Higher Creative Writing Folio Piece - Columba

It was 12 noon. There he went, weaving in and out of traffic, entirely confident and trusting in his manoeuvring. The cars, indifferent, rumbled onwards, each surely with destinations awaiting them with such eagerness that the metal machines cared for nothing else than the stretch of asphalt ahead of them. He did not understand the appeal of these horrible contraptions. There was a long-forgotten age in which the people of The City used carriages drawn by horses, who were less hostile in their demeanour and were fed delicious oats from leather pouches. Now, however, things were different; everything either drunk a nasty-smelling poisonous water which looked deceptively innocent, or sapped energy from black overhead cables with a terrible whine. He would have to look for food elsewhere.

As he ducked and dived, narrowly missing a tyre here, nimbly dodging a low axle there, he saw it. Off in the distance, another group, all of its members just like him. Slightly bedraggled and weary in appearance, and all of them have no doubt seen better days. He began to navigate and meander his way across the road towards them, The City paying no attention to him as an individual, a minute speck in the vastness of The City's aimless bustling. As he reached the pavement, he saw them up close - he had never seen any of them before, and yet they looked ever so familiar, as if he had known them for an eternity from a past era. They, in turn, seemed to be expecting him, despite not noticing his presence until the present moment. They were together, united, strong, ready to continue on their search for food in their battle for survival. Safety in numbers.

A man walking on the pavement. Approaching. Was it possible that he was carrying food on him? He approached tentatively with the flock, but not daring to get too close. Cars he could manage; cars he could understand. They were simple beasts, easy to predict their next move. Humans, however, were unpredictable - and unpredictable is dangerous. However, to his greatest relief, this man seemed quite safe. His hand dipped into a pocket on the side of his coat, drew out a crumpled paper bag, reached in, and closed around something concealed within. The flock followed him eagerly with their gaze, a ruffle of excitement spreading through them as a small piece of pretzel was drawn out, a couple of the more daring amongst them edging closer still. Then, with a flick of the wrist and the flash of pearly white teeth, it was gone in an instant - the chewing of the man the only evidence to suggest its existence to have been ever presented in the first place. With a sudden, aggressive velocity, the flock dispersed. They had gotten so close, but there was no luck to be had here.

He ventured onwards. There were many intriguing sights to behold upon this street of The City, but despite his fascination with them, they did not provide him nourishment. A middle-aged woman wrapped in ragged blankets was situated in between two of the numerous shops lining the street, who appeared to be in much the same predicament as him - she, too, seemed to him as if she was relying on the generosity of others passing by. However, in her hand she clutched a paper cup not filled with some nutritious drink, but instead with round, metallic discs glinting in the sunlight. He did not understand the appeal of them, they didn't appear to be particularly remarkable in any way, and yet the people of The City treasured these objects very much so. They always kept them close to themselves, rarely ever visible out in the open except for when they occasionally exchange hands, discreetly and efficiently.

Across the road, there it was. An open room, embedded in the side of a building, with a colourful front and large glass windows proudly declaring the contents behind it to all passers-by. There were many such rooms which lined the streets of The City, all desperately competing for the attention of pedestrians, yearning for somebody walking past to snap out of the trance of their commute, and step inside. Some rooms boasted various objects of esoteric clothing which appeared incredibly impractical to wear, others housed collections of intricate gadgets which buzzed and beeped and made all sorts of wondrous noises when held in the hand and interacted with. He, however, was interested in none but the room currently located opposite him, which showed off the greatest treasure of all: Food. Great stacks of biscuits, towering cakes, tempting assorted pastries, all mounted high on stands behind the pristine glass. They beckoned towards the passers-by, trying to convince them to grab a treat. They were welcome - he, however, was not. As he navigated his way across the bustling road and reached the kerb on the other side, an ear-piercing, mind-numbing agonising sound told him so. He recognised its brutal familiarity - it had occurred to him once before, at a train station. He hastily scattered from the shop front, turning back only once he was well clear of it. He recognised the diabolical contraption which he loathed so much: A supposedly innocent-looking black box mounted on the side of the shop, generating that horrific, unbearable tone which humans seemed magically immune to. A slight bitter taste in his beak, he ventured onwards.

It was getting late. As dusk was settling itself over The City, the radiant but harsh glow of a thousand fake suns illuminated the streets. Doors were closing all around while metal grates slid down and settled in front of the windows, sealing accesses to the treasures kept within. The pedestrians were finding their destinations and being engulfed by the towering buildings all around them. Even the traffic, which had seemed so relentless just a couple of hours ago, was beginning to thin. He knew that his time was running out. However, he had one last hope.

One giant building, on a scale unparalleled by the other shops, stood out in the distance. It was surrounded by an oversized field of cars, dead asphalt plains stretching out across the surrounding land. Most prominent of all was a giant, bright neon sign which decorated the front of the building, grabbing eyes with such aggression that it was difficult to focus attention on anything else. This could be nothing else but - he was sure of it - a supermarket. He was not alone in noticing it, either; another, just like him, has noticed the haven of food. They approached simultaneously and slipped through the front doors which magically slid open before them.

The sight was wondrous. Rows upon rows of brightly coloured packaging enclosing untold quantities of snacks and treats, brightly illuminated under the artificial light of the tall roof. Dozens of crates of fresh produce, lining the shelves. However, nothing was as heavenly as the delicious scent of baked goods wafting through the air, signifying the presence of a bakery. The two of them darted straight for it, and at last their hunger was satiated. Great chunks of freshly baked bread were torn off and devoured with incredible speed.

Then, out of nowhere. A broom swinging through the air. A sickening crunch. He sees his companion flop to the ground, limp. A cry of victory. A raising of the broom again. He had no time to waste. Feeling sufficiently reinvigorated by the hasty meal, he stretches his wings and takes off, soaring through the air and navigating along aisles, before shooting straight out the exit. He had made it out safely - but his companion was not so fortunate. The City chose him to provide for tonight, but The City is cruel and unforgiving. The City marches on through the illusion of progress, a machine, careless and indifferent.

And to think that once there was an age where they called him a Rock Dove.