Why did the chicken cross the road?
There could be several reasons, the most obvious of which is that it simply wants to get to the other side, but what if that wasn’t the case? What if something happened to the chicken to make it dangerous? And I don’t just mean salmonella. Although, nowadays I strongly encourage you to wash your hands. No, what I refer to happened during my summer of junior year.
Growing up, my family was poor which resulted in staycations for summer break. I would try to make the most of this, playing video games, reading, spending time with friends, and doing pretty much anything to forget about the hellhole that was high school. That year had been especially trying with constant work at school and home, but now I could enjoy some well-deserved time off. What do chickens have to do with any of this? Don’t get your feathers ruffled.
I’m getting to that. Of the odd kids in our school, one stood out. He was part of a farming family. His name was Kenny. However, most people would call him Chicken Ken or Chick Ken on account of the fact he kept showing up to school with feathers stuck to his overalls. People would make fun of him for it, never to his face since he was built like an ox.
Instead, they would either do it behind his back or tell him in a way they thought. he couldn’t understand. “They thought” is the key phrase here. I think they were under the impression he was slow so they could get away with it. Personally, I never partook in it. With all the shit I was dealing with, it seemed like a waste of time and still would be regardless.
Little did we all know, each insult was a powder keg being filled by the shovelful. All it would take was that one flame to light the fuse. This came in the form of a bully by the name of Butch. As an aside, who names their kid that? It’s like the parents know their son is going to become an asshole, but I digress.
He made Kenny’s life miserable. In fact, he was the one who came up with those nicknames. From what I understand, he lived on a farm near his and he and his dad would vandalize Kenny’s family’s crops. They wanted to make them move. I only know all this because my dad was friends with one of the farmers in our area and they tended to gossip a lot. Pressure was building and soon, there would be an eruption.
I came to be involved in all this when one day, my dad told me I would be helping on Kenny’s farm.
“You wanna run that by me one more time?” I asked and then yawned.
“I said, you’ll be helping out on their farm.”
My grogginess faded instantly.
“What? Are you kidding me?”
“No, and you shouldn’t complain. We’ll be getting paid good for this.”
As much as I hated having this sprung on me at the last second, I couldn’t object to extra cash. I got ready and the following hour, we headed over to Kenny’s farm. His parents were away which is why we were needed for the extra help.
“It’s good to see you, Kenny,” my dad said, shaking his hand.
“Thank you for coming,” he replied and then glanced at me.
“Hey,” I waved.
He started us for a moment. Then produced something from his pocket. It was a piece of paper with everything that needed to be done.
“Well, this looks like a lot,” my dad said, “but with three of us working together, I’m sure we’ll get it done in no time.”
“Why didn’t we bring mom?” I asked.
“Because she values her days off and I value not sleeping on the couch. Now, let’s get started.”
This wasn’t my first time on a farm so I helped with feeding the animals. Meanwhile, my dad handled beekeeping and Kenny tended to the crops. Seeing as how it was July, laboring outside caused me to work up quite a sweat. After making sure the horses were fed, I figured it would be okay to head inside for a glass of water. I got some, already cold, from the fridge.
It was so refreshing. As I was about to head back out, I happened to notice a door ajar. I opened it further to find a staircase. Listening for a moment to make sure I was alone and then shrugging, I went down the stairs. As I got closer to the bottom, I could see a faint glow.
When I reached it, what greeted me was an incredibly unnerving sight. A pentagram was on the floor complete with candles and most disturbing of all, the corpses of six headless chickens. Now, I wasn’t a stranger to the butchering processes. However, all this was rubbing me the wrong way. I decided the best course of action would be to leave the basement and pretend I never saw anything.
However, when I turned to go back up, the towering figure of Kenny was staring down at me from the top of the stairs. In his hand was another chicken that was tied up and a large knife. From his expression, I gathered he wasn’t too happy to find me down there. In fact, it was clear that he was really pissed off. This didn’t bode well for me for different reasons, the least of which was that there was no way I could beat Kenny on a good day, let alone when he was holding a knife.
Therefore, I tried the diplomatic approach.
“Hey, I was looking for the…”
My mind drew a blank.
“That we keep in the barn?”
“Oh, is that where it is? Well, I’ll just head over there then and get out of your hair.”
Faster than I was expecting, especially for someone of his size, he rapidly descended the steps. I jumped back and grabbed the closest thing to use as a weapon. I glanced down to find a flashlight in my hand. That wasn’t good, but I thought I might be able to use it to blind him and then slip past him.
