The Last Bird on Earth
by Michael Pelc
In the late fall of a year that had yet to be, they gathered by the hundreds in the foothills west of Pecos, bringing with them their hopes for fame and glory and immortality, and their telescopic sites. For it was here that the bird had been spotted. Each more eager than the next to be the one who would be forever known as the slayer of the last bird on earth, they staked out their sites, built their blinds, loaded their weapons, and hunkered down against the cold of a gray and lifeless November sky.
It was Langston who was the first to spot it, catching a glimpse of the creature through the branches of a pinion nut tree as it soared upon the unseen updraft of a rogue wind that blew from the north. Bracing the stock of his rifle against his shoulder, he gathered the bird within his sight and led it across the sky. His hand steady, his aim true, he squeezed the trigger.
The bullet split the morning silence. The bird fell back to earth.
And so it came to pass in that time that not yet was, that the last bird on earth had been slain. And man found, quite to his surprise, that with its passing he had forevermore lost the ability to dream. For dreams, it seems, are fragile things. They are as delicate as a moment, and as fleeting as a silhouette. Or so it was that once they were.