The Darkened Roost

They kept chickens. Sometimes they had more than others, often as many as thirty. The chickens did their jobs – they laid eggs, ate ticks and other bugs, and kept the ground stirred up with their always scratching and pecking. And they were pretty to look at, what with the different breeds and colors. 

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At night, they closed them up in a wired coop to keep them from the fox, bobcats and other critters looking for an easy meal. After the chickens jostled for spots on the roosting poles, the man would enter the coop. It’s dark, his headlamp the only illumination. As he stoops low to close the opening to the threatening outside, the birds coo and cluck their approval from above and around him – so peaceful and calming. But it’s an eerie peace that hints of havoc. Perhaps a peck on his hairless head. Sometimes, the man thinks Hitchcock or remembers stories of farmers knocked to the ground and flogged to death by their chickens. They go for the eyes first, he’s heard – striking at the shiny reflections of themselves.