When I get off work, I stop at the farm before I go home. The chicken farmer knows me, is expecting me. He has a beautiful bird set aside, ready to go in a cardboard container. I pay him, a worn ten dollar bill. Tell him to keep the change.
The chicken, a red hen, rides in the seat beside me. The box has ventilation holes in the top, but otherwise, the bird can’t see out, so she is pretty docile for the twenty or so minutes it takes to get her home.
I take the box out back and leave it on the patio table while I go inside. I reemerge wearing one of those disposable plastic rain ponchos.
The box thumps softly as I shift it towards me, open the top flaps. The bird’s head pops up, gold eyes regarding me beadily. When I reach in, she squawks and fights. I hold her carefully, one hand around her neck, the other holding both feet together. She continues to screech, beating at me with her auburn wings.
It hasn’t been daylight for a half hour yet. I hold her like that, stretched between my hands for a moment in the watery morning sun. Then I raise her to my face and bite, tearing into the breast with my blunt canines. The bird shrieks, her claws digging into my palms. Feathers fly everywhere. They cling to my hands, sticky with blood. In another second, she is still.
When I’m finished, I hose the blood and feathers off the patio, sluicing them into the grass. Then I strip off the poncho. I pack it and the bones into a trash bag and set them out on the curb, next to the recycle bin.
* * * * *
The meetings are mandatory. It’s just like from before, with gatherings in church basements and school gyms, a circle of fold-out chairs. In the back of our meeting area, refreshments are laid out on a pair of folding tables: an assortment of raw meats and a carafe of blood. Pig’s blood, usually. I prefer cow.
We even start with a prayer:
I am grateful that I am here and I am still me.I will not let my impulses define me, only my choices.
I ask for strength to weather adversity and change.
May grace and mercy reign over all my interactions
So that I may be an example to others,
Leading to peace and understanding between all mankind.
We all know each other here—most of us went through quarantine together, so there’s no need for anyone to stand up and go, “Hi, I’m Joe, and I’m a cannibal.”
To read the rest, grab a copy of A World of Terror, an anthology of indie horror authors. It's a FREE ebook on Smashwords. Get it here.