A suburb in the Eastern United States
Several months before the Announcement
Jane walked to her big oak dining table, coffee with cream and two sugars in her right hand, the rolled-up newspaper from her front doorstep under her left arm. She sat down and laid the paper on the table, grateful that her local newspaper was still in business and delivering papers to her doorstep. Like most everyone, Jane had a tablet and a smartphone, but she spent enough of her day staring at screens. When she sat down for her morning coffee, she enjoyed having the whole paper spread in front of her, turning it page by page.
In between, as she sipped her coffee, she liked to look out her big french doors just past the end of the table. It had been a hard winter. Even though the average temperature was a bit higher than normal, that just meant they had had more ice storms and less snow. She couldn't ever remember the power going out as many times as it had that winter. Now finally Spring was returning; the snow had melted, the animals were out and about, and the birds had returned.
She had an excellent view of her bird feeder, which she had just refilled the day before. She was looking forward to watching their antics while she sipped her coffee and browsed the headlines. Much to her chagrin, a squirrel was sitting on the bird feeder. Just sitting there. She would have to check the metal guard and figure out how it got past that. Still, it was odd that it was just sitting there, quite still. She expected it would have been trying to get at the bird food. She wondered for a second if maybe someone was playing a practical joke and put a squirrel statue on her bird feeder.
Apparently that's what several starlings thought -- or maybe they just didn't see the squirrel. Two landed on the same side as the squirrel, three on the opposite side. That appeared to break the squirrel out of its trance. It lunged for the nearest starling, who didn't have a chance to react, and sunk its teeth into the hapless bird's neck. The others started to fly off, but the squirrel leapt onto the other bird on the same side of the feeder and bit its wing.
With a mad fluttering of wings, starling and squirrel spiraled to the ground until the squirrel finally hit the ground. The jolt was just enough for the starling to break free and spiral away, obviously having trouble with its damaged wing.
Jane rushed out the french doors as she saw this happening, and the squirrel ran off when it saw her coming. The other starling had plummeted to the ground from the bird feeder. It had twitched a few times, but by the time Jane picked it up, it was motionless.
Jane was livid. She had never been so mad at another living creature before. She resolved to go buy a BB gun after work and make sure if that squirrel ever came around again, it would never hurt another bird.