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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 21 page 19


security guy flies over city on a flying scooter

The Dodo Initiative

by Samih Nassar

Tom poked his head out of the sewer hole. Cars were passing in the distance. He looked left, he looked right. “There you are,” he said, as he saw the escaped dodo make its way into an alleyway, passing right by an army of people too occupied with their phones to notice or care.

Pulling himself onto the street, Tom heard the ferocious blare of a horn. “Oh boy!—”

A 26-wheeler truck barrelled down the street from behind him. Tom hopped onto the pavement and rolled against a wall as the massive monster carrier plummeted through the thick night air, cutting through the humidity like a scalpel piercing flesh. A number of cars followed in its wake. Tom ran along the sidewalk, slamming into the throngs of people that crowded the downtown streets. Several voices cursed him.

“Hey asshole!” someone called.

“Watch it buddy," someone else warned.

“Where the hell did you come from?” a voice demanded.

“The sewer,” Tom muttered and pushed his way through the mob. He made for the alleyway, trying to catch his breath. For God’s sake. He was chief of security for plutocrat Alistair Campbell, but he hadn't counted on this. Chasing a genetically engineered dodo bird that has the ability to climb ladders and remove sewer grates. Nearly getting ploughed under by a truck. What next?

He turned the corner, expecting maybe he would find the bird searching for food in another trash heap.

“Oh no.”

The dodo was at the other end of the alley — caught in a wooden cage. Tom sprinted toward it. “Hey!” he shouted, as a figure obscured by the shadows grabbed the cage and dashed away through a passage between buildings.

“Hey! Stop!”

Tom found himself back on the main road, amidst an onslaught of traffic and pedestrians. He looked about frantically but no dodo in sight. His phone was buzzing: the ID indicated Ken, the scientist.

“Yeah?” Tom answered.

“Hey, any luck?” Ken was at the lab over on Lakeshore. He was head of Biological Development within Campbell’s lab and the only scientist in the firm that ever gave Tom the time of day.

“I nearly caught it,” said Tom.

“So you didn’t.”

“Did you guys modify that bird in any way?”

“What do you mean?”

Tom spotted a set of Drift Scooters by the side of the road. “Well, it may have climbed up a ladder.”


“And opened a sewer grate.”

“Did you see this?”

“All signs point to it. I doubt there are any people in the sewers who might’ve done it.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are given the cost of housing nowadays.” Ken adjusted his designer spectacles.

“I’m downtown. Above ground. Hard on any other leads.”

“Tom...dodos don’t do that.” Ken paused, too exhausted to think. “Do whatever you need to do, man,” he continued. “Campbell’s breathing down our necks. None of us can go home until that bird returns.”

“I’m going as fast as I can. Call you in a bit.”