Cooper Series Short Stories

Cooper’s Escape

For the last 1-2 days, I am living in great terror

Since yesterday I have been thinking of escaping. I have been shifted to this barren, narrow skyscraper along with many of my ilk. On my floor, we are almost 25 individuals who have been densely packed due to which it is very suffocating and every one of us tries to stretch their own neck to get some air.

I can see that many others living similar wretched lives, on the levels above and below.

There are some grains, which are scattered around but due to the constricted space, they are mixed with our own faces. Yes, the situation is so bad that we don’t have any option but to defecate where we sit. And when we are hungry we have to eat these contaminated grains.

Each one of us has a defeated look; everyone has given up hope of a normal life. In fact, most have given up on life itself. And who wouldn’t, if you see what we see, from our viewpoint.

Every few minutes, we see the giant reaching inside and grabbing one of us, then the wings are tied behind the back and the unfortunate cackling one is tossed on a shiny plate with shining red lights (a weighing scale in the human parlance).

After a lot of nodding and some coloured papers changing hands, the blade of a red coloured knife, yes blood red colour, is quickly slashed across the neck, its blood making macabre designs on the wall, and the unfortunate one just flutters in desperation to escape, but alas! It is its last thrashing moment as it gets consigned inside a plastic container.

For the next few seconds we hear the thrashing, then it subsides and then…silence!

The giant takes out our dead brother, then mercilessly proceeds to strip him of all his feathers, then makes lots of cuts on him, dis-embowels him, practically rips him apart. And most of the body parts have a price on them. I understand that these giants eat us later though none of us has seen it happen.

More than the beheading, this ripping apart of our brothers, is what causes most of the survivors to puke and defecate at the place where we sit.

——

It was not always so. From the time I was born, I had seen these giants in a good light. When I could understand enough, I could see rows and rows of my brothers, always eagerly awaiting the arrival of the gentle giants.

I never ever saw my parents nor did I know about any blood brothers or sisters, if there were any at all. In fact, among the hundreds of us who were at the huge premises where we stayed, I am not aware of anyone having parents or brothers or sisters. Thus we ourselves were a big family being looked after by the gentle giants.

And trust me, we were a happy family with a lot of cackling and merriment across the premises and we were the happiest when the giants made their regular visits. And the reason was very selfish since the Giants took care to feed us with the choicest juicy grains. It seemed, the giants existed only to ensure that each one of us appeared healthy.

During my time there, I had made great friends with a few of my neighbours like Sammy and Jacky. While Sammy was the serious one, Jacky was the joker of the pack. While Sammy poked about the grains, grabbing some but missing most of them, it was Jacky who was the centre of attention as he ate the grains in front of him as well as Sammy and then he went berserk all across the premises.

Since Sammy ate so sparingly, he never put on much weight. And even though I ate well, I too was quite slim.

I noticed that the weightiest among us were loaded onto trucks which arrived every day and took them away, none of us knew where. And none of them was seen again.

One day, early morning as the trucks arrived, I asked, “Sammy, do you know where we are taken through the trucks?”

Before Sammy could reply, I asked, “Jacky, I have noticed that the weightiest is always lifted first. I am sure; you will be the first to leave. Don’t forget us after you leave. How we envy you your weight. Lucky you!”

“Don’t worry Cooper, I am not going anywhere without you. We friends will always remain together. As we always say together…come on, join me”, and we three cackled in unison, “Click, click clackety clack…Cock a doodle doo…” and then we cackled into laughing fits.

And like I feared, one day Jacky was lifted, he put up a great fight, running about everywhere, but he was finally caught by the panting giant. As he was being taken away, Jacky teased us, “Hey Cooper! Hey Sammy! You skinny bones! You will never make it out of this place. Bye! I am a free bird now. I am going out into the beautiful world outside. Bye!”

And that was the last we saw of our dear friend Jacky. But both of us were very happy for him and bid him an enthusiastic goodbye.

Next day a giant with a syringe arrived. We saw him going around the premises stabbing the syringe into all the skinny denizens. Soon he picked up Sammy and jabbed the syringe into his thigh. My turn was next.

This routine was repeated for the next many days. For the first few days, it was a traumatic experience for us, but then I saw that I and Sammy were putting on serious muscle and so were the others too. I was so happy to finally put on some serious weight.

And then the day arrived! Both Sammy and I were picked up and loaded into the truck. Yippee! We were finally going into the outside world!

——

With dreams in our eyes, Sammy & I took in all the sights passing us by with great wonder. We let the air course through our feathers even though we all were quite crowded inside. If you want to imagine a happy chicken, you should have seen us on that day.

After a long journey, we were finally offloaded. I felt something amiss when my legs, along with those of others were tied together; we were hung upside down and finally handed over to the giant in a filthy, red t-shirt. How were we to know the reason for the red colour of the t-shirt? We were so innocent.

_____

And then the long nightmare started. Alas, I never knew that the giants, who fed us lovingly every day, would be killing us, nay slaughtering us one day. I saw so many of us slaughtered like this, I turned numb. Numb with disbelief. Numb with fear. I wanted to live! Who gave these giants a right to slaughter us so!

In this metal house, we were just numbers every day. Today, a number tag was clamped on the leg of my friend, Sammy. My Sammy! How I remembered our carefree days. The days spent with Sammy and Jacky. Poor Jacky! He faced this horrible fate before us…his teasing face flashed before my eyes when he happily bid goodbye to us on that fateful day!

Then the moment arrived! The giant picked up Sammy and entangled his wings behind his back. “Cooper, save me. I don’t want to die. Please….please….help me…” and he dissolved into sobs in front of me.

“Sam…Sammy! No…don’t take him…he is my friend…my friend…”, but alas! I could only hear the final thrashing…Sammy’s final struggle. That day I again sat in my own puke.

  ——

The whole night I cried. I was stunned by the turn of events. I was stunned by this aspect of the giants. They were no longer gentle. Nay, they were cruel! And they had killed my dear Sammy in front of my eyes. Just thinking of the last few minutes of Sammy’s life made me shudder.

Early morning, I had made my decision. And I managed to convince my remaining mates. It was to be now or never.

“Tomorrow morning as soon as they open the gate, we will all rush outside” I implored them.

One of them said, “It is of no use. We will never escape from these giants. The giants will surely catch us and kill us”, so saying he lowered his neck to sleep.

“No! We will all rush out. If we remain here, we will all surely be killed. That is our fate. But if we all rush out, yes, some will surely be caught, but some are sure to escape. Let us take that chance. We owe it to our friends who have been sacrificed by these cruel giants!”

——

The next day, as soon as the gate was opened to push in some more new sacrificial lambs…or chicken inside, a huge cackle went up in the air. It was the war cry of us three friends, me, Sammy and Jacky, “Click, click clackety clack…Cock a doodle doo…” and all the rest of us just rushed out of the open gate.

——

That day most of the 15 chicken which escaped, managed to avoid recapture, except three unfortunate ones. No one knows where they went or what happened to them later.

——

I have found refuge with some gentle giants who fortunately don’t see me and fantasise about their dinner. Yes, these giants also eat grains just like me, but while I eat raw, the giants cook the grains along with many other things.

And whenever I am alone, I remember those horrific days which still cause nightmares and the ghostly thrashing inside the plastic bin reverberates in my ears.

Then I recall my happy days spent with my friends Jacky and Sammy, which gives me great peace.

*****