The bird, magnificent as it was, flew over everyone’s heads and, just before disappearing as it always did, it let out a horrible cry, as if he had been wounded fatally. The cry was heard by every single man and woman that had come to catch it and they felt their hearts skipped a beat as they heard it. Then, the bird disappeared in second, making everyone wonder how much stranger nature could get. All the scientists that had come to the jungle stayed some more days but after a couple of them, they noticed no other bird like that would appear out of nowhere. That one, apparently, had been the last one of its species and now it could be hiding anywhere or maybe even dead. The jungle emptied in no time and paradise went back to be one.
One of the scientists that had gone to the expedition, a man called Hunter, did not go back home after being in the jungle but instead traveled to several zoos, laboratories and so on in order to investigate. He wanted to know if maybe there was one of those birds in captivity or if anyone at least knew more about it than him. But most people, when explained what he was looking for, thought he was crazy. The creature he described was fantastic, out of some story told from generation to generation and even is account sounded even stranger than the most creative story of them all. He traveled the world for another year but no one knew anything. He gave up and he intended to return home immediately, as there was nothing more to do for him.
However, he never got home. In the flight over there, he started feeling strange, like there wasn’t enough air. He had gone to the lavatory and it was only when the flight had ended that a flight attendant found him there, asphyxiated in the toilet seat, with a large red feather on top of his head. People thought he might have committed suicide somehow, but the autopsy proved, weeks later, that he had choked because he couldn’t breath. The reasons for that were not known or the origin of the feather, but the tragedy made it to the news and several of his colleagues realized there was something they couldn’t just ignore: the red feather.
There was a tribe in the region where they had all gone to catch the bird. They had warned the scientist not to enter the jungle as dangers beyond their understanding lived there and could very well be their end. But the scientists thought it was just a folk tale to keep everyone away from the jungle. The tale said that the phoenix lived deep in there, alone always alone and with possession of a great strength and will. The legend said the bird could not be capture or tamed but that it could be befriended in order to find a way out of the jungle, if the person that found it was lost. But if it wasn’t, the bird would put its course on them, a course that would end life in little time.
Every single person that had been at the jungle the time the phoenix cried, remembered the legend when they saw the news about Hunter. Some of them were openly scared; others dismissed it as a coincidence. A long month passed until there was word of a second victim, this time one of the assistants. She had been found dead in her apartment, apparently also asphyxiated and with a feather on her head. Then, two more deaths followed and the rest of the scientists just knew there was at least some truth to the legend. Now, some thought there was someone killing al of them, blaming them for something that had happened back them. Maybe they had an outbreak of some sort of disease or they just didn’t like foreigners in their lands.
One of the explorers decided to take the bull by the horns and go back to the jungle where it had all started. The tribe there wouldn’t talk to him because they said foreigners had disrespected their beliefs and advice, which had been given in the best interest of everyone involved. They didn’t want to know anything about all those people ever again and asked to be left alone for good. Overnight, the whole tribe moved and they were not found again until several years later. The explorer attempted to enter the jungle again, to see if there were any answers inside, but that would be a secret for that place to preserve, as the paths had changed and nothing was the same as the last time.
People kept dying until there were only three people left from the expedition that had discovered the existence of the phoenix. One of them, doctor Stacy Holmes, published a very controversial article where she described the creature and its behavior, what she could see anyway as the encounter had only lasted for a couple of minutes, until the beard cried and disappeared. No one really believed what Holmes had written on her report and the money that she had been granted for investigation was pulled away from her, leaving her to beg for more money to continue her investigation. Stacy was obsessed with the bird, she had been obsessed before too and it was something that hadn’t gone away.
She was found dead on her bed, at home, asphyxiated as the rest of her peers. The feather rested softly on her head and the place seemed, to the people that came for the body, as some type of mausoleum. It was incredibly peaceful and beautiful somehow. Someone took pictures and they were all over the Internet, talking more about the possibility of a serial killer than about the feather or the ambiance in the place when the men taking the body got there. The remaining two people died in the following weeks. One of them thought it could hide from the curse but it could follow anyone anywhere so they died anyway.
Back in the jungle, the phoenix appeared again. It floated around freely and was now, again, free to be. Often it would fly over the houses of the tribe that lived nearby, but they wouldn’t see it. It was a lonely creature, so there was almost no way that anyone could find it in the immensity of the world. What people didn’t know was that the bird moved around the globe at will, change its home from a cave on a cliff in China, to a nice nest in a European forest. It even lived among humans, who were too distracted and busy to realize they were so close from something they couldn’t even understand. The phoenix was a creature born several millennia ago, as the planet started to breath life. It was a time of legends and miracles, but a time that no one could remember.
It had to be said that the cry did kill of those people but not the phoenix itself. He just did what had to be done in order to preserve a little mystery in the world, something that was being lost rapidly to the advancements of technology. The phoenix, being a creature with the capacity to be reborn and to cure every single disease in existence, could be the holy grail of mankind. But the bird knew what humans did with whatever they found out to be of use. They were brutal and did not care about anything except their personal goals, their thirst for financial retribution and for a power that, in the long run, didn’t mean anything.
The bird cured people, however, when they were lost somewhere in the world. Because it had something many humans had lost long ago, which was compassion. Humans didn’t have it anymore, only showing a shadow of it when they wanted to gain something from behaving like that. Humans, almost all of them, were not sincere anymore and could not be trusted. That had been proven when that large group of them had entered the jungle without the proper respect, without hearing what their own had told them. They were disrespectful and only cared about their personal glory. The phoenix felt everything at that time, it could feel their ambitions and thoughts and the decision to put the course on them was as simple as disappearing and never being seen again.
True, some humans had seen it and he had not killed them. Those lost souls; men and women that only wanted to go back to their families and be in peace, they wanted nothing more than to be left alone by life and the phoenix respected that. That’s why he helped them with everything he could, ultimately carrying them to the outskirts of the jungle in order for them to be taken care of by the nearby tribe. The bird was compassionate and behaved only in the way survival was meant for it to behave. It didn’t hate anyone or had any remorse either, it was just a pure creation of nature, forgotten by the world and that’s the way it should be forever, until the big change arrived.