Swamped Chapter 13 Page 6

You ponder the question as you write out a fictionalized account of an unusual (but entirely plausible) encounter with a swamphen. It briefly occurs to you to make a deliberate and subtle mistake in the story, but you pass on that idea; they’d have a hard time believing you were that inaccurate, and would simply think that Shrike had misinterpreted something.

Ah, but wait. There was that error on the color of swamphen eggs in the old field guide, wasn’t there? You mentioned it to Lisa not long before you decided to make an updated one based on your observations. You add a quick postscript.

“P.S. Didn’t see her eggs, so I can’t tell you if they were brown with black spots. Ha! Still can’t believe that one.”

Should be subtle enough to escape notice before sending it off, but at home they’ll probably ask Pest Control about that line. You’re not sure if Grey will pick that up, but Lisa definitely will, and she’s bound to hear about it.

With that sorted, you leave the letter by the cage and head back down the ladder.

Only to run into Shrike.

“Well, well,” he laughs. “If it isn’t my old pal, the Dean. Now, what are you doing here outside of a cell, hmm?”

Despite your worries about being caught, you can’t help but notice the opportunity here. If you can persuade Shrike to cover for you about the letter, that would make things quite a bit easier for you. You’ve got a good rapport going with him, so you might have a chance; on the other hand, if you give too much away, he might decide to reveal what you did, and then your message won’t get out.

So what should you say to him?

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Fess up about the letter, but lie about its contents.

“I came to your base to let the marshguards know we aren’t stockpiling poison. And I need a way to let the bogknights know we made it…and that the marshguards aren’t collecting poison in retaliation. The last thing I want is to escalate this conflict.”

“I also figured if I’m going to have to pay for escaping, I might as well head to a place where a certain pen-pal would get the credit for capturing me. Can you make sure they send it?”

Once the letter is discovered, this puts Shrike in the position of needing to collude with you to avoid looking like he’s colluding with you, and encourages him to claim the letter as his own.

Shrike shares your interest in wildlife, so it would make for good conversation while he takes you back to your cell.

“Saw a few things on the way over here. Did you hear about the Fenguin?”

Author’s Note:

I like the touch that Shrike calls him “the Dean”. It suggests that they really hit it off last time around.