“I have no idea how it happened”

It just did. I was biking along home, minding my own business, when suddenly a bird came up out of the grass at the side of the road and slammed into my back wheel’s spokes. I careened. The bird’s neck snapped on the fork. I flipped into the air and landed hard on my wrist.

Later, in the hospital, I looked out the window. There was a tree with branches waving gently in the wind as though they were listening to soft rock. I closed my eyes and pictured the bird. It was a seagull or something, which I’ve never seen before in town. What was it doing there? And why did it dive-bomb directly at my bicycle while I was minding my own business?

I opened my eyes again and saw – just for a moment – the bird. Its neck protruded from its body at an odd angle, giving it an almost quizzical look. But its eyes were red with an internal fire. It glared at me – that’s the only way to describe its look, a glare – and I was about to cry out, in surprise, in anguish, in agony – for the bird’s gaze bore through my soul – but a nurse stepped between my bed and the windowed bird to check my vital signs. The spell was broken.

“How are we feeling?” asked the nurse, none the wiser to my existential dread. "I see we’re a little sweaty, probably due to the painkillers we have you on, but that’s just a side effect.

“Speaking of, you might have some light hallucinations on this drug as well – just some auditory effects, or –”

“How about birds?” I wheezed. I had to know – was the specter I’d witnessed merely a projection of my guilt?

“Never heard of birds before,” said the nurse, unperturbed. “I’ll find a pamphlet somewhere and get it to you.” With that, he left the room.

I closed my eyes tight as he turned from my bedside. I dared not open them to see if the bird were still there. Was it an assassin, sent to avenge some unknown wrong? Did I have reason to fear for my life?

I kept my eyes winched shut until finally, under the duress of my extreme fear, I slid into a cold, black, dreamless sleep.