Congratulations to yesterday’s giveaway winner, Cindy Dawkins! Cant wait to see where you find a place for Anna Bost’s beautiful skull photo! (I’ll be in touch soon to get your contact info!)
If you’re just joining #12days1story… welcome! Go back and catch up on my first short story, Longspur. Part Harry Potter and Part Ice Age, this little tale is about a fledgling bird named Cal Longspur, who’s preparing for his first migration South. But a mysterious accident that happened in his past and crippling insecurity might keep him from successfully making his first Passing. Can he make it home, to a home he’s never been—but knows he was made to find?
read on for Part IV!
LONGSPUR – PART IV
The five birds bounded into the air with abandon, immediately peeling in all different directions looking for a seed. The air was brisk, and Cal flew upward between two skinny tall evergreens, thinking as quickly as possible. “Not to the east,” he thought. “That’s where the snow is most dense. And not towards the water, either.”
Finally, high above the expanse of the ground, he glided calmly and scanned the terrain. Everywhere was snow. The air was thin and smelled of evergreens. From above, snow-capped trees looked like islands, and the ground seemed impossibly far away. He breathed in and closed his eyes for a moment, then entered a patch of brilliant light, feeling the sudden warmth of the sun on his back. He opened his eyes and immediately found a slanted beam of light that traveled through the trees and was silently defrosting a patch of ground near a berry bush. Almost without thought, he plunged downward, straight through a column of sunshine, letting it direct him toward the ground. Behind him, Magda and Doren followed.
On the ground, all three began poking and prodding in haste. Doren disappeared through the thicket, and Cal separated himself from Magda under the bush. “There has to be something,” he thought. “There must be something.”
Suddenly, he heard a cry from behind him, and watched Doren speed away from a small ground nest. There, a mother bird flailed endlessly, and cawed with anger. Magda was standing on the far side of the nest and had watched it all. She looked at Cal with anxious eyes, and breathed simply, “He took her seed.” With that, she flittered back into the thicket to search again.
Cal tried to ignore the injustice he’d just witnessed, and kept prodding the ground. His beak finally landed on the hollow, nutty sound he’d been waiting for. Seizing the a little dark seed from the ground, Cal pushed up and and flew frantically toward the starting point, trying desperately not to swallow.
When he arrived, the birds were all cheering. Doren, Colin, and Trudy perched above the rest, triumphant, mouths open, displaying their found treasure. Cal landed beside them, opened his mouth to show what he’d found, then swallowed—tasting dirt, the seed, and relief. Exhausted and still hungry, Cal looked around and hoped he’d see Magda with a seed of her own. Perhaps they’d both end up as Captains, he thought. But Magda landed quietly beside him, with nothing to show for her search.
Magda looked at Cal with empty eyes, and a feeling of guilt bubbled up inside him. Cal couldn’t stomach the thought that Doren was moving on, and Magda would be eliminated. From the look on Magda’s face, Cal imagined she was thinking the same. Her eyes were darker than normal.
“Magda, better luck next year!” Madame Billow pronounced happily, opening her wings to display the four winners. “On to the next challenge!”
But just as she was opening her mouth to explain the next event, Madame Billow was interrupted by a frantic, thrashing bird, who’d just landed in the center of the crew. The little ones moved away from her like she smelled of rotten fishguts. Cal turned to look at the intruder—a puffed up mother bird on a mission for justice.
“Wait, wait, WA-IT!” she huffed, pointing wildly towards the contenders. “ST-OP!”
Thanks for joining us for Part IV! What are you thinking of the story so far? What do you think will happen next?