So, it’s rare that I post my attempts at fiction online, more due to nerves than a desire to preserve my oh-so-precious ideas.
However, fellow aspiring author-person Isabel Joely Black, who is always good company on Twitter, has been posting a weekly prompt for short fictions on her website.
So I thought it was only fair that I take a stab at it, really…
Ducks From Space – by Nick Bryan
From The Journal Of Doctor Lewis Lamb:
As I understand it, the first sighting was in a suburban back garden. An elderly gentleman saw a small, golden object fall from the sky and embed itself in his lawn. He raced out there as fast as he could, but due to his advancing years, it still took half an hour.
But, at last, he arrived at the scene with a trowel. Rather than alert the authorities, he was going to dig it up and hawk it to one of those places that offers you money for any gold you can find. He had high hopes for this, it looked about the size of a table tennis ball.
Scarcely had he scraped the surface, however, when there was a strange squeaking noise. Pecking its way up from below the soil, a tiny yellow duckling emerged. It looked around, clearly confused, before another startled squeak came out. The fervent gardener had swept it aside looking for the golden shell.
But he never found it. And soon, similar landings were spotted around the country. Newly formed birds coming up from the ground, squeaking for attention.
This warrants further investigation.
Three Days Later
The duck landings have spread worldwide. The pod falls from the sky, burrows into the earth and grows into a duckling. Any which land on concrete roll towards the nearest soil. We have captured a few to test under laboratory conditions.
The ducklings and ducks that grow appear normal examples of the species in all measurable respects. We are in the process of checking at a deeper genetic level, obviously this will take some time.
Speculation continues in the lab, as well as the wider media, about the source of these falling duck-seeds. Their spherical shape and golden colouring does not resemble the conventional “duck egg” at all. Some wonder whether these are a new type of egg, evolved to try and escape the confines of the duck pond.
One of my laboratory assistants speculated they might be the result of ducks cross-breeding with root vegetables. I can only assume this is a “joke”.
Two Days Later
As the influx of ground-grown ducks continues, slowly but steadily, the more alarmist elements in the media have started to question whether the ducks may be some kind of invasion force, from beyond our solar system, come to colonise our planet and subjugate humanity.
At first, I thought this too was a strange attempt at humour, but it appears they were serious. I did not think anyone was stupid enough to believe ducks would rise up to take over the world, but I am once again disappointed.
I have appeared on breakfast news repeatedly to assure the public that there is nothing untoward about these ducks. They quack, they lay eggs, they have no sign of the so-called “alien DNA” or “killer death vision” that the papers are quacking about. I have also pointed out that “killer death vision” is a double negative.
More worrying still are the cries to “send them back where they came from”, presumably involving a giant cannon.
Three Days Later
The affair of the ducks from space has taken a worryingly sombre tone. Spurred by fear and heavy media pressure, the government have ordered a cull of an unspecified percentage of ducks. They claim it will focus on the new arrivals from the sky, but since they are identical to pre-existing specimens, I fail to see how they will discern.
They have issued reasons for the massacre, of course. Ponds are becoming overcrowded, the skies are dangerous for aircraft, a slight increase in the number of small children pecked in parks. People are avoiding Chinese food. I’m surprised they didn’t mention the risk of rioting when bakers throw out the stale bread.
Clearly, this is an unscientific travesty based on mass hysteria and little else. Petitions against it exist. I heard rumours a throng of protestors were marching towards the Houses of Parliament, quacking.
One Day Later
And so the cull came into effect. Ducks were collected up and taken to be slaughtered. It has not been pretty. Policemen in hideous bright high-visibility vests smashed into my laboratory, broke my equipment and carried off every duck they could find. They went into the night, quacking for help, and none of us did anything. I think one of my laboratory assistants may have cried.
And it was then that I decided someone had to take action. I like to think I wasn’t the only one, that some of the failed protesters and petition signatories had been spurred into it too, but I’ve learned not to over-expect of people.
One Week Later
The duck-seeds, when they fall, roll instinctively towards earth so they can take root. My employees looked for the best way to collect them for experimentation, and ended up using a huge sheet of high-tension material, secured with springs. In effect, a giant trampoline.
Luckily, no-one had thought to notify the police that we had dozens of these golden balls in giant buckets, tucked away at the back of our storerooms. It probably helped that we threw tarpaulins over them. Having waited a week for the furor around the cull to die down, we hauled them out and carried them to the nearest available green space.
As we were planting seeds in the ground so they could grow into ducks, one of my employees commented that if the ducks actually were alien invaders come to crush humanity, we were playing right into their hands. This was the same one who had made the quip about root vegetables. I told him to stop being so stupid.
Blah blah copyright Nick Bryan 2010 I suppose, please don’t steal it. If you’d like to publish it somewhere for some reason, email me and I imagine we can come to some arrangements.