Chaos, but thanks to my friends I am free! Not out of danger yet, but free! I do not know if I am coming or going. I’m exhausted but I just want my readers to know what has happened.
First I should apologise for putting everyone to such trouble. If I had been more cautious I would not have walked into the trap. But I was so eager to meet other flightless birds that I dismissed any suspicions and went straight to the nearest place that I thought I would find them – Lake Manapouri. I told myself it would be interesting to see such a lake in any case.
And of course, two people lay in wait for me. Dr Candlewick and Ms Fosse. They were carrying a gun and they had a net. I had no chance. They seized me. The next thing I felt a small prick in my side and I blacked out.
Seconds, minutes, hours, days, who knows how much later, I awoke with my head throbbing and a dry taste in my beak. My back ached and I shifted slightly to try to ease it.
“Quick Brian, he’s moving! He’s alive!” It was a woman’s voice. Ms Fosse’s I assumed, but I kept my eyes shut. I was not going to look at them.
“I told you he was!” a man’s voice replied with an unpleasant note of triumph.
“Yes, but you said you didn’t trust anything Professor Longbottom had invented.”
“No, I didn’t. Well OK I did, but if she’s right and this thing gets the bird’s DNA, well, I’m made!”
“What do you mean? You’re made?”
“Look any man who brings a dodo back with him is going to be famous. I’ll be asked to give talks, write books, I’ll go on a lecture tour…”
“Er, or woman. But then, if I can use the DNA to create more dodos…I’ll have the world eating out of my hand.”
“Look here Brian! I need the bird for a major PR campaign. I’ve got a range of shampoos I’ve been struggling with, but with the bird to promote them I’m the one who is made.”
“But I captured him.”
“With my help!”
“It’s my DNA machine!”
“Which I carried through thorns and marshes and all manner of horrid things! Look, I even broke my nail!”
“You’re not made for life in the bush are you?” he sneered.
“I’m tougher than you are! I bet my DNA is better than yours!”
“Pah! You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“Yes I do! I bet you come from a line of useless no-gooders. Let’s see shall we! Let’s see!” She was screaming now.
“Put that thing down! Delilah, I’m warning you! Delilah!”
I opened my eyes. And I laughed. The two of them – he short and hairy, she tall and well-groomed – were tugging on either end of their gun. She was winning. Oh no, now he was. And now she seemed to have the upper hand and, oh, he was on his back in a bush. Ah, it was a prickly bush and he was soon yelling. Some of his language was a little coarse. I’m glad Mrs Desai was not there to hear it.
“Ow!” That was Candlewick as the gun shot a dart into him.
“Ow!” That was Fosse as the gun made her jump backwards and she landed, bottom first, on a log. It was rotten. She fell through.
It was, of course, my chance to get away, and I was determined. Determined but weak and a bit dopey. I struggled up and stared around. If I could just reach that bit of bush there I might get away. I took a step, then another and then…oh, of course and how humiliating. I was trussed up like some overgrown turkey ready for Christmas. I do beg your pardon, turkeys.
I pulled and pulled and I thought I was just getting somewhere when a sweet voice called out “Come on, good birdy!” It was the Fosse woman. I shut my eyes tight, but not before I saw a net sailing through the air towards me.
“Come on! It’s Ferdinand, isn’t it?” she continued. “Ferdinand, it’s so lovely to meet you at last! I’m so sorry about all that fuss.” (And in the background I could still hear Candlewick moaning about the prickles in his bottom). “Really, it was most unprofessional. Anyway, that’s all over now and I’m sure we can start again.”
I wriggled in the net and turned my head away from her. For a start, she smelled like she needed a shower. “Oh, of course, you are a little put out by the way we brought you here. I am sorry, I said to Brian it would, but he insisted. Now let’s just loosen this old net a bit, oh no, not too much, not yet anyway. Just let’s have a little chat first. Brian, keep that noise down you fool! Sorry about him dear Ferdinand. Where was I?
“Oh yes. Now that you are here, I am sure you will see the advantages of what we have to offer. Oh and dear Ferdinand, I expect you are thirsty.” I kept my eyes and beak tightly shut.
“Perhaps you’d like to rest darling. Come along, once you are out of this net I’ll take you to the lovely little tent I’ve got for you. Ever so comfy. And I’ll bring you a plate of ginger biscuits.”
