Oracle Owl had many visitors. Even the mice and voles came to her with their many questions. There was one creature, however, who doubted her powers. A crow by the name of Eugene constantly disputed her claims. One way or another, she’d eventually be proven right, but that never seemed to bother the old, crotchety bird.
On a particularly busy morning, Oracle Owl was just seeing her latest client out – a squirrel called Juniper who’d wanted advice on where to store her nuts – when she heard Eugene’s rather annoying voice warbling, “You’ll lose your nuts before Winter begins! Don’t listen to the old witch!”
“Will you just go home before I lose my temper?” Oracle Owl begged, “Please. I just want to help these creatures.”
“Are you really even an owl?” Eugene chirped, “How do we know you’re not really a wolf, trying to figure out where the tastiest animals live?”
She rolled her large, yellow eyes, “I am not a wolf. I am simply a very wise owl. Now, go away or I’ll turn you into a bat!”
“Ha! No chance. Go on, turn me into a bat! At least I could still fly. I bet you can’t. I bet you don’t really have any powers at all. Maybe, you’re just a normal, boring old owl with nothing better to do than con innocent animals out of their hard-earned nuts and berries!”
“That’s it!” Oracle Owl hooted angrily, “I’ve had enough! Verto cervus!” At her shouted incantation, Eugene’s wings began to morph, slowly shrinking into his feathery body.
“What?! What are you doing?!” he cawed in a panic, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Please! Stop!”
“Too late, birdbrain. Bye, bye.”
Oracle Owl watched, her amber eyes twinkling with delight, as Eugene’s once jet-black plumes became light brown fur. His smallish bird-body increased in size, collapsing the branch upon which he sat. When he struck the ground, it was on four limbs, sporting black, shiny hooves. Twisting his now elongated, muscular neck back, he noticed a fluffy tail and – what was that on his head? Horns?! No, antlers. He was a stag!
“Ha, ha! No flying for you, my friend,” Oracle Owl cackled victoriously.
Eugene’s eyes went wide; he stomped the ground with his front hooves, turned around, and ran off through the tree line. A few days later, a farmer noticed a large stag in his front garden, behaving oddly. The beast would creep up to a flock of crows, which would then take off, landing a few yards away. He’d cautiously approach again, repeating this process over and over. Eventually, he seemed to tire and sauntered over to the birdbath. Leaning his head down, he took a sip, and then another. The farmer was able to snap a quick photo, never realizing the true magic of the moment.
Written for Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #79 photo prompt; image by Ray Wischhover via Nextdoor