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About the Author

Ted Kosmatka was born in Northwest Indiana where he now lives with his two small children and wife, Tamela. He has an associate degree in Biology from Indiana University and works as number one analyst at LTV chemical laboratories.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Outside In: Review by A.L. Sirois

The Extinction of Ursus Theodorus

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From behind chromed bars I watch her enter the lab. She is so beautiful to me. Tall, fair skinned, and bipedal, she is everything that I am not, but still she loves me. She tells me so when I do well.

She crosses in front of the cages without a glance and makes her way over to the far end of the lab. My nose twitches involuntarily at the rich smell of coffee she carries in a mug. My tummy rumbles in hunger.

For a long while she is intent upon her work. Sunlight pours in through the big windows making her hair glow golden. I watch, studying her movements, as she removes a rack of instruments from the autoclave with a long pair of crucible tongs. She isn't smiling. I marvel again for the hundredth time at her long limbs and slender digits. So dexterous. She removes a test tube from beneath a large, glass condensing funnel and carefully places it in the centrifuge. She made a game once of teaching me the names of these things in the lab. She is my mother, I think, although I've never asked her.

While her back is turned I slither my forked tongue out between the bars as far as it will go and taste the air, taste her. She is warm and alive. Healthy taste. Friendly taste. I see she is about to turn around so I slurp in my tongue and move to the back of the cage as quickly as I can. I would surely die of embarrassment if she caught me like that. With my thick, stubby fingers I grasp the bedding and wrap myself beneath its' soft fabric. I wait. Soon I know the man will come. He will walk through the door swinging a breifcase from his hand. He will take off his brown jacket and put on his white one. They will sit and talk while I listen, then maybe they will let me out for a few hours.

Faintly, in one of the smaller cages beneath mine, one of my siblings begins mewling softly. She looks up from her work for a moment; a concerned look perched across her face.

"Three," she says gently. "What's wrong with you today?"

But Three only continues his crying; he's one of the older ones and so doesn't understand very many words. She puts down her equipment and walks over to our cages. Her face is on level with my cage and she looks in and smiles at me. I try to smile back and she laughs just a little. She does that sometimes when I try to smile. Her face disappears as she bends down, and I hear a click as she opens Three's cage door.

"Come on, what's wrong? Come here little guy."

A moment later she stands and Three is cradled in her arms. A wave of intense jealousy washes over me as I watch her stroke his fur. His short arms are slung around her neck, his head pressed against her chest. He looks like me, or rather, because he's older, I look like him, although she tells me I'm much cuter and smarter. I'm basically an improved version of him, she told me once, just as he was an improved version of Two. My name is Seven.

After a while he stops his irritating whining and she puts him back in his cage. She stands and looks at me through the bars.

"He's getting so old," she says, shaking her head slowly.

I shirk off the cover and move to the front of the cage, pushing myself against the bars. "So old," I mimic shaking my head like her.

She smiles again and this time I don't try and smile back because I don't want her to laugh. "Pretty today," I say.

"You say that every day."

"Because you pretty everyday."

She just stands for a while looking at me with that smile on her face, and in her eyes, smelling so pleased. I am her favorite, I know. She told me that once when none of the other young ones were around, but I would have known it anyway. She loves me more than any of my brothers.

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