"When they come, you leave.”
That was generally the rule. The Seekers come, and if you weren't there, you'd be fine.
It was still a mystery as to what they were looking for. All we knew was that if you got in their way, they would just run you down, no warning, no guilt. They weren't evil, despite what some say. They just had their own agenda which didn't include our well-being.
From what we could tell, and remember, these observations go back multiple generations, they weren't on any regular timetable. They just came. Usually from the forest, but it wasn't unheard of for them to come from the hills, or the ocean. There are even stories of them flying in from the sky, although, no one has seen this since long before my time.
I remember watching them as a child, from high up in the caves we all shared when they came in. My parents weren't happy with how interested I was in them, but I was safe up there, away from the Seekers, so it wasn't a big deal and they all got a laugh when I started carrying on about the birds that don't fly.
Seriously, there are videos and my sister loves to bring them out for anyone I bring home.
But that was my issue, and it’s why I study them. They are birds, they share the same form. Virtually no one agrees with me since birds fly and the only evidence of the Seekers flying is old stories from our great-grandparents time. Ergo, not birds.
Sometimes the amount of effort they go to to discredit my research, me and even my family makes me want to just quit and do something more beneficial, however if someone is going to those lengths to tell me I'm wrong, then there must be something they don't want found.
And then there's the mystery person funding my research. By the same logic, there must be something worth researching. I’ll be the first to admit it’s tiring having to deal with all of that, but I know that in the long run, it'll be worth it when I am finally able to lay to rest the origin and purpose of the Seekers.
Some time ago…
The Seekers were out. There was no way of knowing how many there were, or, as usual, what they wanted. Their low pitched, constant warbles carried a long way, echoing off of every available surface. These weren't their usual calls, though. It was the first time anyone had heard this new sound. It scared them all.
But that wasn't the reason for the rush and panic that was ripping through the town. One of the children, the Townsend boy, was still out on the flats, doing whatever it was he did out there. His parents weren't being helpful, carrying on about how the Seekers were after their boy and all that, and a rescue team, while prepped and ready to head out still had at least two Seekers to avoid.
We were in the house, on the top floor, overlooking the flats. We could see the two Seekers from here but the calls and noises that were everywhere made us all think there were definitely more. We couldn't take that risk and we told the Townsend’s as much which just made them scream and carry on louder. On the bright side, this didn't appear to change what the Seekers were doing.
And then, out of nowhere, there was silence. They had stopped calling to each other and the usual birds and critters from the forest started up again. The Seekers weren't gone, of course, the two we had been watching were still were they were, stock still, as if waiting for something. One of the others, our Runner, I think, asked if they were frozen, asking if we should take this as a moment of action and get the kid.
I told her to stay down, below the window line of the house. The creatures were still, but their eyes were still moving to and fro, and alert for anything. There was clearly an intelligence there. I felt a chill down my spine as I realised they knew where we were and it was only because they weren't interested in us that allowed us this relative safety. We had no idea if that same safety applied to the child down on the mud playing.
Damien Townsend loved the beach. The adults and all the other boys and girls all called it the flats but that was boring and he preferred beaches, so that's what he called it. He came down here from the house as much as he could, sometimes with the dog, sometimes not. He could spend hours down here running up and down the muddy sand, building castles and just playing like any other ten year old boy.
He especially loved playing around the rocks which, aside from the forest, were the only real landmarks on the beach. There were three of them all close together and he could climb two of them easily. Every time he came down to the beach he would try to climb the third, but as of yet, he still wasn't able to get to the top. His dad would always tell him, when he got home and reported that he still couldn't do it, that he would be big enough to do it one day and he should never stop trying.
This made Damien feel better and gave him a boost of hope for the next time he went down there to try.
Today was different though. He could hear the Seekers. He knew they were dangerous, but he thought of them as friends. He left bread out for them, after all. But he had never been this close to one and it was a lot bigger than him. He hid behind the big rock and covered his ears as they made their loud calls to each other. He could hear one just on the other side of the rock, its feet scuffing through the mud as it moved in its weird, jerking way. He could see another up in the forest, near the house. Then the noises stopped; both their calling and the scuffing. Damien peered out from behind the rock and almost ran right into the spindly black leg of the Seeker which was peering down at him from a cracked black beak.
“Hello,” Damien ventured.