Chicken Putrefaction

Uneasy in my slumber, I had no idea what sort of scientific anomaly was taking place right beside my bed. I tossed and turned in a semiconscious state, only aware enough to comprehend an unpleasant noise sounding in my grandmother's guest bedroom. Five years had passed since I had even laid eyes upon that quaint two-story home on Maple Street in San Mateo. Since my grandfather had died, I never had thought that I would be back in it, sleeping in the cloistered guest room of which I was excruciatingly frightened. Its large, ominous window made for a perfect view for any voyeur or murderer. As a child, I had always packaged myself within the blankets and read Richard Scarry books until I would pass out. The walls continually cracked and moaned, while any movement down stairs could be heard clearly.

Since I only imagined horrid men and unsightly ghouls attacking me, I was not anticipating what this bubbling, warm gurgling sound actually was. Eager to find out, I bolted up from the horizontal pose and saw nothing, heard nothing. My memory flashed and I realized that I had forgotten about the chicken: there was a chicken sleeping in a cardboard box placed under the end of the bed. Therefore, I knew I was safe. Not only were the noises accounted for, but my resting place was safely guarded by a ruthless, gurgling chicken.

As the night's sleep wore on, I seemed to be awoken every other hour by the chicken's signature noise. Groggy and unable to move, I remained in the sleeping position and consequently passed out, totally unaware of that feeble, yet hideous bird's sleeping experience. When I awoke in the morning, I had the horrid feeling of wasted rest, as if all of the sleep I had that past night had been dusted upon my face only to be blown away with each of my exhalations. Sitting up with my back against the mahogany headboard, I saw the edge of the cardboard box over the horizon of my fuzzy white blanket; the box was soaking with blood. I jolted out of bed, reluctant to see what was in the blood-sopped box. Perhaps the chicken had a run in with a burglar. Maybe it had died defending my safety. When I finally looked at the chicken, I nearly vomited. I had to hold my composure and my nose. The chicken had seemed to have liquefied internally before splitting open and coating the mushy cardboard. A horrid mixture of white feathers, bubbled blood, and unrecognizable organs filled the box.

One swift look was enough to make me run down the carpeted stairs and let everyone know what the hell had happened. I was shocked to find my ex-bosses standing in my grandmother's living room, sipping coffee from Styrofoam cups. They seemed to be wearing rain gear. I ran to the kitchen, grabbed a silver spatula and tongs which I presented to my bosses. "I can't do it," I told them, "There's a mess up there and I can't do it." One of them, the woman, seemed to know exactly what I meant. She gave me a look of jaded obligation, as if she had done this before, and headed upstairs to scoop the chicken remains into a plastic bag. As she brought the bag downstairs, she told me that the chicken had been victim to a rare disease that induces internal hemorrhaging which leads to combustion. She then handed me the bag and told me to throw it away outside. Still feeling queasy, I pinched the translucent bag handles and ran to the dumpster, never looking at the bag or its contents. My main objective was to toss it without it dripping all over me. A great wave of guilt overwhelmed me after I threw the bag away. I felt as though the chicken was still alive, still clucking and gurgling while I slept. It must have been trying to wake me so that I could help it somehow. My stomach turned as I walked back inside my grandmother's house.

Upon entering the living room, I saw my two cousins, Jake and Dan, laid out, sleeping side by side on a pull out sofa. They were in their early twenties, two dudes from Oregon. I was glad to see them, but I noticed that they were very sickly looking, covered in sweat and goose bumps. They repeatedly cleared their throats and I knew that they too had contracted the rare chicken putrefaction disease. I could not stand the thought of standing by while my two cousins hemorrhaged to death and there was no time to call a doctor. Their bodies were turning a deeper shade of red by the second. I had to act quickly, so I grabbed some rubber gloves and a scalpel. I lifted the sheets from my cousins' bodies and I drew lines down from their foreheads to their lower stomachs. This was where I would have to cut and I did. I started with Jake, the younger of the two. I sterilized the scalpel, pressed its blade into the skin of his forehead until I knew it was deep enough and I smoothly cut downward through his skin. After blotting away some blood, I used some other vague medical utensils to loosen the skin away from his rib cage and hip bones so that his innards had room to expand if necessary. I repeated the procedure on my older cousin, Dan, and it went just as smoothly. By the end of it, I was covered in sweat. I looked at Jake and noticed that he was loosening his skin on his arms and hands. I could see the bloody bones and tendons of his hands until he reattached the skin as though it was a glove.

I observed the two living bodies, their red and coral colored flesh strung tightly over thick white bones. I covered each cousin with a thick white sheet through which their blood slowly seeped, creating red circles on the white fabric. They seemed to be breathing normally, I saw no expressions of pain on their faces nor did I hear the gurgling clearing of throats. Although everything seemed all right, I was horrified at what I had done. I had just cut open both of my cousins without giving them any anesthesia or pain killers. I had never studied anything medical or surgical in my entire life and I had just performed a major fucking surgery. What had I done? What the hell had I done? I started pacing around the living room, unable to comprehend the situation with any rationality. My cousins occasionally shifted positions or sighed or sniffled, but it didn't matter what the hell they did because I had cut them up and they were going to die. I felt maniacal, out of my head. I thought of the chicken in its dumpster grave and I cursed nature for creating such a foul fate for the beings who contracted this disease. I began to contemplate the idea that I would probably get it since I had slept in the same room with the chicken as it died. I thought of someone cutting me up from head to groin, my innards being placed on display for some bizarre medical fair that would focus on the rare yet deadly "Chicken Putrefaction Disease," or CPD. I felt as though I was going into a psychotic attack.

Thankfully my mother entered the room. She could see that I was seething with doubt and self-loathing. I hesitantly told her what I had done and then asked her if I had done the right thing. Was I going to go to a women's correctional facility, or even worse, would I be thrown into a loony bin where my hair would become matted and stuck to my pillow? She calmed me down and told me that I had done the right thing. After she inspected the bodies of my cousins who were now sleeping, she looked at me proudly. She remarked that they would have died had I not acted when I did. Her serene nature astounded me, especially since my mother had always been easily agitated by anything visceral. I was stunned and relieved beyond belief. Feeling better, I decided to call a real surgeon to finish the job. When I started to rationally think about what I had done, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. If I had performed my procedure a moment too late, my cousins would have ended up like the poor chicken that lay in a pool at the bottom of the dumpster.

dream selections