At first, this was working. Then when I went past him, he grabbed me by the back of my shirt and threw me to the floor. The flashlight slipped from my hand, sliding away. Groaning, I attempted to sit up only for Kenny to firmly place his booted foot on my chest.
“What are you going to do to me?” I croaked out.
He answered my question by bringing a massive fist to my face, the same one that held the knife so I guess I should consider myself lucky that he chose not to stab me. Stars were dancing in front of my eyes before everything faded to black. I woke up sometime later with a pounding headache. I wasn’t dead so that was a start at least. Unfortunately, that was where the positives ended.
My blurry vision came into focus and I could see Kenny holding a thick black book. The chicken was in the circle. I was bound with rope. He turned around and smiled at me.
“Wes, I’m happy to see you awake.”
I wondered what had gotten into him. At school, he was never this talkative, and the way he smiled sent chills down my spine. My mouth felt dry and it took me a moment to respond.
“What is all this?”
“It’s what’s going to help me get revenge against all you assholes for bullying me.”
“Wait, I never bullied you.”
“True, but you let it happen.”
I couldn’t think of a rebuttal to that.
“Now, you’ll be forced to witness as I exact my vengeance starting with that piece of shit, Butch.”
“Wait, where’s my dad?”
“Our tractor had an “accident” and I sent him to get a new one.”
“You bastard. The road there’s probably packed. It’ll take him hours to get back.”
“That’s the idea. Now, I will be needing your help.”
“With what exactly?”
“You see, unbeknownst to you heathens, my family has been part of the occult for generations. I’ve been planning this for months and the last thing I needed is your blood.”
“So someone can take the fall.”
My eyes widened.
“No,” I yelled as he dragged me to the circle.
I struggled and he gave a swift kick to my stomach, knocking the breath out of me. Then he yanked one of my arms to him and then sliced my palm open. I screamed as blood dripped from the wound, intensifying the already heavy metallic smell.
He grabbed the chicken. It clucked loudly and he brought the knife up to it. Before I could protest, he stabbed into it. Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded so much if it weren’t for the fact I was right under it as it was dripping blood.”
“Gross,” I complained. “It got in my mouth.”
Kenny ignored me and dropped the helpless poultry beside me. Then began chanting.
“By the power of my ancient blood, I call upon the power to exact justice on the evil ones! Chicken, I grant you this power! Now heal and rise anew!”
The house started to shake. Tools fell off shelves and the dying chick was now glowing with white light. It grew so bright it was blinding and I could hear Kenny’s maniacal laughter.
“Yes! Kill them all!”
Something fell and hit me in the head which knocked me out again. Luckily this time, it wasn’t for as long. Plus. I was alone now. I shook off my fatigue and searched around for something to cut away my ropes. I did this with an old knife. Although, it took some time and I put it in my pocket when I was done.
When I was finally free, I was up quick as a flash, heading for the stairs. At least, I would’ve been if it weren’t for my legs falling asleep from being in an awkward position for so long. I collapsed back to the floor and then dragged myself to the steps. Thankfully, I was up and running again by the time I was halfway up. When I reached the top, I reached into my pocket to get out my phone.
It was gone. Cursing, I looked for a first aid kit and then after bandaging my hand, went outside. As soon as I was, my dad pulled up in his truck, tractor in the back. He got out.
“Hey, Wes, I’m going to need your help getting this thing out.
He glanced down at my hand.
“What happened to you?”
“Kenny’s gone crazy.”
I proceeded to explain what went down, leaving the part out about the glowing chicken. He wasn’t convinced at first until I told him to check the basement. When he came back up, he was pale.
“Where is he?”
“Butch’s place probably.”
“Then let’s head over there right away.”
We got in our truck and sped down the road. The first thing we noticed upon reaching our destination was that the whole property was in shambles. The barn and house were smashed to pieces.
“What could’ve done this?” my dad asked. “There’s no way Kenny could have not on his own.”
We got out to inspect closer. The damage was far worse than we thought. Among the debris, we saw a leg sticking out that from the shoe on it, belonged to Butch. When we pulled on it, we found that’s all it was.
“Oh shit,” I yelled, dropping it.
“We need to call the police,” my dad replied.
I surveyed the damage when my eye fell on something that made my stomach knot.
“Or animal control.”
I pointed down. There was a massive imprint in the ground in the shape of a chicken talon. If that weren’t enough, there were more of them leading to town. We looked at each other. The scene when we arrived was absolute pandemonium. A blockade was set up and the cops were firing at something. We heard it before seeing it.
The noise it made sounded like clucking except much deeper and raspier. Then when it came into view, at last, I nearly shat myself. A giant chicken pulled its head out of the farmer’s market. Presumably, it was the same one Kenny used for his ritual.
