[An extract from my new novel, The Lost World of the Wends]
By the light of the “hand of God” cloud, that hadn’t moved, Amie galloped to the chook yard.
Herr Biar and his son Friedrich paced the pen. Herr Biar carried an axe.
‘It’s over there,’ Friedrich said. With hands outstretched, he ran to the corner of the hen house.
The chooks whooped and bocked in protest. Something feathery skittered out into the yard with Friedrich in hot pursuit. Herr Biar joined the chase. Round and round the pen they ran. Tracking their frantic laps made Amie dizzy.
Amie mused. What were they doing chasing some small feathery animal, probably the rooster? Did his crowing tick them off that much, they get up in the middle of the night to kill the poor bird?
Rays of a torch lit up the scene. ‘Wicked! A headless chook!’ a voice said behind her.
Amie glanced over her shoulder. Joseph stood there grinning like the Cheshire cat. ‘What do you mean, headless?’ she asked.
Leading the father and son on a merry chase, a rooster’s body. Blood spurted out of the open neck. Hens pecked at the detached head. They looked like they were enjoying a feast.
Meanwhile, Biar and his son cornered the headless creature. Father made a grab for it, but it ducked out of his reach. Friedrich hurled himself on the rooster’s body, but with a life of its own, it slipped from his tackle.
Friedrich rose to standing and dusted poultry poop off his shirt and trousers. ‘That beast is not normal. It has eyes on its body, I swear.’
‘Why do you think we kill it?’ his Papa said.
Biar darted left, his son right, again trying to trap the unruly body. But the ball of feathers and muscle darted in between them.
‘It’s got a life of its own,’ Joseph said.
‘It’s one very angry body,’ Amie said. ‘It didn’t like them chopping its head off. Why did they do it?’
Joseph leaned close to Amie and whispered, ‘I heard Herr Biar talking to his Frau last night at dinner. Apparently, the cock has been fathering defective stock.’
‘Stock? What do you mean? Mutant chickens?’
‘Yes, not surprisingly, knowing this place. Look around. Look up at the sky. How could the chickens come out normal?’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021
Feature Photo: Rooster on the loose in Tasmanian countryside © L.M. Kling 2001
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