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Adventure Contemporary Fiction

“You’re finally going to take me there?” Peter asked.

“Yup,” Dennis said with a nod.

  The two sat high up in the branches of an old redwood tree. Out toward the horizon, the silhouette of a city loomed, the tall skyscrapers veiled by a thick morning haze. Peter eyed it, curiously. He had always been told the city was a dangerous place, however, he was now of the age where he was expected to make the journey to its heart. To do so was a rite of passage. There, the Elder Dove would reveal to him the secrets of the past.

  “You ready?” asked Dennis

There was an ominous tone to his voice that put Peter on edge.

“Yeah.”

“Okay, let’s go.”

  The two leaped from their perch and picked up speed. The wind rushed past their ears and, when they felt the onset of weightlessness, they spread their wings, and the two pigeons began their hour-long journey to the city.

Dennis took it slow, becoming more alert than normal once they passed outside the boundary of pigeon country. His amber eyes scanned the landscape below, pointing out important features for Peter to remember as it was his little brother's first time outside the border. He also did this in case he didn’t make the return journey home, and his brother had to find his back, alone.

“What is that!?” Peter exclaimed, pointing to a massive concrete structure stretching over the bay.

“That’s a bridge.”

“Who built that?”

“The humans.”

Peter’s eyes widened.

“No way! The humans? How did those savages manage to build that?”

Peter had seen few humans in his short life and found them to be unimpressive things. They were awkward creatures, scarcely able to take care of themselves, and were wildly unpredictable. They talked with screeches and shouts, hardly able to carry on a conversation without getting emotional.

“Humans aren’t what they used to be,” said Dennis.

“What happened to them?”

Dennis pointed to the city. They were close now.

“That’s what you are about to find out,” he said, “For now, just stick with me.”

The two tightened their formation, crossed the remainder of the bay, and made for the gap between two colossal buildings, the tops of which disappeared into overcast clouds.

“Oh my,” Peter said as the details of the city came into view.

Many of the buildings were charred and crumbling, with thousands of shattered windows that looked like jagged maws. Cars jammed together in jumbled heaps, filling the streets. Broken glass and trash littered the sidewalks.

“Be on the alert,” said Dennis. “The humans here are more wild than the ones in the country.”

Aside from the wind producing an odd harmonic as it flowed through the concrete jungle, it was eerily quiet. Peter stayed close to his brother as they banked this way and that, dipping and diving to avoid low-hanging cables and lights. His eyes darted all around, taking in all he could. He imagined what this place looked like before it was destroyed and thought it to be a busy yet exciting place to be.

“PIGEONS!!!” A voice screamed from below, “Rats with wings!!! Die!”

“Bank left!” Dennis shouted.

Both turned just in time before a rock whizzed by where they used to be. Dennis quickly led them around the corner and out of sight, before circling back a minute later. 

“What are you doing?” asked Peter.

“Shh, I want to show you something.”

Dennis found them a silent perch.

“Look and see,” he said, pointing at the woman.

She was an odd thing to look at. It was cold yet she wore scant clothing and walked with an exaggerated swing in her hips. Her face was coated with a substance that made it look artificial and her hair was unnaturally blonde. A moment later, a group of men appeared at the far end of the street. They paused for a moment and, once they saw the woman, started hooting and hollering as they advanced on her.

“Those are city-born males,” Dennis said, quietly. “Dangerous things. Very unpredictable around women.”

Each of the males puffed out their chest and began boasting in an odd ritualistic manner. The woman paused, placed her hand gently on one hip, and pursed her lips. It was too much for the men to handle and they began to fight one another. The woman laughed, gleefully.

“See how primitive they are,” said Dennis. “Their hearts are wild with desire.”

Peter nodded, amused by the scene.

“Come on,” said Dennis, “Let’s move on.”

They flew for another couple of blocks until they saw another woman walking alone down an alleyway. Dennis perched them in a hidden place so they could observe. Unlike the other woman, this woman had blue hair and was dressed comfortably as she walked from one end of the alley to the other. Once she reached the end, she stopped, looked both ways, and then turned around to walk back the way she came.

“I feel like this is the right way,” she mumbled under her breath.

Peter watched her walk back and forth for ten minutes before he leaned over to Dennis and asked him what she was doing.

