Flash Fiction Challenge: Oddobon Society

Photo by K.S. Brooks

It was difficult for Professor Breverton to contain his excitement. Actual shovelhead ravens had never been photographed

He was president of the local chapter of the Oddobon Society, an organization dedicated to the documentation and study of animals thought to be mythological.

As he stopped to take a photo of the three shovelheads, he thought it strange that they did not fly away. One turned to look at him with its beady black eyes. Evidently, the Professor was unaware of the feeding habits of shovelheads.

In 250 words or less, tell us a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

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6 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Oddobon Society”

  1. Title: Odd Pictures

    His hand shook uncontrollably as he removed the camera’s lens cap.

    There had been Shovelhead Raven reports in this area, but without documented proof, he had personally dismissed the reports.

    As president of the local chapter of the Oddobon society it would be a feather in his cap if he could provide photographic proof of their existence.

    Doctor Lawrence, who was his nemesis, insisted they existed and she had even sent feces away for DNA testing. There were so many things he didn’t like about her. She even looked like a crow herself, and under his breath he called her the mascot of the Oddobon’s. One night after their local board meeting she even chased him around the meeting room. He told the other board members what happened, but they only laughed at his story. He would get even.

    At the next election he knew he was going to lose to the doctor since she was highly educated in Oddofactory Obscurity.

    However, a photograph of the Shovelhead Ravens would certainly go a long way to ensure his tenure as president. He didn’t remember zooming in on the ravens but they looked so close. He snapped the picture. Oh my God…he was being dragged to the bushes. The camera went flying. He had indeed captured their picture. Everyone would believe their existence now.

    Then it dawned on him that he hadn’t put his name on his camera. Actually that’s good…because of those other private pictures of Doctor Lawrence.

  2. This photograph would finally put Breverton and his Society on the map. He’d grown tired of the ridicule from his family and friends. What was wrong with searching for Sasquatch, Nessie, or unicorns? Didn’t people want to solve age-old mysteries anymore? Were modern humans losing their sense of adventure? What they thought no longer mattered. Now he’d show them for certain.

    The shovelheads still sat, quietly observing him with a steely glint in their eyes. The professor fixed his lens upon them, focused, and clicked off a few pictures. He checked the display on the back of his digital camera to make sure the photographs came out. Sure enough, there they were. He’d done it.
    He heard the accolades in his head and imagined all the flash bulbs of the scientific community as he went up to the podium to describe his encounter with the mythical birds. Then, he heard the naysayers. “Sure, pictures can be PhotoShopped. Those are phony. “

    I need physical evidence, the professor thought. Something that undeniably proves these birds and these pictures are for real. He studied their shiny eagle-sized bodies and their orange faces.

    A feather… If he could just get one feather, they could run the DNA and there would be no denying he’d seen shovelhead ravens. But how?

    Just as Professor Breverton got out of his car, he felt talons pierce both his shoulders. He screamed, grabbing onto the feet with both hands. More birds came, and they, too, dug into him. With forceful wingbeats, they managed to lift his feet from the ground. They carried him to a waiting flock in the field across the street. They cleared a spot for his landing, like a drop of oil spreading in water. Breverton continued his cries as he thudded against the ground. But it wasn’t the ground. It was a dead guy, with his eyes gouged out.

  3. Professor Breverton slipped from his car, as gracefully as his 6’4” frame allowed, and inched slowly around to get a better view. The elusive Shovelheads squawked on the fence line, and one of the birds flapped its wings as Breverton dropped to the grass.

    Mustn’t scare them, he reminded himself.

    Crawling along on his belly, he inched closer to the Corvus Corax, all the while making plans for this remarkable discovery. He would publish his findings; such a paper could even result in tenure. He would reclaim the grant he’d lost for the past three years to Professor Foulplay. His mind filled with thoughts of the horrid woman. For years they had competed for the prize, and for years, he had come up woefully short in winning not only the grant, but her attention. This was the discovery of a lifetime – and it was all his.

    Minutes seemed like hours as he crept through the grass. Finally, he was close enough to snap a photo. As he reached for the camera, the birds turned to look at him, shifting nervously on the fencepost.

