A Strange Situation
It was a strange situation for sure, remarked Brian Young, the manager of a small grocery store in Hertfordshire, U.K.
He remembered the first day that the ducks appeared.
It was company policy not to allow any wild animals to wander into the store, and it was his job to make sure they stayed out.
But Brian had no idea how strange his day would get once a duck decided to waltz inside his store.
It walked around as if it was familiar with the place, but it had never been there before.
But then, as Brian approached the animal, he watched as it walked down the aisles. But then he realized what it was actually doing.
Looking For Something
Brian then realized that there was something going on. The duck was definitely looking for something. What could it be searching for?
He wanted to see what it was doing before he would take action.
But as his curiosity got the better of him, he’d soon realize he’d made one of the biggest mistakes of his life.
Once It Was Done
But after the duck had found what it was looking for, Brian stood frozen in place and pale-faced. He wiped the sweat off of his face and pulled out his phone.
His shaky hands cupped the phone as he took a photo. He nervously looked over his shoulder.
No one else could see what he saw. They might not understand the situation as he did.
Brian Young was the friendly manager most people saw when they did their Saturday morning shopping.
He’d flash them a smile and help in any way he could. The grocery store was his pride and joy.
The owner left it in his more-than-capable hands, and he did a remarkable job keeping it running efficiently and cleanly. But he wouldn’t be ready for his next surprise.
Used To Solving Problems
Brian was used to solving problems on a day-to-day basis. From monthly problems like small infractions with the stock to weekly problems like customer complaints.
He was used to all of it, and everyone in the community knew him as the problem solver.
He was astonishingly good at turning a problem on its head in record time. But one day, he’d have no idea what to do.
A Well Stocked Grocery Store
Another thing that Brian prided himself on was their suppliers. He had managed to get things your common grocery didn’t stock.
That meant that more customers would come to his store for all of their consumer needs.
From exported cereals to every kind of dietary supplement, he just wanted to keep the customer happy. But in the end, it would be his downfall.
A Strict Policy
The store was only kept in such a good state because everyone adhered to its many policies. But one of their most important policies was making sure wildlife stayed outside.
The grocery was no place for wild animals, after all.
The last thing a customer wants to see while shopping for clean vegetables is seeing a squirrel or pigeon in the aisle. But it’s more common than you’d think.
Brian was aware of the animal problem that sometimes plagued the local supermarkets. Like with all of the other problems, he was quick to fix them.
He’d seen many different kinds of animals after working at the store for ten years.
From raccoons and squirrels trying to get into the fresh fruits and vegetables to pigeons trying to get their beaks on bread, Brian thought he’d seen it all. Unfortunately, he was wrong.
Always On Call
Brian worked at the store every day, but even after he left and the store was still open, he’d be on call.
He could never properly take time off when problems seemed to appear left and right when he was gone.
And just like so many times before, Brian was just finishing up washing his dishes at home when he got a call from the store. There was yet another problem.
The staff member that had called him just explained that another animal had come into the store. But the matter was complicated this time.
Brian had no idea what he meant but told him he’d be there as soon as he could.
He dried his hands, grabbed his car keys, and drove directly to the store. But he wasn’t ready for what he was about to find.
When Brian got to the store, he walked through the main entrance and looked around. The staff pointed towards the milk, poultry, and eggs aisle.
He marched down the aisle and finally laid eyes on the intruder.
It was a duck waddling down at a slow pace. It looked as if it owned the place. He’d never seen it in there before, and soon it would be gone. But he hadn’t seen the complicating factor yet.
Not Just Any Duck
As Brian marched to the duck with the intent to simply grab it and walk it out of his store, he saw something that made him stop in his tracks.
He noticed something about the duck that he could only see now that he was ten feet away from the animal.
It made his blood run cold.
A Special Find
Brian was grateful no one had taken action in his absence. He now saw the complicated issue that his assistant had told him about on the phone.
He assumed that most people would just think that they had an ordinary duck in their store, but that wasn’t the case at all.
Brian knew that from the moment he saw its coat.
Having His Dad To Thank
Brian knew that he had his father to thank. His old man was a duck hunter and collector. All through Brian’s childhood, he’d remember his father adding stuffed ducks to his wall.
Some of the expertise had rubbed off on Brian, and he could identify many different duck species from the U.K.
That was the problem with this duck.
Confirming His Suspicions
Brian had to be sure he was right before taking action. He shakily took a photo of the duck and sent it to his dad with the caption, “Is this what I think it is?”
