Astropup promised us a follow-up to the previous story and here it is. It’s his most spectacular adventure yet. Listen and learn how the Major Parrot saved the world from a brainwave attack by a fleet of alien birds.
Story by Bertie.
Read by Richard.
Proofread by Jana Elizabeth.
This is Richard, and I’m here to introduce the latest space adventure featuring Astropup and his comrade, the Parrot, who is a Major in the Space Force. If you heard the most recent story, you’ll know that the Parrot has stood trial for Disobeying Orders. The Court Martial cleared him of all charges on the grounds that he was not a rational or responsible being. He was so insulted that he resigned his commission and retired to a bird sanctuary in England. But as you will hear in this story, destiny called on the Parrot to save the world.
But before the story, I’d just like to tell you about this week’s sponsor, The MeeGenius app. MeGenius costs $1.99 from the Apple store, and with it you receive 12 enhanced audio books for free. All you have to do is download the MeeGenius app to your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad and you can enjoy their enhanced audio stories with illustrations and word highlighting. That’s the MeeGenius app from the Apple store or MeeGenius.com.
And now I will bow out, and let Astropup take up our story.
Almost everything I have described so far in this memoir, I have witnessed with my own eyes, or smelt with my own nose. This chapter is different. Most of these events took place in a place called England, and as I might have mentioned, I’m currently stationed in the Middle East. I heard what I’m about to tell you from the Parrot Major. But you can trust every word of it, because he’s a most particular and precise bird in my experience, and not at all prone to exaggeration.
Now somewhere up there, in the outer reaches of darkest space, there is a giant ship shaped like a bird. I’ve described it before. It has an enormous beak that snaffles up any spaceship that is unlucky enough to wonder across its path. This story begins with that Ship of Birds swallowing a stray spacecraft.
Inside the belly of the ship, the zillions of birds who flocked around the captured capsule were in luck. When they pecked it open, they found that it was full of rubbish – I mean the sort of stuff that humans don’t want to eat – like cold baked beans, mouldy sliced bread, bacon rind, and nuclear waste. It was mixed in with more useless stuff, like plastic bags, tin cans, and glass bottles, but there was enough nutritious garbage in there to feed a flock of gulls for half a year. In other words, it was a better catch than you usually find floating around the cosmos.
I don’t want to baffle you with science, but it’s worth reminding you that this inter-galactic aviary is powered by electrical impulses generated by bird brains. The commander-in-chief is a wise old owl who sits at the top of the ship’s tree, and whose mighty mind is plugged directly into the navigation and life support systems. When the rubbish capsule came to his attention, he wanted to know which planet was rich, fertile, and free from hunger enough, to jettison such rich pickings of food into outer-space. He applied his intelligence to the problem, and traced its origin back to Earth.
He found that our beautiful blue planet has so much more to offer than garbage. It’s full of delicious seeds and fresh water. The gardens are teaming with worms. There is no shortage of mice and other lovely vermin that the birds with long talons like to snack on. The trees provide wonderful branches for nesting. He saw that there was a native bird population, but that they were inferior in brain power, backward in technology, and could easily be enslaved. As for the humans, he assessed that they were a bit more advanced , but primitive none the less. The only negative that he could discover were the cats, but they were as yet to develop any advanced weaponry beyond their teeth and claws. After years of wondering in space, the owl had found the perfect bird colony. That must have been when he took the decision to invade our world.
First in were an advance party of elite sparrow hawks. They began to take out the pigeons who are famous for hopping around Trafalgar Square in the centre of London. Eagles struck stray cats in the city of Milan in Northern Italy. Owls came in under the cover of darkness and began to take over barns in mid west of the United States.
The humans noted some of these strange occurrences, and reports appeared in the news, but nobody was much bothered. For who on Earth speaks up for the rights of pigeons or stray cats? Animals and birds do not have a voice in the parliaments of the humans. We are treated like, well, animals…anyway, I digress…
These early victories were all too easy. They fuelled the confidence of invading flocks. More space shuttles landed with more and more birds. They began to muster their forces unseen in the woods. The greatest concentration of them was on the rainy island known as Great Britain. This is also where the Parrot happened to be living at the time, and he was able to describe the events there in detail.
The skies of Southern England were filled with the silhouettes of the invading bird fleet. They blocked out the sunlight as they passed overhead. The tweeting and twittering was deafening. They landed to feed, and soon the crops in the fields were devastated, and the famous rose gardens of England were laid to waste. Those greedy birds were a giant eating machine. It was a bad time to be a worm or a caterpillar. Anything small that showed its head was gobbled up.
The invaders were following the course of the River Thames. The Prime Minister decided he must take action before they reached the capital city, London. He picked up his red phone and called the commander of the Royal Air Force otherwise known as The Few, because they have so few aircraft. The entire force – half a dozen fighter jets in all – scrambled to intercept the bothersome birds. But what could they do? Their missiles just flew straight through the flocks, and in between the feathered-bodies.
