Troy was late for school.  

His alarm clock hadn't gone off andluckily, he'd woken up only a half hour later than usual.seconds.  

For some reason, it bothered him. Then he saw why. 

The bird had unusual bright, red eyes. Troy swallowed loudly. 

 The last thing he needed was a peckin the head by an angry bird. 

He gave the bird one last, longlook before he began the walk to the subway station. 

In his right hand he clutched a bat. 

He had borrowed it fromhis buddy Vince for a pickup game over the weekend. Hesqueezed the bat reassuringly as he trudged along thesidewalk. When Troy reached the stairs that descended down into thesubway, he glanced again over his shoulder, just to reassurehimself that the bird wasn't following him. His heart sank. It had flown to the top of a lamp post downthe street. 

He could tell it was the same one by its cruel, redeyes. Where had the bird come from? 

 It was at least twice the sizeof a pigeon. 

He had never seen birds that big in the citybefore in all the years he'd lived here. 

Troy squeezed the handle of the bat and shifted his backpackto his other shoulder. 

The bird now seemed to be studying the bat. Troy lifted the bat and pointed the end of it at the dark bird. 

“Stop following me,"he told it, glaring. The bird probably wouldn't understand him anyway, but itcreeped him out just the same to see it sitting there watchinghim. 

 Almost as if it was planning something. Troy took a deep breath and headed down into the subway. 

He approached the ticket booth and gave the window a hard,loud knock with the end of his bat.