“What in the fuck?” I whispered.
Animal control was there as well, trying to subdue the chicken. Their efforts were in vain and what the chicken did in retaliation is something I wish I could forget. It grabbed one, flipped him in the air and he fell into its beak, screaming. Then there was a loud crunch. People freaked out.
“It’s going to eat us all,” someone yelled.
This was followed by more screams. We knew we needed to get everyone’s attention. However, our yells fell on deaf ears. Finally, my dad grabbed a megaphone from a cop who must’ve been new since he didn’t know what the hell he was doing. He flipped it on.
“Hey,” he spoke into it, causing everyone to look in our direction, “has anyone seen Kenny?”
“It’s hard to explain right now, but he may be the key to stopping all this,” I added.
Someone replied that they think they saw him near the town square and it looked like the chicken was already running there. We were about to when the police told everyone to stay back. I slipped by going behind some stores. The chicken was out for blood and I needed to stay conspicuous. I did this by using buildings and cars as cover.
“Now where is he?” I thought, hoping he hadn’t gotten eaten.
I took a risk and peeked over the car I was crouched behind. That was a mistake. The chicken saw me and clucked loudly. It charged and I bolted. The nearest place for me to take shelter was the town barber shop. The window was smashed which meant the chicken had already wreaked havoc there so I headed for the bathroom. There I hid in hopes the chicken would go away.
Luckily it did and I sighed in relief. Then there was a gasp. I flicked on the light to find Kenny huddled in the corner. We started in silence for a brief period and then he spoke in a shaky voice.
“It was only supposed to go after the people who hurt me. This wasn’t supposed to happen.”
“Well, what did you expect? You’ve created a monster.”
“I thought I could control it!”
“And how’s that working out for you?”
He glared at me.
“Just tell me how to stop it.”
He became pale.
“I don’t know.”
I felt my complexion also become alarmingly lighter.
“I didn’t think something like this would happen so I never bothered with that!”
My hands shook. I wanted to hit him but knew that wouldn’t solve anything.
“Is there something that can tell us how to?” I asked, trying to keep from raising my voice.
“The book might.”
“Okay, where is it?”
“And that would be?”
“Smashed by the chicken…”
When I pulled out the knife, he corrected himself.
“But the book was on the passenger’s side so we might be able to get to it.”
“Okay, hopefully, that won’t be too hard.”
It wasn’t too hard. It was way too hard. If it wasn’t trying to keep from getting eaten, it was trying to navigate past a bunch of panicked morons. I damn near got trampled. Fortunately, though, we did make it to Kenny’s truck and we were able to get in the passenger’s side and retrieve the book.
“Good,” I said, “now let’s hide somewhere so we can figure out what to do.”
Something whizzed through the air and knocked the book out of Kenny’s hand. My heart dropped when it slid away and into a sewer drain. What did this was a ball of mucus, blood, bone, and flesh.
“What are we gonna fucking do now?” I screamed.
“I don’t know,” Kenny yelled back. “We have to run.”
We got the chicken’s attention. With nowhere for us to reasonably take cover in time, we could only watch as it dashed across the street toward us, making hungry clucks. That’s when we heard a new noise, a whirring. We glanced up to see helicopters high in the sky. Then something dropped from one.
Squinting, I could see it was some kind of container. It hit the chicken’s head and exploded in a cloud of smoke. Now it was slowing down. Several more containers hit it until it finally fell over, mere feet from us. The helicopters lowered and people in full body armor came out. A guy in a business suit and sunglasses approached us.
“Hello, my name is agent Green. Do one of you mind explaining what happened here?”
I cocked a thumb at Kenny who glared at me. When he was done, the man was staring sideways at him.
“So you claim a ritual from a book that’s been in your family for generations turned this chicken into a giant monster?”
“That pretty much sums it up, yeah.”
“It does?” I asked.
“Oh yes, you’d be surprised how often his kind of thing happens. That’s where we come in. We were helping someone in our branch investigate another matter in the area and happened to catch wind of this. Anyway, you two better head on home. We’ll take things from here.”
And go home we did. The next month was pretty hectic. Word got around of the incident, what people were able to get away with saying that is. Those guys made sure no mention of it got posted online. That might mean I shouldn’t be posting then.
Eh, what are the chances they’ll see this? Anyway, Kenny’s still doing time for what he did and his parents were forced to sell their farm and move. I wasn’t able to eat fried chicken for a year after what went down. I suppose the chicken can’t be blamed as it was only acting on instinct and wanted some food which answers that age-old question. If someone asks you, why did the chicken cross the road?