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Flamingos…in your Scifi?

Yes, it's kitsch, but its happy kitsch. Flamingos make me smile.

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If you’ve seen my social media or been in my house, then you know I love flamingos. Why do you wonder? Well, they were imprinted on my child’s brain when flamingo yard art was new and not retro. One of my favorite scenes from Scarecrow and Mrs. King is in the second episode, “There Goes The Neighborhood” when Scarecrow has to grab a flamingo and fight off a bad guy with its metal legs. 

Yes, it’s kitsch, but it’s happy kitsch. Flamingos make me smile. 

But I hadn’t planned to use them fictionally until I saw the Disney film The Crimson Wing. It’s an amazing film—but a warning and spoiler alert!—the storks are the bad birds! They are both creepy and—yes, I know, Circle of Life, but yikes!

So, after watching the film, things began to simmer inside my head in that weird and unexplainable way they do. I was already working on rebooting my Project Enterprise series and I may have thought it would be fun to work a flamingo or two into the story. 

But as I researched the habits and such of flamingos—and then saw the movie—I realized I needed more than one or two. And I needed a good reason for them to be in the story. 

More simmering occurred and then—it feels like—lightning struck and the story began to grow and twist and change. 

Have I mentioned that I am always surprised by what happens in my books? All I ever really know is that stuff happens, only in Found Girl: Project Enterprise 6, flamingos also happened. And some storks. Really bad storks. 

Here’s a short excerpt from first contact with the flamingos:

The tension Arian felt reminded her of waiting for an Enforcer examination, but this was not Bosakli. An Enforcer was not coming through the opening. An alien was. Which, for now, still seemed preferable to an Enforcer.  

There was a stir in the shadows, a sort of flutter of wings. Did she think this because they believed these aliens were birds, or because wings had fluttered in there? She heard a scrape of something against the floor, and the first alien entered the room. 

She felt her jaw slacken, tried to close it, and could not. She had thought it a mental adjustment to meet the non-human Rhubreak but this…

The alien was broad across the chest, perhaps two of her widths and taller even than Coop, who was the tallest of their group. Its body was clearly avian, with an aerodynamic curve from front to back. It was hard to be sure of its exact shape because it wore protective coverings on its head, chest, and legs. Protection also seemed to extend along its back and sides, but that protection—if that is what it was—had a different appearance, somewhat translucent, she decided, since it exposed the pattern of feathers. But it could be an illusion. 

The long legs bent backward as it walked toward them. She stared. The way it walked made the gait an unusual mix of ungainly and graceful. Its neck made a long, gentle curve from head to body. 

The head was also…very avian in shape but disconcerting to one who had never seen a bird of that size. Where it connected to the neck, it almost seemed an extension of that neck, but then it flowed into a narrow beak that made a substantial curve downward on the end, like a hook. This beak was pink where it connected to the head, but had a slash of dark dead center. Its eyes were dark beads in a circle of white. 

Its head rose high as the arch of the neck lessened, and it looked down on them with an imperiousness that reminded her of…something. It did not look anything like the birds on Bosakli—in so many ways, she lacked time to list them. One difference she could not help but notice was its webbed feet splayed on the white stone floor.  

Its feathers appeared to be white, but she could not be certain because of the protective elements. The chest and head protective gear glowed a faint green, but when the big bird moved, the color shifted to a pale gold. There was a seal affixed to the breastplate, that was too small to see, but she had a sense of knowing what it looked like—no, she could not go there. Not now. Focus.  

The alien lifted its head even higher and studied each of them. If it blinked, she missed it. 

“Fla…” Gessner coughed once and then tried again. “Flamingos?” 

“I thought flamingoes were pink,” Coop objected.

* * * * * 

So that is how flamingos ended up in my scifi Found Girl: Project Enterprise 6.

Perilously yours,

Pauline

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