Saturday, October 27, 2007

Friday Snippet -- Kat Among the Pigeons


Yes, I missed last week. I am so incredibly busy that I'm going to go crazy soon. That is not stopping me from taking part in NaNoWriMo again this year. I need a fun break, and writing like a maniac seems like a good plan. I'll likely drop snippets of my story in here about every day. I do that during NaNo. It's part of the insanity

I wrote the novel I'm snippeting -- Kat Among the Pigeons -- for NaNo two years ago. I don't have anything nearly as much fun to write this year, though I do have some interesting stuff just about ready to go.

(Oh -- empty box where picture should be at the top of the blog -- that will be fixed soon. It's another problem related to the loss of Jatol, and now I'm having trouble getting control of my domain name back, but we're making progress.)

Here's a bit of set up for this round: David is a photographer who has arrived to do an assignment with Kat, who is a feature writer for magazines. He's just 'met' Shakespeare (the parrot) who started shouting at him, but then calmed and let David pet him.

"That's a good sign," I said, pleased with the reaction. "He's a very unsettled bird. The park rangers took four days to find him after some people drove up to the highest part of the park and set the bird free to be in the wilds again."

David looked at me, one eyebrow raised. "This bird. Free in the snowy mountains? Didn't the name African Grey Parrot mean anything to them?"

"Apparently not." I laughed and came over to pet Shakespeare as well, glad to see the bird so calm again.

"Rendered me mad and deaf and blind!" Shakespeare all but shouted and fluffed his chest feathers as he spread his wings.

"He does this often?" David said, startled again.

"Yes. And rarely the same quote twice."

"That's incredible! I'd heard that African Greys can be incredibly smart, but I think this might even be exceptional. What could posses people to just throw out such a bird?"

I smiled while David gave him the last of the crackers. "Who knows what the owners thought, though having Shakespeare for four months with the odd poetry now and then, I'm tempted to think that he just drove them crazy."

Shakespeare reached over and bit me on the finger. Hard.

I yelped and headed for the bathroom to get my hand cleaned up and stop the bleeding. I trusted that David would be careful having seen what the bird could do.

Cato had followed me in and jumped up on the counter.

"That bird is a menace, you know," he said.

"He's troubled."

"So are most mass murders and dogs. That doesn't mean you should take them into your house." He shook his head in a very human like gesture. I thought he might be spending far too much time with me. "There's something just not right about that bird."

"I know." I patted him on the head. "But he stays."

I could have used magic to heal the wound, but not after David had seen it. So I just made it far less of a problem. I didn't want to spend the day wincing at everything I did.

David had finished feeding the bird and had gone over to look out the window.

"Finger all right?"

"Yeah, fine," I said and smiled, waving the bandage.

"Lovely view," he said. "I bet this is exquisite at nightfall."

"Nightfall, dawn, bright summer days and the middle of winter," I answered. He smiled again and gathered up his pack. I found my bag and slung it across my shoulder, giving a last nod to Cato and a look of warning to Shakespeare.

We went out the door and I pulled it closed, listening to the still frantic twitters of far too many small birds, somewhere out behind the house. They were growing louder, and I hoped we got away before they came to talk to me. Then I remembered that while I rely on magic to keep the place safe, David didn't know it. So I foraged around in my purse looking for the house key. I didn't actually find it, but I found another key and pretended it was the one, using magic to mask the truth.

The morning tasted of pine and wood smoke from some place down the hill. A nuthatch swept past me, twittering still.

"Big wings, big wings, fly, fly, fly!"

I just waved it away and followed David down the rock-lined path to where his fancy Subaru sat side-by-side with my beat up old Jeep. I almost winced at the comparison, but I suspected he wouldn't judge me or the car by how it looked.

The Jeep runs mostly on magic. The engine looks and acts like a real engine, though it runs without gas. I stop now and then and pretend to fill up, just for show. The pieces for the car were all hand-formed by my cousin, who took considerable pains to make it look real. Why go to this trouble rather than buying one off a lot? Because a real Jeep worked with technology and any fae using it would have to damp down her natural powers or risk everything blowing up. This way I could still run around town like a human without being powerless. Besides, cutting off our natural powers isn't easy or practical for long stretches of time.

The car is also equipped with baffles so non-fae can ride in it and not have their fancy watches and PDAs die on them. That made even putting the photography equipment in the back safe from the car and from me.

As we reached the car a couple more nuthatches swept past me, panic growing again. I waved them on, but as I opened the driver side door a flock of nuthatches flew up into the air, at least a hundred of them, twittering in panic as they took off down the hillside.

David looked at me, surprised.

"Birdfeeders behind the house," I hastily explained.

"Ah." He opened his door.

Before we could get into the car more birds rose into the air, the din of their yells growing louder. A few lifted up over the house, and then more, then hundreds -- a thousand? Most were nuthatches -- still screaming about big wings -- but I saw several other small birds caught in the panicked swarm that literally covered the sky. For a heartbeat they blocked out the sun before the birds turned toward town and flew to the west. I watched in shock and a little dismay, and then finally turned back to David.

"Must cost you a fortune in bird food," he said.

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Gabriele C. said...

A car running on magic - well, I could need one of those, with the gas prices these days. :)

And the menace is growing.

IanT said...

I'm very much enjoying this, despite my normal antipathy to anthropomorphic animals...

cherylp said...

Love the parrot! Not all sweetness and light, is he? LOL! The magic car appeals to me, too. Get enough of 'em, and you kinda don't need gas, huh?

Jean said...

Loved it. I love African Greys. Great punch line.