Saturday, April 16, 2011

Copy Bird

Copy Bird Caught in a trap of his own devising to keep him safe, Bill begins to get lonely. It makes sense to him that he should now proceed into the open world. His goal is simply to find someone to be his friend and keep him company. Will he find what he is searching for or is he destined to be alone? (Approximately 3,800 words)

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COPY BIRD


Copyright © 2011 B.C. Young


It’s been over three weeks since he last felt any ground shakes. Their sound continues to ring in his ears. In order to be safe, he hasn’t left his shelter underground. He reasons that he could make his way above ground, only to find death waiting at his door.

Food supplies are good. On his shelves, he’s placed non-perishables like canned beans, beets, and green beans. After three weeks, he’s tired of eating those foods, but he knows he’d be dead without them.

Water is another issue. While he was prepared for what happened, he could only store so much water. His supply is low and he knows that he will have to make his way to the surface–whether he wants to or not.

“Why didn’t I store more water?” He asks aloud. It’s a valid question. He put his priorities in the food not realizing the amount of water he would drink out of boredom.

More than three weeks with no human contact is difficult for him. It’s as if he is in jail–kept in solitary confinement. He finds himself speaking aloud regularly. Sometimes, he hears someone speaking back, and he has a conversation. Other times, he’s just speaking so he can hear another human voice.

He decides to see if there is any sign of life above. Fear grips his body and he hesitates for a moment. The fallout could be bad. The thought of radiation poisoning crosses his mind. He doesn’t want to experience that death. But, water is low, and he doesn’t want to experience that death either.

He reaches up his hands and pulls a ladder from the ceiling. The ladder reaches the floor and he begins to climb up. After climbing about twenty feet, he reaches a door that is above his head. He grabs the door handle with his hand, turns the knob, and tries to open it. The door doesn’t open. He then begins banging on it, but it will not budge.

“Must be something fell on it,” he says to no one. And no one confirms this back to him.

Suddenly fear grips him with the thought that he is trapped. The shelter he built for safety might be his demise. The fear causes the adrenaline in his body to flow like a torrent river, and a rush of energy fills his body. He pushes on the door furiously, its wood structure not giving in. He slams his fists and head upwards with all his might, slamming into it. Finally, it moves. It bounces open then closes very quickly.

This movement gives him hope. He pushes into it even harder and it raises more. Harder again. And again. Then with one last burst of energy, he slams the door and it opens. The debris on top that held it closed falls out of the way and a cloud of dust finds its way towards him. He coughs and moves his free arm through the air to dissipate the dust. Then he climbs out of his shelter.

Standing on the floor of what was once his kitchen, he examines how it has all fallen apart. The walls around him have collapsed, but not completely. The home is no longer livable, but it won’t cave in on him either.

“I don’t hear any activity,” he says. Silence only greets him within the fallen home and outside. “Did anyone survive?”

He decides to make his way out of the home. He makes his way over fallen furniture and crushed glass. The doorway out of the home is blocked, but he thinks he can get out through the living room window.

“Tell them to follow you,” he hears someone say in the distance, and loud coughing accompanying it.

The first sound of a human voice fills his bones with hope. If someone else survived, he might be okay. He frantically makes his way to the window. He tries to open it, but it does not budge. No problem–he decides to break it. Kicking his foot out, he hits it dead and center. Glass shatters everywhere. He kicks away the glass that is still attached to the frame, and then crawls out the window.

“Take the needle” – cough – “and stick it in his heart,” he hears the voice say again.

“Where are you?” he calls out. He wonders if the voice is his imagination again.

The outside of his home looks even worse. The street is in shambles. Homes and buildings have collapsed. Trash and debris litter the streets, and a thick coating of gray dust covers almost everything in front of him. But thankfully, the weather is nice.

He tries to determine in which direction he heard the voice. Then he hears it again.

“He needs help. He’ll only survive a month,” the voice says.

