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New Free Bedtime Story: The Big Day
The big day has arrived... the day of the mall heist...
Today’s post is a chapter in the story of a lost pigeon in New York City.
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Instantly, it was clear that it was going to be a warm, lively day.
I stood up from my newspaper bed on the cinema roof and yawned myself awake. The hot air felt crisp and cleansing on my feathers and on my face. There wasn’t a cloud in sight.
To my surprise, breakfast was already made. I looked over and Francois, like a loving father, had arranged three small piles of popcorn kernels for us each to dig into.
There was a nervous energy in the air. I wasn’t used to seeing Francois tense. He was always so in control; his emotions were usually unreadable. Except there was something about his movements – a rigidness or formality – that made me know that he was uneasy. Once I noticed his peculiar aura, I had the unfortunate realisation of what it all meant: today was going to be the day.
“Who wants breakfast?” he called out. “Please, eat up.”
Ruby had only just woken up as well. We were both watching on as Francois added a few final kernels to one of the dishes.
I could see that Ruby, like me, was still in the process of adjusting to Francois’ strange new energy. It was like seeing a cat suddenly wine and dine a mouse. You couldn’t help but be suspicious.
Still, we all made our way to the laid-out kernels and started pecking.
As we ate, Francois started speaking.
“So,” he said. “I have a question for you. It was busy yesterday and it was busy the day before yesterday. What does that mean?”
I paused my chewing and looked at him. I didn’t have a clue what he was on about.
Ruby had an answer. “It means it’s probably going to be quiet today.”
Any ill-will Francois had towards Ruby was completely gone. He was too focused for that now.
Francois smiled. “Precisely. Humans are just like any other animals. They follow patterns. Two days of busyness then five days of quiet. According to Howell, they call those two days ‘the weekend’. Strange creatures, aren’t they?”
“Sure are,” said Ruby.
“Now,” Francois went on. “That doesn’t mean that the mall is going to be empty. Absolutely not. But it will be better than it was yesterday.”
I was still in the process of waking up. I was struggling to keep up with his motivated energy.
“Once you’re both finished, we’ll set off,” said Francois.
We wrapped up lunch and then we started the very familiar route across town to the mall. There we landed on our usual posting just across the street from the main entrance. Francois was looking around intently, taking in everything in front of him, weighing everything up, planning, calculating.
Even from my minimal understanding of heists, it seemed like a relatively promising day for it. The human foot traffic was lighter than usual as they went in and out of the main door, keeping the glass door spinning at a slow and steady pace.
“What do you think?” I asked Francois.
“Today’s the day,” he said simply.
We flew across the street and up to the roof of the mall. The place was quiet and empty, all doors shut, no humans in sight.
We landed in front of the vent which we had previously been eyeing off. It was Ruby’s time to shine.
We stepped aside and Ruby began to closely inspect the metal bolts of the vent. There was tension in the air as she looked them over. Finally, she raised her claw to one of the bolts. Everything was in place. All she had to do was turn her claw. It was the moment of truth…
She turned her claw as hard as she could. The bolt wasn’t moving. I could see that she was giving it everything she had. Her leg was shaking as she held her claw up to the bolt.
Finally, the bolt budged.
She instantly let go, catching her breath. Beside her, Francois let out a big sigh of relief.
Ruby gradually moved from bolt to bolt, stacking them up.
Francois and I stood by under the vent to try and catch the metal grate once all of the bolts had been taken out, or at least to soften the noise it made as it fell. Ruby nodded towards us and then she made the final turn of her claw to plop out the final bolt.
The metal grate of the vent dropped to the ground with clang. We looked nervously around, as is our pigeon nature, to see if any humans were going to suddenly come storming out onto the rooftop. Sure enough, no one appeared.
We eased clear of the metal and then we all hopped up onto the lip of the vent itself. The reward for all of our efforts: a pitch black tunnel of nothingness.
We looked into the darkness of the vent. It went directly forward, so at least there wasn’t any big drop, at least not straight away.
We each felt the danger that the vent presented. In a lot of ways, it was a pigeon’s worst nightmare. A pitch black tightly confined tube; one moment of pigeon panic and you were doomed to start flurrying in the dark and flapping against the walls.
“You guys stay here,” said Francois.
He looked at me for a long moment. There was an earnest request in his eyes: please, don’t go in there after me.
With that, it was time for action.
Francois turned towards the darkness, paused, then plopped down into the vent. As he landed, we were all immediately shocked by the loud metal clang of the metal.
There was a long moment of tension. No one moved a muscle.
Finally, Francois shifted his weight and steadied himself. He looked up at us and gave a nod of all-ok.
He then turned away and took his first step.
Off he went, his claws clicking against the metal, until he disappeared into the darkness…
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