I tell you, I am ashamed to admit it, I nearly weakened. Ginger biscuits! But I held my resolve. I did not even allow myself to be escorted into a tent though I could have done with sheltering from the biting flies. Yes, this part of New Zealand is full of little flies that nibble. The Maori people who live here believe that the gods put the flies here to keep out intruders. They had not kept out Dr Candlewick and Ms Fosse, though that did give me the rather immature pleasure of watching the two of them flapping their hands and slapping at their faces in an attempt to keep said flies away. Of course, every time one of them approached me I shut my eyes tightly and refused to acknowledge them. I did peek a couple of times and when I did I almost laughed; Dr Candlewick had donned a pair of sunglasses in an attempt to look severe. At least I think that is what he was hoping. He just looked ridiculous. I’ve done a little mock-up of it for the amusement of my dear readers.
He was the one who tried to be severe while Ms Fosse pretended to be all kind – a sort of bad cop, good cop. So while she offered me ginger biscuits and all sorts of other inducements (including the promise of my own TV show) to co-operate, he made comments like: “We know you’re going to crack. You won’t be able to resist.” Or “Just wait until I’ve created a whole flock of you dodos. I can you know, I have your DNA. I can do it. Where will you be then, eh?” Living happily with a group of dodos would seem to be the answer, but I did not give him the satisfaction.
You may wonder why I did not try to escape again. They let me out of the net, but (and I can hardly bring myself to write this), I was tied up, tethered like a common criminal. But I would not give in to despair, not even when all seemed lost and I felt as if there was no-one in the entire universe who cared for me. No, like many prisoners before me, I plotted and I planned.
I thought that my chance had come when we moved camp. Ms Fosse and Dr Candlewick had decided that whatever they had in store for me could not be carried out in the depths of Ffjordland. As Ms Fosse pointed out “I cannot possibly launch a PR campaign from the middle of nowhere Brian. It may be all very well for you scientists to do your work with no mobile signal and no internet access not to mention no hot water and [here I heard her draw in her breath and shudder] nowhere to, you know, er use the bathroom.”
“There isn’t a bathroom.” Candlewick sounded puzzled and a touch irritated.
“I mean, nowhere to powder one’s nose.”
“You’ve got a little mirror in your handbag,” he replied. “You’re always looking at it. Can’t you use that to check your make-up.”
“I mean Brian,” and here she sounded exasperated, “no toilet!”
“Oh, of course, yes, well, use the bush like everyone else.”
Here she started to scream at him and to throw things. I felt compelled to open my eyes and enjoyed the sight of him dancing around as Ms Fosse showered him with tins of food, papers and her clothes. He looked particularly fetching with a blue bra nested in his black locks.
“All right! All right!” he yelled. “We’ll…ow…move on…ouch! I didn’t intend to stay here for ever anyway. I’m not exactly going to find fame and fortune here am I?”
“I don’t care about your fame and fortune! I’ve got a whole perfume and shampoo range to promote. And I want a shower, a toilet and toilet paper!”
They argued thus for a while longer and I rather hoped they would forget about me, but no, regrettably they recalled me and, once they had packed up their belongings (an amusing spectacle involving much muttering and moaning as Dr Candlewick tried to stuff his large tent into a small bag) they forced me to my feet and marched me off back through the bush.
This was the point that I thought I might be able to run off. Surely I was strong enough to pull away from my captives and make a run (waddle?) for it. But here I discovered the drawbacks of my hunger strike. I was so weak I could hardly walk, let alone overthrow my captors. So I allowed myself to be dragged along and I vowed that, in the future, I would eat all the ginger biscuits I was offered.
We set up camp again that evening, though there was still much anger on Ms Fosse’s part as we were not yet anywhere near a wi-fi signal.
“I don’t think you want to get back to civilization,” she moaned at him. “You’re afraid! You’re afraid of that Professor Longbottom. You’re afraid everyone will laugh at you!”
“No I’m not!” His voice was loud and full of hurt. “Everyone will fall at my feet now! I’ll get the recognition I deserve! Won’t I?” I wondered how certain he actually was. All that was certain was that I would not help him in any way.
I must rest now. It has been tiring.
Someone give him some ginger biscuits, quickly! And Ferdy, we all care about you!