The Sugar Quill
Author: Jack Ichijouji (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: With a Broken Door  Chapter: Default
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With a Broken Door

It did not think, in the strictest sense of the word. It didn't have a brain to do it with. But in the same way that snakes don't have ears but still manage to hear, it made do well enough.

The current thought, for want of a better word, that rested under the hood of the Ford Anglia was, “What is that thing?”

It was certainly a bird. It was the right shape, had all the necessary bits: feathers, talons, the like. But the Anglia was familiar with very few birds, and this thing wasn't one of them. This bird was white, mostly, with large, round eyes. It was hopping rather determinedly towards the castle in the distance. It had, the car noticed, a rolled up piece of paper tied to its leg.

The car wondered, if one could call it that, why the bird didn't just fly. Birds flew; the Anglia knew this because no other creature ever joined it in the air. But they had to work for it, didn't they? Flapping their... doors. This one seemed to have one door off its hinge.

The car let out a curious honk. The bird, apparently noticing the turquoise vehicle for the first time, turned and hooted.

The car had seen birds with their doors askew before, as sometimes they attacked each other and often got away. But most of them just lay on the ground, miserable. This one was... resolute.

Communication is difficult for even the wisest creatures, and for something that wasn't a creature it was nearly impossible. However, the car managed to send across a message asking why the owl was headed to the castle.

The owl, who at least had the ability to point, communicated that it had to deliver the message tied to its leg, but its door was broken and it couldn't fly.

The car rose in the air as if to ask why the owl even needed to use its doors to fly when the Anglia didn't.

The owl, if bird facial muscles are capable of creating such an expression, gave the automobile a look that seemed to be pensive. Then it used its one working door to get up onto the roof of the car. The Anglia honked indignantly.

The owl pointed out that it had to get to the school and that the car could get there quicker. It was very important, the owl felt, that it reach the castle soon.

If it had had hair to do so, the car would have bristled. It bucked a bit and the owl lost its grip, falling back to the ground. The owl glared at the Anglia.

The car backfired derisively, in a manner resembling a snort, and disappeared into the trees. The owl stared after the car for a moment, then resumed its slow hop to the castle.


The snowy owl was aware of the car that was following it. It is hardly easy to be subtle when one is a ton of flying steel. It ignored the Anglia though, and persisted in its quest.

The car was far from intelligent, what with having no brain cells, synapses, or indeed, anywhere to keep them if it had had them. But it was good at figuring distance and speed, and it knew, so to speak, that the owl wouldn't be able to make it to the castle or even out of the forest before nightfall. And there were a great many creatures that would love to take a bite out of a bird with a broken door.

The car'd once saved the owner's children from the forest, it remembered. What's another creature?

The Anglia honked twice at the bird, which turned its head around to see what the noise was. The passenger-side door popped open in a “hop in” fashion. The owl gratefully accepted.

The ride to the school was quick and silent, with the exception of the owl's loud squawks of protest when they drove past the window she wanted into. When the car turned and stopped, the bird hopped out of the window and fluttered over to the glass as best she could with one door.

With a hoot of thanks, the owl pecked the glass, presumedly to gain entrance. Not until she was fully inside, though, did the car take off.

It's not easy writing a friendship fic between an automobile and a snowy owl. Forgive me for being unusually proud.

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