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The Vulture by Alex Loveless
SUMMARY: A wounded man and a vulture converse.
The vulture's mighty bulk was perched on a railing, 100 metres towards the heavens, at the lip of a tower block. The night-lit city spread in all directions peppering the vista, radiating spots of glowing orange like hot embers. Cars sped back and forth below him, reminding him of beetles, but behaving like ants - profitless in their solitary ventures, unaware of the greater cause for which they labour. They called it democracy – the vulture called it futility.
The vulture's long neck snaked to and fro so that his bald beaked head could survey for wares to scavenge. A slow night in the city, not so many dead tramps in the summer.
His attention was diverted by scuffling sounds followed by a larynx-tearing scream from the throat of a male human. The vulture looked right and down, his sharp vision locating his supper-to-be. His massive wings shrouded the night as he became airborne in a thrust of hunger-fuelled propulsion. With grace that angels would envy he glided down to the entrance to the dead-end alley where the man lay, prostate and bleeding.
The man was not moving. The vulture cautiously shuffled over to the motionless lump. He had been stabbed: once to the shoulder and again in his abdomen. Nudging him first with his beak, the Vulture, satisfied that the life was gone from this vessel, sunk his sharp beak into the man's shoulder wound. This action precipitated a shrill scream that emitted from the corpse's throat – a corpse no more.
The vulture started and flapped back a few feet, wafting scraps of dirty newspaper into the air. The man was cursing wildly and thrashing around in pain and consequently exacerbating his bleeding.
"Oh sorry, you're not dead. Very embarrassing," came the crackly male voice from the speaker strapped to the vulture's torso.
The man stopped writhing and stared, astounded, panting deep guttural breaths.
"I'd put some pressure on that shoulder wound," continued the vulture, "if I were you."
The man was shaking his head in an exaggerated fashion. "Are you speaking to me?"
If vultures could look discernibly confused, this is how our vulture would look now, momentarily, before realising the source of the man's confusion. "Oh, the enunciator!" he crackled, unsuccessfully gesturing to the device with his colossal wing, the implicit inflections of speech mimicked perfectly. He was gifted with an upper-class English accent and a disarmingly jovial tone. "This miraculous little box reads my cortical activity and transposes into speech. Clever eh?"
The man gawped momentarily. He winced as he was assailed by a wave of pain that shocked him from his reverie. "I've heard of these things," he gibbered, "don't they usually stick them on intelligent chimps or dolphins?"
"My dear boy, " snapped the vulture, "you assume that vultures are not intelligent!"
"Errr," was the man's confused response.
"To be honest, I find the company of my species quite tiring. That's why I moved to the city – more people to talk to."
"A vulture though?" wincing through another pang of pain.
"Hmmm, now you come to mention it, it does seem rather strange," mused the vulture distantly, "It does occur to one that the very reason for this technology's application on such an unlikely recipient is entirely down to some loony scientist's dank sense of humour at the prospect of the advent of this very situation..."
The man wasn't listening.