Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rare Birds of Pray

Galileo lifted his metallic wing and scratched vigorously; carefully using his prosthetic silver claw to ease the itch without digging too deeply and splitting his delicate skin. Fluffing his feathers and crouching miserably on his perch, he looked about the marketplace. Bipod minds were so boring, regardless of race, their thoughts were filled of money or revenge.
Torell bent tantalizingly close to his perch, the soft ears Galileo was desperate to slice into with his sharp beak wafting closer and closer as the trader arranged boxes around him.
With a piercing screech, Galileo flung his wings out as Torells ear shifted past him. 
“Blast yer bird.” Torrel swore under his breath as his heart raced. “I’ll be selling you to Sweenys Pie Stall if you do that again.”
Galileo shrunk back as images of feathers floated in a vat of blood coloured the space around Torell. These were quickly replaced by naked fantasies of the Piemakers daughter. Galileo dug a claw into the opposite leg and allowed the pain to dispel the luminescent bodies sprouting from Torells mind.
Stale recirculated air, barely able to move within the bowels of the space port sluggishly transferred about them. The smell of unwashed bodies, rotting foods and sickness clung to the stall holders.
“Another quiet day.”  Pozzibon the Potter reluctantly sucked the air in and began coughing. A demons head appeared in front of him grinning. He flung his arms out and screamed scratching and swiping at it. It disappeared the moment Torell yanked Galileos chain and scowled at the bird. The images of a sliver stretched neck and a glistening knife was enough for Galileo to halt the demon image in Pozzibons mind. Pozzibon wiped himself down and glowered from the bird to Torell. “Give that damned thing away, or find yourself another pitch.”
Ceramic bowls clattered as Pozzibons hacking cough rebounded from their surfaces. The potter steadied himself on his display table, upsetting the symmetry of the carefully placed items. He quickly looked about to see if anyone had noticed his near collapse and locked eyes again on Galileo.
Flashes of crying babes suckling at dead mothers breasts, men doubled over with grief and pain and children with cheeks bright and red coughing, circulated Pozzibon. Galileo intensified them, shooting further images of desperation and death toward him. 
Spluttering to cover another fit of coughing, Pozzibon shook his head to clear the images. “Torell, you need to get rid of that bird. I’m only pitching up against you because the market lords have given me the space for nothing. He’s nothing but bad luck.”
“You don’t think I’ve tried.” spittal sprayed the area and Torell wiped his mouth, pointing up at the bird. “That last couple brought him back after only one day. The time before.. I can hardly imagine what happened. That poor woman. Her eyes will haunt me for eternity.”
“Nasty business.”
“Her husband was the punter who set himself against the Rock at the Juggers match.”  Torell scratched his head and frowned. “He’d never played it before but was so full of confidence the judges allowed his entry.”
“Nasty business. I heard security were still clearing up the mess hours after the mob were sedated.”
Galileo fluffed his feathers and closed his eyes. His mornings distractions now completed, he could begin to search the minds of those further a field and perhaps attract a buyer who would give him better sport than those in past weeks.
Amidst the grimy thoughts a breath of jasmine snaked its way through the crowd. Its fingertips caressed Galileo and smoothed his stiff feathers. He cocked his head, twisting his neck in search for the fresh mind, eyes still shut. 
Clad in ruby coloured rubtex, a tiny figure wandered through the market. A path opened naturally for her as she passed. Two large brutish men followed, eyeing the marketeers suspiciously as they hawked their wares. 
Galileos eyes sprung open. As he preened and polished his feathers, he sent welcoming, warm thoughts towards the jasmine filled mind.
She stopped and looked over towards Torells stall and a tiny smile birthed on those raspberry lips.