He needs help he thinks. Are there more survivors? He decides the voice came from his right side and begins walking in that direction. He realizes he’s hiking more than he is walking because he is constantly climbing up and down debris in his path. He feels it’s good to get a little exercise after his confinement for three weeks.

“Tell them to follow you,” the voice says again, and again he hears coughing.

He quickens his pace, realizing the voice is louder, so he must be closer. He jumps off a cement block to a three-foot drop and stumbles a little. He continues running and then stops. He needs to hear the voice again to know how close he is to it.

“Take the needle” – cough – “and stick it in his heart,” he hears the voice say on cue.

The voice is loud. It is so loud he is nearly on top of it. But he doesn’t see anyone. Perhaps he is hearing a recording.

“He needs help. He’ll only survive a month,” the voice says.

Immediately, he turns his head to the left and takes a few steps in the voice’s direction. And then he sees the sound of the voice perched on a rock. It is a bird. Its yellow feathers contrast nicely with the dark gray world before him. The bird turns its head and looks at him.

“Were you the one talking?” he asks to the bird.

The bird doesn’t respond. Just continues to look at him. Then finally:

“Master says, ‘No talking. Only copy. Only talk when absolutely necessary.’”

“So it was you,” he says. His hopes are dashed since his find wasn’t another living human.

The bird just stares at him. He feels it is daring him to say something else.

“Where did you come from little guy?” he asks.

“Master says, ‘No talking. Only copy. Only talk when absolutely necessary.’”

“You certainly are a strange bird. Do you say anything else?”

“Master says, ‘No talking. Only copy. Only talk when absolutely necessary.’”

“Now you sound like a broken record. I get the point. You can’t have a conversation–only copy. You’re a copy bird. Can I call you that? Copy Bird?”

Despite the fact that the bird doesn’t talk, he imagines that it likes the name. He reaches out his hand for the bird to perch on his finger. The bird does as expected and jumps to his finger. He thinks to himself that the bird is as light as a feather, but in reality it’s two hundred.

“Now you sound like a broken record,” the bird repeats, mimicking his voice perfectly.

“Wow. That’s quite a feat. Sounds just like me, Copy Bird. By the way, my name is Bill.”

“My name is Bill,” the bird says.

“You certainly are a copy bird.”

He decides he likes the bird. And if it will only repeat what is said to it, that’s better conversation than he’s had recently. There doesn’t appear to be a soul alive in the area, and if someone is, they haven’t come out yet. He thinks it would be good to take the bird home with him. There’s a pet store just down the street from where he lives. He reasons it’s probably collapsed and abandoned, but maybe he could get inside and find some bird seed.

With the bird perched on his hand, he starts walking in the direction of the store. After a few feet, the bird decides it doesn’t want to go in that direction and jumps off his hand. It flies up above and back towards the direction where Bill found him.

“Wait, Copy Bird! Come back!” he yells.

He runs towards the bird, hoping it won’t leave him. He sees that it has flown onto the roof of a building that is remarkably still standing. It’s about two stories up, and it looks down at Bill.

Now why would that bird want to leave he thinks. After all, he is the only one around who could provide him any chance of survival.

“Copy Bird, come down from there!” he hollers up to the bird. “You won’t survive very long out here all by yourself.”

“I – I will survive,” Copy Bird replies with a hint of song behind his voice.

“So you can talk. I thought you said you couldn’t talk, Copy Bird, unless it was necessary.”

“Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive,” Copy Bird says, reciting more of the lyric and sounding just like the original recording of the song from many decades ago.

He laughs. “You’re funny, Copy Bird. Now come down here. Make me laugh some more.”

Instead of listening, Copy Bird jumps off the building’s roof and begins flying away from Bill. Bill doesn’t want to let him get away so he continues to run down the street after the bird. He hopes the bird doesn’t fly too far before it rests. If it does, he’ll be too tired to keep following it.

To continue reading this story, get it FREE on Smashwords. Purchase it for your Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook for only 1 Taco. Do you live in the UK? You can purchase this story for your Amazon Kindle.