Chapter 1: Bird Kids
Fluffy clouds complemented with pinks and violets coloring them; I am greeted to this symphony of colors at sunrise as I awaken. In a tree. Yes, it is true I fell asleep in a tree. I sigh as I stare up at the sky recalling how this all came to be. Oh yes, I left for a midnight flight last night solitarily; just me soaring in the sky with my powerful hawk-like wings carrying me. Then came a thunderstorm from the east, forcing me to me to ground for the night in a tree to seek shelter. Yup, this is the life of me, Max, Maximum Ride. A bird kid, mutant-freak, or human avian hybrid whatever you may call me. Ugh, I think, should've chosen a softer branch. My upper and lower back both seem to complain with aches which I ignore. Perching with precision and ease, I look down. I am suspended at least seven feet; I am not able to jump down. With a few flits of my wings I touch down to the forest floor. Now is the search for breakfast, but I decide that my hunger is not fatal therefore it can wait. Caw! Caw! A crow from above calls getting my attention for two seconds. These are rural woods I remember, there are critters that live here. I know to be watchful, for I have no clue what kind reside here either.
"Getting home. Hmmm." I mutter to myself. I come to a clearing of oaks to run and lift off. Airborne once again, I think it will be useful to get a view of my location from on high so I can find my way back. Peeking above all the towering trees I see that I truly am lost. Oh crap, I think, I hope the flock isn't in a fit looking for me. I turn to the north, more trees which are really helpful.
"MAX!" I hear my name called from above the layer of clouds as I hover.
"Iggy?!" I shout back in high hopes that it is my best blind friend in the whole wide world. Blind is right, fly he can, and he does it well I say. More about him later. Following my voice he swoops down to about twenty feet away.
"Max! I heard you call me! Where are you?!" I faintly pick up on his voice as he yells towards the other direction facing away from me.
"Turn around Iggy! It's me, behind you!" I practically scream.
Iggy zips to me, "Oh Max!"
"We've been looking for you all morning as soon as we saw you weren't in bed we_"
"I got lost, I apologize." I interrupt.
"It's cool, let's inform the others!" Iggy is already ahead of me by several yards, I turn to go to. With strong beats of my wings I catch a breeze and manage ahead. We silently race as we near towards the others to join them again. I chuckle, and he grins broadly. Iggy and I are brothers and sisters to each other; although not related, we are family. Close as close can be. In fact that's what it is with our whole flock. We always to strive to keep the bond, but in the past that hasn't always worked. Splitting and reuniting of the flock has occurred on more than one basis, but after last time we all agreed to keep our unity strong. Advice to you from me is avoid conflict at all costs.
"Maxy!" I hear Nudges' cheerful, girly voice acknowledge me.
"Don't call me that!" I say winking, we reunite hugging. Surprising me from behind is Gazzy and his sister, Angel. They both smother me with kisses, hugs, and high-fives. Next there's Fang; plain, old black-haired Fang. In a Black Veil Brides t-shirt and the usual sweet, mischievous smile.
"Hi," he pecks me on the cheek. Yes, I will say at first this relationship was awkward to the rest of the flock, but the mutual agreement we all made is that we wouldn't let romance put the safety of our family of bird kids, the 'flock' at risk.
"Maximum, you had us concerned. Don't go with without leaving a note or something, please." Fang's facial expression turns serious, but soft in a loving, caring manner. I glance again into his dark fudge brown eyes and sigh. My tangle of hair falling around me, a mess on my shoulders.
He smiles and says, "Don't do it again without notifying us." With that notion the subject is dropped.
"To Denny's!" Nudge points to the west and the flock follows. I stop the beat of my wings, and drop to catch a breeze and sail on it far behind the others. Fang flies above me, he gets low enough to put his arms around my waist and hold me. "Max, I love you to Mars and back." He gently let's go, and flies a few feet higher. I am reminded of his cute crush on me. The sunshine hits his black hair and wings making them shine. I smile, astounded and float on the breeze for a moment more then boost ahead. I am exuberant this morning and I know nothing can bring down my mood.
