Drago met her in the hallway. “I just wanted to talk to you. The vote will come up soon and you are in my clan. And you’re my representative.”
When she look both ways down the corridor, Gen did not see any help to get her away from a nutter. “So?”
He shuffled his feet, as if he wanted her to say something first. “The vote about Huddleston is coming up once we get to the planet.”
“Yes.” She knew that, it was all she thought about now.
“We need him. He got us started. He’ll get us finished.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. We’ve been doing a lot of research on the issue.”
He looked up at her now. His face had the silver brown caste of the drones who are gradually being returned to their human form. “I have special information.”
Margot felt her chest tighten. This was what she worried about most, that there was some sort of genetic timebomb which Huddleston could set off.”
“And where does this informaiton come from?”
“A green parrot visited me in my quarters last night. It told me that Huddleston had to awaken, and that I had to bring you to meet it.”
Margot continued to walk backwards along the hallway. “That’s nice. I’m sure you had a lot to talk about.”
Drago pulled out a gun and pointed it at her chest. She stopped walking. A sudden memory came to here, of the attack and occupation of the asteroid colony as they had left Earth. She felt bewildered at her impressions, at how she thought - or someone thought - that their travel beyond the solar system was without meaning if they still continued to kill other humans. Or any sentient being.
Drago caught her arm and dragged her along the corridor, holding the gun at her head.
The hall lights flashed on her face. She couldn’t remember where they were going. She was still on the surface of an asteroid, making hand signals to avoid Huddleston’s notice. And then, this was difficult to remember, she was punished for her revolt.
Before they reached the door of Drago’s quarters, she suddenly pulled away. She couldn’t condone pardoning this murderer. But Drago had already opened the door and pushed her in front of him.
A green parrot lounged in a chair in the middle of the room, a plate of seeds in front of it. “Where did you get the seeds,” she asked Drago, in a confused manner.
“Sit down and listen to what it has to say.”
The parrot eyed Margot, first turning its head to one side and then to the other. She got the impression that it was recording her in some kind of mechanism in its brain.
“Hi there. Polly wanna cracker?” Margot giggled. “That wasn’t very diplomatic, was it?”
The parrot stood up. “this is a comedic situation. Totally out of your league. Squwak!”
Margot suddenly started laughing. Drago looked upset. First he pointed the gun at her head, then pointed it at the floor, then at the parrot, then he pointed it at himself.”
“Be careful of that,” the parrot said, adding “Squwak!” at the end of the sentence.
Drago threw the gun on the floor. “It’s not loaded anyway.”
“Thanks for letting me know.” Margot considered whether to leave, and then started laughing again.
“The whole thing is ridiculous. But I’ve come here to give you a message.”
“I get it. Green bird of death.”
“No, I’m serious.” Then the bird added, “Squawak!”
“Why do you do that?”
“Beats me. Genetic. Huddlestorn programmed me that way.”
“It always come does to Huddleston. Why do we need to wake him.”
The bird peeked at the seeds, scattering them around the plate. It made a loud cracking noise as it opened the seeds to eat them. It seemed to be thinking.
“Squawak!” the sudden noise made Margot jump, as if the empty gun had fired. “It has something to do with what goes round, comes round.”
Margot looked at Drago. “Did it really say that?”
Drago shrugged. “I think it spent too much time in the zoo before it found me. It doesn’t know how to act around people.”
“Social anxiety,” Margot said before reconsidering that they were talking about a parrot.
“Just say what you have to say. I know that you are trained to only say certain things, so just spit it out.”
the bird stood up again. “I am not programmed to say anyting. I’m the Green Parrot of Doom and I’ve come to give you a warning. Huddleston must be revived when you reach Always Happening Colony. Otherwise, none of this will have happened or will have happened already.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Huddleston in the future has to contact Huddleston in the past.”
“I don’t get it.”
“There’s nothing to get. There is no other choice.” The parrot sqwaked again and then took flight. Before Drago could close the door, it had flown out into the hallway. Margot activated her wrist communicator.
“Ship, track that bird.” By the time Ship had answered and had established where Margot was located, and what a bird was, it had disappeared.
Zit al-88809 and Algo bo-90017 went through every bird cage in the zoo. “This is really the craziest thing they have ever asked us to do.”
They picked up every parrot and scanned it. “This one doesn’t seem to have left the cage,” Zit radioed to the control room.
“Thank you, continue search.”
“I don’t think they have enough work for us to do.” They continued down the corridor to the next cage. Green Parrot (just Green Parrot now; the ‘of Doom’ was just for effect) jumped to the end of the cage and faced the others.
