodles. Impressive. “Duane.. you .. made it?”

“Is that a question or statement?” She was just staring at me in awe. This is something I was not used to. “Ok, I’ll talk then.” I proceeded to expel a brief history lesson on myself to Ella. The depression, the closing myself off. The bullshit attempt to connect with people through my writing and pathetic streaming career. I also explained that this item was keeping me in the game. The feeling of dread I became used to over the last few years had finally gone away once I got here. I finished with a simple question: “Where is it?”

Ella warmly smiled. She wasn’t attractive in the traditional sense, but she wasn’t a pile of mud either. “No one has ever been closer. It’s in a lesser-known palace just 20 miles away.” I had a brief moment of clarity. “Ok, hold on. So you’ve always said you don’t know where this item is exactly. But you’re always close. The old bag in the cemetery told me you already got the item.” Ella brushed her dark hair back. “Your mind is clouded right now, D. Go get some rest. I’ll meet you at 8 am sharp. No more puzzles. Meet me at this address.” She slid me the address on a noodle napkin. I took one last, long look at her, seeing if I could tell any more foolishness coming from her. She challenged me right back. We could have made an energy ball with how hard both of us were staring. I don’t have to be some alpha. I’ll submit it. I looked away and headed toward my hotel. I’d rather have the item than win a staring contest.

I wake up fast. And uncomfortable. Opening my eyes, it looks like I’m in the middle of a waterfall. It was the giant bucket of cold water Ella threw into my face. I instinctively try to get up, finding that my hands and feet are tied to an old steel chair. “You made it on time!” Ella spoke. I quickly attempt to take in my surroundings. Looks like we are in the middle of a long-abandoned, crumbling temple. I’d guess it was an ancient monastery developed over a thousand years ago.

How did I get here? Why did this happen? These are just two thoughts running through my head, which feels like it’s being peppered with hammers from those little turtle hammer bros from the original Super Mario Brother NES game. The dread is back.

Ella comes close to me, taking a deep squat to meet me at eye level. “We don’t have much time. I’m sorry it ended like this for you, but I’m not sorry for me. I’ve held on to this albatross for too long. It’s time that someone else takes the misery.” She studies my face, knowing I could not possibly be more confused.

“I’ve always had this.” She stands back up and walks behind me where I cannot see. When she returns, she has a dish with a cover on it. It’s like what an old-school waiter would hold before they take the top off and reveal deserts or dinner, or, you know what I mean. I hope. What I see is so comforting. So rewarding. It’s a golden birdcage that could maybe fit a smaller size parrot. I’m not making much sense, I know. The dread is gone again.

“Look. Think of something you love.” That’s a tough one for me. “Look into the birdcage, and imagine something… you.. love,” she says more purposefully. At that moment, my childhood German shepherd appeared inside the cage. It was like a holograph. The sight of my old pal Chip made me so happy I instantly started sobbing. I stared at him running, rolling around, chewing on one of the massive bones we got him for Christmas. Just like that, she snapped her fingers and made it disappear.

I see. This is some kind of trick, or voodoo or something. “Let me go, and I will forget this,” I spit at her. I won’t call the Police or tell anyone what happened. How did I even get here? This doesn’t make sense!” “You were obviously meant to achieve this, D. We are all impressed, Ella coos. “I suppose it’s time to put the last puzzle piece down for you.” The dread.. that mischievous bitch, was coming up from my stomach to my throat again.

“The birdcage, as you’ll know it from now on, is an impressive item indeed. It seeks out a soul that is on its last ride. Full of pain and has nothing left to live for.” I started to sink. “But now you have an item that can give you anything! You can live forever.” I start to understand. With my eyes on the ground, I ask: “So what’s the catch.” I wasn’t looking at her, but I could feel her smirk. She knew this was coming, obviously.

“Well.. you’ll be a prisoner to the birdcage until you can find someone to take it from you. Your family won’t remember you, your friends, if you still had any, won’t remember you. The birdcage will take away what truly makes you happy. You didn’t even know what did make you laugh or cry or enjoy in your real life. Now you never will. You can do little parlor tricks and even amass a small fortune. But it’ll be empty and hollow like this old temple.”

I slowly pick my head up to meet her gaze. “So now I’m the gatekeeper, eh. How did you reach out and finally get my ass more than halfway around the world to get it? I’ve been researching this forever. Why didn’t you just get it over with when I first started this?” “Oh, Duane,” she scoffed. I’ve been trying for over 300 years. It’s not as easy as you think. But you’ll find out. I don’t want to spoil any surprises for you. Let’s just say that you can’t use your energy to get through to fellow adventurers that easily. You’ll figure that out.

“So, how did you get me here? The last thing I knew, I was looking at your stupid face at that stupid noodle place, and then I was here.” “You remember me slipping you that napkin with the address on it, right?” she said. Of course, I didn’t want to agree with that quickly. “I know you do,” she said. “That’s the last step to passing over the birdcage.” “I know it seems easy, but you’ll see how hard it is to get to that last step in the next few hundred years. And yes, I was looking at you dumbly because of the shock I was in. After so long, I finally got one. I got one to take me out of this torture. I was like you, D, depressed, angry, sad, lonely. I wanted so much more. I stumbled onto this mystery item that cures your life just like that. That’s all I wanted, D. I’m sorry. It’s a myth. There are no quick fixes. But I need OUT of this life.

And now I’m here. I am typing to anybody, typing to nobody, trying to pierce the veil of whatever dimension will grant me access. I need someone to take this cage away from me. I thought my life was bad before. At least I could get drunk. Now I drink all day every day and don’t feel anything. This item takes and takes and takes. It squeezes the last amount of joy you have. I’m looking for anyone to take this pain from me. I’ve planted clues, literally and figuratively. I hope to God someone takes the bait. I don’t want to be in this cage anymore.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
Please wait...

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Blake Blizzard
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

πŸ”” More stories from author: Blake Blizzard

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

More Stories from Author Blake Blizzard:

Join Me by the Fire
Average Rating:

Join Me by the Fire

Related Stories:

No posts found.

You Might Also Enjoy:

The Corn Wolf
Average Rating:

The Corn Wolf

I Knocked on Death’s Door
Average Rating:

I Knocked on Death’s Door

Beyond the Pale
Average Rating:

Beyond the Pale

Recommended Reading:

Knuckle Balled
The Vessel: Book Three: A Space Horror Series
Night of the ZomBEEs: A Zombie Novel with Buzz
Tenement: A Short Horror Story

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Skip to content