A bit of writing I had to get out of my head despite it making me stay up way later than I should've.
Any grammatical errors and typos can be blamed on the time and my rushing a bit.
"Shutting it down?"
"Yes. That's what I heard."
"...are you sure?"
"I may not be as young as I once was, but these ears do not deceive me."
"...but why are they shutting it down?"
"Lack of funds? I really don't know. I didn't get to hear much."
"...but...what does that mean for us?"
"We'll probably be sold."
"Yes. Sold. Or transferred to other zoos."
"I'm not sure I like the sound of that." A hint of apprehension, perhaps fear, colored the voice.
A tired sigh. "I'm not too thrilled with it myself."
A frustrated sound. "Nothing we can do though, is there."
A few breaths of silence as the older one thought. "There is a part of the fence that is weaker than the rest. It was damaged once and they didn't do a very good job of repairing it."
A creased brow. "Why are you telling me...-"
"So you can decide."
Brows lifted in silent query.
"Here has been safe. That I know. But where you would end up? That I don't know."
"I'm still not sure I get what you mean..."
"The unknown or the unknown."
Blink. "O..k.. Still don't get what you mean."
"I'm telling you you don't have to go. You can leave on your own terms."
Another blink, this one curious.
"Like your brother once did."
Brows creased. "You said he disappeared."
"...yes. I did. And...he did. But a portion of fence was also found broken after that day. It was...assumed he jumped it somehow and ran into the woods. No one found anything when they searched though. It was like he just...disappeared."
"But he didn't just disappear, right? He had to have gone somewhere."
"I believe he found somewhere better to be. Better than being always safe." A smile entered the voice. "Perhaps he flew like that bird."
"...why didn't you tell me this before?"
Almost a whisper. "I didn't want to lose you too..."
A pause. "Mother. I never thought of leaving. I always liked it here. ...before now anyway..." An annoyed tone as the words drifted off.
"But now you will need to leave, and I may lose you anyway, were we not sent to the same place after this one."
"Decide, Tougen. I didn't let your brother choose because there was no need. But in this, you need to choose. Both choices are unknown. Neither could be safe. But I cannot choose for you."
A pause. "...what does my name mean in English?"
A blink. "It means 'tundra'. But why did you want to know?"
A touch of nervous amusement entered the voice. "Because 'Tougen' might sound a little weird to anyone I might meet..."
Besides, he never did like that the humans gave him such a similar-sounding name to "Toukan".
It was as she'd said. Poorly repaired. A quick job done in a panic to prevent any other escape. But after years of various weather beating upon it, they may as well have done nothing.
The fence proved no match.
Though perhaps it just felt no need to mangle the leg of one whose leg was already mangled...
Sights, sounds, smells.
Everything was different.
Too much to take in.
A flurry of panicked hooves, a scuffle of dirt, the edge of a cliff--
Skidding to a halt, panting to catch breath.
There, below, was a beautiful expanse of water, bigger than he'd ever seen.
Those eyes, pale as ice, almost couldn't believe what they were seeing.
"...what...is this place?"