David the Enlightened Seagull
by Fabrice Schomberg
David was a peculiar Seagull,
so innocent, trusting and naive that
he was named by his flock:
"the gullible gull".
However, nicknames did not concern him, David preferred to focus on other matters that he considered as more significant. The world around him was worthy of his interest and curiosity: it was the same world his fellow birds seemed to take for granted. And yet, it seemed that all they were concerned about was competing with each other or with other members from the avian community for food and with themselves for sex.
Seagulls weren't at all organized: they usually followed and respected an Alpha, a larger and slightly battered male that took on the role of the sole responsible seagull whose main credentials were that he happened to have lived the longest. They never worked together as a team and only agreed upon a form of aggressive logic to make their point. Seagulls eat anything but lose the occasional opportunity to crows who can snatch food through a skilful low flight and are able to digest safely and undisturbed upon a twig, where webbed foot seagulls could not land. They missed the odd crumb because of their impatient appetite, whereas pigeons were more diligent, although the seagulls enjoyed chasing them off simply because they weren't threatening their share.
In this world, numbers count, as do technique and skill. It is said that if seagulls were to work as a team just for one day, they could actually dominate the world.
Occasionally David drifted away from his flock, plunging into his fantasy, forgetting the reality he lived in with the different varieties of birds using various strategies to catch or steal food. He thought beyond that, beyond the waves, far away from garbage cans and the box like houses that seemed to be so small when soaring above. Then, each time he was high up in the skies he questioned his existence and place in his surroundings. Birds couldn't be the only intelligent species on this large pond, he mused, and food can't be the only reason for living.
One day his Alpha guided the flock to a rubbish dump and while grazing the trash, David kept an extra eye open to study the life around him. He was puzzled by a garbage truck fed by fluorescent creatures hovering at it's rear end, they looked like colourful beings at the beach who were more concerned about their own diet than that of a truck. He assumed that vehicle must provide those fluorescent workers with some sort of food in return for their nourishment and in a split second made a brave decision, David had left the flock behind and followed the lorry that led him through a networked maze to an unknown destination.
It was hard for David to understand how these creatures could navigate without his elevated viewpoint. As far as he was concerned, he could see when they were heading for traffic or other obstacles and they couldn't. Still, it was getting dark and they seemed to have had enough to eat. Just as David was ready to head back home and call it a day, the lorry suddenly changed its behaviour and speeded non-stop to a gathering of its kind resembling a bee hive, where each in turn was throwing up his nutrition on a mountain of trash.
This may, he thought, have been a mating ritual as very soon after, they all settled themselves together in hibernation, their fluorescent workers shedding their skins to camouflaged ones more suitable for the night.
It was too late to fly back to the gully cliff, so the brave explorer descended and nestled beside the warm truck he had been following all day. He hadn't found a reason to fear it, nor did it appear to pose any threat. The truck did not seem to mind his presence, in fact it didn't seem to notice his presence at all. Moreover, it no longer seemed alive. Its temperature quickly dropped and became totally silent. This was happening to all the other trucks as well, soon after all what could be heard was the sound of the wind, it reminded him of a scene he once saw when whales had been washed ashore. Puzzled to as why this had happened, he got lost in thought and set off dreaming the night through.
Waking the next morning, he was unsure as to whether he had hallucinated the previous day, since these formerly dead trucks had come back to life as though nothing had happened the previous night. They were setting off following their large appetite. A wild thought occurred to David: perhaps these trucks were not alive at all, they could in fact just be used as a tool by these colourful beings, who must be very intelligent, perhaps intelligent enough to communicate although this wasn't immediately apparent. In that case, his investigation should be drawn towards these two legged wingless creatures.
When returning to the security of his chaotic flock, David was harshly greeted. It felt nice to be back in a familiar reality, with the sensible common dynamics his peers have together with organized pigeons and opportunist crows, each of which still used different techniques in order to grab their dole. The dole that humans either dropped or simply weren't fast enough to catch.
As the alpha signalled them all to leave, a familiar truck routinely arrived. This time, one gullible gull, saw the truck in a different perspective, one in which was controlled by intelligent beings that didn't seem to be bothered by the presence of any bird. He thought these beings so intelligent, that they could dwell amongst birds without arising any suspicion in regard to their highly developed conscience.
