In the beginning everything looked so easy. Matti started by flying a good distance above the ground, so he was able to see the horizon far away and use the thermals to let him glide for long periods. There was nothing on the ground to distract him or lure him back to earth other than some small snow-covered hills occasionally sprinkled with some fir trees. A couple of times he saw some lakes, but it was too early to land and he just continued his flight south.
Matti could see grey clouds gathering in the west but in front of him there was just clear blue skies, so he didn’t worry. At one point he thought that he saw another black bird flying directly below him, but he realized that it must be his shadow. Despite the cloudless sky the temperature had begun to drop, so Matti dropped closer to earth to find the warmer air. He secured his hat on his head and continued heading for his southern target.
At the same time, Mika was saying his goodbyes to the elf and he was preparing to head south to some of the lakes that Matti had spotted on his flight. The snow felt very heavy underfoot this morning and there was something different about the air, but Mika tried to ignore these and the fact he was now traveling alone. Mika sighed and shook his head hard trying to clear the expectation of hearing a voice whinging about the snow and the food.
He smiled at the thought and then he looked off into the distance, as far as he could see, but there was nothing in that blue sky; there wasn’t even a tiny black spot. The magpie had obviously flown far, far away. Mika reminded himself once more that it was impossible to follow his little flying friend and took the first the step alone in many months.
The magpie could see that the grey clouds were magically doubling in size every minute and they were building a huge curtain in front of the sun. From his altitude he could see a small forest on the horizon, so he gathered the last of his strength and he began a slow controlled dive towards the trees a few miles away.
Mika had seen exactly the same clouds tripling in size but they were no concern for him since they were a long way from affecting him. He had calculated that he had until after midday before he would have to find the shelter that the elf had suggested. The memory of the shelter brought a small lump to Mika’s throat as he thought of how his feathered friend was managing alone.
Strangely, Matti had been wondering exactly the same thing about Mika but certain events had demanded his full attention. The soft cold wind had transformed into a strong icy wind that was packed with thick snowflakes and didn’t let him fly straight. There were moments he could see the spot where the forest should be moving to the left and others when it was moving to the right, but the small magpie fought hard to stay in a straight line.
Suddenly somebody turned out the lights and the sky was plunged into darkness. A flash of lightning lit the sky and a roll of thunder shook Matti’s feathers. The flicker of light from the lightning showed Matti where the forest was, but only for the briefest of moments. At each flash the forest moved closer, until Matti landed one of its outer edges. He couldn’t see through the darkness to choose a suitable and began to shiver from cold and nerves.
“Hey! Over here!” Matti jumped into the air with fright, what was that sound? Was it a voice or the wind? Maybe he was having delusions from the cold and the next thing he would see is Mika with Santa on his back. “Hey! Over here, little bird, over here!” the magpie blinked and realized that it really was a voice and not his imagination. He looked into the darkness and then a flash of lightning suddenly illuminated a bright orange beak below a tree. The next flash showed Matti that this bird was waving its wings at him.
Using the last of his energy, Matti hopped across the snow and discovered the bird had found shelter in the roots of a fallen tree. “Didn’t you see the storm coming? Why did you keep flying into the storm?” It was a duck and the small magpie was so cold and shaken that he couldn’t answer; he just nodded a thank you and went straight to sleep.
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