Longspur // Part III

Congratulations to the winner of yesterday’s giveaway, Blair McLeod!  She will be receiving a beautiful hand-made clutch from Annie Williams leather goods. Merry Christmas, indeed! 🙂 … is it bad that I’m jealous of my own giveaway!?

Today we’re back to the story part of #12days1story

Longspur

Part I  // Part II

Here we pick up with Part III, and the start of the competition.  Enjoy!

LONGSPUR – PART III

They flew dodging and flipping through the tall, snow-capped trees. At the back of the V, Cal fumed and breathed quickly, frustrated by Madame Billow’s evasion of the single most important fact. “It’s why we’re leaving in the first place,” Cal thought, narrowly missing a evergreen branch, running through his mind all the places he’d already searched for food today. “How can we scavenge for food, when there is no food?”

But his thoughts were interrupted by the sight of a bird that flapped into his periphery. He was little and struggled to keep up with Cal’s angry, hard-beating wings.

“Don’t fret about Billow,” he chimed. “I heard this is her last Passing.”

Cal didn’t respond, just kept gliding.

longspur part III

“My name’s Deeter,” the little bird said. His tiny beak was dingy, and he squinted while pointing through the air. Deeter’s black head moved affably to the side, and his eyes were bright with care. He leaned in towards Cal’s shoulder and chirped ever so quietly, “and I don’t mean to pry, but aren’t you the General’s son?”

Cal whipped his orange neck to the side, and looked at Deeter with disgust. Deeter’s inquiring eyes widened, and he turned away, acknowledging that he’d crossed some invisible line. Cal opened his mouth to apologize but instead, followed the others through broken beams of sunlight, breaking through the forest, and soaring down, down, down towards the dull grey brush.

The plumes formed a small circle on the hard earth, and Cal and his unwanted friend stood on the periphery. Madame Billow was perched on a branch above the cluster.

“Now, where is our brave volunteer?” she said, turning her head from side to side, scanning the crowd. Then she spotted him. “Cal Longspur!” Madame Billow cried with pride, waving him toward the center. He stepped around the outside of the circle, slowly edging toward the front, and heard Madame Billow cry out again. Her voice was agitating.

“Do we have any other volunteers?” she chattered. The birds looked back and forth among the crowd, and a striped bird with an extra-large beak and pointed feet stepped forward confidently, to whoops and cheers from the tufts behind him.

“Ah, Doren Illbus! How splendid! Any more?” Cal watched three more birds step forward: Colin Terril, a proud bird with mostly-white feathers and a unnaturally sloped back, Trudy Miser, the fastest bird in the bunch. Then finally,

“Yes! Magda Bethel! Perfectification!” Madame Billow bounced the branch with the thrill of it all.

Cal stood in the middle of the ring of birds, incredulous. “Magda?!” he thought, watching her land on the other side of Doren, Colin, and Trudy. He tried with all his might to catch her eyes but Magda’s gaze was locked in the direction of Madame Billow. There, in the center of a shady wood, five birds stood surrounded by their buzzing, shuffling peers, waiting. Madame Billow looked down with a stare of unbridled excitement. The challenge, she explained, was simple. Return with a seed to progress to the next competition. “No seed, No Captainification!” she sang merrily.

Cal felt uneasy, and his thoughts jumped wildly. He was suspicious of Madame Billow and angry at Magda. At the same moment, Doren Illbus pushed him to the side, vying for position, and Cal felt a rush of competitive adrenaline enter his wings. “But I can beat Doren Illbus,” he thought.

“No seed, No Captainification!” Madame Billow repeated. “GO!”

Special thanks to Jason Mundie of A Dream Within for today’s perfect picture. Follow Jason on Twitter to see more of his beautiful work.

So what did you think of today’s installment? What are your thoughts on Madame Billow? Is she good, evil, or just full of tough love? Will Cal make it? What do you think of this Doren character, or Deeter? Let’s hear it! Any and all comments will enter you in tomorrow’s surprise giveaway… 🙂