"Denny's just ahead!" I hear Angel cry in her cute, little girl voice. We are on her tail as she veers left then nose dives. We all follow in formation and continue for forty seconds until we extend our wings like parachutes to catch us and glide and land on both feet.
Inside, we fill a booth and are given menus upon sitting down.
"I am Carrie, your waitress today!" A server sets or menus on the table, she's dressed as a server should.
"I'll take four pancakes and O.J.!" Gazzy beams.
"Chocolate milk and veggie omelet over here!" Nudge speaks.
"Crepe and milk for me!" I order.
"Pumpkin pancakes and apple juice," Angel grins.
"OOH! Macho man breakfast burrito! Bacon, ham, eggs, and all the works." Iggy nods contently.
"I'll take cereal and chocolate milk, three eggs, and apple house smoked bacon for a side." Fang murmurs quietly. He's pretty much to himself in public.
"Ok Great!" Carrie smiles and rushes off. I see Angel watch as she departs, clearly she is reading her mind.
"What's she thinkin' Angel?" I whisper in her ear.
"What a bunch of stupid kids." Angel giggles; I chuckle light-heartedly hoping no suspicion would arise.
The meal was pretty good, but towards the end everyone still wanted more and so did I. I mean, that's normally a fifth of what we all eat each. Why? Well, normally we all consume four thousand to seven thousand calories a day because our bodies require more energy for sustenance than humans need. And, to order that much food at one restaurant could get us weird looks any day.
"Let's hit up a Jack in the Box," I offer, "spread out or meal to stay on low profile."
"No, let's order more here." Fang mutters.
"Do you recall what happened last time we did that in New York City? Do you remember how we were revealed because we had to book it?" I reminded him.
"Yes." He replies.
"Okay kids we're going!" Fang reaches for his steel wallet (chained to his pants to not fall out when flying) to pay.
"Bye!" Carrie waves clearly not caring as long as she got paid. We all walked out glad to be out again and find a field to take off in ro find another restaurant.
"There, a B.K.!" I spot one below us in another small town.
"DIVE!" I hear Gazzy leading us all into formation to land again, as we plummet I near Angel and smile with my eyes watering like crazy. Upon touchdown I kiss her on the cheek and embrace her, then walk towards the town.
"Nudge" I say kindly.
"Huh?" She looks over to me.
"You are peculiarly quiet today?" I mention noticing she wasn't up to her normal babble.
"Oh! Um, well I've been thinking," she paused, "I really like a celebrity guy I saw in Hollywood Hotties yesterday. And I know it's a relationship that could never be." She sighs.
"So you're gonna let that stop you?" I ask.
"What's his name?" I inquire.
"Oh. Wendell." She smiles.
"How romantic," I respond trying to be nice (mentally I was laughing).
"Ha! That's a silly name," Gazzy retorts. Both him and Iggy start cracking up. I give them both angry looks that say, "Hey be nice!"Nudge sighs ignoring them.
"Look, honey! I'll find a way for you to meet him and his pretty little face! I promise!" I smiled.
"Oh Max, if you can," she sighs heavily.
With that we went inside and all ate to our heart's content. I had two quarter pounders, an extra large soda, and a side of onion rings. Fang ate three double cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, and an extra large soda. Angel and Nudge shared five southern style chicken salads and two orders of large fries with iced mochas from Starbucks next store. Gazzy and Iggy dared each other to eat five quarter pounders and a side of chicken wings. Iggy won by eating all of his food plus a BIG MAN soda (bigger than the extra large soda). Gazzy could only down two and a half quarter pounders.
"Ahh, those burgers were bomb." Iggy reclined in his spot. Nudge gave him a wide-eyed look.
"Wow," she said with sass and took a sip of her mocha, "I couldn't stomach that if I were forced to."
"I mean poor Gazzy over there can hardly keep it all down." Nudge nodded her head towards Gazzy sitting at a table away from ours. I wondered why he sat away from us.
"Gasmen, come here. Sit with us." I beckoned.
