An essay by Mary Magdalene Farconi, as provided by K. Kitts
Art by Leigh Legler
Strapped in his bouncy seat, my son Tyler went off at the exact same moment as the kitchen timer and the doorbell. I verified that nothing was actually gnawing on him and rushed to the brownies. Paul would have to get the door.
From the living room, Cissie yelled, “It’s the bird people.” Being a good girl, she knew not to open the door to strangers, especially those from another planet.
I yelled, “Paul, get the door,” while I yanked the brownies from the oven.
The Home Owners Association bake sale started at 10 AM, and it was already 10:10. In my head, Mrs. Topher, the HOA president, admonished, “In my day, people respected each other and were on time.”
As I dashed toward Tyler, I mumbled, “Yeah, back when Moses parted the Red Sea, most mothers of young children didn’t have to analyze a 270-page watershed impact statement by Monday.”
Before I unbuckled Tyler from his seat, I smelled his problem. The doorbell rang again. “Paul! Get the door!”
From the living room, Cissie yelled, “The bird people are still here.”
I hustled down the hall with Tyler at arm’s length. His room also served as Paul’s home office. Sure enough. Paul had his earbuds in and was playing some computer game. I hip-butted the back of his chair.
Startled, he yelled, “What the–” but stopped in time. We try not to cuss like muleskinners in front of the kids. I handed Tyler over.
“I’m working, Maggie. You do it.” He tried to pass Tyler back.
The doorbell rang a third time. Cissie called, “The bird people are still still here.”
I said, “One, since when is slaying boss monsters a part of your job? And two, it’s Saturday. We agreed on Saturdays you have to help. No questions asked.” As I stomped to the front door, I muttered, “That is if you ever want to have sex again.”
Hand on the knob, I breathed in deeply and exhaled. Bird people are sensitive. I didn’t want to frighten them because they’d take off in a flurry of feathers and shrieks and dump whatever they had in their cloacas. I didn’t have time to hose off the front porch.
I’d worked with several bird people when I’d served as an analyst for the newly established Alien Affairs Bureau. That was until the AAB’s work rules changed and became intolerable for nursing moms. Two months after Tyler was born, I moved to a clean water non-profit with a short commute. The work wasn’t as important, but my hair had stopped falling out. However, when I opened the door, I wondered whether I’d been out of the loop a little too long.
Instead of a group of sleek greenish-blue peacock-cranes, there stood two bedraggled and dull office drones dressed in modified white button-downs and khakis. Their tails were clipped and their wings pressed tightly against their backs. Even the frills on the tops of their heads drooped. They were both so dull in color, I couldn’t tell whether they were male or female, but given the office casual, I guessed males.
Clutched in one of the T-Rex arms that protruded from beneath his breast, the left bird person held a black book. His colleague grasped a plastic sheet upon which text flickered.
I asked, “May I help you?”
Book bird bobbed his head and pressed the first icon on the squawk box on a chain around his neck. In a mellifluous voice, the box intoned, “Good morning! We are in your neighborhood seeking to expand our flock.”
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2019 collection.
Ms. Mary Magdalene Farconi, a working mother, is a G-11 in the Labor Protections Department of the Alien Affairs Bureau. She supervises a governmental hotline for reporting labor abuse of Avian Nationals and is currently working with cities all over the US to design and develop aviaries within human communities.
Dr. Kathy Kitts, a former geology professor, served as a science team member on the NASA Genesis Discovery Mission. Before that, she directed a planetarium for nine years. Her latest speculative short fiction has appeared in Amazing, James Gunn’s Ad Astra, and Mad Scientist Journal. Her latest short story collection, Getting What You Need, is now available on Amazon. Born and raised in the southwest, she is currently living in the high desert of New Mexico.
Leigh’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at http://leighlegler.carbonmade.com/.
“Jehovah’s Feathers” is © 2019 K. Kitts
Art accompanying story is © 2019 Leigh Legler