Scouting the Way Ahead: A Beakface Story

He flew far above the birds. He gained a voyeuristic pleasure from looking down on them as they flew obliviously beneath him. They were the aerial masters; the agile dominators of the sky. He would never be allowed to mix with them, so he stayed far beyond the limits of their altitude endurance to demonstrate his own aerial skill, even if it was only to himself.

He adjusted the golden-yellow beak mask of strong metal he wore over his own leathery snout, his sharp teeth peeking out from behind. His grey and white feathers fanned out from his wings, and his powerfully clawed feet clenched. He was not a bird, despite his desire to be one. His kind had a common evolutionary ancestor as the birds, but had diverged much earlier and not followed a similar path. Some of his kind were like him, and had more than a passing resemblance to a bird. Most did not.

Beakfaces.

The birds had shunned his kind for more than a lifetime. More than even the eldest beakface in his clan could remember, and the eldest had been alive in the previous century. The beakfaces, and all of their related kind, had lost a war, and their ancestors had been banished for all eternity to a cold and barren land.

They lived, and they survived, and they multiplied, but they were never content. Many of their kind needed warmth to be active, so they were trapped in a state of sluggish inactivity, huddled around smoky gas-burning heaters until their blood quickened, and their thoughts raced. At least until the chill seeped in again.

Crislow, and many others, thought that the time had long passed for their return. If neither group could remember the past quarrel, why should they, the innocent descendants, be punished? Why should the birds be favoured? If they were as benevolent and generous as they told everyone, surely they could forgive, and the beakfaces could come back to their ancient home?

His eyes were sharp enough to see the lushness of the land far below. A stark contrast to the land he had grown up in. The city of the birds shone in the sun, and the air around it bustled with activity. Such excitement. Such happiness.

Crislow turned in a long, gentle arc and prepared to fly back to make his report. They were forbidden to trespass here under the ancient traditions, but this had never stopped him. The birds could do nothing to stop him from this height. He did not like to spy, but he knew it could help their cause in some way, so he continued without complaint.

He left the bird city far behind him, returning home, but far below he could see a lone bird following a trajectory similar to his.
‘What is this? Playing at my game, are you?’ said Crislow, talking to himself. ‘Luckily for you, you bright coloured birdie, that we have no argument.’
He drifted closer, dropping down to bird levels, carefully positioning himself with the sun so that the bird could not see him, even if it looked straight at him.

The bird was bright yellow, and was highly conspicuous against the ground below, appearing as a swiftly moving spark.
‘You’re going my way, aren’t you, pretty thing?’ said Crislow in amusement. He was close enough now for his exceptional eyesight to make out the red scarf around the birds neck, and the darker orange colour of its aviation goggles.

‘No quarrel,’ Crislow muttered, and then chuckled deeply. He could no longer contain his beakface urges, so abandoned all pretence. He dropped into an abrupt dive, flattening his wings against his body and holding himself straight, his beak lined up on his target. Like a grey missile he whistled down, loving every second of the acceleration, thrilling as the yellow bird rushed up into his vision.

The bird sensed the beakface’s approach, and flicked a cautious glance over its shoulder. The sun was no longer enough of a shield for the larger mass of the grey creature, and the bird dipped a wing in a desperate evasive manoeuvre. Too late.

Crislow’s taloned feet swung out at the last second and the speed drove the claws deep into the bird, and yellow feathers erupted into the air as the bodies collided. Crislow held firm as they tumbled, now spiralling through the air to the ground. The bird was flapping weakly, trying to grab at Crislow’s legs with its beak, but its neck was too damaged from the impact. Its eyes weren’t visible beneath its goggles, just the glare of sun-reflection from the lens.

As they hit the ground, Crislow extended his legs, used the bird to soften his landing, and then leant in with his metal beak to finish the job. The bird looked up at the large beakface and wheezed in pain. ‘You…think…we don’t…see you…up high,’ it said, and Crislow leant closer. ‘We know. We…know…what’s coming.’

Crislow was lost in thought as he slammed his beak into the bird’s head, silencing it. ‘They know?’ he thought. ‘What do they think they know?’
He carried the body into the air with him, and then out across the ocean. When he was far from the coastline he dropped it, and watched it fall to the water, and imagined it sinking into the depths to feed the ocean beasts.

‘If they know I’ve been watching them, have they been doing the same to us?’ he wondered. It may be necessary to move faster with our preparations.

Constructive criticism welcome.

© 2008 Damian Herde
Beakface concept and artwork © Kaitlin Beckett

Scouting the Way Ahead: A Beakface Story

Damian

Toowoomba, Australia

  • Artist
    Notes
  • Artwork Comments 31

Artist's Description

This story is a collaboration with Firedrake, set in her world of the Beakfaces. I’ve wanted to do a story with her creatures ever since I first saw them :)

The Beakface I’ve written about is this guy, Yellow Beakface (Image © Kaitlin Beckett).

Artwork Comments

  • LostBoy
  • LostBoy
  • Damian
  • Damian
  • Michman
  • Damian
  • Kaitlin Beckett
  • Damian
  • Kaitlin Beckett
  • Damian
  • Kaitlin Beckett
  • Damian
  • Paul Louis Villani
  • Damian
  • BLYTHART
  • Damian
  • melynda blosser
  • Damian
  • BLYTHART
  • Damian
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

10% off

for joining the Redbubble mailing list

Receive exclusive deals and awesome artist news and content right to your inbox. Free for your convenience.