Early Birds

Woke up early one morning and was surprised to see a lot of activity in the neighborhood. Birds called to each other, gathering in the tree tops, pecking at the ground, flapping and hopping. I’d always assumed that since I was asleep, so was the rest of the world. Wrong. Very wrong.

The fever made sleeping difficult and furtive at best, and I found myself slipping between dreams and waking, when I noticed the birds again. They seemed aggitated in the pre-dawn half-light, and looking out the window, I couldn’t see much, but the back yard filled with feathers and beaks. I turned on the back porchlight and they scattered.

The ground was pocked with holes, beak-shaped holes. What were the birds doing?

In spite of my illness, I set out to discover the secret of this hidden activity, and I wondered how long this had been going on while I slept, blissfully unaware. Camera outfitted with night vision, I waited, startled by any noise or movement. When my head filled with drowsy thoughts, and I dispaired of catching any birds in action, the bed beckoned me. As I climbed into bed, the first bird call came.

Quietly, I returned to my camera perch but could not believe what I saw. Hundreds, perhaps a thousand birds flocked to my backyard. The lawn seemed to undulate under their avian claws. I watched, frozen in place, as the grassy earth seemed to reach up to catch the birds, and the birds attacked. One bird hopped away too slowly, and the earth snatched it by the beak and dragged it down into the dark underground.

The remaining birds became furious and screetched clawed and pecked at the spot rending it bare of grass.