Criss's Peeps -
10-15-2011, 02:50 PM
Springtime in the desert can be both beautiful and dangerous. The milder air stirs new life among the cacti and scrub, bringing forth blossoms of unique beauty and brief duration, while at the same time snowmelt from the mountains create flash floods which can sweep away houses and cars unlucky enough to be in the path of the onrushing muddy waters. Into this maelstrom of destruction comes forth new life in this arid region.
Around Lake Meade, the biggest manmade lake in America resulting from excavation for the Hoover Dam, ducks, geese and other waterfowl make their nests among the rocky shore, concealed from predators by the tall lake reeds and cattails. Marshland is practically nonexistant in the Southwestern part of the United States, and natural habitats are quickly diminishing in man's quest for dominance on this planet ("progress", he calls it), so whatever suitable spot which can be found is quickly taken over by wildlife to begin the natural cycle of mating and nesting once again.
On this fine spring day, a pair of mallard ducks chose a prime spot to start their family: a grassy knoll beside the lake, well hidden from sight of predators. The female, or hen, used the grass to build the nest, lining it with down plucked from her own breast to make a soft bed for her eggs. The male, or drake, kept guard over the nest, protecting his mate-for-life and his young from whatever danger would come their way.
In time, six white eggs are laid in the downy nest. Now the hen must sit on them for four weeks, incubating them with her own body. Four times a day, she turned them over and moved them around to keep every part of the growing embryos warm. Therer were no weasels or foxes in the desert, but there was the threat of snakes and lizards; the hen remained vigilant throughout the incubation period. Who knew what dangers lurked along the shore of Lake Meade?
A month has passed. The weather had grown warmer. The hen felt hungry, so she left her nest just long enough to dabble in the water for food. She would leave her nest only for a moment, then return to incubating her eggs. Unfortunatly, it was a moment too long--a loud crack! broke the stillness of the desert air, and the hen exploded in a burst of feathers and blood. The eggs lay in their downy nest, unprotected, alone.
Along that same shoreline where the hen had laid her eggs, famous illusionist Criss Angel was setting up for his latest demonstration: an underwater escape that promised to be his greatest (read: most dangerous) to date. His crew, consisting mostly of members of his own family and a few close friends, had their misgivings about the whole enterprise. Of all the escapes a magician can perform, underwater escapes were the most dangerous. In spite of all the safety precautions, there was still the possibility of Criss drowning in the lake.
Criss himself was not complacent about it, either. He knew that one mistake, one error in judgement, or one piece of faulty equipment could spell his doom. He had examined this stunt from every possible angle and did his best to anticipate anything that could go wrong, yet there was still the underlying concern that the unexpected could crop up during the demonstration and end in tragedy. In spite of the danger, he was determined to carry it out--his art, his audience, indeed his very nature, demanded it.
The crew was going over a routine equipment check when a loud bang! startled them. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked around, wondering what had just happened. "What the hell was that?" Criss said, looking around the shoreline.
"Sounds like a gun," Doug Malloy replied.
"Hey, there's not supposed to be any hunting around here!" Criss said indignantly. "Someone could get hurt!"
"This from a man who's gonna drown himself in a lake!" Doug sneered.
Criss muttered a reply along the lines of telling Doug to keep his opinions to himself and headed for the small motorboat anchored nearby. "I'm gonna find out who's shooting around the lake," he said as he untied the boat from its mooring. "I don't want any casualties around here while we're taping."
Brothers JD and Costa joined him in the boat. "Just make sure you don't become a casualty yourself," the former told him.
The motorboat chugged along the shoreline, its occupants keeping a lookout for the mysterious gunman of the lake. "You see anything?" Criss asked his brothers.
JD shook his head. "Nothing," he replied. "I think it was just a bunch of (bleep)holes helling around, using their guns as noisemakers. Probably drunk outta their minds."
Criss nodded in agreement. "Think we should turn back?"
"Yeah, maybe we should," JD sighed. "There's nobody out here."
The brothers were about to turn the boat around when something caught Costa's eye. "Hey!" he cried, pointing to a grassy knoll. "Over there!"
Criss steered the boat toward the knoll and killed the engine when the bow touched land. Costa spread the grass wide enough to reveal the blasted remains of the hen duck who had nested there. "Looks like someone's been doing a little duck hunting out of season," Costa commented grimly.
Criss felt revulsion rising in his throat. "My God!" he choked. "Who could do such a thing to a helpless duck?"
Costa reached over farther and exposed the nest of eggs. "This must've been her nest," he observed.
"So, what do we do?" JD asked.
"The thing to do is report this to the authorities," Criss replied. "Poaching's against the law, and as law-abiding citizens, we have a duty to report this. Meantime," he went on, stripping off his t-shirt, "I'm going to make sure these little guys are put somewhere safe and sound."
"Uh, Criss," JD spoke up, "I don't think that's a good idea..."
Criss gathered the eggs into his shirt and bundled them up. "Hey, you wanna just leave 'em here for snake food? They'll be fine; like, what's your worry? They'll just take 'em to some wildlife sanctuary and let 'em hatch, and take care of 'em until they can be released into the wild. Trust me, everything's gonna work out just fine!"
The eggs were stowed under the seat of the boat, and the threesome made their way back to the demonstration site, unaware of the life stirring within the six eggs wrapped snugly in Criss' t-shirt.