Chloe woke up in the darkness, her head throbbing. Her body felt strange: heavy and thick, and she was very, very hot. She could sense others around her, warm bodies pressed close but something about them felt odd. In the distance she could hear someone speaking, but the voices were a low murmur, like the sea caught in a bottle. She shook her head and opened her eyes.
Where am I?
She looked around but it was so dark she couldn’t see a thing. She heard the shuffling of feet and some strange noises, but no matter how hard she strained her eyes, she couldn’t make anything out. There was a very strange smell, something familiar that she just couldn’t place.
What the hell happened?
She was dazed and confused. Where was she? The shuffling beside her was constant – who else was here? She felt so weird. Was she still drugged? Her thoughts were still fuzzy and she felt like she had no control over her body – she couldn’t quite move, but yet she didn’t feel tied down.
That was one hell of a cocktail, she thought, trying to shake the fog from her brain.
She wanted to call out, to find out who was near her, who was in here shuffling around. Was it friend or foe? If only she could see. There was only one way to find out. She’d have to take her chances.
But just as she was about to whisper ‘hello’, she heard the murmuring voices approaching.
She held her breath.
“…revolutionary! I mean, this could change the world as we know it…”
That voice…I know that voice…
“But what about the morality of it? I mean, these…these subjects aren’t volunteering. You’re playing God, man!”
“Yes, Dr. Bronner, yes I suppose I am. But, just think about it. The world is overrun with people. There’s just too many of us! Our planet can’t sustain us. So, the way I see it, we’re doing the world a favour, he he. These people are serving the greater good, don’t you see?!”
“How do you choose the subjects?” asked a shrill, tinny voice.
“Ah well, we haven’t perfected that process just yet but we’re getting there. Right now, we simply choose young, healthy-looking women. To be honest, the only criteria so far is that they’re single and childless but looking for a partner. Some of them end up as duds in terms of breeding, but those we eat ourselves, so nothing’s wasted.”
“You eat them?! But they’re people!”
Hold the phone…someone’s eating people?! Someone whose voice I know…
“They used to be people! They are not people by the time we’re finished with them. That’s the whole point of the program, ladies and gentlemen. With this new technology, we can rid the world of its overflow of people and feed the rest of them who remain. It’s a perfect plan.”
“Oh come now, Dr. Messer. Surely as a scientist, you can appreciate that sometimes things, sometimes people, need to be sacrificed to save the world? Come come, let me show you the rest of the facility. I’m sure by the end of the tour, you’ll see things my way.”
As the voices began to recede, Chloe started to panic. Someone had kidnapped her from the club and now they were going to…eat her? But first they were giving a tour to a bunch of doctors? Because this was some sort of revolutionary cannibalism?
She was very confused but at least one thing was clear: some of those doctors believed the owner of that voice to be a mad man. Would they help her? Or would they leave her here to be sautéed and consumed?
You’re not eating me, motherfucker.
Chloe took a deep breath and opened her mouth and screamed:
Um. What the fuck?
She tried again.
“Are they alright in there?” asked the shrill voice. “Don’t they need some air?”
“They’re perfectly fine – but, sure, we can let them out, let them run around for a bit.”
The steps turned back towards Chloe, who was still so stunned at what had come out of her mouth that she just stood there like a statue.
She heard the scraping of wood and suddenly a bright light filled the room. She was blinded by it, blinking rapidly, the sun spots floating across her eyes. Slowly, her vision cleared and she saw Mark – tall, handsome Mark, wearing a lab coat and glasses with a clipboard in his hand, flanked by two other men and a woman, also in lab coats. They were all staring down at her from a great height, as if they were giants.
“Ah this is patient 292, our newest addition. I just recently procured her from one of my ‘hunting grounds.’ She should just be waking up after the procedure. Isn’t she beautiful?”
“How on earth can you tell which one she is,” said Dr. Messer. “They all just look like…well, like chickens!”
“She still has her tag on her leg,” said Mark. “We keep it on until they’re fully assimilated.”
Chloe looked around her. Now that the light filled the room, she could see clearly. The shuffling noises she’d heard around her were chickens. Dozens and dozens of chickens. They filled every inch of the room, scratching and pecking and roosting and making that weird noise in their throats. It reminded her of her granddad’s tiny chicken coop that he kept in his backyard.
She looked down at herself. Huge breasts jutted out before her, wings at her side, her body heavy atop two spindly little chicken legs. She didn’t want to admit it, couldn’t quite comprehend it, but the truth was plain to see: she was a chicken.
I’ve died, Chloe thought. I’ve died and I’ve gone to hell. But why? I’m vegan!
The other chickens in the coop, on seeing the light, began to file out outside into the sunshine. Chloe watched as they passed her by, looking for signs of humanity as they clucked their way past.
“Hey” she shouted to one of the hens passing by, “Hey you!” except it came out “Buck! Buck BUCK!”, and the hen ignored her anyway.
She turned back towards Mark and the scientists, who were gaping down at her.
“Is she still…human in there?” asked the shrill voice, which Chloe now saw belonged to a frail woman with very dry, frizzy blond hair. “She…it seems upset.”
Of course I’m upset – I’M A FUCKING CHICKEN, LADY!
“Yes well, it seems they do retain some comprehension for a short while after regaining consciousness in their new form,” said Mark. “But that should fade shortly and she’ll just be like any regular chicken.”
I’m going to peck out your eyes. I’m going to fly right up to your face and peck your fucking eyes right out! Wait, can chickens fly?
Chloe flapped her wings and took off at a run, but immediately fell flat on her face. She wasn’t used to navigating in her new chicken body. She stood up slowly and glared in Mark’s direction. He and the scientists were watching her. She fluffed up her feathers and lowered her beak. If she couldn’t peck out his eyes, she’d peck the living shit out of his ankles.
And just as she was about to make a run for it, like a bull in a Spanish arena, she saw him.
He was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. His plumage shone red-gold in the sunlight, his comb stood high on his head and his wattle hung thick and low. His tail feathers were black and glistened like oil. He walked in the yard as if he owned it, glancing around at his dominion.
Chloe couldn’t breathe. He was glorious. Would he notice her? Would he give her the time of day? There were so many other chickens here, with their big breasts and their juicy thighs. Could she even compete?
But then, she heard her mother’s voice in her head. “You’ll never catch a man if you don’t take a risk! Put yourself out there! Make the first move!”
You know what Mom, I think I will! I’m gonna catch that man.