Saturday, December 27, 2014

Hatching Day

I'd like to add that I wrote this story in 2011, and that it was originally published on the #amwriting blog by Johanna Harness, more than THREE years before Steven Moffat released his version of the Moon-turned-bird in the Doctor Who episode Kill the Moon. 

They said they didn’t know earlier because it came out of the sun.

Well, not OUT of the sun, but from that direction, and that was the reason it could not be seen.

Personally, I don’t think it matters. Even if they had seen it earlier, no one would have believed them. I mean, a bird, flying through space? What is this, a really wonky Star Trek episode?

I remember when it was first mentioned on the news. Marcia had gone out to buy bagels for breakfast, and I was nursing a hangover from the night before. It felt like a regular Sunday morning, boring, a little slow, as undecided as cold pasta, and there on TV was this blurry image of a huge black mass moving through space. They said it seemed to be alive, not a spaceship, and it was coming closer.

Uh oh, I thought, what, are we playing Independence Day? You know, the movie and all? Are we going to be invaded now by slimy aliens?

But no, they said, this thing is huge. Huge, as in, bigger than a planet. Way bigger. And it’s coming our way. Coming our way from…somewhere out there. Silly me, when they said that, this Disney song popped into my mind, the one from “An American Tail”, and I went around humming it all day until Marcia threatened to clobber me.

I remember looking toward the sky every so often, and out on the street there were others doing that, too, as if we would be able to see the dark speck of whatever getting closer, as if a rent would open in the sunny blue sky and there it would be, the THING, the stranger.

Marcia and I sat in front of the TV all the time. It was like watching an ongoing SciFi movie, like one of our Christmas DVD marathons when we would watch all six seasons of the Sopranos in one sitting, ordering pizza and Chinese food and otherwise just, well, watching. We even started talking like the Sopranos, and every third word would be…you know, the four letter word starting with “f”. Marcia really does a good impression of Pauly.

Only this wasn’t a DVD, it was the news. I made her switch to CBS, knowing they would not screw with us too much and would report what was really happening, at least that was what I hoped.

Then three weeks ago, things changed. Man, did they ever change. No one could have made this up. I bet Roland Emmerich is biting his butt right now because HE didn’t think this up. What’s Independence Day compared to this? What’s a freaking space ship hovering over New York and pouring its blue stuff OUT over Empire State Building compared to THIS?

That bird - and yeah, we now know it’s really a bird - reached Pluto.

You know, Pluto? That rock that used to be planet and now is something else, I forget what, but definitely not a planet? Well, Big Bird reached Pluto. We saw the images on TV. And Pluto, planet or not, popped. It popped, and out came another bird or whatever of the same kind, smaller, but the same shape. They hovered there for a while, and then moved on.

They went off in a different direction, and for a couple of days things calmed down. Hey, the Invasion of the Space Birds passed us by!

I have to admit I was a little sad. At long last something really momentous is happening, and it’s not coming our way.

Only, yeah... They were heading toward Neptune.

Now Neptune IS a planet, right? No discussion there. A pretty big planet too. But it cracked just like an egg, and out popped hatchling number two.

Big Mama bird and Big Brother bird were there to welcome the little beast.

I had this moment when I thought I was really on something weird and not just high on coffee when I saw those telescope images on our TV, and I was really, really glad we hadn’t bought that 3D set the other day. Man, that would have creeped me out big time, seeing those planet pieces drifting through space like egg shells. Which they are.

It seems as if life has stopped here in New York.

I mean, it really stopped when those critters started to make their way toward Uranus, and then Saturn. Same thing there. New birds.

By now the pictures make me giggle and come up with really stupid chicken jokes.

You should have seen Jupiter go. All that gas and stuff? It drifted apart like egg yolk when you put your fork in it. Left a spot like a bled-out pimple in the darkness of the universe. You can see it hanging there even without a telescope, good binoculars will do the trick.

Today when I woke up I looked at Marcia, lying asleep beside me, her hand curled on the sheet, her mouth open and her hair a mess on the pillow. I’ve loved her for five years now, ever since we met at the hot dog stand at the corner of Broadway and 42nd. She was just another starry-eyed kid from the boonies who had come to make her fortune in the big city. Hell, she didn’t even know how to order that stupid hot dog.

So I looked at Marcia and thought about the kids we always wanted and now will never have, the book I always meant to write, the career on stage she wanted and will never get. We won’t even be getting the Playstation 3 I coveted.

I’ll take her out today. I’ll take her out to a really nice lunch in a very, very expensive restaurant, and then maybe I’ll book us into a luxury hotel and order the best champagne they have with our room service. And I’ll make love to my girl and hope that right then, right when we’re at it will be the moment when it happens and we go out in glory.

Because last night, just when we had turned off the TV, the knocking inside Earth started.

The birds are here.