Penguins: The enlightened suburbanites of the animal world. Community-oriented and conservatively dressed, they moved to a dull, out-of-the-way, but safe, neighborhood for the sake of their children, and the parents take turns commuting to fish. But could there be a dark side to this domestic simplicity? A criminal element lurking in their midst, spoiling a perfect day like a rotting haddock?
Yes. Yes, there could.
(video via The Proceedings of the Ever So Strange)
In fact, I think I feel a new literary genre coming on.
I looked across the hoard and gave a low whistle through my beak. Hundreds of pebbles, probably some of the best in Antarctica, all packed together in one crevice. No penguin had gathered these on his own. We were looking at the results of the biggest organized pebble heist the colony had ever seen.
Tuxedo Joey was defiant.
"I don't know nothin' and you can't prove it," he said. "Everything was like this when I found it."
I looked him over. Joey Tux (as what passed for his friends called him) was a born liar, but this time I believed him. His nests were some of the worst on the ice shelf.
"Fine," I said. "They're not yours. So whose are they?"
"Excuse me," said a soft voice from behind my left shoulder. "I hope I'm not interrupting here."
Joey's eyes went wide and I turned around to look.
She was a female, back early from the hunting grounds, lush and full of fish. Probably the most gorgeous chick I had ever seen, with her sharp orange beak, bright beady eyes and a snow-white belly that curved like the smoothest pebble in the world.
She was as beautiful as a herring and as dangerous as a fur seal.
"Hello, big boy," she said in a sultry chirp. "Nice rocks."