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Black Vulture

M is for Monstrosities - A Wasteland Compendium

By Kerry WilliamsPublished 3 years ago 7 min read
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The Black Vulture, as its name implies, is black. Black head, black beak, black feathers... you get the idea. Black. One of the many scavengers of the Wasteland, the Black Vulture is known for its ferocious disposition and its killer instinct.

User.

I'm kidding! I'm kidding. Ha! But seriously, the Black Vulture, is black. Okay, it's not ferocious, but it might have a killer instinct. I don't know. So, offensively, the vulture, I'm just gonna call it, the vulture, it doesn't do much but swoop down and eat dead shit. It doesn't really have a preference. It doesn't really care. And, you rarely ever get close enough to one to trap or kill it.

You know, I never really thought about that before. I've never found a dead vulture. Hmm. Maybe cause they travel in small groups. At any given time, including during the scorch, you can look up, look around, you'll see a pack of them somewhere. Let's do a little experiment.

User, it is currently the middle of the scorch.

I know. I'm doing this to prove a point. Let's just go out here and... okay, no time to become a fucking corpse. Twenty, is there anything outside the door?

Negative.

Anything around us, within, hundred-fifty feet?

Negative. Nothing of concern.

Yeah, you said that last time and I had six Sand Slugs curled up against the outer wall.

Sand Slugs are not inherently dangerous. Neither is the Black Vulture.

Okay, nuff said. Let's get this bad boy open.

Observation; User's knowledge in rudimentary carpentry, steel fabrication, creating doors and locks, is insufficient. The locking mechanism on the door is failing. The hinges are failing. The bottom of the door does not seal tight enough to keep out various Rodentia, the Purple Mouse, case in point.

Emergency Override Acceptable. Uploading pertinent information to subconscious.

You know... now that I'm looking at this door... it's frying ridiculous! I've really gotta fix this lock. The hinges are shit. the bottom of the door doesn't seal... although... I'd have to put in a little tube or pipe so Sir Squiggles can get in and out. Okay, push this bad boy open... aaaaaand... yup! There we go. Black Vultures. A pack of them. I'd say... five or- Whoa! Settle down with the magnification, Twenty! I don't need to see what sex they are!

Alright, close this puppy up again. Fuck it's hot today. What's the temp out there?

Current median temperature in this area is one hundred and twenty-six degrees and climbing.

Coverage?

Minimal. Upper atmospheric conditions are extremely unstable in this region. There is minimal shielding against the Sun's electromagnetic radiation spectrum.

Yeah. That's why I put so many layers on this puppy. What are we up to now?

Six. This shelter currently has six layers of reflective material.

Good. Okay... uh... Black Vultures? What can I say about Black Vultures? They fly high, they wait until everything else has wandered off, and then they swoop down and eat the shit that's left over. Oh! I almost forgot. Their digestive systems are unique. They can eat anything. I mean it. I've seen a vulture break a piece of a steel gate and swallow it down. Their breaks are super hard. Super Strong. They mostly eat left over kills. Stuff that other animals won't touch. Bones, tendons, sinew, old dried-up leathery carcass shit. They're not picky.

They don't attack living things. I'll add that. They have excellent eyesight, but nothing compared to the Solar Eagle. Oh shit, that's what I was forgetting. So, remember how the Solar Eagle is the... one of the apex predators of the sky? No, not one of. It is. The Solar Eagle is the shit. Remember that?

---

Of course, you remember. Okay, so, the Black Vulture is probably the one bird that the Solar Eagle doesn't attack and eat, which is a shame cause they're so big, but... See the inside of the vulture is nothing more than a big sack of dead decaying animal parts, a super concentrated stomach acid, and not much else. The Solar Eagle doesn't wanna eat dead shit, or any part of the vulture really. Oh shit. Something Mimisha told me. Black Vultures smell like death. It makes sense. You are what you eat.

User. How would the medicine woman from Winter Wolf know what a Black Vulture smells like?

Probably professional courtesy. She smelled like death too. I shoulda figured that shit out in like, five minutes but... I guess I'm an idiot.

User is not an idiot. User is ignorant. There is a quantitative difference.

Well, thank you for that! I don't think I could have gotten through the day without you calling me ignorant, at least once.

User-

No! Nope, I don't wanna hear it. Your apologies are too little too late.

User. I was not going to apologize.

What then? What were you going to say?

There is additional information on the Black Vulture in my database. Would you like me to retrieve it?

Yes. Sure. Go ahead.

The Black Vulture, Coragyps Atratus, is descended from the same bird of the same name, with some slight variation. It is one of very few animals that survived the human era conflict, adapted to the conditions of the constantly changing environment, and survived. It is, for these purposes, considered a modern-day dinosaur.

