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“An Animal Tamer” by Patricia Robertson

Prompts:
An animal trainer
Cornfields
Doughnuts
“Don’t eat that!”
Spending $4
Owls

***

An Animal Tamer

By Patricia Robertson

Despite a decade’s experience as an animal trainer, Olivia didn’t know much about instructing owls. She focused on large cats during her career. She made her reputation training lions for the movies, and enjoyed the dangerous edge to her famous career. She was fond of the felines but appreciated their wildness and never had a serious injury. She never considered training avian predators.

It started with a mysterious letter from Mr. Horace Sned offering a job as an owl trainer. The purpose of the training was to teach owls to carry messages. Her initial interview did not describe the company’s product beyond “agrarian enrichment”. It offered a $2,000 a week and since jobs training lions were scarce, she decided to pursue this opportunity further. She needed to expand her skills anyway, why not work for an agricultural firm to train owls?

First she drove around rural Oregon– searching barns and cornfields to observe owls in their natural habitat. She spent 4 dollars on a used Audubon society guidebook to owl behavior. She spoke to several top ornithologists and developed a novel program for owl behavior modification.

Her first day at the FOOD corporate headquarters revealed very little about the company. The sleek metallic training dome was larger than Olivia expected, even given the avians’ needs for exercise and a large room to practice sending the birds on messenger missions.  The facility’s entrances were guarded with massively armed and uniformed guards. Despite her qualms, she agreed to train the owls. She initially offered mice as positive reinforcement, but eventually found donuts to be a superior reward. The owls were easier to train, but at times could be reluctant to perform on command. Her supervisor, Horace Sned quizzed Olivia extensively on her methods. Despite working more one month, she never met another employee. MOre worrisome was that after several weeks she noticed subtle changes in the owls behavior. They became more territorial -even aggressive.

One day she decided to learn more about FOOD. She secretly trained one owl to flush the guards to interior hall. The she dashed past them as her main owl hooted and flapped the interior guard.

In a secret darkened office she found a glowing screen. She thought quickly. After several dead- ends she entered the successful password “corn syrup”.  The screen flashed rapidly through an frightening algorithm.

Olivia had uncovered the master plan to feed the owls genetically modified seeds. These owls would then function as distributors. The seed would get “deposited” over the USA and cause widespread and a crash of the US economy.

She had to act quickly as some owls had already departed.  She furiously snapped pictures using her iPhone.

That evening she debated how to best use the information. She tossed all night, then turned on her computer. After she typed the last word, she signed off, satisfied that she had made the best use of her information.

Her u-tube video “Don’t eat that” went viral and alerted the world to the dangers of consuming crops from the the FOOD corporation.

© 2013 Patricia Robertson

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