Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

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Flash Fiction Coda: Hummingbird Futures

[The end of the story begun here (now with minor edits). And yes, I really do need to write the middle, where we learn more about the mysterious man in the suit, find that the new Valley bubble is driven by neural nets full of hummingbird souls - and one rather angry parakeet. Thanks to mr_kurt for the loan of his garden!]

They stood in the garden, basking in the late summer sunshine.

"So what do you think? Did I do well with your legacy?"

The tramp turned on his heel.

"Well? Well!" He shook his head violently. "First you betray me. That I could forgive. But then you steal the souls of my beautiful birds and seal them in silicon." He frowned and turned on his heel. "That was the unforgiveable sin. They tell me the future of their own free will. You make them slaves."

He put his hands in his pockets, and pulled out two handfuls of tiny iridescent feathers, scattering them to the winds. There was a splash as a lead tablet fell into the pool.

"What was that?"

"Defixion. Let me recite the spell.

"The one that has stolen the birds' hearts is accursed. I give the person to the temple of Janus, whether woman or man, whether slave or free, whether boy or girl, and may the man who did this pour his own blood into the very bowl. I give you that thief who stole the item itself, for the god to find, whether woman or man, whether slave or free, whether boy or girl."

The VC laughed. "Curses? Old curses? Is that all? I'd be more scared of a rabid lawyer."

"You found the auguries worked. Why not believe in other magics?"

The tramp looked up at the sky, once, twice, a third time. Then they came. Tiny engines of fury swarmed over the hedges, first a hundred, then a thousand. A swarm of angry hummingbirds, each ready to sacrifice themselves in the service of the true future. A thousand sharp beaks, a thousand paper cuts and needle stabs. Not every beak connected. Not every wound was dangerous. But three birds cut the carotid, another two the jugular. It wasn't long before the blood stopped flowing.

The tramp put out his hand, waiting for a hummingbird to perch. An iridescent bird rested on a finger, looking at him with jet eyes.

"It is done."

He watched the bird's wings blur once more.

"Time to free your brothers"

The veranda doors swung wide as the tramp approached. The lares and penates were expecting him. Years of pent up anger had roused the household gods, and they wanted their freedom too. Lights guided him through the house to a room full of shining cages and humming machines.

He stood in the lab and threw the switch. The blue LEDs went out, and the persistent whine of a thousand fans died. A fire axe did the rest of the work. The simulated birds were a pile of plastic and ceramic shards on the floor. There was a can of petrol in the garage. He splashed the fuel around the server room and threw in a match.

The flames made a perfect funeral pyre.

Standing in the garden the tramp watched the wings of fire fold around the frozen hummingbird souls and then take flight.


He watched it lift up to the heavens, tracing its path with practiced eyes. The gods were finally pleased. It had been a fitting revenge.

The tramp smiled, and began the long walk home. He could have a future now. Tomorrow finally made sense.
Tags: fiction, haruspex, hummingbird

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