Chicken Calls This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   As I turned the corner of the barn, I slipped on an eggshell and skidded into the chicken coop. I quickly stood up and tried to brush off the chicken feathers and excrement which covered my clothes, but in doing so I inadvertently stepped, with my bare feet, on the warm soft bodies of the baby chicks. As I bent down, I noticed my feet looked rather different. No longer were they covered with flesh and toenails, now they were padded with yellow feathers and sharp talons. Immediately I held my hands up to the light of the moon to see if they too had changed; they had. Long, slender ornithic wings had replaced them. I put my hand to my face to find a thin beak had taken the place of my nose and mouth. Unquestionably, my entire body had mutated into that of a chicken's. As tears ran down my cheeks, I screamed and tried futilely to pull the feathers from my body. My voice echoed into the night...

I woke up with pearls of perspiration lining my forehead and permeating through three layers of bed sheets. I sat up against the pillows and ripped my arms and legs out from under the covers. I tugged at the skin to see if the mutation was a reality; no such chance. My heartbeat began to slow from its violent, fast pace and I dried the sweat from my limbs. The covers were thrown on the floor and, as I began to fall asleep, I quickly sat up again. The telephone was ringing. At this hour? I reached for the receiver next to my bed and brought it to my ear. In a weak, almost inaudible voice I said, "Hello," but only heard the click of the telephone at the other end. I gently replaced the phone on the hook and laid my head against the pillow. I felt dizzy, and an uncanny feeling overwhelmed my body. I could not think about the phone call at the moment; I had to sleep. Yet, it was difficult to do so; eventually, a half hour later, I was asleep.

The next day I arose feeling sick. I was still dizzy and now my skin tingled. I descended the stairs to the kitchen to find my mother and father talking at the table. The stifling aroma of blueberry pancakes and maple syrup pervaded the air. I sat down to take my helpings of the food, but was immediately interrupted by my mother's voice.

"What's the matter with you, Adam?" she asked me. "Are you sick...or just tired? You have dark bags under your eyes and your skin is pale."

"It's nothing, Mom," I replied. "It's just that last night the phone rang while everyone was sleeping. I picked it up, only to have someone hang up on me. It was hard for me to fall asleep afterwards. That's the reason I have bags under my eyes. As far as the skin goes, it beats me."

"Those telephone calls," my father quickly intervened, "do they happen to a lot of kids? Someone calls up and then immediately hangs up? I know when I was a kid, that type of thing always happened; we used to call them Aphoney phone calls.'"

"They're around a lot today also, but now they're called Achicken calls,'" I responded.

"Well," said my mother, concluding the conversation, "I just hope that was the last one in this household."

But it wasn't. That night and every night for the next two weeks, the phone calls continued. And always in the same fashion: the phone rang at exactly 12: 30 a.m. and as soon as I picked up the receiver and said, "Hello," the phone was hung up at the other end. Never did I have the chance to ask who the caller was or to tell him or her to stop calling. These calls were, at first, incredibly annoying, but strangely enough, after a week I began to look forward to the call each night. I could not understand why I felt this way.

More peculiar than this feeling, though, were the sudden changes in my body. After each phone call, my body trembled uncontrollably and I felt piercing spasms in my limbs, abdomen and head. Standing before the full-length mirror the morning after the call, I noticed variations in my physique. The most obvious, and disturbing, was the change in my nose. The aquiline structure had disappeared, yielding a pointy, sharp, beak-like one in its place. This not only made me the object of ridicule in my classes, but also made getting dressed each morning a Herculean labor. To pull a t-shirt or sweater over my head meant ripping it on the sharp end of my nose; I was forced to wear fancy shirts with buttons running down the middle, which were usually saved for special engagements.

The other changes were not as noticeable. Each day my skin turned paler and its hair became lighter and fluffier. I clothed myself with long sleeve shirts and pants to conceal this. Moreover, on my hands and feet the pointer and ring finger (toes) were getting shorter, while the other three digits were apparently getting stiffer and the nails on them grew longer; similar to that of a bird's. This also presented a problem in dressing; numerous pairs of socks had holes torn in them. All of these changes greatly bothered me, but I refused to bring it to my parents' attention; I was too independent.

These physical changes came simultaneously with my new idiosyncrasies. I began to only eat Corn Flakes for breakfast and cream of corn soup, corn dogs, and corn on the cob for dinner; the latter of which I only pecked at with my nose and nibbled upon with my teeth. These four dishes were the only foods that pleased my ravishing appetite; all others were pushed aside. Furthermore, during each meal I found myself kicking off my shoes and socks and scratching the floor with my toes, like a chicken does in the barnyard. I did so without even realizing it; it was natural.

My body continued to change and I pursued my strange habits for nearly three weeks. Each night the "chicken call" would come and the following morning my body mutated more. However, three weeks after I received the first call, the circumstances changed. One night when I said "Hello," I got a response. A deep, masculine voice said, "I will pick you up in front of your house this morning at six o'clock, in exactly five and one half hours." And then he hung up. I was flabbergasted to hear a voice in the first place, but more than that, I was hypnotized by it. I felt compelled to meet him at the designated hour; I could not refuse. I went to sleep immediately, without even thinking of how he knew my address.

I awoke several hours later, with my body feeling different. My arms and legs were shivering again, and my head was spinning. I did not dress, but remained in the clothes which I had accidently fallen asleep in the night before; I also did not dare turn on a light to see myself in the mirror for fear of waking my parents in the adjacent room. I passed quietly from my chamber and down the stairs. As I walked to the front door, I checked my watch: exactly six o'clock. I stepped outside and saw a bright yellow station wagon drive up before me, flashing a sign which read, "CHICKEN PICKUP." I headed towards the car and noticed the driver's face was remotely familiar. As I approached the door, I shot a quick glance in the side mirror to see if I looked alright, but in the reflection, instead of the "real" me, was a fully developed chicken! I screamed at my new form and tried to run back into the house, but the car door opened and two strong hands grabbed me by the waist and pulled me into the car. "Hello, Adam," said the man as the car sped down the street. "It's nice to meet you...My name is Frank Perdue." n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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kielymarie said...
Aug. 29, 2010 at 2:14 pm
Ahh! This is so good! I LOVE the ending. Great job!
 
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