Flash Friday 10/01/2014: Bird vs. Beetle
People usually said that their blood was their life force. Percy always said it was caffeine.
Not that he was an addict, or anything. At his age, anything that put stress upon the heart was taken with some caution. The problem in the morning, however, wasn’t from stopping it from beating too quickly, but to get it started in the first place.
He always kept to just the one mug of coffee. It was twice the volume of a normal mug, but it was one.
The routine was flawless. He’d put the mug down on the desk while turning the computer on. The open window right next to the desk would let in a cool breeze, that would bring his boiling hot coffee down to a more respectable level. One Mother Nature had done her part on the war of getting up far too early (and it was always too early), he could finally have his caffeinated beverage.
He opened his email. He was never sure why he did. He had a mental image before he started his club that people would be emailing him every day for additional information, to ask about his interests, or propose things that the club can do. It turns out, however, that fans of Volkswagen Beetles tended to keep to themselves more than he thought. Not that he could blame them; any time driving a Beetle, painting one, or collecting toy versions was time better spent than trying to rack his old brain for information at this point. Sometimes he forgot he even ran a club.
The sun was shining through the window. He could also hear the birdsong through it. It seemed louder than usual, but that didn’t matter. All that mattered is that he had his mug of coffee.
He picked up the mug. It lifted with more ease than usual.
There was something he was adamant about when going for his first sip of the day, and that’s that the mug had to come to near bone-cracking levels of pressure on his wrist when he picked it up. Looking down at the half-full mug, he wondered where the other half had gone. Surely his memory wasn’t this shot? Any kind of mental degeneration wouldn’t hold him back from remembering when he did or did not have a cup of the bitter stuff. If he didn’t drink it, though, then where did it go?
That’s when he saw it.
He thought it was his phone vibrating for a moment, before his brain told him there’s no way that his phone was black and red, sitting on the window, and had two legs. That’s when he noticed that it was actually a bird vibrating very quickly. Its head was moving erratically, as if it was trying to follow a mote of dust moving at jet fighter speeds. Its beak was moist, with some of the feathers on its face dampened.
Its eyes were very, very wide.
“Now hold on,” Percy said slowly, placing the mug down on the desk. “That’s a little too much coffee for a little bird such as you.”
The bird didn’t seem to mind. It didn’t seem to even have a mind. It was like every impulse the bird had in its brain was firing all at once, causing it to flap, blink, chirp, and stomp, all while shaking like it was caught in a highly localised earthquake.
“Now, if you just let me pick you up, I can help take you to a vet, or…whatever you’re supposed to do with animals this way. I don’t think anyone has professional guidance on how to help a bird through a caffeine crash, but–”
Percy stopped. The bird had locked onto something.
It was staring, very intently, at a collectable Volkswagen Beetle that sat on the windowsill. Something about its gaze managed to tell Percy that the bird had been, in the past, put into great danger by cars much like it. Now, it not only had the power of a thousand burning suns within its body, but now felt like Godzilla enacting its revenge.
It raised its beak like a hunter raising an axe over his prey’s neck.
Percy had many years of snatching away paraphernalia from dangers. The time when his friends came over with their kids, who saw his five-figure collection as a toy box. The time when he had that small moment in his life where he thought, for some reason, it would be ideal to get a cat. All of the year’s knowledge came into one quick swipe of the arm as Percy snatched the car off of the windowsill, right before the bird lodged its beak into the windowsill.
“Okay.” Percy held out a hand to catch the bird. “I can help you out of the windowsill. Then, maybe, with your future life choices. All you need to do is not go for my–”
The bird, who was tugging at its confinement throughout, finally broke free to make a peck towards the oncoming hand. Percy yelped, retracting his free hand away from the red and black blur that was once a bird. He liked to think he was a civilised man of logic, but he — like every other human — had the instincts and reflexes that cavemen had, and his cavemen reflexes was telling him to throw the heavy, metal object in his other hand at the rampaging beast. Percy tried to stop it, but cavemen knew not of timeless collectable figures; by the time he had managed to think the word ‘stop’, his arm had already hefted the car at the bird, the Beetle colliding with a satisfying thump, sending both clean out the window.
The bird, given that it had wings, managed to re-establish itself and fly off. The Beetle, however, didn’t.
Percy looked out of the window, down at the wall of bushes where the Beetle landed. This is about as exciting as the life of a Volkswagen Beetle fan club president got.
Book Spotlight: Missing Planet — a story where an entire planet goes missing. For once, it’s not down the side of the sofa.