After telling of his adventures and conclusions to his flock, David was renounced and thought not only gullible, but mad. This drove him to explore further more this new world he had encountered. For example, along side the networked roads were pathways with pedestrians that he noticed were compelled to similar travelling manners as those of the trucks. It seemed they communicated well and had wider interests than birds, since he did not spot them devote most of their time in the pursuit of food nor did he notice any mating rituals, though they peculiarly kept going in and out of squared caves that they apparently used for their nesting activities. Further observing, he concluded that their random vocal abilities could perhaps be used for their means of communication, but this was either too complex or primitive that he just couldn't figure it out. Vain attempts to use his own communicative skills with these pedestrians didn't lead to anything, since they didn't really squawk and if they did attempt such a sort of tweak, it occurred only on a very low form.
Neglecting the opposite sex gave him spare time beyond his imagination. For many days and many nights David devoted most of his time observing these human creatures, occasionally taking an odd opportunity to eat.
"Perhaps if I acted like them without causing too much trouble, I might go unnoticed. In doing so, unaware of my presence I could learn a lot more" he thought.
After a while he could predict when cars stopped and when the two-legged pedestrians walked over a black and white crossing, until he took the courage to try it out for himself. A very excited David landed in front of a zebra crossing and waited for a symmetric red star to disappear while signalling the grass coloured one to appear, then would it be the right moment for him to cross as he did and hopped over to the other side hoping no cars would run him over.
As predicted, they stopped and came to a precise halt just before a white line only a few hops away. Dazzled and overwhelmed with wonder, David spent his day crossing roads, gratified by this achievement and all the hard work he had invested in seeking its discovery.
His fellow mates had considered him to have lost his mind and that is exactly what the humans thought as well. He was a seagull acting abnormally in human manner, wondering around, crossing roads and hardly flying. A newly formed crowd gathered around the bird, presuming that he could have been involved in an accident, "he must be in a state of shock" voiced a concerned citizen who called a local animal hospital for aid, "what if he's hurt" echoed another.
David did not expect so many people to gather around him offering food. Maybe they understood that he was on to them and their unusual behaviour.
Enjoying all the attention, a speeding vehicle with a horrid siren approached which didn't obey any of the rules David had observed beforehand. Perhaps it was their kind of Alpha, he thought, since they gave it a lot of respect by moving out of the way.
By now David was in fact in a state of shock, though in a funny way he felt elevated yet could not fly. Quite troubled, he wondered how did he get tangled up in this mess, as it was far to much for him to handle as well as far to late to escape, before he knew it, David had found himself wrapped up into a bird's bed and fed inside this agitated Alpha van.
In the ambulance David experienced new sounds and perceptions together with a sudden change of climate, it was just like diving into the blue sea in pursuit of fish.
David was fed and a numbered tag was put on his leg. Even though the bird had lost all his birdlike characteristics, his caretakers managed to bring him down to earth and eventually got him to fly, which set him free of captivity.
Returning to his flock, he told of his adventures in the wild. His fellow seagulls would, he thought, be pleased to see him, but they were preoccupied with scavenging for food and did not understand his mumble about human conscience. They still considered him crazy as he refused to function normally within the avian society or accept their ways.
Tagged and astray, David was considered to be just another unfortunate bird that was not successfully let back into nature. Perhaps his flock could smell human on him and that might be the reason he was rejected, or perhaps it was the smell of his thoughts. Without a gull to share his perception of life, he felt rather alone. David was taken aback, in his eyes the humans had thrown him out after not wanting him to become like them and now he was shunned by his own kind.
Perplexed he flew off. He decided to part company and perhaps one day form his own flock of like-minded seagulls, if he could find any. But first he'd prefer to wonder around and try out his newly acquired human skills in the safety of a zebra crossing.
The wailing siren was heard once again
Unfortunately David had forgotten the respect humans had towards that noise, "Just look at that, we're ruining nature" said the ambulance driver to his colleague as they scraped a squashed seagull from the warm tar, "hey look at his tag, it's 2970/D5, he should have known you can't trust an ambulance to stop at crossings"
at the end of his days
David had finely found his identity,