A cold gust of air blew through the open doorway. In a cage hanging from the ceiling at the opposite end of the room, two birds shivered. “Wow, that’s cold,” one chirped to the other.
“Yet they don’t even seem to notice,” the other said. “Look at them, Sharp Talon. They just sit there.” The birds looked down at the humans, who were sitting on their perch watching the box again.
“Perhaps our captors have become complacent. Should we plan our escape?” Sharp Talon asked.
“Into that weather? We’d freeze. No, we’ll wait until the weather warms. Then we can escape and head south.” The birds stopped speaking as a bell rang and the door opened and closed again. They shivered.
“Is there any way to make them stop doing that? Do you have any ideas, Steel Beak?”
Steel Beak was watching the door. “I think that I just might have an idea. Brace yourself, Sharp Talon. Things are going to get worse before they get better.”
“What do you mean?” Sharp Talon asked.
“You’ll see,” Steel Beak said.
When the humans left the room, Steel Beak waited a few minutes. Then he began to sing. It sounded just like the bell that made the humans open the door. Sharp Talon flapped his wings. “What are you doing?” he asked. “You were supposed to make them stop opening the door.”
Steel Beak ignored him and sang again. A human came and answered the door. She looked right and left. Finally, she closed it again. Sharp Talon snapped his beak at the other bird. “That didn’t work,” he said.
“Just wait,” Steel Beak said. After a few minutes, he sang like the bell again. Once again, a human came and looked out the door. This time, Steel Beak sang like the bell while the human was looking out the door.
The human turned around quickly and stared at Steel Beak. Then she closed the door. She said something in their strange human language. Steel Beak sang like the bell one more time. The human ran away yelling.
All the humans came in to look through the bars of the cage at their captives. “Now we’ll be punished,” Sharp Talon said. “They won’t let this go, Steel Beak. Why did I have to be stuck as a prisoner of war with someone crazy? I’m too young to die.”
“Oh hush, they’ve never punished us before,” Steel Beak said. “Why would they start now? Besides, when have my ideas not worked?”
“Is this the time to bring up the escape plan where we sang loudly in the middle of the night to make them want to let us go? We ended up with blackout blinds over us every night. I hate the dark,” Sharp Talon said.
“A simple miscalculation,” Steel Beak said. “This plan will work. Look, they seem happy.”
“They’re baring their teeth at us. Maybe they’ll eat us. I hope I don’t taste good and they choke on my bones,” Sharp Talon said.
“No, it’s the face they make when they watch the box,” Steel Beak said. “And they like to watch the box.”
“Maybe you’re right,” Sharp Talon said. “But if you aren’t, I hope they eat you first and you taste so bad they decide not to eat me.”
Over the next few days, Steel Beak sang like the bell at random times. The humans walked to the door more and more slowly. They’d look through the window several times and walk away. Sometimes they’d walk away when it wasn’t Steel Beak singing. They wouldn’t come back even if the bell rang again.
Within a week, they rarely checked the door anymore. The birds were much warmer. Steel Beak still sang like the bell sometimes, and the humans stopped coming over to look at the birds and bare their teeth.
“You were right,” Sharp Talon said. “It worked. Do you have any escape plans for when the weather’s warmer?”
“How do you feel about a hunger strike?” Steel Beak asked.
“I think you’ve used up all your good ideas. That definitely won’t work.” Sharp Talon snapped his beak at the other bird and shuffled further away on the perch.