Steve clung to the rock. He had no memory of how he got there, or why. Something about thunderbirds... His fingers hurt, his legs cramped. Wind ripped his head back, using his hair as a handle.
A quick glance down revealed that, yes, this was pretty high up. And although he did not know what he was doing, he knew he was not yet on his way back to solid ground yet. Slowly his left feet abandoned the rock, searching for any kind of support to continue his journey.
Giant shadows circled above him, dancing with the lightning beneath the dark gray clouds. Their cries echoed through the canyon. All Steve could make out was their shape. Curved giant beaks tore at the sky when the birds shrieked, and each cry coaxed the darkness further into the day.
He advanced slowly, trying to remain invisible. Soon his bare chest was covered in tiny red rivulets from where the glinting rock hat slashed at his skin. It was almost as if the mountain did not want to be climbed. Steve's heart raced. He had never done anything like this before, but he knew he had to reach the top... and the nests that had to be waiting for him. Everything else was a blur in his mind, with his goal a burning focus in the center.
With a mighty swooosh one of the giant bird shapes fell from the sky and shrieked past him. Steve glanced over his shoulder and saw a shadow tumbling towards the ground, head first. What was happening? The birds above him weaved through light and darkness, ever faster and faster. As he advanced, he could make out the marks on their feathers and the glow in their eyes. The air was charged with electricity, and whenever lightning struck the mountaintop, Steve felt a tiny jolt running through his fingers and down his sweating and bleeding body. His breath quickened as he realized that not only was he gaining height, albeit step by painful step, but that at the same times the birds were losing altitude, and that they were destined to meet. A foul taste coated the back of his throat.
Finally, with a mighty struggle, he reached the top and clamped his fingers into the ledge. The thunderbirds’ stares burned his back. One of them swooped down and attacked him, leaving deep marks in his back. Steve yelled in pain. He clung to the rock, advanced. His muscled belly scraped over the edge and he lay on flat stone, panting. Every inch of him felt bruised – and he had to go all the way back down! But…
It had been worth the effort. Huge nests made from dark brown and black bushes covered almost every foot of the plateau. Stinking dead carcasses lay scattered between them in varying stages of decay. He saw what he thought were dead sheep and cows – and humans. Scared, he jumped to his feet and raced over to the closest nest, which was empty. But the next held what he realized he had come for. Glowing with a red pulse, there lay three eggs, not larger than his fist. They were pure magic. Steve grabbed one, turned around and ran.
The thunderbird was waiting for him. Sparks danced through its eyes and over its feathered body. It threw back its head and shrieked. Steve’s head threatened to explode with pain. He fell to his knees, and the bird’s talons knocked him over. He screamed and fell…
… and was greeted by the ticking alarm clock on his nightstand. His head hurt. He must have knocked it against the wooden headboard. What a weird dream! His body ached as if he had fought an army of birds. And what were thunderbirds, by all means?
His fingers fumbled for the light switch, and then he paused. He was sure to find out, eventually. Beside his bed, pulsating with a dull red, there lay something which might have been a stone, or might have been an egg. Steve looked at it and felt a strange excited fear in the pit of his stomach. He lifted his hand and reached for the egg. Tiny lightning danced through his vision. The egg was almost hot to the touch. Steve smiled. That was so cool!
He had no idea what he had done.