Aqua-birds by Mike Russell
Oh look, it’s one of those aqua-birds! They are common here in the desert. See the large, skin sack that hangs from its throat? That is full of water. Tragically, all aqua-birds birds are completely unaware of this fact. Constantly thirsty, they fly around the desert in search of something to drink. The aqua-birds’ thirst induces hallucinations of extraordinarily beautiful and ornate birdbaths. Look, this bird has seen one now! See how it dives towards the ground. Now see as it lands and pecks at the sand, bemused, the mirage having disappeared. Now see as it takes flight again to continue its search.
The desert is surrounded by an ocean. The nest where the aqua-birds are born is in the centre of the desert. Each aqua-bird is born with enough water in its throat-sack to sustain it for three days. An aqua-bird can survive without water for twenty days, no more, no less. It would take an aqua-bird twenty three days to fly from the centre of the desert to the ocean. The perimeter of the desert is strewn with dead aqua-birds.
Hear the poor aqua-bird’s cries. If only it would swallow.
Mike Russell is a British author living in Brighton, England. Follow him on Twitter.