A recent writing challenge from NaNoWriMo is to pick a genre and write a short interpretation of a fairy tale in that genre. Oh, what to do? A review of The Ugly Duckling, one of my favorites, gave me some motivation to retell this classic tale. I chose the Science Fiction genre just for fun:
Dozens of incubators in a large poultry farm hold hundreds of eggs. Each incubator is labeled by species. In one of the duck incubators, row after row of uniform eggs is interrupted be a single, larger egg that is out of place. It has slipped into a sideways position, and is undetected by the sorting machine. All of the eggs but one hatch in unison, and the ducklings are moved into a pen. The largest egg is the last to hatch, and the strangely formed creature manages to find its way into the pen with the ducks.
Days pass and the ducklings mature and grow. Without any adult ducks to imprint on, the young birds begin to copy the behavior of the strange bird, because it is the largest creature in the pen. They follow it around all day long. By the time the ducks reach maturity, they have all adopted the behavior of the swan in their midst. The strange bird is no longer strange, but the standard for behavior of the machine-reared poultry.