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New Bedtime Story! A Pigeon's Rescue Mission
Francois has disappeared off into the vents of the mall... He's been gone for a while and Lew and Ruby are getting worried...
This is the story of a lost pigeon named Lew in New York City. Currently, he’s found himself in the middle of a mall heist.
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Ruby and I stood by in tense silence at the entrance to the vent.
The click of Francois’ claws on the metal was gone. He was out of sight and exploring the unknown now. It was all a total mystery.
We had no true idea what it was going to be like in there. The plan was to walk around the vents until he came across a spot where he could drop down into the mall itself. If everything went to plan, the vent meant a perfect secret route to enter and exit the mall whenever we pleased. But it was a big ask. From the entrance, I looked into the mouth of the vents and saw nothing but darkness.
Beside me, I could see Ruby was full of nerves too. Now it was a waiting game.
Too nervous, I stepped away from the vent to pace back and forth on the rooftop.
Traffic buzzed in the background. The morning sun warmed the rooftop.
More time passed…
Suddenly, Ruby broke the silence.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “This whole thing’s a mess.”
I smiled and shrugged.
“It’s not your fault,” I said. “These things happen.”
She looked at me with a funny but sympathetic look on her face.
“No, they don’t,” she said. “These things really don’t happen.”
We both smiled at the ridiculous situation we had found ourselves in.
Time dragged on. It felt like Francois had been down there for hours.
“It shouldn’t be taking this long, should it?” I asked Ruby.
She shrugged. “Who knows?”
I was tossing and turning ideas in my head. I was worried about Francois. He had been gone too long. What if he was lost in there? What if he was injured or stuck? I could feel my imagination running away from me.
Finally, I just went for it and stepped forward into the vent.
Upon landing in the vent, there was the brief echo of a metallic twang that bounced off the walls and ran off into the darkness.
“What are you doing?” said Ruby, instantly panicking.
“I’m just getting a closer look,” I told her.
I suddenly felt strange once I was down there in the vent. Actually being in there, the space somehow felt so much smaller and bigger at the same time. The walls felt so close, like I was being squeezed. And yet in either direction of the vent, it felt like the tunnel of the vent went on forever.
I had to settle myself. This wasn’t the time for pigeon panic.
I looked into the distance of the vent in the direction that Francois had set off. I listened hard. Still nothing.
Somehow, Ruby knew what I wanted to do next before I even knew I wanted to do it.
“Don’t go in there,” she said. “It will just make things messier. What if you get lost?”
“He’s been in there too long,” I said.
“Give him time,” she said.
“But what if he needs help now?” I asked.
“He wanted us to stay here,” said Ruby. “It’s what he wanted. Please, Lew.”
I didn’t respond. I could feel myself being pulled towards the darkness of the vent.
Again, Ruby seemed to know exactly what I was going to do next.
She sighed and hopped down into the vent as well, the sound of her landing just a faint tip-tap.
“We go together,” said Ruby, “and we don’t leave view of the exit.”
“Ok,” I said. “Let’s do this.”
Without another word, we turned towards the dark and started walking.
Our claws clicked against metal as we wandered deeper. Everything was getting gradually darker.
We walked for a couple of minutes, each of us silent, skittish as ever, easily startled by the sound of our own echoing footsteps.
Eventually, we came to a sudden turn in the tunnel of the vent that stopped us in our tracks.
We looked back the way we came. There was a very faint glow of light coming in through the distant entrance. We turned to each other. The question didn’t need to be said aloud: What now?
We turned our attention towards the path ahead. The vent was dark except for a few occasional slithers of light that came up through the floor. The tunnel went on and then split into two directions.
“We can’t go any deeper,” said Ruby. “This place is like a maze. We’ll just get lost. We won’t be helping anybody.”
I thought it over. She was right. We didn’t know what lay ahead of us. But I was determined.
“You stay here,” I said. “Stay within sight of the exit. I won’t go much further. Just a bit.”
She protested, “Lew, please…”
“I have to,” I said. “Even if it’s just a little bit further. We have to check. I’ll stay close enough for you to hear me if I call out.”
She knew I was already locked in.
“Stay within hearing distance,” she said. “Promise.”
“I promise,” I said.
And so I started the long walk deeper into the vents.
I followed the vent until it split into two paths. I looked back and could just barely see Ruby in the faint light of the vents.
It was time to make a choice. Left or right. Although navigation was obviously difficult, the vague map in my head told me that the jewellery store would be towards the left.
I committed to my theory and set off.
Around the corner, I was suddenly all alone.
It felt different being by myself in the vents. The darkness felt darker and my footsteps felt louder. I felt the fear of something else in the vents with me beginning to grow. A rat? A squirrel? There was a strange feeling of something going on out of sight behind me — always behind me, no matter which way I turned.
I was making my way along the vent when, suddenly, there was the sound of a ginormous crack of metallic thunder.
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