This is the first of the pieces that I have written on my commute to and from work - I have started giving myself a word / idea in the morning, and try to get anything in 10 minutes. If the idea seems to be going somewhere, then I carry on the story in the evening (and to the next day if necessary), if not, then I give myself a new word in the evening. What I'm putting here is still pretty raw, not polished.
Freewheeling, the bird soars through the sky. The sunlight flashes off of brightly coloured plumage; irridescent blue, pink and green. A trickle of bird song flows down to the observers, fluttering through the air. There is no chirrup or tweet from this bird; the song rises and falls in cadences to delight the ear.
It is a spectacular sight, only ever seen once every few years when the bird looks for a mate, and she is crouching under a bush at the edge of a clearing. She is small, dull, with brown and green feathers. She has no song, no bright colours, and is therefore of no interest to the observers, who have patiently researched and waited to find this particular clearing, in the middle of nowhere, at this time.
They knew they had to work quickly. Once the pheonix mates, the male bursts into flames, providing the heat for the incubation of the next generation. The ultimate sacrifice for the continuation of the species. It is also an extreme self defence mechanism. Should the bird be attacked, it releases a combination of hormones and digestive acids which spontaneously combust. If it is killed, it takes about five minutes for the bird to be completely aflame, meaning that any predator will also burn.
The observers watch the mating dance intently, focusing their instruments, making sure that they do nothing to alarm the bird. When the positioning is exactly right, they shoot.
The falling comet of colour, now stained a dull red, falls near their feet, and they work quickly before the chemical reaction is complete. Each whole phoenix feather is worth nearly $100.