“Pete! Over here! This is it. I’m going to buy him this.”
Her thoughts fired with pure flashes of suntanned skin, dark wavy hair and intense, deep eyes.  Galileo was unaccustomed to  pure emotion and fascinated with the clarity she presented, sat and watched her as she reached up to stroke him.
“Watch yourself Miss. He can be a bit.. Fiesty.” Torell grasped her hand and shot a warning at Galileo.
“He’s fine. What a beauty.” Rilla stroked the length of Galileos body.
Rubbing his chin the grizzled Pete squinted as he assessed the bird. “Are ye sure? Its just that we’ve never had a parrot before on board.”
Galileo tilted his head as he read Petes surface thoughts filled with scenes of heroism, loyalty and mild revoltion for the woman who stood beside him.  Rillas slight hands, covered in red rubtex softly stroked him as she cooing softly.  
Pete shifted his weight and glanced about. “Its just, I’m not sure the captain…”
“Pete, hes on that ship by himself. Has been for days.  It will cheer him up. I mean, what is he doing anyway?”
Petes mind filled with images of drunkenness and laughter.
“50 credits and the parrot is yours Miss.”
Pete spluttered “Outrageous!  Thats piracy.”
Torell puffed his chest out. “Very rare this parrot. Seems to know what you’re saying. Hard for me to sell him as he’s almost part of the family. But well with the economic climate the way it is..”
Galileo saw images of unhappy customers shouting at Torell, demanding their money back and fluffed his feathers in satisfaction.
“Does it talk?”
Torell flushed and scratched his head. “In a manner I guess he does. But its still very young. But I know that this breed are quick learners.”
Rilla stoked Galileos chest. “Where did you get him?”
Galileo flinched and ruffled his feathers as flashes of brightly lit laboratories and the grinning face of Torell overwhelmed him. He screeched loudly and bit the trader who’d foolishly stepped within range.
“Damned bird. I’m a trader. he was.. traded in.. a few months back.” He rubbed his hand and glared at the Galileo.
Taking a small step backwards, the trader pointed towards the parrot “Its at least 25% robotically assisted. Look at those platinum wings, the detail is incredible.” 
The girl smelled of fresh air and of flowers grown in the wind.  Galileo bit through his chain, jumped to her shoulder and opened his beak in defiance at Torell. 
“Tell you what, since Galileo seems to have taken a shine to you, I’ll let him go at 25 credits - my last offer.”
The bird sent images of Torells antique leather lounges being torn into and of paperwork being strewn about his apartment.
Pablo strode over. “I’ve finished with the provisioning. If it suits you Pete, I’d rather get it all together and take it straight out to the ship.”  He eyed Pozzibon doubled over in another coughing fit.  “Lets say my trust in this port is beginning to run low.”
He then stretched his arms backwards, brought his hands together at his waist, cracked each knuckle in his fists and flicked Torell a card. “You’ll take 15 and not a credit more from the lass.”
Torell shot a hateful look at Galileo and checked the rating on the card. “Done. Take him”
Rilla stroked the bird and grinned. “May I have his cage? He's a present.”
Torel waved his hand towards the birds cage and turned his back, unable to keep the look of relief from his face.
“We’ll come with you Pablo. I’ll take Galileo to the Captain straight away.”
With Galileo safely in his cage, they made their way to the edge of the markets and hired a shuttle to ferry them to the docking bay their ship, LeGonz was stationed.
“What do you think he’’ll be doing?” 
Pablo coughed. “Oh.. knowing the Captain, he’’ll be checking the charts, going over the log books and generally doing. err Captain things.”
As they neared the ship, pieces of the hull were being jettisoned into the workshop flooring. There also seemed to be a great deal of smashed bottles surrounding the gangplank.
“Who’s doing that?  What’s going on?” Pete brought his set of scanners to his eyes, squinting to see the features of the figure dangerously balancing on one of the wings.
“Its the Captain. Christ, he's got no hair."