There were some impressive whiz-bang explosions in the sky, singed feathers and angry birds. Instead of flying away, the invaders wheeled round and flew towards the jets. The pilots found that their vision was blackened on all sides. Some of the birds quite suicidally flew into the engines. The finely tuned machines choked and spluttered, and the jets spiralled through the skies and crashed in flames in the fields.
An hour later, the birds descended on the landmarks of London – Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and Tower Bridge to name a few. Things were looking grim. There is a legend that when the black ravens who guard the Tower of London leave their posts, that will be when the moment the city will fall to invaders. Well a rumour started to spread that they had flown away in terror from the strange in-coming birds.
They were all over the city. You couldn’t walk down the street without getting a face full of feathers, or your nose pecked, or your head pooped on. The Queen cancelled her garden party. The MCC called off the cricket match at Lords. The Kennel Club postponed Crufts! All the cafes, pubs, and restaurants closed, because as soon as you put food on the table, it was gone as soon as you could say “tweet tweet.”
The people of London, who include more or less every nationality of the world, resisted the bird blitz with brollies, walking sticks, and bits of scaffolding. The fire brigade turned their hoses on the winged attackers. Builders and window-cleaners struggled with dive-bombing gulls at the tops of high buildings. Policemen took out their notebooks and filed lengthy reports. And though I’m no fan of cats, I must say that the feline population fought bravely too. Dogs, of course, lack the stealth and the sharp claws to deal effectively with feathered pests, but I’m told that the brigade of dogs valiantly woofed their vocal support and chased the birds out of the garden squares.
Finally, after three dark days, the flock of birds moved on. They had pecked every last crisp crumb off the pavements of London. They headed for Epping Forrest, and then for the midlands, and the farmers’ fields.
Now what I’m about to tell you is a state secret, but as we now know that dumb animals are immune from persecution i’m going to tell you anyway. The War Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, had decided that crop sprayers would fly over the invaders and cover them with poison. The countryside would be littered with the bodies of diseased birds, and pretty much any other living thing that was unfortunate enough to be sprinkled with the deadly spray. It was a ghastly scenario, but there were no other viable weapons at the humans’ disposal.
What the people did not understand, and failed to calculate, was that way out in space, a wise old owl was monitoring the humans’ communications and knew all about their panic and plots. The humans had no idea where the birds had hatched out so suddenly and in such numbers, and although many theories were floated, nobody seemed to have suggested that they could have come from another world altogether. That is why what happened next was so unexpected.
The birds’ commander-in-chief gathered his flock of top thinkers – some of the most high-powered parrots and parakeets in the Universe – and told them to focus their brain waves on the Earths’ communication systems. The effect was instant and devastating. Mobile phones went dead. The fiber optic cables clogged up. The satellites switched off. There was no TV, no radio, no Internet. Ordinary people suddenly found themselves back in the age of the typewriter. The only communications coming in and out of Government were either on paper, or in Morse code tapped along copper telegraph wires. You might think all this would have negligible effect on the animal population, but you would think wrong. The shops did not know how to order their pet food. Dogs went without their meaty chunks. Birds missed out on their seed.
And that was when our friend the Parrot – formally a Major in the Space Force – could hold his beak no longer. Hitherto he had been monitoring events from his bird sanctuary in the South-West of England. He had followed it all on Twitter, and he admitted to me later that had a feeling of satisfaction at the humans’ problems – he used some long learnt Germanic word for it which I forget. Shardan-fraden-WUFF! or something like that. He wasn’t exactly gloating, but he thought to himself that only he knew who was behind these avian attacks, and if they hadn’t hounded him out of the Space Force, how useful he would be to the humans now! At last he could watch on no more. He resolved that the time had come to intervene.
And so the Parrot discharged himself from the sanctuary and flew down to the British navel base in the port of Plymouth.
Imagine a Rear Admiral of the Royal Navy, sitting around with his officers, unable to communicate with his frigates and submarines and what-have-you out on the ocean wave. There was absolutely nothing for them to do – so in the time-honoured tradition of all salty sea-worthy types they were playing cards and drinking rum. In flies a parrot – like something that belongs on the shoulder of a pirate – and says:
“I must get a message to the Prime Minister.”
Well I don’t have to tell you that they weren’t at all persuaded by this avian utterance. In those dark days, anyone wearing a coat of feathers fell under immediate suspicion. In fact, if you were a bird, you were lucky if they didn’t shoot you on sight. And so it was entirely in the spirit of the times that the Rear Admiral drew his pistol from a drawer and pointed it straight between our bird’s beady eyes.
The Parrot said:
“Go ahead and shoot. But if you do you’ll destroy the world’s last chance of survival.”
Well a line like that was enough to give even a drunken sailor pause for thought.
