‘Til the Cockiest Asscrack of Dawn

A free short story, inspired by my current MFA course for the speculative fiction module.

Just a little forward: This was a LOT of fun to write for my MFA class. It’s undergoing workshop right now so I may edit it later, depending upon the feedback I get in my class. And no, I have no idea if I’m going to continue it.


‘Til the Cockiest Asscrack of Dawn

Werechickens are always at the end of the pecking order.

Cocks get the worst of it in every way possible.

The waning moon is…Meh. You kind of forget who you are after you deal with 206 bones reducing down to the size of a Jersey giant. The full moon is the worst—it makes it impossible to think beyond digging up garden roots or snuggling and walking under your very normal mother’s feet when she comes out early to feed the flock. (She still hasn’t gotten used to the situation since I started shifting a year and a half ago—I, unfortunately, inherited the werechicken gene from my father.)

If your wings aren’t clipped, it makes things tougher. You’ll gain this inherent, unending urge to fly over the fence to cross the road to the next farm over where the pretty hens—uh…girl—lives.

And you’ll never quite get that landing since your plume of feathers above your comb keep getting into your eyes (I think I have some Polish ancestry, although it hasn’t ever been confirmed).

But all of that is a hell of a lot better than getting your ass kicked by Hawk, the Easter Egger with arrogance issues, or dealing with the vegetarian farmer across the road who shoots first and asks questions later. The dog’s food bowl… or the dead dish. I wouldn’t even wish that on Hawk…

I haven’t had a haircut in six months, and I won’t let Mom cut it because I can fly farther with my wings. It’s just a glide, really, with pointless flapping, but I manage to get around.

If I’m going being honest here, I’m a beautiful cock. I won’t get a haircut because I don’t want to shift and come out looking like an oversized Silkie. I don’t know how those guys do it.

But the waxing moon—that’s when I start to feel human again after being stuck two days as a chicken. There’s a reason I cross the road (and leave all your “chicken crossing the road” jokes to yourself).

Her name is Cami Gilly. She’s the most beautiful girl in school. I’ve been in love with her since freshman year, but I’ve never had the guts to talk to her. I didn’t know how she would react if we got into an actual relationship and she found out about my…condition.

I hear the asshole raccoon overhead.

He tries to eat me every time I shift, and tonight is no different.

He flies from the trees with all four legs spread out, hissing and spitting and trying to grab my wings. If he pins me, I’ll be dead, and I’ll never be able to check on Cami. But I was smart—I haven’t cut my toenails in over a month. My back talons are long and sharp, and I manage to hook one in the raccoon’s eye. He hisses and makes weird raccoon noises, but he doesn’t stop. He is determined to kill me. I manage to get in one, sharp peck to his ass and then kick at him again. This time, my foot, and all sharp claws, manage to hook his face, and I peck him again. The whole time I’m clucking loudly, but I go at him with the force of a rooster protecting his hens, and he finally lets out a defeated cry before he limps his ass away from me.

Freaked out, trying not to let the chicken take over, I take refuge on top of Mr. Gilley’s chicken coop, right outside of Cami’s bedroom, breathing hard. He tried to claw the top of my shoulders, but as I preen myself, I don’t find any terrible damage. I forced meal worms down before I made the decision to jump the fence. They’re awful, but at least I get fast healing powers from them. I found this out completely by accident when I got into a conversation with another werechicken on Facebook.

Crap.

This dawn is just getting worse.

Cami is dating Heath Nottingham, one of the cockiest Bourbonsville High quarterbacks. I’m not completely certain, but I think he makes her depressed. I hear her television as I hop onto the ledge of the fence near her bedroom. Chicken hearing isn’t the best, but I hear soft arguing.

I recently found out Heath is a vampire.

I hate vampires. He’s not of the prissy variety, either. He’s old. Like Nosferatu-weird-teeth-old. I’ve seen his vampire face and he looks worse than one of those yellow-eyed renditions of the creature from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, only his eyes turn red. I got on Google and started doing research on this guy. It wasn’t easy. Vampires don’t like were-animals, and they laugh at werechickens. We’re at the bottom of the pecking order in every way possible. This guy preys on young girls, and he lives life over and over again as a teenager. I think he was turned when he was seventeen or something.

But it’s the scream—the heart-wrenching scream—that has me damn near banging my head against the Cami’s bedroom window. I peck and peck, but I can’t get inside. Heath hovers over Cami, his hand fisted in her blonde hair, fangs sharp and glinting against the light of the television. Cami struggles and tries to fight back, but Heath pins her like she’s made of feathers.

It’s by chance that I find the weak spot in the window screen.

I fly at Heath’s head, crowing, bucking, talons out. I’m Hawk—no one messes with my hen—er—girl. I scratch and peck and drive Heath into the rising dawn light.

He wails from the light, turns into a bat, and flies outside.

It is the single most awesome win for werechickens everywhere.

“…Kenny?”

I look down.

Crap.

I’m human again.

A naked human…

With, uh, standing issues.

And a freezing ass.

“Uh… hi, Cami.”

“You—how—you’re a chicken?”