Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc.) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.
H Trope: “Creepy Crows” https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CreepyCrows
Current Event: https://baynature.org/article/crows-are-wicked-smart/
Ava Johnson pursed her lips, staring at the huge flock of crows. “I think they’re a communal intelligence,” she said.
Henry Smith shook his head, “I think you’re crazy.”
Ava snorted and broadened the view of her camoflauged surveillance micro cameras. “The size of their individual brains are insufficient to support Human-level intelligence.”
Henry snorted with the same pitch and said, “So you’re saying that Human-level intelligence is the only valid intelligence on Earth?”
She lifted a finger, “Born-Human.”
He snorted. They agreed on many things, but that one they typically avoided as a hot-button topic. Shaking his head, he took a breath, held it, counted to ten, then said, “The average crow brain-size is sufficient to solve multiple spatial reasoning problems. It’s documented in hundreds of sources. Even in our own research…”
“I know! I’ve been with you since the beginning! Just because we haven’t witnessed behaviors indicative of corporate intelligence doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent! Besides…”
“…flock flying gives serious argument to your statement that there’s no evidence of corporate intelligence!” he said, completing her main argument.
She scowled at him, then rolled her eyes. “Fine. We don’t have…”
One of her monitors went out. She cussed then hunched back over her computer, tapping violently, searching for the reason the camera was down. Another one blanked. She used her favorite vulgar word, repeating it in staccato bursts as her fingers flew over the keys.
Henry snorted, turning to his own, less obtrusive monitors. He was using a high-flying drone to capture images and run analyses of pattern movements. He wanted to see if odd events attracted individual crows first – he was looking for the geniuses in the flock. Once he located them, he could tag them, sample to DNA, and then see if he could trace the genesis of genius in a flock. Once he did that, he wanted to isolate individuals and test them more rigorously.
Ava used a work he’d only rarely heard her say. “What?”
“The whole system just crashed!”
He stood up and went to hover over her shoulder. She batted him away, saying, “Quit distracting me.” He stepped back, smirking
He stopped when he looked at his own computer. The image was gone. He sat back down and dragged the cursor back a few moments until he located the incident that had taken out his drone. He saw the open claws and then the image went wild, then black. He stood up and went to the camoflauged research station’s door and opened it. All they were was an old mobile home trailer covered with old military grade camo tarp staked down. They’d thrown branches over it then artfully arranged boulders and other debri around it. Exit to the outside world was a tube tunnel that ran back a football field length, exiting in a dense thicket of bushes.
The area surrounding the mobile home had been trampled weeks ago.
Now it was a seething mass of crows, mostly standing still. They’d turned their heads to look at him each with a single eye. Creepy, but…then he noticed that the birds on his left were all looking at him with their left eye. The birds on his right were all…every single one he could see, looking at him with their right eyes.
Names: ♀S Carolina, Minnesota; ♂ Minnesota, S Carolina