Here we go, folks! On to part seven!
If you’re just joining us—this is #12days1story. Twenty-four days of awesomeness wrapped up into literary magic: 12 days of giveaways, 12 installments of one story. So, if you’re interested in reading the whole thing… here are links to the rest.
Now… on to part VII!
LONGSPUR – PART VII
Orientation proved a much harder skill than Madame Billow had imagined for these first time birds. Colin was still missing. Trudy refused to climb onto the Gyrfalcon’s back, disqualifying her completely. Doren’s face was bloodied—the falcon’s failed attempt to impale Doren freed him from the blindfold, but left him with a battle wound. Surrounded by “oohing” and “ahhing” birds, he was already telling the story the third time.
Madame Billow was busy organizing a search crew for Colin, so Cal took the opportunity to step nearer to Magda.
“Thank you for saving me earlier,” Cal said simply. “I was certain Doren would tell everyone I’d stolen that seed. Heck, everyone would have believed him.”
“Don’t mention it,” Magda said, turning her little head to the side, then turning darker. “I just wish he’d been disqualified.”
“There’s still a chance,” Cal said, looking over his wings at Doren, now on a fourth, even more fanciful rendition of his near-death experience. “So, how’d you get the blindfold off?”
Magda looked at him with a blank stare. “What do you mean?” she chirped.
“I mean, Doren says he almost died, Colin’s still missing, and I just got really lucky,” Cal said, rubbing his head where the talon had made its perfect swipe. “How did you get it off?”
Without a word, Magda bent her head down low to the ground, and scratched it with her foot. Cal had never seen a bird do that before. She’d freed herself.
“It’s strange, I know,” she said. “Some kind of weird hidden talent.”
Cal was laughing at Magda’s goofy stance when Madame Billow called everyone’s attention back again. She’d just released a group of birds to go find Colin, and with a flip of her tail-feather, she was ready to move on. Cal was amazed at Madame Billow’s remarkable ability of ignoring the fact that a bird was lost, flying blind, or worse—still on the back of a Gyrfalcon. Cal wondered, if it only took him moments to get off a blindfold, how long would it take for the falcon to free her beak?
The sun had inched across the sky and was heading west quickly. But at this point in the year, it rarely set completely. They had several more hours of decent light, and one final challenge.
“Instincts,” Madame Billow announced solemnly. “Above all else, Captains need ruggedacious instincts of leadership to guide us home. And as we all know, when your instincts go off course, so will you,” she paused, taking in the seriousness of this moment, “and so will the ones you love.”
Cal swallowed hard at the mention of instincts and going off course. Only moments ago he was flying victoriously away from a Gyrfalcon, and laughing with Magda, but now, all that excitement fizzled away—diluted by dread.
Cal knew he could scavenge. He knew he had an uncanny ability to find the wind and find his way South. But instincts? He was pretty sure he wasn’t born with the right set.
When birds would flock together and head to the wire, as they’d done this morning, Cal almost never joined. Playing, nesting, chasing or any other summer pastime seemed lost on him. Instead, Cal found solace in solitary flying. Without the proper instincts, he knew he’d never be chosen for Captain. Then again, he thought, maybe I don’t even want this position.
After all, his poor instincts had caused the accident.
Special thanks, once again, to Q Avenue Photo for today’s brilliant picture!
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Any comments today enter you for goodies tomorrow!