Ziggy’s Flighty Plight. First published in the ‘Read For Animals 2’ anthology.

Ziggy stood atop a yellow bollard. He was waiting for some humans to come along with freshly cooked fish and chips. They were his favourite, especially those with vinegar on them. He knew it was unusual, but he had grown used to the taste whilst growing out of Chickhood.

His friends, the black-backed and herring gulls, still flew out to sea where they dove into the waves, surfacing with a fat silver fish in their beaks.

That for Ziggy, seemed like hard work. Battling the winds and the mounting waves, just to get a small fish! No, he liked the easy life, did Ziggy. The open ocean was not his style.

In the distance, slowly walking towards him, he saw a small family, fish and chips, in little paper conesp in their hands. Even from this distance, he detected the acrid scent of vinegar. It wafted over his beak. He bobbed down, preparing to launch himself into the air.

They were close now. A downward beat of his wings lifted him into the freshening breeze and he idly flapped as a light thermal blew beneath them, keeping him aloft with little effort.

As the family drew abreast of where Ziggy hovered. The little boy held out his hand. There was a chip wavering between his fingers. He was offering Ziggy a chip! With a loud squawk, Ziggy dove, grabbed the chip and was off up in the thermal again.
The rest of the family laughed at his antics. But, a few minutes later, when Ziggy saw a golden opportunity and dove down, grabbing a bunch of chips from the woman’s hand. She screamed ( he had inadvertently pecked her hand as he grabbed the chips), and waved her arms, trying to shoo Ziggy away.

This frightened Ziggy, so he flew higher, watching the family down his sharp beak. This was the first time he had pecked anyone. He was usually so careful. He was a bit sad, but, not too sad as he saw some more people heading his way. Surely they would also have chips?

His keen eyes stared at the oncoming people. Not a family this time but an elderly couple. They did not have chips but were eating burger buns. This, for Ziggy, was as good as chips. Easy to peck, easy to go down the throat.

He swooped down towards the people, making a beeline for the buns. The oldsters saw him coming and started shouting, waving arms and a newspaper, at him. Squawking with indignity, Ziggy lifted into the thermal, deciding that he had better fly away for now. People always threw food away so he could come back later and have a good feed.

Alighting on the Pier roof, he sat with all the other gulls, wings flapping now and then, when a squabble broke out. In the end, Ziggy got so fed up that he opened his wings, caught the thermals and flapped up and away towards the ocean, not to catch fish, like the others, but for a bit of peace and quiet. It was not his regular way, but sometimes, peace was infinitely better than being with the masses.

His wings turned a pink colour as the sun set and the sky become red with the setting sun. It would be better when all the people had left the promenade and he could eat his fill in peace.

Copyright Evelyn J. Steward. August, 2014

Corwen Halt by Chris Kaye

 

Chris Kaye

He had grown up on the railways:  on this particular line, anyway.  He was still young but already could open the carriage doors without any help.  I suppose you could say that he was a bit of a vagabond, although he did keep himself clean and tidy.  Regular commuters talked to him, and often, somehow, found themselves sharing their food with him:  the ticket inspectors merely took one look into his innocent eyes, and didn’t bother to ask.  They all knew him, and accepted that he was a seasoned, if slightly unconventional, traveller.

The station was fairly typical of a country village stop.  The buildings and flower-boxes were neatly kept, even if the signs, doors, and other woodwork could do with a fresh coat of paint, but that hardly mattered.  He knew where he was long before the ‘Spirit of Dunkirk’ Class 4-6-2 locomotive, tender, and rake of six carriages, had wheezed and clunked to a complete stop.  He shuffled off the seat, and was soon sitting on the platform at Corwen Halt, watching the train move noisily off on the next leg of its journey, towards the larger towns, and the end of the line.

He momentarily scratched an imaginary itch at the back of his head, and then strolled casually past the railway guard: on towards the end of the station building.  Old George didn’t say anything:  just nodded, and grinned at him.  He knew what that meant.  The guard’s room would be empty; the stove would be on, and the battered old armchair was still comfy enough that he could doze there through most of the afternoon, without anyone interrupting him.

He did sleep, and therefore missed her arrival.

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