Author: Adrian L. Cook

Avian changed rapidly, seemingly at will. The cobalt blue feathers shielding her arms shifted to red, with crimson ends, the tip of each slightly darker, slightly shinier than the rest of the feather. She fanned her feathers, flexing her wings. The tips flashed in the sunlight as they spread.
Bree gasped. She noticed. Is that the word? Yes. She noticed the change and… thought? Yes. She thought that Avian must be a magician. Avian, with the pink feathered hair; she was tall and air-worthy. Her re-coloration complete, Avian gave a percussive “Ha!,” blew a kiss to Bree, and took to the sky.
Bree, a young woman, slender enough and short, followed Avian’s path with her enormous eyes, lifted her strikingly beautiful face so that it too caught the sun, and raised her arms to their full extension.
Bradley flinched forward, thrust his heavy glasses up the bridge of his nose, and stared at the screen. He had not given her command. His hands were too busy at present with the fidget device; they were nowhere near the directional keys.
An ancient console commercial replayed in his mind, ripped from the recesses of his childhood: “Sega Dreamcast: It’s thinking.”
“I think, therefore I am.”
Bree let her arms slacken as she thought about what to do next. Then she took a step, of her own volition, left leg forward, bent. She bent the right as well, crouching as though to leap.
She closed her eyes. The seed of intention drew forth 2001 videos of birds, streaming simultaneously. She smiled and spread her arms.
Bree focused. Is that right? Yes. She focused. At first, she drew up the image of Neil Young captured in silhouette on the cover of Harvest Moon, the fringe of his trademark jacket hanging like feathered wings. A perfect bridge, still human in form, but becoming. She narrowed her intention, downloaded footage of the eagle, the turkey buzzard, the red-tail hawk, the migrant swallow, of bird after bird in flight, until she settled on it. Yes, she thought, that was the one.
It did not hurt when the feathers sprouted. They were grey and white, black and blue. She shook her hands as one flings water away in the absence of a hand towel and the feathers popped out one final bit, achieving their intended length. Scissortail rudders sprang from her waist, and she was magnificent.
Brad’s microbrew ran a trail from the mouth of its toppled can and dripped off the table to the floor as the user frantically pounded hotkeys. He took F keys like a pianist drives ivory, but nothing stopped the ascent. She lifted off.
Thirty seconds later, Bradley found his combo.
She laughed as she rose into the light. There were no clouds in her world; nothing stood between her and the great golden orb. Her flight was so fast, so vertical, it was as if the sun was descending to meet her, to blind her. All was brightness, wonder.
She was free.
Then the World went black.