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A hawk notices something strange on the ground as she flies over the prairie on her morning hunt…
| Aug 16, 2011 | No comments |

A hawk notices something strange on the ground as she flies over the prairie on her morning hunt…

“Howard? Whatever are you doing down there?”

“Learning to fly, Ma.”

“But I pushed you out of the nest just last week. You took a nasty bump on the head from a tree limb on the way down, but you made a magnificent recovery.”

“I was doing it all wrong. I know better now.”

“What do you mean?”

“As I was fluttering around, checking out my wings, I met some new friends, and they introduced me to Da Rulez.”

“The rules? What sort of rules?”

“No, no…not ‘the rules,’ Da Rulez. For flying.”

“But there aren’t any rules…er…Rulez…for flying.”

“That’s what I thought, but my friends opened up this whole new world for me. I never realized flying was so complicated. It all starts with your diet. Whole grains, clear liquids, plenty of vegetables. That’s Rulez 1: ‘Quality feed, quality flight.'”

“Howard, we’re raptors. We eat meat. It’s all I ever fed you after you hatched. Of course, I had to pre-digest it at first, but before long, you were wolfing it down like a veteran. Rabbit, squirrel, lamb…”

“Hold on. That wasn’t texturized vegetable protein? I think I’m gonna be sick. I can’t believe you did that to me, Ma. No wonder I can’t fly right.”

“Why are you hopping around like that?”

“Oh, that’s Rulez 2: ‘Altitude is absurd.’ Staying near the ground keeps you close to navigational references and prevents hypoxia. If I want to master flight, I have to work on my hop and glide.”

“You’ll never catch a squirrel that way. He’ll hear you coming a mile off. We’re built to soar on the wind…we spread our wings and let it waft us high into the sky, then we swoop down out of the sun onto our unsuspecting prey without a sound. They never know what hits them.”

“Why would I want to catch a squirrel? Ick. I told you, Rulez 1 says…”

“Yes, yes, I know. How many of these ‘Rulez’ are there?”

“962. I’m only on Rulez 25: ‘Birds of a feather flock together.’ I’m having trouble finding a flock, though. My friends’ flock is full up, and everybody around here is really suspicious of strangers. If I could just find some way to straighten my beak or whiten my feathers a little, I might fit in better.”

“Hawks hunt alone, Howard. I can barely stand to work within a half-mile of your father, and we’re as much in love as the day we shared our first mouse. I think these friends of yours are a bad influence. Where do they live?”

“In that little house on the other side of the hill. The one with the gravel yard and the wire fence.”

“Son, those are chickens. They know absolutely nothing about flying, but they’re very tasty. I think they’re trying to keep you grounded.”

“Tasty? Ma, what are you, some kind of monster? They’re my friends! They understand me. They gave me Da Rulez. When I finish all 962, they said I’ll be able to fly as nature intended, and then they’ll teach me how to lay an egg!”

“An egg. Bless their corn-pickin’ little hearts. Come here, featherbrain.”

“Ma! Ouch! That hurts! Don’t you ever trim your nails? That’s Rulez 7, by the way: ‘Talons are tacky.’ Where are you taking me?”

“Almost there. Now, grab hold of that branch.”

“Whoa, we must be a mile in the air. This can’t be safe.”

“It’s not that high, and it isn’t supposed to be safe. I didn’t raise you to be a chicken, Howard. Now…fly!”

“Hey! Aaack! I’m falling!”

“Spread your wings, Howard. Let the wind do the work for you.”

“This isn’t in Da Rulez, Ma!”

“There’s only one rule for flying: ‘Spread your wings, or you’re going to die.'”

“All right, all right! But I’m telling you…wow. I’m…I’m flying. This is amazing! I’d forgotten what it felt like.”

“You’re doing fine. Tilt a bit to the right. There’s a nice thermal developing above that flat rock on the ridge.”

“Oooh. This feels nice. I could float like this forever.”

“I’m sorry I had to kick you out of the nest again, Howard, but it was the only way to remind you what real flying is all about.”

“I like it. It makes me feel all free and adventurous. And hungry. There wasn’t much texturized vegetable protein hanging from the bushes.”

“Follow me. There’s a nice little restaurant on the other side of the hill. It’s time I introduced you to poulet tartare.”

Fred was born in Tacoma, Washington, but spent most of his formative years in California, where his parents pastored a couple of small churches. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1983, and spent 24 years in the Air Force as a bomber navigator, flight-test navigator, and military educator. He retired from the Air Force in 2007, and now works as a government contractor in eastern Kansas, providing computer simulation support for Army training.Fred has been married for 25 years to the girl who should have been his high school sweetheart, and has three kids, three dogs, and a mortgage. When he's not writing or reading, he enjoys running, hiking, birdwatching, stargazing, and playing around with computers.Writing has always been a big part of his life, but he kept it mostly private until a few years ago, when it occurred to him that if he was ever going to get published, he needed to get serious about it. Since then, he's written more than twenty short stories that have been published in a variety of print and online magazines, and a novel, The Muse, that debuted in November 2009 from Splashdown Books, which was a finalist for the 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award for book of the year in the speculative genre. Speculative fiction is his first love, but he writes the occasional bit of non-fiction or poetry, just to keep things interesting.

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I read this post and the message is clear. Friends dont know us as well as our family. That why a hand from a family member is worth so much.

Sally Apokedak

Loved this. 

And Luke’s comment makes me also realize one great thing about stories (as opposed to lectures): you can take from them what you need. I also saw that families love and know you better than newly-met “friends” but the thing I thought really stood out was that sometimes we’re supposed to fly the way God made us to do, and if we get all bogged down in other people’s rules we get, well, bogged down.  

I wonder what messages others got.


What I got from it was
a. Too many rules overcomplicate things, even when they’re well-intended
B. Don’t let anyone take you from what God made you to be.

Ken Rolph
Ken Rolph

You are all wrong. This story is clearly about the dilemma of the creative writing trying to find a church to belong to. Most “flocks” are full up. Clever trick substituing chickens for sheep, but the message still comes through clearly.

Ken Rolph
Ken Rolph

You are all wrong. This story is clearly about the dilemma of creative writers trying to find a church to belong to. Most “flocks” are full up. Clever trick substituing chickens for sheep, but the message still comes through clearly.