"No Max. I feel like I am about to throw up my food." He groaned. I knew it was so smart to let an eight- year-old eat two and a half quarter pounders. Gosh Max, I think, great parenting. I visibly saw him turn green, and knew that was code for "it's coming!" With that I shot up and snatched his hand and dashed outside just in time for it all to be spewed on the grass.
"UUUUUUUUUUUGGG!" Gazzy groaned.
"I am so sorry," I comforted him as a little brother. I knew he had to get home immediately to recover.
"I am so sorry this happened! Next time I won't let you go up on Iggy's dare." I said apologizing for my crappy parenting.
Gasman sighed, "At least it's green so it blends in with the grass." He laughs, and I chuckle. He's got a great sense of humor for an eight-year-old.
"I am going to get you home," I tell him.
"Max, let's beat it!" Fang commanded coming out of the restaurant with everyone.
"What? Why?!" I was alarmed.
"The manager just called the po po! Let's get!" Fang and the flock were off. I pick up Gazzy and join the others knowing we're gonna have to make a quick escape or we'd be caught. I take flight in a flutter with Gazzy in smug my grasp. The staff came chasing us out of the restaurant, but they only see us as tiny specks in the sky. We are far above clouds in the noon sun, and all fly the way home silently and swiftly.
"UGH! Home at last Gazzy," he gets up out of my tight grasp and falls onto the sofa where I wrap him up in his fleece blanket with pillows for cushion. He lies still, and closes his eyes to sleep. I give him only water and nothing else. I sigh, watching him asleep and get up to straighten myself up with a shower and my hygiene duties. The shower soothes my stress. Next I settle down for the day with my laptop. Fang sits at my side, who knows what else the others were doing but as long as they were occupied we enjoyed each other's company sitting together with hot chocolate and enjoying cat videos on YouTube. A calm afternoon is just what I needed, and I was peaceful until 5 PM. Fang is preparing to fix supper when we hear screams.
"AAAAAHH!" I hear Nudge screech.
"NOOO!" I hear Angel from her bedroom she shares with Nudge. I burst in their door to see Iggy cackling on the floor. Angel was covering her eyes and ears, Nudge had a horrified expression.
"What's the commotion?" I demand.
"Iggy showed us Mama on Netflix!" Angel sobs.
"IGGY!" I scold him.
"You know you're not allowed to watch rated R movies with them in the room!" I unplug the T.V. and tell everyone except Iggy to step out. When it's just him and I all I do is cross my arms.
"So smart! You're gonna give Angel nightmares you dimwit!" I say shaking my head. He stops laughing.
"I am sorry."
"Yup, sure." I say sarcastically. He looks ashamed and I am glad. I leave him in his room while I consider a suitable punishment for him. Walking out, I see Nudge cradling Angel and Fang chilling in a chair near the couch.
"I need sleep." I rub my eyes.
"Dinner is done." Fang mumbles.
"Hmmph?" I hear Gasmen awaken.
"Dinner is ready," I repeat to him.
"YUM! Let's eat!" Gasman bounces up to the table; the girls follow. If he were just human I wouldn't allow him to eat because you aren't supposed to eat to when sick. Because he's a human avian hybrid (ninety-eight percent human, two percent avian) though, our health rejuvenates quickly, thus I knew he was well enough to eat. We dine on tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches without Iggy. Afterward I bring Iggy food to sit him down to talk.
"Hey," I hand him food.
"You know what you did, and for that you are condemned to wash dishes for the next week." I raise a finger, "plus do whatever Angel says." He gives me a sour look, sighs, and then smirks.
"That it?" He asks.
"Seems you've grown soft in your punishments." He speaks up.
"Don't push it, bub." I warn and walk out prepared to sentence him to more consequences if irritated more by him. Suddenly, I remember to turn back to Iggy.
"Your sentence starts now! Do dishes when you're done with dinner." I speak stoically. Finally, with nothing else at all, I climb into bed and fall fast asleep into dreams of soaring in the moonlight. My favorite.