A long time ago, they say, Sid was a siggort. You wouldn’t know it, to look at him now. He’s got two long legs like a siggort. But he’s got no wings. He isn’t covered in feathers. His stomach isn’t roly-poly. He doesn’t have a beak. He looks kind of human. But he’s still got the wheel of knives, always hovering near him, and there’s usually a feather in his hair.
The story goes like this.
The houses are brightly painted in siggort town. They’re yellow with red trim, and very short. The road is cobblestone and it’s very clean. There are lamp posts on the road, giving off a soft pure light. It’s a pretty night, clean and black and full of stars.
“I don’t understand you, Sid.”
Sid looks over. His mentor Bidge is perched on a nearby roof, looking out at the night. Now and again, there’s a flash in Bidge’s eye, and far above, a star goes out.
“I don’t understand me either,” Sid says. He gives Bidge a cheery grin. Both of them are siggorts, but Bidge has more gray in his feathers, and Sid’s wearing a fringed cowboy vest under his wings. “So I guess that’s fair.”
“How many people have you killed?” Bidge asks.
“None,” Sid says. He hops up onto the opposite roof. He folds his long legs under him and nestles his tailfeathers against the shingles. “I haven’t killed anybody.”
“Weren’t you in the vivisection gang on Thursday?” Bidge asks.
“Yes,” Sid agrees.
“And didn’t you all go out to vivisect people?”
“I didn’t want to.”
Bidge sighs and lowers his head to lay flush with the rooftop. “Sid, it’s the law of a siggort’s nature. You can’t just disregard it. You’ll be an abomination.”
Sid looks at his wheel of knives. “Maybe my knives are defective,” he says. He pokes them with his beak. “Bad knives! Make with the blood hunger!”
“Sid.” Bidge sighs.
“It can’t be the law of my nature if I don’t want to do it,” Sid says. “That’s logic.”
“Why do you care?”
Sid frowns. “It seems rude. Killing people.”
“Some of them die of old age,” Bidge points out. “Others of hunger, or disease, or poison, or cars. And no small number of siggort. Does it make a difference, in the end, which it is that comes?”
“Well, no,” Sid says. “But, conversely, those as have died, they’re dead, and those as they haven’t, haven’t, and none of them much care whether I was involved in it.”
Bidge hides his head under his wing, and for a long moment he’s silent. A star in the distant sky trembles violently and fails to go out. Then, slowly, Bidge unfolds and rises to his feet.
“I don’t think you can be a siggort,” Bidge says. “I’m sorry.”
Sid looks down. “I understand.”
“Listen,” Bidge says. “Someday, you’ll kill someone, right? And then you can come back to siggort town. And I’ll say, ‘Missed ya, Sid.'”
“And I’ll say, ‘you’re the one who exiled me!'”
“And then I’ll poke you with my beak and scruffle your headfeathers.”
Sid straightens and hops down from the roof. “Okay.” He hesitates a long moment. “Hey,” he says. “Why do you kill people?”
“Integrity,” Bidge says. “We do it because we’re siggorts. Because if we don’t, then we lose who we are. We become creatures of taint. We become aberrations. We become inconsistencies in the fabric of the world. That’s bad,” he adds. “I mean, if that wasn’t clear.”
“I’ll try to be good,” Sid says.
The cobblestones click under his feet as he walks out of siggort town. Feathers sift down to the ground. In the lamplight, they’re sharp-edged like knives.