A dinosaur? Like... the shit from bed time stories and grade school? Aren't dinosaurs extinct?

Affirmative. Dinosaurs are extinct. You are aware of the genetic testing and modifications in the 23rd and 24th century that led to the development of-

Yeah, yeah. GMOs and shit. I got it. What does any of that have to do with dinosaurs?

User. Certain animals common to the pre-conflict era, were descendent of Dinosaurs that existed during the Mesozoic Era. Dinosaurs were wiped out by an extinction level event, an asteroid that impacted the Yucatan peninsula in what was formerly known as Mexico. The impact crater, known as the Chicxulub Crater, was a widely known and commonly visited tourist attraction in the pre-conflict era.

What does any of that have to do with the Black Vulture?

Just as some avian dinosaurs survived the impact and global devastation, adapting and evolving into the animals found in the pre-conflict era, animals such as the Black Vulture have survived the human conflict era, and have adapted, and survived.

So, these birds are the same birds from a couple thousand years ago?

Affirmative, with some slight variations. The stomach acid of the Black Vulture has always been strong, but the stomach acid of today's Black Vulture is nearly twice as strong, a PH of approximately 2.22, which allows the Black Vulture to eat almost any material, including, but not limited to, animal carcasses, leather, a variety of metals, stones of an alkaline nature, bones, most vegetation and most organic substances. Due to the strength of the Black Vultures Stomach acid, it can ingest potentially toxic material, including viral and bacterial loads which would cause sickness or death in other animals.

Yeah, I was saying that. I did say that.

In addition to variances in stomach acid strength, the bird itself has enjoyed a period of rapid growth and general size enlargement. Whereas its ancestors were approximately twelve to eighteen inches high with an approximate wingspan of five feet, todays Black Vultures are much larger.

I was gonna say that. They're fucking huge.

Black Vultures are commonly three to four feet tall with an eighteen-to-twenty-foot wingspan. They are most commonly identified by their stark black plumage and bald heads, devoid of feathers.

Bald heads?

Affirmative. It is thought the lack of feathers on the head and upper neck, allow the bird to clean off debris easier, once it is done feeding.

Like it just chooses to have no feathers on its head?

User. The adaptations and evolution of animals over thousands if not millions of years, is well documented. Sightless cave snakes do not choose to be sightless. They have adapted and evolved to do away with traits they no longer find useful.

So, what did humans evolve to leave behind? If we've adapted and evolved over these part couple thousand years, what did we just, "do away with" that we no longer found useful?

Mankind.

Wha- Oooooo. Fuck man. That... that's harsh! I guess I deserved that shit. And you say you're not an AI. Fucking more AI than any other AI I've ever met.

User. What other AI have you come into contact with?

What?

What other AI have you come into contact with? I show no record of this information.

When I was a kid... My... Uh... in the sub. The subs had them. Every sub had one. Central processing... it was an AI. I... it must have been part of the memory dump. You said there was a lot of information that was lost...

Affirmative. A good portion of your early childhood was lost in the damage to your biological material. I was able to restore... a general ideal of your childhood memories and experiences, but specific instances were lost. Specific memories were also lost.

That... must be it. I know there was an AI. I just can't picture it... you know... in my head.

User. Would you like to continue with the Black Vulture topic?

I... I don't know. You got anything else?

Nesting habits, mating behavior, territorial range, feeding patterns.

Nah. I... I don't think any of that is going to be interesting, or necessary really. Can we cut this one short? Just end it... uh... hold on. Let me put that... that little blurb at the bottom there. Yeah. Yup. Put it at the end, and then end it. Yeah. That'll be good.

---

Thank you for taking an interest in surviving your life in the Wasteland. I hope you enjoy reading the information I have provided, and use it to avoid a prolonged or untimely death. If you like living, then you should enjoy the information, no matter how dull and boring it is. If you need additional information, please check the index log, you'll find at least ten other entries at this point. There are only about a thousand different animals in the wastes, and then, after that... I don't know, but hey. This is a much better way to spend the scorch than drinking myself into oblivion or getting amped up! Hmm. That's actually a pretty catchy phrase. I might use that. Anyway. Hearts and Tips, they go together like... a spear through a Sand Hog. Scratch my back, I'll cover yours. Jesus fucking crispy that sounds bad. You get the point. Thanks. -The Wastelander.

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About the Creator

Kerry Williams

It's been ten days

The longest days. Dry, stinking, greasy days

I've been trying something new

The angels in white linens keep checking in

Is there anything you need?

No

Anything?

No

Thank you sir.

I sit

waiting

Tyler? Is that you?

No

I am... Cornelius.

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