Today in Fun Facts, a series of articles about characters and plot devices in my stories, I’ll be talking about Florpavian Flame Birds.
Florpavian flame birds are a rare sight – at least anywhere other than on their home world Florpavia. For a while, several specimens were visible in the Atro City zoo on Deanna, shortly before the Exotic Birds Wing had to be rebuilt for the second time. Aside from their appearance, they tend to remind people of the stories about dragons they hear about as children.
[Incidentally, in order to see the rest of these articles in this series, click on the category name Fun Facts!]
This comparison runs deeper than mere appearance however, since the creature tends to be extremely deadly. It has raw acetone for blood and walks around the surface of its home planet, Florpavia, eating raw chemicals and crapping crude plastic explosive everywhere it goes. Its breath is noxious and has been known to strip paint from nearby walls. It’s hiccups could be deadly, and its coughs are feared by even the hardiest and most athletic cargo-master or zoo-keeper. To say nothing of the um, flatulence.
Florpavian flame birds resemble giant lizards on two legs, and are even reminiscent of Terran ostriches, and are of a similar size. Their bodies are covered with bright blue feathers which tend to be a little singed around the nostrils and beak and other more delicate places – which are usually bright pink. Small scrawny wings sit high up on its back and seem to serve little more purpose than to fan the flames than anything else.
It’s a long-standing bit of good advice on Deanna, that if you ever happen to see a zoo-keeper running you should try your level best to keep up. Silent and deadly has nothing on it! When angry, the bird could incinerate a full-grown man in seconds at a range of twenty feet. Sometimes even on purpose.
And that’s just the female of the species. The males just tend to mope around, looking for females and suffering acute indigestion and passing gas. For the most part they do nothing more menacing than sleeping all day and blowing smoke-rings from both ends. Trouble is, these creatures are far too nervous and, due to the digestive problems, have a dangerous tendency to explode without warning. According to the Industrial Safety Council, the male birds can explode with the force equivalent to ten kilograms of C4 plastic explosive. Luckily, Florpavian flame birds are generally docile and peaceable. Mostly.
One would think that, being so dangerous to be around, these nobody would want one of these creatures as a pet, and with very good reason. Unbelievably however, some idiots get it in their heads the creatures made good pets. Kind of in the same way that other idiots keep lions and leopards as domestic pets. It’s an image thing, being in apparent control of such a large powerful creature with an aura of inherent fatality about it. They would invite friends and prospective business partners round to show off their power and affluence – and be the envy of their friends, associates and business partners. Then, one bright sunny morning the maid comes in to work – to find the big cat lazing on the couch looking well-fed, and the only bit that she can find of the boss is something that might be used as an ashtray. But in the case of the Florpavian Flame bird, the maid would be sweeping what was left of the boss into a dust pan while swearing under her breath about the extra-terrestrial bird crap eating into the lounge tiles. That, or she would open the front door and fall into the crater that used be the lounge. Florpavian Flame birds don’t eat people, but they certainly have developed a deserved reputation for killing them none the less.
Cheers until next time!
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