“If you don’t mind sir, “ said one of the more clear-headed junior officers, “before you pull the trigger, I’d just like to ask that bird where he learnt to speak English like that. “
“Good idea,” said the Rear Admiral, “I was curious about that too. Better interrogate the prisoner.”
The junior officer stood up, steadied himself, and walked over to the window sill where the Parrot was perching.
“Well bird. You heard. Speak.”
Now our Parrot is a cool-headed customer, and just to show that he wasn’t going to be pushed around that easily, he casually scratched the back of his head with his claw. After a longish silence he said: “Say the magic word and I might help you.”
The sailor looked around the room hoping for some advice. When none was forth coming he sighed and said: “Alright. Pretty please.”
“That’s better,” replied the Parrot. “For your information, I taught myself English, and I’m currently studying Egyptian Hieroglyphics, but that’s by the by. I’m a former Major in The Space Force, and while on a Top Secret Mission to the out-reaches of the galaxy, I made contact with the commander in chief of the birds who are currently attacking this planet. Gentlemen, we are dealing with an alien intelligence that is far more formidable than any force previously encountered. I’m pretty sure that I know how we can counter this attack before it is too late for the world. I must speak to the Prime Minister urgently.”
Now if the Rear Admiral had heard this speech from a human being, he would probably have considered him to be certifiably stark raving mad. But he was so struck by this Parrot’s ability to speak fluent English that he saw that this was a matter that could only be decided at the highest levels. He immediately made his car available to whisk the Parrot to London.
Four hours later, the Parrot addressed an emergency meeting of the War Cabinet at Number 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister introduced him to the assembled ministers, generals and scientists with the words:
“What you are about to hear will completely change your understanding of the Universe and everything for ever.”
The Parrot hopped onto the PM’s shoulder and made a sound like this – “SQUAAAARK!” The faces around the room looked at the Prime Minister with somewhat puzzled expressions. What were they to make of a man who brought a pet to work at a time like this? And then, after a painful silence, the Parrot said: “Just kidding, in actual fact I can talk just like you.”
And that got their attention. They were, as the saying goes, gob-smacked.
“And if you think I’m smart,” continued the Parrot, “think again. The birds who are currently attacking our world are a 100 times smarter than I am. They have shut down your telecommunication systems. That was but a trivial matter for them. They achieved it by the power of thought alone. Yes, that’s right ladies and gentlemen, we are experiencing a brain wave attack by some of the most powerful minds in the universe. But fear not, for I have the solution. We must deploy a thought field to protect the world against the mind-attack.”
Again, I tell you, if they had heard these words from one of their own, they would have called in the men in white coats to cart him off to the loony bin. But when you meet a Parrot who has the power to talk, it’s pretty impressive. It changes everything. Still, there were those around the table who thought that it was madness to do as the bird said. Some said that he was a circus trick. Others, that he was an enemy agent. They would have checked him out on the internet; only it wasn’t working. In the end, they had no choice but to believe him, because the food of the world was being gobbled up so fast that soon there would be nothing left to eat.
It took 48 hours to fully mobilise the army. Convoys of trucks headed west to Wales and North to Scotland. The soldiers slung kit bags over their shoulders and began to trek up the tracks to the tops of the mountains. On the way up they were harassed by hawks and falcons, but they fought off the air born attackers. All in all 15,000 men camped at or near the gusty peaks of the Cairngorms and the Grampian mountain range. Their heads were quite literally in the clouds. Some of the platoon sergeants hung wind-chimes on tent-poles, and they swung to and fro, ringing out at random. Then the order came for the troops to lay down their weapons and sit cross-legged on the ground. This and the following manoeuvre was all according to the precise instructions laid down by the Parrot. It was an entirely new form of warfare – defence through tantric meditation. The men and women of the British armed forces closed their eyes and began to breath in the mountain air slowly and deeply. As they did so, they counted each breath backwards, 100 – 99 – 98 -97 and so forth. When eventually they reached zero they began to chant:
The unit commanders timed the chant – at the end of half an hour they banged gongs and tinkled little triangles. The soldiers changed their chant:
I think by now you may have gathered an appreciation of the true genius of the Parrot. He had devised the perfect counter-attack to fend off the feathered offensive. If there’s one sound that’s bound to break a bird’s brain wave it’s mee-ooww. The deep collective meditation of the armed forces reached out far and wide – even into outer space – for there is nothing so powerful as thought. And if the truth be known, the power of human soul is one of the strongest forces in the universe – and when it is correctly channelled it can easily overcome an alien invasion. It’s just that on a normal day, people waste so much of their thinking capacity on trivial pursuits like face-book, or computer games, or Saturday morning cartoons. When human thought is correctly channelled and concentrated there is no force that can match it.
And so the mass forces of the alien birds were utterly routed and flew off in terror. The in-coming brain waves generated by the owl and his deep thinking birds bounced back off the human mind shield. The world was saved. And it was all thanks to my friend, the Parrot.