Monday, April 03, 2006


Down at the river a couple of days ago I noticed that one of the cormorants had still not quite conquered the sinking problem.

That wasn't the most interesting thing I saw, though. The ducks were behaving oddly.

"Are you ready?" I heard one say as I cycled past.

"Yes," said the other.

"QUACK!" said the first duck. It sounded strangely flat.

The other duck stuck its head under the water. Then the first duck ducked, too.

I wondered what they were doing.

A little further down the river, some more ducks were doing the same thing.

"QUACK!" said a duck, flatly.

And they ducked.

One duck climbed out of the water, so I stopped to ask what was going on.

"What are you guys doing?" I asked.

"Well," said the duck. "You've heard of bird 'flu, right?"

"Yes," I said.

"So have we," said the duck. "We don't really understand why it's so dangerous, but it is clear from what we've heard that flying isn't safe anymore."

"Er, I think - " I said.

"Don't interrupt!" said the duck, sternly. "Do you want to know, or not?

"Sorry," I said. "Carry on."

"We only overheard snippets, but it was enough," said the duck. "You must have heard it too. Bird... flew ... dead... - that sort of thing. So we formed a committee to study the problem, and have decided that we will no longer fly. We will walk on water."

"Really?" I said.

"Yes. We have decided to reduce our dependence on wings, since it is obvious that wings have something to do with the problem," said the duck. "The logic is inescapable."

"Er... I can see why you might think so," I said. "But - "

"LOOK!" said the duck. "OVER THERE!"

I looked.

"He's doing quite well," said the duck, approvingly. "Note the use of tippy-toe. It's very important to tippy-toe on water."

I was impressed, and said so.

"Unfortunately he is still relying a little too much on his wings," said the duck. "And we know how dangerous that is. He needs to absorb more quack echo."

"Quack echo?" I asked.

"That's the scientific part," said the duck. "It's difficult to explain to an unscientific person like yourself, but... well, let me see if I can simplify it a little. You know that you can't hear quack echoes, right?"

"Er..." I said. "I thought that had been disproved."

"Only in controlled experiments," said the duck. "We don't let everybody know what we can do when we're out of control."

"So what happens to the echoes?" I asked, puzzled.

"Well, you know that sound is made up of waves, right?" said the duck. "A QUACK! echo has a special wave form that vibrates at a particular intensity - if we want it to."

"Er, really?" I said.

"Yes. We direct the echo underwater, where you can't hear it," said the duck. "Then we duck for it, and absorb it, and when we have enough quack echoes accumulated we release them at a predetermined rate using our Quack Echo Distributor. If we get it just right, it becomes possible for us to walk on water. The quack echo waves keep us elevated."

"Quack Echo Distributor?" I said.

"Q.E.D.," said the duck. "Look! There goes another one. HOPELESS! Too much wing. He's lost control."

"I've never heard of anything like this before," I said.

"Well, you wouldn't have," said the duck. "We don't tell just anybody."

"Thank you for telling me," I said. "I'm honoured that you trust me."

"I can tell you because it doesn't matter," said the duck. "Nobody believes anything you say anyway."

"Oh," I said.

"I have to practice now," said the duck. "I'm better at Quackery than any of the others, but still, walking on water isn't easy."

"I see," I said. The duck looked at me skeptically.

"I'm not sure that you do," he said. "But you're not trained to the highest levels of Quack Science, like us, so it can't be helped."

"Probably not," I agreed.

He waddled back to the water and swam off to join his friends.

As I cycled away I heard his voice.

"QUACK!" he said, flatly, and I looked back just in time.

He was, indeed, a master of the art of Quackery.


Bill C said...

Words... I find none to adequately describe how 'positively' this post affects me. Thanks for transforming my morning's annoyance-induced frown into a smile.

Fuzzball said...

This is EXACTLY what I needed to chase the Daylight Savings blahs away -- a BadAunt Picture Story! Hooray!!!! *smooches*

wendy said...

Yaaay!! Another story from way to end a dreary do you come up with this stuff. I look at ducks and all I see are ducks. Not funny stories.

kenju said...

You are just too, too much! A wonderful story, as usual, and it makes perfect sense to me....LOL

Katie said...

I am deeply inspired by your teacher, I had no idea quack science was so complicated. Anyways, thank you for that, very enjoyable, to say the least.

Lippy said...

Now, see, this is why I had to rejoin the Blogodohexisphere (try saying that quickly!) - to see what you were up to. Delighted to find you in such ripping good form, Badaunt!

By the way, the penguins down this way have started behaving oddly. Perhaps Quackery is spreading. Darn oceans. I blame them and their dratted tides, of course...

Cheryl said...


I want to add something clever about owlchemy, but thats a dark art because the owls only come out at night, plus I'm not as clever as you. So I won't.

Pookie65 said...

This is one of my favorite posts. If our feathered friends could talk they'd say "thanks" for telling their story.

Lia said...

Is this like Quacktum mechanics?