The brilliant wash of sunlight was deceptive. Hidden amidst the plush greenery and warm morning glow was the entrance to a subterranean bunker. The padlocked gate, and the rusted and vine-covered, chain-linked fence surrounding the lot, were proof the property was long abandoned.
From the front of the lot, where the fence ran parallel to Bay Drive, all looked locked tight. On the far side, the edge that butted up against the shoreline, where the sands shifted with the tides, it was easy to dig under the chain links, then backfill the clandestine entry point, so no hint of trespassing was evident.
Over the years, the empty bunker was a known crack house, or lovers rendezvous, now it was a haven for a skulk of foxes, and a duet of ospreys.
Citing the lack of owner upkeep, city officials sought and obtained eminent domain over the property. Plans were drawn for a new government office complex, and were presently on the agenda for the passage of a third and final vote at the city council’s next meeting.
Historically, these meetings were not well-attended. The date and time announcements, published on page B2 of the local newspaper, were hidden beneath elementary school lunch menus, and usually overlooked or ignored by the public.
When council members arrived at City Hall for their advertised Tuesday night session, they were dumbfounded by the overflowing parking lot, and an angry phalanx of sign-wielding protestors.
The shouts and jeers from irate citizens disrupted any semblance to normally uneventful sessions. Their outcries drowned out the chairman’s heavy gavel, and his attempts to restore order.
Because of the upheaval, and the citizen group’s lawyer threatening to sue, the council tabled the crucial vote to a date to be determined. The council chairman then instructed the city attorney to investigate their options.
A spokesman for the protestors submitted a lengthy manifesto demanding the council scuttle plans for the office building, and instead reclaim the plot as a nature conservatory to benefit the indigenous wildlife of the area – particularly the red fox and sea hawks currently living there.
Outside the council meeting, watching from a perch high in a long-needle pine, and from the shadows of an overgrown azalea bush, representatives of the lot residents listened in on the proceedings.
Conversing through their shared consciousness, the success of their campaign pleased the alpha fox and hawk.
“I didn’t believe the domestics would be able to convince their humans to challenge the council.” Reynard said. A fierce red fox, he had objected to using the humans’ pets for this mission.
“Our house kin have made great strides in their telepathic skills since we initially colonized this planet.” Tiercel, the patriarch of the ospreys, had proposed the plan of using house animals to subliminally coerce their humans into opposing the city building plans.
If the abandoned lot had been cleared, the bunker would have been rediscovered, and the entrance to the aliens’ craft compromised. Turning the area into a conservatory would give the extraterrestrials time to better conceal their lair. Bulldozers would have dug up more than slabs of concrete.
“I’ll report back to the kin, and direct them to move forward with our plans,” Tiercel said.
“Good, I’ll return to the ship and report to our crew,” Reynard said. “I believe this is going to work.”
“It has to,” Tiercel said as he took to the air. “Our alternative is not as environmentally friendly.”