65 million years ago The Cretaceous Period The loops of leaves on the primordial trees swayed softly in the afternoon breeze. A breeze which cut like rivers of cold across the dry desert heat. Too gently to noticeably disperse the silvery surface of what little water remained in the shrinking oasis. In fact, what became noticeable to the little bird were the pair of yellow circles submerged in the water. They shared the same deep orange-yellow as the meat from the fruits he ate from the trees. Each of these circles also held a void, as oily black as the gaps between the stars; inescapable. They moved in harmony with the most minuscule movements of his head, as if tethered by some unseen force to his body. A body which had every nerve ready to spring. To fly fast and hard away from the danger of this could-be predator dragging him beneath the surface. But the foggy familiarity of the shapes anchored the little bird to the edge of the water. A vague recollection of shelter and safety, of a nesting area he had briefly existed in and never returned to. That he could never return to, for it was lost in another time. Another place. A reality so unreachable that it was only upon seeing the eyes on the water that it was recalled to his mind as a memory. The shapes were eyes! And so similar to what he now remembered were his mother’s eyes. More panic at first. A soreness in his wings from his blood building up in preparation for sudden flight. His mother’s eyes stared back at him from the surface. But they were not held within his mother’s face. The ashen feathers above the eyes were peppered with specks of black. This creature that ate his mother’s eyes gazed up, back at his own plumage. But upon further study the bird was met with a locked gaze. An unbliking stare. So much pain and panic in those eyes, but the bird could not look away. Would not look away. In fear that doing so would cause the creature to take his eyes next. So the bird instead studied the eyes, and then the face. Feather by feather, noting each way in which this head was wrong. In which it wasn’t what it was meant to be. The darkness surrounding the eyes, the spot of pink skin from a missing feather, the dash of red on the beak. That dash of red... the same color, the same shape as the one on his own beak. The little bird’s breathing stopped, his chest hurt. His vision blurred at the edges but the eyes stayed sharp, boring into his very being. Overhead, a shimmering comet veered ever closer.