This week’s #blogbattle theme word is photograph. #Blogbattle is a weekly event hosted by the wonderful Racheal Ritchey over at the new #Blogbattle site. Take a look at her website and books as well. It’s worth it.
The Plan: Part A
Winter landed on the windowsill, making sure the flower pot was between her and the window. Spring and Flame were behind her, Flame playing lookout. Her heart was hammering in her chest. She was praying Birch and Indian were looking for them far away by now.
Spring ventured around the brown pot and peered through the window. After a moment, he looked back and whispered, “All clear. No one’s inside.”
One hurdle over. Winter crept up beside him, and looked inside the house. It was similar to Layla’s. She hoped her friend was all right after all this time….
“Look,” Spring said, bringing her attention back to the present, “the window’s open a little, just like I said.”
She looked where he was pointing. “I think we might squeeze through it,” she said.
He nodded, then crept towards it, and tried. He slipped through easily.
Winter said to Flame, “You wait out here, and tap on the window if you see anything suspicious.”
“You mean if I see Birch and Indian?”
She hadn’t wanted to say it. That Birch was now her enemy struck her heart as if with a knife. “Yes. Or anything else.”
“Sure,” he said, his tone now tinged with sadness. They had been his friends too.
She turned from him and went to the window. The gap was small, but she managed to get through.
Spring was waiting for her on the other side. “So,” she said, “where’s this key?”
He raised his shoulders. “I never said I knew exactly where it is, just that the humans bring it in here.”
She swallowed irritation, and tried to think back to her time with Layla. Where had she kept things like key? A memory sparked. “Near the door,” she said. “Layla always had a bowl near the door with her key in. These people might be the same.”
Spring raised an eyebrow. “Layla?”
“A human I knew a while ago. I’ll explain some other time. Come on, let’s find the door.”
She took off and flew across the room, leaving Spring to follow her.
This house was larger than it had seemed from the outside. She got lost several times, and flew in circles several more times. All the while she was thinking about the birds waiting for her to free them, about Birch and Indian looking for her on behalf of the Queen, and Layla as well, now she’d been reminded.
She fought away the sadness and fear and landed on a wooden surface. Spring landed beside her. “We’re not doing well here, are we?” he said.
She shook her head and sat down. “I can’t find the door.”
He crouched down beside her. “What we need is a logical way of doing this.” He frowned. “Shame I’m not good at logical.”
“Me either,” she said sadly. Tears were threatening to spill from her eyes, blurring her vision. Maybe she just wasn’t good enough for this. Her gaze found a wooden frame beside her, inside was something Layla had called a photograph. It was of Leviathan, with a human. Probably the one who lived here. They looked happy. Her heart ached for home and happiness again. “Maybe we should just-”
“Hey,” Spring interrupted her. “Look!”
She looked up. He had wandered away from her and was peering around a corner next to the end of the wooden surface. Light was shining from the opening. She got up and walked over to him, the followed his gaze with her own.
Her eyes widened. “The door!”
He grinned. “We found it.”
“You found it,” she said, some sadness creeping back in as the surprise wore away.
“Doesn’t matter,” Spring said, taking her hand. He pulled her with him as he leapt off the wooden thing and flew towards the door.
Her eyes settled on a bench near the door. On it lay a bowl. And inside, something was glinting in the sunlight. She pointed. “Down there.”
Spring guided her down, and they both peered inside together. “Keys!” Winter smiled, a spark of happiness returning. She hadn’t done it properly, but they had found them. And help from friends was never a bad thing.
Spring climbed inside the bowl, and looked down at the keys. He pointed to one on its own. “I think this is the one.”
“Are you sure?” Winter asked. SHe didn’t want to get all the way out to the cage with the wrong key.
“Yes. Look, see the little bird at the top of it?”
“I’ve definitely seen that on the key the humans use to unlock the cage.”
“Okay then. Let’s get it out there.”
He grabbed the top of it. “This are heavy!”
Winter flitted over to land at the other end. She picked up the bottom edge, and agreed. It was heavy. She was beginning to wish they’d brought Flame with them. He was stronger than all of them.
But together, she and Spring did manage to lift it up. It was a long flight back to the window. They went the wrong way a couple of times, and had to stop to rest many times. But they made it.
Flame’s eyes lit up when he saw them. He grinned, mouthing something that she couldn’t quite here.
They passed the key through the gap in the window, Flame pulling it through to his side.
Then Winter followed Spring back out into the fresh air. She sat down on the windowsill, utterly exhausted. But she wasn’t done yet. Now she had to free the birds.
Flame had rested the key against the flower pot. “Well, that’s part one down,” he said. “Ready for the next one?”
Winter pushed herself onto her feet. Her arms and wings ached. “Ready,” she said. “The longer we wait the more chance there is of getting caught.”
She moved to pick up one end of the key, but both Spring and Flame stopped her. “No. You rest. We’ll carry it over to the cage, okay?”
She wanted to protest, but her arms and wings protested against it. “Okay,” she agreed.
“I’ll keep a lookout for… well, you know who.”
They nodded, knowing who she meant.
Flame and Spring each took one end of the key and Winter guided them over to the cage, alert to every sound and sight that she sensed.
The birds were waiting eagerly. Tango was with them. She had been too afraid to enter the human’s house.
The lock was located on the left end of the cage. Flame and Spring took the key to it. Tango came to help, and between them they pushed the key into its hole. “Now we just need to turn it,” Spring said.
“Which way?” Flame asked.
Spring scratched his head. “Well, erm, I can’t really remember.”
Flame frowned. “That’s really helpful.” Tempers were starting to fray now that exhaustion was setting in.
“We’ll try it one way,” Winter said calmly, although she wanted to cry with tiredness, “and then the other if that doesn’t work.”
“Sounds sensible,”Pim said, who was watching eagerly. All the birds were.
It took a lot of strength, and the birds had to reach through the wire diamonds to hold the lock steady with their wings and beaks, but Winter, Flame, Spring, and Tango together managed to turn the key in the lock.
A miraculous click sounded. The lock popped open.
For a moment everyone stared at it. Then the birds erupted into cheers, and Winter couldn’t believe what she was hearing or seeing.
They had done it. The birds were free.
The wire door was pushed open. Winter and the others flitted backwards as her world erupted into wings and coloured feathers, flying around her and crying in delight and thanks.
She smiled and tears finally did run down her face.
They were really free.