Little Mike was my first ever pet. My parents had always said I was too careless for one, but I looked after my stag beetle like he was the most important thing in the world. Once a week, Big Mike came round to visit Little Mike.
‘I think he’s growing bigger,’ he would say. ‘Soon he’ll be as big as you.’
I had always been good at hiding. In a crowd, a corner, or even just against the walls: I was always difficult to find. It caused my parents all kinds of trouble. When I was a baby and my cries filled the house, they ran from room to room, unable to find me. When I didn’t cry, it was even worse. The first few years of my life were awful for them. They spent half the time thinking they must be terrible parents. And they were boring for me, because I had to wait so long to be fed.
The awful crows circled overhead. At least, they looked like crows when you first looked at them. But when you stared at them for long enough, you started to see strange things. Unnatural things. Real birds don’t stand in the same position for such a long time, without ever moving. And real birds don’t run out of batteries. The robot crows cried unnaturally often, and if their battery was dying, the cried would come out hoarse. Like they had smoked a whole packet of cigarettes in one sitting.