She smelled the metallic morning mist before she opened her eyes.
Kate cautiously rolled to her right, white pain shooting from her neck through her skull. That’s what I get for sleeping on my stomach. Idiot.
She flopped on her back. Honestly the cement felt good. She kicked around her open sleeping back to feel the sharp cold air on her legs. Her feet felt less swollen than yesterday, and the morning chill was a welcome balm. Adjusting her hips and lower back to ease out the ache, she popped open her eyes. Shit this place looks good in the daylight. Crawling ivy suffocated the ceiling and support beams, the white morning light spotlighting the most overgrown areas. More light, more plants, figures.
Kate gingerly rolled her head to the right, eyeing the three story industrial windows lining the entire side of the building. Wonder if ‘Jobsman Brick & Mortar’ knew they were building a greenhouse. She scratched her cheek on the brick she used as a pillow last night, thanking the former owners for not tearing down the building when its purpose was moot.
She lifted herself up on her elbow and coughed. While the sides and ceiling were overgrown, the center floor still had a healthy amount of rusted machinery and dust. Kate had tucked herself into a wall without windows last night, opposite what was now the million dollar panoramic view of the Susquehanna valley, but last night was a pitch black angry summer storm.
The light this morning was extra bright. Chipper, really. Kate asked for some of that joy as she leaned forward, stretching her cramped legs. Hiking the valley solo, under-exercised, in her mid 50’s, all while ignoring weather reports, and not charging her phone prior, she was the supine embodiment of hubris.
At least I’ve got my good looks, she thought, rubbing her very un-good looking face. (Her face was fine). She liked thinking she was homely, as a badge of honor for her prized intellect.
When she’d finished rubbing her eyes, Kate noticed the birds. In fact, she froze. She noticed one bird in particular.
Well I’ll be damned.
She’d heard the numerous species of bird calls in the background during this morning's hate-stretch, and identified each casually in the back of her mind. But there, on the landing of the open window pane, thirty feet ahead of her, and silhouetted by the triumphant morning light, was an Egyptian Goose. Not Canadian, or run of the mill domestic. A brown patch in the middle of its chest, almost like a stamp that had sent him here, meant that this bird was from Africa.
This was why she had confidently (and hurriedly) ventured out into the hills yesterday, planning be damned. There had been two other sightings, and Kate knew she needed to be the third. She prided herself on her brains, specifically her ornithology encyclopedic knowledge, and this, this made the soaking wet clothes and unusable backpack worth it.
Like a sniper, she silently and slowly reached for her Canon. Bless the plastic case. Unzipping link by link, she unloaded the camera, brought it to her eyes, and gently tapped the shutter button.
The goose tilted its head toward Kate. Another shutter tap.
And just like that, the mythical creature flew away.
Kate exhaled. Looked around the green, glowing, dusty building. Took a selfie that she’d later sheepishly show her wife, and thanked her hubris.