Wes Craven's The Birds: Part 8

When was the last time you spoke with your coot?

Last fall a Vineyard owl who’d taken me under his wing suggested I join the migration just underway. “Learn what birds are up against these days. Might be an eye-opener.”

“Could be a hoot,” I agreed. So I bought a used ultralight and took off with four volunteer guides provided by the owl. At first it sounded like plain old fun, until the birds rattled off their destinations. There was a blue jay bound for Miami, a coot to Panama, an osprey to Brazil, and an American golden plover already halfway through migrating from the Alaskan tundra down to Patagonia. In other words, 25,000 miles total, 2,500 of them over open sea. 

I had no idea I was taking on something so sketchy. 

Worst, my homemade ultralight had a secret of its own. It messed with time. We took off from the Vineyard on a nice day in 2014 and twelve hours later crash-landed outside Baltimore in 2020. The blue jay was dead before he hit the ground – high tension wires. There were hurricane winds, lightning, and driving rain. In fact, the whole coastal area looked like it had been flooded and growing wild for years. There were coyotes and feral dogs everywhere, and they weren’t the only marauding creatures. There was a guy with a shotgun who wanted to eat my guides. I said no, which got both the coot and me shot. But suddenly the osprey snatched the twelve-gauge from the shooter’s hand, swung it head first like a fish in its talons, and pulled the trigger. It wasn’t pretty but it sure solved the problem. 

“I didn’t know a bird could do that!” I gasped.

“Not in 2014,” the osprey said. “But it’s 2030 now. Times are a changing.”

Somehow I got the ultralight gassed up and airborne again, the dying coot curled in my lap. Rising up into the night, the storm gone and the moon back out, the osprey and golden tern hove to beside me, dipped their wings, then headed out to sea. I turned north, desperate to get back to my own island and time. 

Instead I flew straight into a glass office building. Everything went black, and when I woke up I was on the stand facing charges of terrorism in the third degree. 

The prosecutor, hired by a defunct Tea Bag splinter group, was livid. “This traitor intentionally flew his weapon of mass destruction straight into our headquarters, trying to kill as many patriots as he could.” He pointed at me. “Just like that crackpot back in 2015, dive-bombing the White House with his U.S. Mail Minibomber.” 

It sounded bad, even if none of it was true. I looked over at my pro bono defense lawyer, hired by a local eco group called the Last Angry Bird. I took heart. He was the most spectacular great horned owl I’d ever seen. 

“Objection, your honor.”

He glided over and perched before the judge. Fully a foot taller than his father (who’d called from the Vineyard to ask him to represent me) with wire-rimmed glasses and a Bluetooth holophone glowing in one tufted ear, he beamed out a picture of the building I’d flown into. 

“I will simply point out,” he said in perfect English, “that the building my client crashed into had been abandoned for years, underwater to its second story due to global warming and attendant sea level rise. Further, the Tea Bag company had ignored the city’s orders to tear it down years ago, though it clearly had become a navigational hazard.” 

The judge, a bearded and tattooed Samoan graduate of Harvard Law School, smacked his gavel onto his bench.

“The ridiculous charge of terrorism is hereby dropped.” He turned back to my attorney.

“What about the murder charges?”

“Of my client’s coot?”

“The coot lives again, does it not?”

“Yes, but it was murdered nonetheless and suffered greatly before our organization, the Last Angry Bird, had it restored and updated.”

“The coot is fine, as any fool can plainly see.” He nodded at my bird, which did indeed look terrific over in the guest galley, its new Kevlar breast feathers and leather boots tipped with nickel studs looking badass for sure. “What about that gas station attendant whose head got blown off?”

My attorney, Kennedy, laid out the facts. 

“The only fingerprints on the so-called victim’s weapon were his own. Forensics clearly show the man, known to be crazy as a loon, shot both my client and his pet coot out of pure cussedness.”

The judge squinted at me. “That accounts for one barrel’s load.” Back to Kennedy. “But then he ends his own life with the second just for the hell of it?” 

“No, your honor,” Kennedy shook his beak. “He was blinded by some kind of bird talon seconds before he fired the shot that ended his life. I posit a freak bird strike incident. Besides, nobody much cared for the guy anyway. He sold stolen gas as fast as he could siphon it from his victims’ cars the night before. He was a public menace.”

The judge had had enough. He turned to me.

“I sentence you to take one more trip on that contraption of yours. First fly north until you’re far enough in the past for the old cuss to get his head back on his shoulders. Then do a 180 and head south until you get to what’s left of Florida. If you survive the bandito drones and forty-foot Burmese pythons, the meth-lab sandpipers, and the living hills of fire ants, not to mention sun-blocking clouds of yellow fever mosquitoes because there are no more bats or birds or frogs left to keep them in check – if you get through all of that, which would make it around 2080, feel free to turn tail back to 2015 Martha’s Vineyard and ask your friends and representatives what the hell they were thinking back then, because they sure weren’t thinking very much about the future the rest of us had to live in.”

And with that he stomped out of the courtroom. 

Kennedy turned to me with a smile. “You got off easy. He could have made you go on to CubaLand. That place sucks.” He gave a nod and flew out the window.

And I did my time. Me and my coot. We got on that banged-up ultralight, which supporters had upgraded to full solar power, and flew into the future. Planet War One was in its infancy with Earth’s immune system kicking in at last, aided by the DNA work of the Last Angry Bird people, which even gave canaries teeth. Our little craft was legendary by then, and everyone knew it had been built by a Vineyard owl for a clueless student who needed to see the bird’s-eye view.  

The bigger picture. 

Before it was too late. 


This concludes “Wes Craven’s The Birds.” Click here to read the entire saga of the filmmaker’s adventures with his avian neighbors.