He put his phone away and looked over his shoulder. No one else except him and his assistant knew anything about waterfowl.
A minute later, he got a reply from his dad. It simply read, “YES.”
A Silver Appleyard
Brian wiped the sweat off of his forehead. He now knew that he was dealing with a Silver Appleyard.
That name might not mean much to the common folk of his grocery store and the greater Hertfordshire area.
But it meant something to Brian. He knew he couldn’t remove the bird now. He called the only number he could think of.
The Rare Breed Survival Trust
Brian called the number for the Rare Breed Survival Trust. They would know what to do. But the representative he spoke to gave him the bad news.
They told him that it was very odd that the duck was in his store. It was unlikely that it was looking for food. More than likely, it had a nest nearby.
That meant he’d have to find it before moving forward.
Letting The Bird Come And Go
Brian had no choice but to let the bird come and go as it pleased. He hated the idea of an animal walking around in his store.
But until he found that nest, he would have to bear through it with gritted teeth.
The bird would leave the store shortly afterward, and Brian felt like he could rest easy. But he had no idea this was only the beginning.
A Daily Routine
Brian started getting a phone call every day about the bird. It had taken a liking to the store and would come in every day. But what was so special about his store?
Every day, Brian would come in and follow the bird around.
If only he could figure out where its nest was, then he would be free. But then, a harrowing thought crossed his mind.
What If It Was In The Store
His blood ran cold at the thought of it. “What if its nest is somewhere in my store?” He muttered to himself.
He couldn’t stand for that.
He kept his eyes on the bird. It would betray the location of its children soon, or so he thought.
The Same Aisle
Every day, the endangered animal would walk down the same aisle. It was the milk, poultry, and egg aisle.
Brian was at his wit’s end at this point.
It had been a week of making sure no customer stole or harmed the animal. His reputation was at stake. What if the locals thought that this was the standard procedure?
Getting Sick And Tired
At this point, Brian was sick and tired of the animal.
He understood that it was endangered, but he was getting close to just calling animal control and making it their problem.
After all, he had his livelihood to look out for. His store wasn’t a petting zoo until one day when he was following the bird it actually was.
A Different Reaction
The bird was doing the same thing it did every day. But this time, a little girl and her mom were shopping in the same aisle as the bird.
Brian was ready for the same comments that the customers normally passed.
But on this occasion, it would be an entirely different reaction than he didn’t expect.
Brian nervously watched as the duck walked past the mother and daughter. The mother noticed the animal but ignored it. That was better than complaining in Brian’s mind. But the daughter’s reaction was something he didn’t anticipate.
“Look, mommy, a quack!” The girl said as she stared at the animal.
But as she approached the endangered animal, Brian tried to stop her. But it was too late.
Staring At The Eggs
The girl approached the duck and sat behind it. She looked over its head and squinted her eyes. The duck staring into the aisle was something that Brian had grown used to.
But this child’s curiosity got the better of her.
“Are you staring at the eggs? You’re a weirdo!” The girl giggled before her mother called her away from the animal.
The girl reluctantly followed her mother out of the aisle into the next one as Brian was left behind to internalize what had just happened.
The man stood there thinking about the interaction between the girl and the duck.
That’s when he suddenly had an idea, but he had no idea if it would lead him to the truth or not.
Running To Check The Manifest
Brian ran to the backroom and rummaged through all of his papers in his office. He was looking for an important document, the manifest for his stock.
He finally had his hands on it.
Like a madman, he flipped through the papers and looked for the record of the crate that had been delivered the week before. When he found it, his stomach flipped.
Getting The Representative Back On The Phone
Brian knew there was only one thing to do. He called the representative back and, in a hoarse voice, explained his findings to them.
“So what you’re saying is that you found the nest?” The man on the other end of the phone said.
All Brian could utter was “Yes.” He put down the phone and darted back to the aisle.
Giving Her Eggs Back
Brian’s epiphany was that the eggs that the duck was staring at for a week now were duck eggs. This was no coincidence in his mind. Somehow, the eggs that were supposed to be from a Mallard had somehow been a critically endangered species. Luckily, duck eggs were an exotic item, and he hadn’t sold a single one that week.
He took them from the aisle and put them in a box with newspaper and blankets he managed to arrange. From there, the mother duck happily jumped into the box to be with her children. Brian called a wildlife conservation effort and came to get her and her children. Brian could finally breathe easily. He just hoped he wouldn’t face any repercussions and could continue doing what he did best – manage the store.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.