Spring or Winter’s Respite
The stork looked convincing, even in detail. It needed to because the parents came within a few feet of it. It had ruffled, synthetic feathers and a large beak made of hard rubber. Dylan missed the old days when they were flown by remote. On return trips he would fly them as high as possible without risking mechanical failure, above the clouds. They didn’t require oxygen like real birds. He’d seen some of the best views of his life through their eyes, through their camera lenses feeding to his monitor.
He entered the coordinates and checked the route to be certain it wouldn’t pass through any severely polluted zones or bad weather. The conveyor belt behind him clicked on and began to roll with a gentle hum. Dylan pressed a button, and the roof, which was on wheels and cables, parted to reveal the noon sun. He went to the end of the conveyor belt where a stork was perched a few feet above. A little container became visible in the dark tunnel, traveling slowly towards him from the depths of the building. Only the third of the day. He remembered a decade ago the business had been thriving. The conveyor belt would be backed up twenty feet as they waited for a stork to return. Only five percent of men had a sperm count high enough for fertilization, and most women didn’t want to risk pregnancy for a multitude of reasons, the most prominent being the rise in antibiotic resistant infectious disease. Everyone had wanted a child from the lab, but within one generation the interest had waned, demand had fallen. No one wanted the responsibility, the burden. No one wanted to subject a life to the unforgiving reality of the world.
The container arrived at the end of the belt. Inside was a baby, blanketed and expertly swaddled, a little blond-haired girl. Her green eyes searched the environment until they met Dylan’s. They stared at each other for a moment until Dylan bent down near the small face to make silly noises, noises he would have been embarrassed by if observed. He gently poked at the rosy cheeks. He made one dumb face after another. Finally, her tiny mouth did something close enough to a smile that he could feel satisfied.
Dylan locked the stork’s feet around a carabiner attached to the swaddling. It was secured with a fancy, digital, combination lock. He had already emailed the code to the parents. He turned on the stork and let it sync. Then Dylan looked at her, a compression of such vibrant life, a beginning, unnamed, unblemished, untouched by the world. These were difficult times, but, of course, she would have her say eventually, her own opinions, her own opportunities to change things, her own future and squandered or realized potential. Also, there was a couple, probably young and in love, awaiting her delivery and her delivery of hope and meaning.
Dylan took a seat at the monitor and pressed the button that would launch the stork on its journey. With several large strokes of its wings, and the assistance of cleverly hidden propellers in its torso, the stork took to the air. As it was exiting his vision, Dylan heard the baby make a sound of amusement and wonder at taking flight.
About the author:
Cameron Hunter is an Alabamian, a mailman, a writer, and a Dungeon Master.