“Repeat after me. Free Huddleston.”
“Repeat after me,” they repeated after the green parrot. “Free Huddleston.”
“No, no. Don’t say, repeat after me.”
“No, no...” The green parrot admitted that the practice was not going well. If only they had brains. Maybe Huddleston would do something about it when he was freed. Well, the Green Parrot knew that they would demand it. Huddleston would have to be greatful.
But the finest minds in birdhood were doing investigations of their own. How did it come about that the Dictator and the Scientist were put into frozen storage and never retrieved? And would Huddleston be able to be revived? That would be the real show-stopper, after all these years of debate and animosity - what if it were All In Vein?
Green Parrot thought about it for the next few days and finally decided that if it were All In Vein, then none of this would be here, this Ship, this 30,000 year long travel, none of this would have happened.
Green Parrot had been in the way when time buckle passed over his limb in the Green Tree. One day, Green Parrot was eating happily in the tree which covered the entire surface of his own planet, when he was suddenly transported to a pet shop in suburban LA. “Squawk!” was all he could say. That meant a lot where he came from - spoken in different tones, this one syllable could transmit a lot of emotions. There was the squawk of disbelief, the squawk of fear, the squawk of confusion, a squawk for ‘honey, want to get it on?’ and a squawk for orgasm.
But the people on Earth could not decipher his language. While he tried to control his terror, a middle-aged woman came in, and gazed at him. “He’s a different one, isn’t he?”
The shop owner, who had not found him on any bill of lading, was afraid of the police coming in and demanding the paper work. And he didn’t have any. The bird just appeared.
The shop owner and the lady conducted the transaction quickly. After some heavy breathing and sounds of boxes falling over in the back room, the lady emerged, straightening her hat followed by the owner, who was buttoning his pants. The Green Parrot had never seen anything like this before. He only knew what the birds did, which involved a lot of flying in circles above the Great Tree and then closing their wings and swooping down together, as close as possible to thick layer of mist which hid the depths that they would never want to fall into. And then rubbing, and more squawking.
And he squawked just then. The shop owner grabbed him around the body and shoved him into another cage. The Green Parrot squawked the squawk of defiance but it did no good. None of his comrades from beyond what he later learned, was a time rift, could rescue him. They would have come as a flock and pecked out the shop owner’s electromagnetic receptors.
“Thanks,” the lady said. “He’s a beautiful bird and I’m glad to help you with your little legal problem.”
The shop owner made a lewd motion with his hand across his crotch. “Any time you want to help me out, I’m happy to oblige.”
“You’re sure his wings are clipped.” Green Parrot squawked in terror. How could these barbarians do such a thing.
“Yeah, yeah. He’s fine. He won’t get away.”
Green Parrot thought it had seen everything, but there was more to come. He understood that he was in danger if he tried to escape. The woman’s whole apartment was filled with birds in their cages. But they were stupid birds. Their squawks had no meaning. But there was something about how they gazed into each other’s eyes. Green Parrot was lonely; he wanted to gaze into someone’s eyes.
And the years went forward. The lady sold many of the birds, but no one wanted Green Parrot. He was still trying to figure out how to return to his Universe when a gigantic explosion rocked the house. The woman, who was under the creature the Green Parrot learned to identify as a man, squawked. Green Parrot was amazed. He never suspected that she could speak his language.
But then they were gone, and the room started to fill with stink. the other parrots went still in their cages. Green Parrot finally decided that it was time to fly the coop and he spent his days gnawing at the clasp on the door.
From there, it was just a short flight to find safety. A tree, but a very small tree. Below Green Parrot, the inhabitants of the planet were making very mean squawks. The only time he did not hear the voices was when bombs were exploding.
Green Parrot flew at night, attracted by silence over the horizon. And finally it found a large box and flew in. Later, the large box moved and when the door opened again, Green Parrot was inside a large metal forest.
Green Parrot observed the changes in the forest, in the other inhabitants. He wanted the genetic changes and how one generation of drones superceeded the one before. Then Green Parrot flew through the time lock, to the part of Ship which folded around the other section of Ship, but 0.1 seconds in the future.
Years, centuries, millennia. Green Parrot watched it all. It wanted Huddleston. It knew that it had to find him, both in this present and in the past. Its body knew that somehow this whole thing had to be set into motion again. And Huddleston was at the center of the flux.
Huddleston knew he was powerful, but he thought that his ability to enslave people and mutate their lives was the source of his power. But Green Parrot knew the true source of Huddleston’s power.
He used to be a pimply boy working in a mail room. And he had fallen in love with the greatest physicist in the known universe.