    “I wouldn’t do that,” a voice said.

    Surprised, he dropped his camera, startling the birds who tilted their giant square heads and targeted him with their beady eyes.

    “Professor Foulplay,” he exclaimed. “What …?”

    “Those Shovelheads are this close to attacking!” She lifted her fingers to demonstrate how close. “They’re predators, you know.”

    “Of course I know,” Breverton stuttered, though of course he did not know…

  4. From the minutes of the Oddobon Society Conference, May 2012 :

    Professor Breverton went closer to the murder of shovelheads to take stills while I remained near our jeep and shot video. The attack happened so fast that I could do little but watch in horror and continue to video tape the incident. Though modern members of the genus Corvus are scavengers and primarily feed on carrion, it turns out that the shovelhead raven is a fierce predator having a singular fondness for warm fresh meat. Specifically the heart. An autopsy of Dr. Breverton confirms what you will see on the video. Dr. Breverton’s chest was punctured by the broad blade of the shovelhead’s beak between his forth and fifth rib near the sternum. After penetrating the doctor’s chest, the bird exhibited unnatural strength in twisting his head sidewise prying the ribs apart to a width which allowed the creature to remove the victims heart severing the aorta, superior and inferior vena cavae. The bird then removed Dr. Breverton’s heart, flew to a spot beside the fence where his fellows where waiting anxiously. The bird then flipped the organ from his beak onto the ground where a loud feeding frenzy was observed. The video ends here, with much cawing and flapping as I felt it was the appropriate time to make my escape.

  5. There was no documented theory for birds to evolve in this way. Yet, there they were, appearing almost two-dimensional, staring into the distance with thoughtless glares. I’d heard stories of these shovelhead ravens, apparent mutants from the family Corvidae, but I’d quickly discounted the tales as folklore.

    An amateur ornithologist, I combined my passion for birds with my day job, genetic cancer research at Emory. Genetic research had little room for chance or accidental evolution. These birds had arrived to their current form for a reason, for a specific purpose, but what could it be?

    With my elbows resting on the open window of my car, I studied the three birds through my Nikon binoculars. They flinched and jerked about almost mechanically. Their body structure was rigid and seemed to defy any ability to actually become airborne. I wanted to get closer to hear any unusual sounds, but feared drawing their attention.

    The bird to the far left extended his wooden-looking wings and with little effort, soared in my direction, circling over my vehicle without a single wing flap before returning to his original perch. Once back aside his cohorts, they became energized, bouncing back and forth along the wood railing.

    Simultaneously, they froze equidistance apart on the railing, staring back through my binocular lenses. Without warning, piercing red lasers extended from their eyes, marking my forehead with six needle-point dots. I ducked just in time, realizing these weren’t birds – they must be drones!

  6. The professor had gotten several good shots of the shovelhead ravens before realizing that when they cocked their heads toward him, they were not posing for pictures.

    He began to back away, but found himself caught among a stampeding herd of jackalopes. Terrified of falling and becoming impaled on the horns of the legendary jackrabbit-antelope hybrids, Breverton froze.

    As he dared turn to flee, his eyes widened. A half-dozen creatures he recognized as Bigfoot were running toward him. Cowering in fright, he felt a surge of relief when the beasts lumbered past as though he were invisible.

    Relief trickling down his leg, he made to leave, only to discover the area blanketed by a squadron of gypsymoths driving — could those be zombies? — straight into a unit of unicorns, which expertly rammed their horns through the heads of the undead, killing them and leaving their carcasses littering the ground.

    Shaking, Breverton finally reached a gatehouse.

    “You’ll have to sign this before you can leave, Professor,” the security guard informed him.

    Breverton scanned the document handed him, the Pegasus Refuge for Mythological Creatures Standard Agreement of Non-Disclosure, without absorbing a word of it. He was willing to sign anything.

    “Professor…your camera?”

    He handed it over and waited for the barrier to lift, then watched in the rearview mirror as the guard emerged from the gatehouse, reared up and smashed the camera beneath his hooves before cantering back to his post.

    “What a surprise, a centaur guarding the place.”

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