Jasper Cyril: Giant Eagle in Disguise – Chicken Farmer.
No, no. It would never do.
Jasper shook his head. A business card just wasn’t going to look good, no matter which punctuation he picked. His mother’s parting words echoed in his head, “Jasper! It’s not right for a giant eagle to be a farmer! It’s not dignified!”
Jasper sniffed and dug around under Missy the Chicken for her eggs. She grumbled, but hadn’t worked herself up to pecking yet. The rest of the chickens were equally noncommittal.
When he’d first started, they’d always run screaming into the corner of the coop when he came in. There would be feathers flying everywhere, and their wings would fan up and down like they were trying to go up in a down draft.
He’d started sleeping in chicken down and leaving his clothes in the coop to dry. It had taken months, but the chickens had pretty much decided their ancestral senses were wrong about him being an eagle.
It hadn’t rained for a few hours, the longest dry streak in weeks. The sky was actually clear. Jasper propped the door to the coop open on his way out, pushing a rock over with his foot. He did it with care. Even with thick boots on he was nervous of the way that humans seemed to use their feet. Like they were stumps to hit the ground with, instead of delicate instruments.
The chickens clucked and cooed. A few feathers were ruffled. A few beady eyes were blinked in the watery sunlight.
“Whenever you ladies are ready.” Jasper said. He whispered it, so the screeching high tones wouldn’t bother them. He walked around the coop. The ground was still mushy, but it didn’t slosh up onto his boots. The coop was made mostly of corrugated plastic, a strange crystallized green. He walked around to the back and pulled aside one of the sheets, a kind of window.
Chicken smell oozed out the window. Thick, nasty chicken smell. The coop hadn’t been properly aired since the rain started. The chickens chattered at the invasion of light.
Something was above him.
Jasper looked up. There was a couple flying across the sky. A human woman carrying a unconscious young man, her purple cape flapping out behind her. Jasper looked at her face. She was about four hundred feet up, moving at about fifty miles an hour. Blond hair in a black crown framed a pale, round face. She looked kind of familiar.
Hey. Right. On the TV the other night. She was a super-villain, wasn’t she? The Mistress of Blood or something?
Huh. That guy looked really unconscious. And there was a purple bruise forming across the base of his jaw. Was he being kidnapped?
“Hey!” Jasper shouted. He fumbled for his cell phone, running away from the chicken coop as the super-villainess and her possible prey passed over head. “Hey!” He waved his free arm as the cell phone came out.
She didn’t stop. She was acting like she hadn’t even seen him. Probably embarrassed.
Who was it you were supposed to call? It hadn’t been the normal emergency number, it had been something else. Some number for the new super-hero group? Jasper looked up again. She was moving rapidly across his neighbor’s field.
He’d just call the police, they’d know.
Missy was standing in the door of the coop, looking at him with her head cocked. He interpreted that look as ‘deeply suspicious’.
Jasper fumbled his phone. It slipped between two of his fingers, and dropped into one of the deeper puddles with a sploot.
Jasper looked up. The young man’s hair had come out of its bun, and long black strands were flying everywhere. Whatserface had slowed to deal with the resulting entanglement in her crown.
Jasper Cyril made up his mind.
He took a deep breath, ran behind the chicken coop and shed his skin. His feathers were crumpled, and this was horrible ground to take off from.
Jasper spread his wings. The light on the coop brightened as the sun caught on his white feathers. Jasper gave a powerful down stroke, and shot into the air. Another, and he rose above the coop. Jasper swerved over the roof of his house, flapping in long, frantic strokes. But the sun had been doing its job, and the black shingles had warmed up. Hot air was spiraling off his roof.
Jasper caught the thermal and rose effortlessly to the height of the super-villianess. She hadn’t noticed him. She was almost at a stop, practically hanging in the air, struggling with a mass of long curly hair. That was why Jasper kept the hair on his costume short. It was such a pain to deal with.
He could see Missy, glaring suspiciously from the door of the coop.
He’d better get this done quick. Even the chickens would have trouble believing he was human if he stayed in the sky too long.
Jasper rose another hundred feet and soared out from the thermal over the fields. They were much colder, but the drop wasn’t bad over such a short distance.
He couldn’t just dive at her. He could probably avoid grabbing the hostage, but then he’d fall. And he couldn’t grab someone going that fast and not kill them. He would have to force her to the ground.
Jasper kept his wings spread, and let his shadow pass over the villianess. She’d gotten the hair tied back up, so it was with clear eyes that she saw the darkness consume her, and looked up.
Jasper was quite gratified by the look of awe on her face.
He screamed and dropped his wings.
Bloody Mistress (or whatever it was) dodged, but she dodged down and to the left. Jasper broke out of the dive and circled, lower. She was flying again, at her full speed. But it was an easy thing to keep up with her. In a few moments his shadow had swallowed her again.
Jasper screamed, and dove.
She was forced down, back, to the left.
Good. He’d have her circle the farm and then touch down. Then it would be easy to take the hostage somewhere safe.