I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was waiting in line. Standing alongside all of my brothers and sisters. Sally was crying, Josh was screaming, and the rest of us were riving around trying to find an escape. An apparent sense of misery haunted the room. I looked down at the floor, kicking up the piece of plastic by my feet. Crumbled scraps of plastic wrap were scattered throughout the floor. A reminder. All I could imagine was myself being wrapped up in it, suffocated.
The room was small. Like a concrete box. A monochromatic gray nightmare. I looked closer at the walls and found there to be large masses of a weird brown and red stain. It was translucent, a faint impression of what was once there, as if someone had half-heartedly attempted to scrub it off. I would have just chalked it up to the poor janitorial facilities on this farm, had I not known what lied ahead of me in the coming hours. I looked ahead. The fluorescent lights reflected onto the series of small dark puddles on the floor. That distinct coppery smell filled my nose. Blood. I became queasy.
I hadn’t realized how cold the room was until I started shivering. My feathers were intertwined with Lee’s, who was standing in front of me. We were crammed up against each other. All of us. I couldn’t breathe. I could feel someone’s beak piercing my back, but was too scared to turn around and see who it was. I didn’t want to know who was in this purgatory of room with me. But the difference with this purgatory, was that we were destined to go to hell, there was no better option.
The line was moving up. The only thing worse than waiting was realizing how short of a wait it would actually be. I counted three combs ahead of me. Then two. Then…
It seemed like only an instant before I heard the loud thumping noise of the rubber boots. I saw the large man. The one we all made up stories about to scare each other when we were chicks. I had never taken them too seriously but now realized what a fatal mistake I had made. Something dripped from the large man’s hand and landed right next to me. The scent of copper flooded the room, as I hesitantly turned my head to the round crimson splatter that had just appeared. I tilted my head up and saw something I will never be lucky enough to forget.
It was Lee. But it wasn’t Lee, not the Lee I knew. His incredibly full plumage was gone, and what lied under it was a beige and bumpy layer of skin. A line of red dribbled down his body. His legs limply hung over the index finger of the large man. Lee had always been in much better shape than me, yet from this vantage point he had never seemed so deflated. He looked cold and naked. The large man thumped towards a rusty tin bucket in the corner of the room. He carelessly threw Lee down, making sure to get a nice thick splatter of Lee’s insides onto my face.
The large man thrusted his hand towards my leg. In one last, desperate attempt to save myself I let out a shriek. The loudest shriek that has ever emerged from this beak, but the large man’s hand was still approaching. I snapped my beak down and clenched as hard as I could. The taste of copper overtook my taste buds and suddenly I heard a deep roar come from the large man. I turned around at my peers, and in that moment complete and utter mayhem dominated the slaughterhouse.
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