Joan smiled as she watched her daughter, Angelica, climb up on a park bench. The bird sat perched on a low branch a foot or two out of reach.
"I won't hurt you, Mister Bird." Angelica climbed up onto the back of the bench. Joan wasn't worried; even at four years of age, she had a wonderful sense of balance.
"Mommy, what kind of bird is this? It's not even scared of me."
"I don't know, Sweetheart. It doesn't look like you can reach it. Maybe we can go to the other side of the park and feed the ducks."
"I wanna pet this one." She reached up and lost her balance, but caught herself before she came tumbling to the ground. "See, Mommy, I'm okay."
Joan walked over to Angelica with every intention of forcing her daughter to leave the bird alone. Once she was close, however, she couldn't help but want to touch it herself.
"Lift me, mommy. Lift me so I can pet the pretty bird."
"Yes." Joan felt herself moving in a mechanical motion. Angelica mustn't scare the bird away. No, she mustn't. Joan had to touch it, too.
"Nice bird," Angelica said as Joan boosted her up. "I just want to pet you."
The bird turned towards them. It was the first movement Joan had seen the bird make. Its eyes lit up to a bright crimson, and its beak bent into a sinister smile. The spell over Joan snapped, and it was all she could do not drop her daughter. Angelica took the bird's movements in stride. She was still reaching for it as Joan lowered her to the ground.
The bird hissed and spread its wings. Angelica finally realized something was wrong and let out a piercing scream. The bird shot off the branch straight into her mouth. A big lump formed in Angelica's throat as the bird pushed its way down into her body. Joan could do nothing but watch her poor baby endure this. Angelica's face went from pale, to blue, to bright purple, but not for long. The bird clawed its way out of her throat, and down into her chest. Her face went back to its normal color before fading to a light pale. With air rushing through her windpipes, Angelica let out a cry which hurt Joan's ears. She saw movement under Angelica's shirt. She tore it off and saw the bird thrashing about inside her baby girl's stomach.
She stopped crying for a second before sitting bolt upright and unleashing her loudest screech yet. Bright red blood trickled from the corners of her mouth. It flowed thicker and thicker, and then streamed out her nose. Angelica began to choke on the copious amount of blood and her screams faded into a sickly gurgling sound.
Angelica stopped moving and fell flat on her back. Her head hit the pavement with a thud, and blood flew up in a cloud. By now, the churning in her stomach also stopped. Joan could do nothing but cry.
Her baby, her precious baby.
Her stomach moved again, this time in an up and down motion. Blood gushed through her mouth and nose as if it were being pumped out. A ripping sound burst through the air, and Angelica's stomach tore open. The bird pushed through and shook blood and entrails off its head. It looked up at Joan, and she somehow knew this was her only chance to leave. If she didn't, she would suffer the same fate.
Joan glanced up and saw a huge flock of birds descending. They looked like a swarm of locust. She gasped for air, unable to even scream, but managed to run away.
Twenty minutes later, she dragged a policeman back to the scene. He didn't believe a bit of her story, but she didn't care. She knew what she saw, and she'd prove it to him.
"It's here, it's here, it's here," she shouted as they came into sight of Angelica’s grizzly demise. Both she and the policeman looked around, but neither could find a trace of Angelica's body. They didn't even see so much as a drop of blood. Joan snapped her head skyward to catch a glimpse of any stragglers among the birds. Again, no luck.
The policeman's hand dropped to her shoulder. "Don't worry, ma'am. Help will be here shortly."
Joan didn't know what kind of help he could provide. Not only had Angelica, her sweet little angel, been brutally killed, but now her remains were nowhere to be found. This was a policeman, though. He must know what kind of help to bring.
The nice policeman led her over to the parking lot and sat her down on the curb. She wanted to look for her precious daughter, but there was no use. The swarm of birds had gobbled every bit of her sweet little girl up. They'd even pecked the sidewalk clean of blood.
The policeman said something that Joan didn't catch. At that moment, an ambulance pulled up in front of her. Two men hopped out and slung a jacket around her. They shoved her arms into the sleeves and wrapped them tight around her. When they buckled it up, she couldn't move her arms at all. The policeman told the ambulance men about a homeless woman who wandered around the park talking to herself. But why? Did this woman know about the birds? Could she help stop these monsters?
Joan wanted to ask, but one of the ambulance men cut her off.
"We're going to take you somewhere safe," he said as they led her to
the back of the ambulance. "You'll be okay."
"Angelica. My Angelica."
"The Bird"Eric J. Krause pens stories from Orange County, California, just minutes away from Disneyland. He's been published in Trail of Indiscretion and online in The Absent Willow Review, Allegory, and Nocturnal Ooze, just to name a few. You can visit his blog on writing at http://ejkwritingspot.blogspot.com. He lives with his wife, Amber, their dog, Spike.
Copyright: © 2009 Eric J. Krause
Copyright: © 2009 Eric J. Krause