Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chapter 52: Being the Dark and Mysterious Tale of Helen the Chicken

In my last post I referenced a story for another time. As promised, here is that story. This is that other time. 

The following is based on a true story that took place in the winter of 2009 and 2010. While names and events depicted are mostly accurate, some minor details including the thoughts of the characters have been changed to help the flow of the story. This story is rated PG-13.

Helen* was a chicken. 

She was born at a hatchery in Ibadan, Nigeria. She had all of the normal features of a baby chick, but she also had a spotted leg^. She was taken home by a fifth grade class along with 149 of her brothers and sisters. All of her brothers and sisters except 25 went to children's homes where some lived long(-ish) full(-ish) lives and others lived even shorter, less full lives.

But Helen and her 25 brothers and sisters stayed in a shower stall - enjoying their heat lamp; their food; the water they could play in, drink from and befoul; and the pleasant company which only a chick can bring.

Unfortunately for poor Helen, her neck was crooked, and her spotted leg had a limp. So while all of her siblings were running around and enjoying their first few days of life in the shower stall, Helen was not. She would sit and watch the other chicks enjoying themselves and she decided at that moment that she would be different.

The chicks soon grew to be too large for a shower stall, so they moved to the small coop outside. It was next to the Kindergarten where the chickens could watch the children play and vice versa. But the change was hard on some of the chickens, and soon their numbers dwindled.

Sixteen chickens, including Helen, made it through that first week outside in the elements. No longer enjoying the warmth and comfort of their shower stall, they had to deal with the harsh elements of the dry season in Africa - blisteringly hot and painfully dry. But the chickens persevered. And Helen knew that the time had come for her to be . . . different.

One morning, the guards found the body of one of Helen's brothers mangled in the bushes far away from the coop. Thinking that an animal had gotten into the coop, they ran to check on the rest of the birds. The other fifteen were still there. No holes in the chicken wire. No signs of forced entry. No cracks in the roof.

Confused by this situation, the guards decided to leave the case as an unsolved mystery. Helen didn't complain. Nor did her siblings. They didn't even complain when one of their number dropped dead in their cage overnight from unknown causes (the autopsy was canceled due to the fact that the body in question was, in fact, a chicken).

Over the course of the next few weeks, Helen's brothers and sisters dwindled slowly and just as mysteriously until one day, there was no one left except Helen.

And then, miracle of miracles, Helen's spotted leg no longer limped. Her neck was no longer crooked. She was as fine a specimen as you could wish for in a chicken (well, except for the spotted leg and fratricidal tendencies^^).

Helen lived for a good long while in her coop. She enjoyed the life she now had. Alone. Different.

But justice even reaches to the animal kingdom. . .

The orange sun rose on that fateful day, over the Harmattan haze hanging in the air. It shed its faded light on a chicken coop where justice was being served.

The guard named Sunday was making his morning rounds. He walked around the Kindergarten building to ensure that all was well. But as soon as he came to Helen's chicken coop, he knew that there was trouble in the henhouse. For there, right in front of his eyes, a black figure twitched and writhed. The figure's skin looked to be crawling with, nay, was crawling with black ants! When Sunday looked closer, he saw the truth - Helen was being devoured alive by an army of soldier ants - twitching in her final throes. He fenced off the area to protect the children from the ants and the horror he had witnessed.

So ended Helen the chicken killer. The evil that bird committed was as great as her life was short.

*Helen's name was not chosen by me. I would not have picked my grandmother's name for a chicken. Helen was actually named after the mother of Constantine.
^Added for emphasis and identification
^^While the author greatly suspects fratricidal tendencies, this is speculation and not grounded in any substantiated proof. If anyone has any different information about the Ibadan Chicken Killer of 2010, information can be sent to the author at the address listed above.