Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
Today marks week 25 of the 52 week writing challenge!
The prompt for 25th June is ‘Chicken’:
This week, I used words from the #FlashFicHive word cloud, and came up with the story concept below from a few images:
This piece gets a bit grim in places, particularly at the slaughterhouse. I never knew how chickens were killed before, and my research shocked me a little!
‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ Renna heard the farmer ask his wife.
She didn’t bother to listen for a reply. Farmer John never let his wife answer, but his replies to his own question never failed to make her laugh. Renna didn’t think they were funny at all.
Feathers fluffed as she shook. The place they lived in often sent a chill through her. Her sisters pecked at the ground, safe behind the bars of their pen. Crowded, dull, but plenty of food, and sheltered. It was all they had ever known.
But it wasn’t safe. Chickens were going missing. Renna had heard the shrill squawks even through the warm pile of hay where she buried her head. The next day, the pen next to theirs was empty. This was prison, not sanctuary.
One day, when darkness descended, they came for her sisters too.
Men crept into the darkened cage. From her position by the door, Renna clamped her beak shut to stifle her chirps of horror. All around her, hens were grabbed by their clawed feet. Stuffed head first into crates. Tossed unceremoniously into the back of a large, groaning animal.
Renna slipped from behind the bars and into the night. Wide eyes from within the cages met her own. Her sisters chirped as she neared the beast.
‘Quiet you lot!’ the farmer roared.
Renna ducked past the farmer as he dropped a glowing stick. The boot that stepped on it barely missed her. He stepped into the jaws of the beast. Renna gulped, followed. Crouched under the seat, the cries of her kin pierced the air. She scratched at the floor as the beast began to move.
‘Where are they taking us? To sanctuary?’
No, it couldn’t be. Assaulted. Injured. The farmer didn’t care what happened to them now.
Screams quieted. Renna dozed. The beast roared on. The sun rose.
A shudder woke her as the beast rumbled to a stop. Renna blinked awake as the jaws opened. Released the farmer. She fled and pressed herself to the floor behind a tree. Her dismal clucks were covered by the shrill cries of her family as crates were tossed to the floor. A head lolled to the side. Eyes stared, but did not blink. Renna shuddered and closed her eyes.
Crates were dragged inside. Men closed the door behind them, but it did nothing to muffle the screams. Renna tilted her head and clucked, pecked her way over to the door.
It flung open. Renna reared, flapped her wings, and scattered behind a barrel.
A man hurried out, oblivious, wheelbarrow full to the brim with her kin. Renna crept along the wall and watched as he tipped them into a crater. She trembled as near lifeless bodies rolled to a rest atop more carcasses. The sick, the injured.
‘They only want the healthy,’ Renna realised.
She slipped in behind the man as he strode through the door, and ducked behind one of the crates which lined the floor. Men grabbed hens from crates. Hung upside down, they fluttered and squawked as they moved towards a bath of water. Were they finally letting them drink?
Hens shuddered as they touched the water. Most stopped moving. Some did not. It was like the farmers washing line, only much more sinister. The worst was yet to come. Renna blinked as a blade cut the hen’s necks. She looked away and caught the beady eyes of some of her sisters.
‘Pretend to be sick!’ Renna screeched above their roars of terror. ‘It’s the only way out.’
Renna tore at her feathers and flopped over as a man neared her hiding place. She loosened her muscles and let her eyes roll. Inside the cage, her sisters hastened to copy her.
‘More sick ones,’ the man grumbled as he eyed the hens. He opened the cage and tossed Renna’s sisters into the nearest wheelbarrow.
‘One escaped,’ a second man exclaimed, bewildered. ‘Did we leave the cage open?’
‘Must have dropped when we grabbed the rest,’ the first man shrugged and poked Renna. ‘Don’t matter, it’s sick too. Barely moving.’
Careless hands grabbed Renna by her feet and tossed her into the wheelbarrow. She barely contained a squawk of indignation as she hit her sisters, but Heather below her was not so lucky. She shrieked as Renna’s beak dug into her side.
‘That one’s healthy!’ the first man insisted. He shoved Renna aside and grabbed Heather. Strung her up with the rest.
Renna clucked softly to shush her frightened flock. ‘There’s nothing we can do. Be still.’
The swish of the blade as the wheelbarrow was pushed out of the door would haunt Renna for the rest of her days.
She was tossed out with the rest. The men left. Her sisters cried and shuffled. Renna pecked at them, drove them to flap up, out of the hole. They half ran, half flew towards the forest.
‘Heather…’ Renna’s elder sister by a few cracks chirped when they stopped between the trees.
‘We escaped,’ another hen huffed as she ruffled her feathers. They huddled together in a heap on the floor. ‘What now?’
‘We know who our enemy is,’ Renna insisted. She puffed up her feathers and hopped onto a tree stump bathed in sunlight. ‘It’s time to fight back.’
And they did. Why did the chicken cross the road? To get revenge for her family.
Thanks for reading! My experiment here, with writing animals, will come in handy when I write about my dragon, Orik, in Tales from Dragonspire 🙂
Next Sunday’s prompt:
July is my month of dragons and fantasy! I will be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo to finish the first draft of Tales from Dragonspire, and writing about themes in fantasy on my blog. The first theme I will cover is Castles and Kingdoms. Therefore our prompt for 2nd July is:
If you try next weeks prompt yourself, let me know how it goes. Post your attempt on your blog on the 2nd July, and leave a link in the comments below this post so that I can read it 🙂
If you can attempt the prompt in less than 140 characters, you can also #sunscribbles on Twitter. I am super interested to see what you all come up with 🙂