“She’s trying to navigate based on what feels is right, but she keeps second-guessing herself,” he said. “We call it the doom loop. She’ll be at it for hours before she makes up her mind.”

They flew for a while longer until they came to a blue and white skyscraper. They circled around it, making their way higher with each lap until they reached the top. To Peter’s amazement, another tower was built on its roof yet this one looked naked. It was a maze of interconnected steel beams, angled slightly, and forming a tall pyramid. Crowned on top was a series of smooth rectangular panels with watchful faces painted upon them, their detailed eyes overlooking the city in all directions.

“Woah,” breathed Peter as they neared the top of the second tower.

Behind the panels was a large nest that could have easily fit more than five hundred pigeons. A faint glowing light pulsed within. Dennis dove for the opening. Peter followed and the two came to a stop just beyond the threshold.

“Greetings, brother birds.”

The Elder Dove approached, feathers white as bleached flour. A talisman hung loosely around her neck and she wore a small crown made from twigs and colorful pebbles. She walked toward them with purpose, head bobbing back and forth, elegantly. Both Dennis and Peter bowed.

“What do you seek?” she asked in a commanding tone.

“Knowledge,” said Peter, “as is the right of all pigeons.”

The words flowed from him, well rehearsed.

“Come,” the Elder Dove said. “Come and see.”

The warm light in the center of the nest pulsed, its predictable frequency providing a hypnotic ambiance. Gold and silver chains dangled from the domed ceiling, shining bright.

“In the beginning, the humans reigned supreme,” the Elder Dove began, “they were masters of the world, ruling with god-like powers; capable of flight, instant communication, and possessing limitless knowledge at their fingertips.”

The dove stopped and looked at Peter, her stare deadly serious.

“But they became too proud of what they created and began to experiment with things they knew little about.”

She led them to a rectangular panel leaning against the far wall of the nest. It was a head taller than Peter and had a reflective, onyx sheen to it.

“We don’t know much about what happened, as little survived the Desolation.”

A sudden gust rattled the nest as if brought about by the mere mention of the calamitous event. Peter and Dennis flinched, but the Elder Dove continued.

“We were never really able to figure out what happened until we found a human out in the country sane enough to learn how to communicate with us. Apparently, these towers emit a frequency called ‘6G’ and the humans hoped it would strengthen their technological prowess. They were eager for progress and neglected dissenting voices. They activated the 6G towers without knowing whether the frequency was safe. The moment they did, everyone within range of the towers had part of their brain fried, the part responsible for logical reasoning; leaving only the emotive side of the brain to make decisions.”

“Oh, my,” said Peter.

“This problem was compounded by these black panels - the humans call them smartphones - and the fires of their emotions were stoked. No longer did they think. They just felt. Driven by greed, fear, and hate, they turned on one another. Each nation declared war on its neighbor and rained fire down from the sky. Cities burned. Many people died.”

“That’s terrible!”

“But there is a silver lining to this tale. The humans did not foresee that the same frequency that made them insane caused a massive increase in the cognitive ability of city-dwelling birds, predominantly pigeons. As the humans slaughtered each other, we pigeons were able to escape the Desolation, and form colonies of our own far outside the cities.”

Peter gazed at his reflection on the screen of the smartphone.

“Why didn’t they just turn off the frequency or throw away their phones?” asked Peter.

“It was too late. The damage was already done and they would rather sacrifice their sanity than do away with their smartphones.”

Peter remembered the men he saw earlier and the wild look they had about them.

“What will happen to them?”

“Some of our more altruistic scientists are trying to develop a way of protecting the humans from 6G using tinfoil hats but, so far, none of the humans will go along with the experiment. They always complain about how awkward and silly the hat makes them feel. For now, they will live on in their own primitive societies, governed by their chaotic emotions and wild feelings until we pigeons overtake them with sound logic and reasoning.”

“Pigeons will inhabit the earth,” said Dennis.

The Elder Dove nodded. “And blameless will we remain.”

November 16, 2022 21:43

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2 comments

Marilyn Filewood
05:42 Nov 24, 2022

I love stories written from an animal's (or birds) point of view. Some wonderful metaphors. Why did this prompt make a number of writers think of the end of the world and technology? There must be something there...

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Kevin Alphatooni
16:19 Nov 24, 2022

Probably because its a very real possibility that we will design the means to our end as one man's tool is another man's weapon.

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