J is for Juice

j is for juice

© James Pyles

Daniel was in the henhouse gathering eggs, but he also wanted an opportunity to check in on Henrietta. Gerald the Rooster was elsewhere in the barn yard, so there was time for this clandestine meeting.

While the other hens appeared as they always did, the ten year old was shocked to find the talking hen missing feathers and with her left eye swollen. What had happened to her?

“Henrietta. Are you okay?”

The little brown hen looked sadly at the child but only clucked. No human speech issued from her beak. She was the only hen who hadn’t laid eggs. If this kept up, her fate was sealed, or did someone already plan that out?

Daniel took the full basket of eggs back into the kitchen. Some were for breakfast but most would be sold.

“Aunt Abby, something’s wrong with one of the hens. She looks like she’s been in an accident or something.”

“Why what do you mean, child?” His aunt handed Daniel a glass of orange juice.

“Henrietta’s got feathers missing, she looks like she was beaten up or something, and she didn’t give any eggs.”

“I’d better have a look, Danny. I’ll be right back.”

Abby walked out the back door toward the henhouse. Daniel’s gaze followed her, but then settled on the form of Gerald, who was now waiting just outside. He had a strange appearance, at least to the boy who could see anomalies. He definitely was one of them, whoever or whatever they were.

Daniel took another sip of his juice and stepped outside to wait for his aunt. Gerald kept staring malevolently at the boy.

The child felt anger well up within him. “Okay, you lousy chicken. You want me? Here I am.”

Champion had a chance of hurting or killing Daniel, but what could a rooster do? Even the kitten was easily chased off by Towser.

Aunt Abby was still in the henhouse. Gerald quickly flapped his wings and cried out, then suddenly expanded to the size of a vulture, then larger, and then larger again.

Daniel turned to run but it was too late. Black, eldritch wings enveloped him, smothered him. He tried to yell for his aunt, but he had no voice. He was drowning in darkness, and then there was nothing else but the darkness.

Abby stepped back out of the henhouse and noticed Gerald pecking at a puddle of spilled orange juice. The glass lay a foot or so away.

“So that’s how it is, eh Gerald?” Aunt Abby looked down at the rooster. Gerald, looked up momentarily, made a non-committal rooster sound, and then went about his business of ruling the barn yard.

The only evidence that Daniel had been there was the empty glass his aunt picked up and carried back into the kitchen. She said a silent prayer that they were doing the right thing, and then picked up her cellphone to call Ethan.

This concept is loosely based on Iain Kelly’s recent A to Z Challenge 2017 story series. Every day, Iain crafted another puzzle piece to his murder mystery that had me and his other readers spellbound. I doubt I can create the suspense he conjured up, but when my wife got a giant A to Z jigsaw puzzle for our two-year-old granddaughter, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

I don’t have a lot of time, so I think each “letter” will be shorter and I’m not sure I can write one every day, but I’ll do my best.

The previous story is I is for Ice.

The next story in the series is K is for Kangaroo.

Let me know what you think.

I managed to get a little time to myself to craft the next chapter in my A to Z challenge. Hope you like it.

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