Pete passed the scanner to Pablo.

"Christ, he's got no clothes on!"

"Shit!" they both said in unison, jostling for ownership of the scanner.
Galileo fluffed his feathers and intensified the emotional rivalry between the two.

"Told you not to leave him alone!"

"He's a grown man for Christsake!"

"Stop taking the Lord's name in vain."

"Stop being an uptight religious shit!"
They both looked at Rilla, back dead straight, perched on the shuttles hard seating firmly gripping the bird cage.

"We should take her back to port … and the parrot."

"I'm not going back! And I paid good money for this parrot." Rilla glared at them defiantly.
Galileo sent images of angry stall holders at Pablo.

Looking at the provisions he’d expertly maneuvered into the shuttle. Pablo complained "I'm not taking this lot all the way back."

"Do you think he’s drunk?" as the words spilled out of her mouth, Rilla suddenly felt Pablo and Pete both look at her as though she had spontaneously sprouted a second head.
 "How are you going to get him down then?"

They looked at each other, back to Rilla and shrugged their shoulders.

"Why don't you lure him down with the gift of the parrot."

"Yes, that's sure to make his day Señora."

"In his current state I don’t think he's going to take it so well."

"I can't believe you bought it."

"It seemed like a good idea at the time."

"I think we should go back to Port."

"I thought that you said you didn’t want to go back to Port!"

"Let's just get back onboard and work out what's going on. I'm sure that it's not what it looks like. I hope."

Galileo recalled Rillas initial images of the Captain and fired them back at her. Her eyes softened as she was wrapped in suntanned skin, dark wavy hair and intense, deep eyes. "Can I have a look?" Rilla enquired, trying to sound innocent. “After all, he made me strip in that tavern. You'd never have to say I saw."

Pete looked at the scanner and put it away, tapped the shuttle driver on the back to motion them forward again.

"Best you don't Señora, even a drunk man has his pride."

"Even when he's naked and 100 metres up in the air precariously balanced on the wing of his own spaceship for no apparent reason?"

"Even then Señora..." And they continued towards LeGonz.


Story inspired by the [Fiction Friday] prompt at Write Anything and submitted to JM Strother’s #FridayFlash ony Nolands Tuesday Serial via Twitter - as well as to  Writing Adventure Group.

Prompt - Include a Telepathic Parrot in your story.


Paul said...

I like the alternative world you created for this story. The use of credits as a currency conjured up images of some kind of sinister facebook world of the future. And your characters are really painted clearly. I'll admit to being a little confused with one or two paragraphs at the beginning, so maybe a little rephrasing is needed there. And I'm not sure about two words. In paragraph 9 you used the word 'circulated' where I think it should read 'circled' or perhaps 'circumvent'. And you later use the word 'revoltion'. I can't find it in a dictionary anywhere. Maybe it's Australian usage or did you make it up as part of the language of your new world. Whatever, I'm not quite sure what it's supposed to mean. And I think you have problems with apostrophes but my guess is that that's a computer problem. Hope this can be of some help. I certainly enjoyed reading it.

Chris Chartrand said...

Bravo Annie! This was brilliant. It felt like the cycle of events was something that kept playing throughout mankind's history. New names but the players are the same. Loved it.

Scott said...

I enjoyed reading your work. The world you created seems like an interesting meld of past and future. Interesting take on the prompt.

Anonymous said...

You have such a flow in creating believable worlds and scenarios where the characters live out their existence quite naturally.
I like the little hints at the parrot's origins.

Laura Rachel Fox said...

Very clever coming from the parrot's point-of-view.

I have to admit though that, like Paul, I was a little lost here and there. I had a little trouble distinguishing between all the characters and determining who was saying/seeing what.

John Pender said...

Your description of the parrot's wings made me recall a mechanical owl I saw once in a movie. I can't remember the name of it though.
Kind of reminded me of Star Wars.

Benjamin Solah said...

I loved your parrot character a lot, especially with the projecting images of demons and such.

I didn't see the twist coming either. Great tale.

Anonymous said...

Incredible! This small part of a strange world is made so believable by the details. I struggled along with Paul and Laura in understanding some of the early paragraphs. On second reading they seemed more cohesive and I'm not quite sure how you would go about fixing this. Maybe by earlier clarifying the nature of the parrot? Like I say, I'm unsure. Great story though