Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

Grand Fiction Challenge Entries (1 Viewer)

Harper J. Cole

Creative Area Specialist (Speculative Fiction)
Staff member
Chief Mentor

This is the thread for GFC entries. This is our invite-only prize tournament.

Don't post directly here, but instead PM your stories to me so that I can add them here anonymously. Please tell me if you'd prefer for your story to not be publicly viewable, and I'll post it in a secure thread and link it here.

Remember, the word limit is 1,000 words (not counting title) and the theme is "The Food Chain".

Good luck!

Harper J. Cole

Creative Area Specialist (Speculative Fiction)
Staff member
Chief Mentor

Sitting in the study of his Edington country home in Leeds, Lord Randall Edington surveyed a room he had loved since childhood. It was the fall of 1921, and the war had been over for three years. A fire had been laid and softly burned in the comfortable, well-appointed room, with the usual small trellis of smoke escaping to the high ceiling.

The familiar warmth could not ease Sir Edington’s heavy heart. A sad smile played on his lips as he looked around the room, trying to imprint on his brain what had once been a contented, easy life, one he knew was disappearing with no hope of recovery. The slight smile vanished and rheumy eyes became tearful as he placed the barrel of a large hunting rifle into his mouth. Barely taking time to discern the metallic taste, he pulled the trigger. The back of his head exploded blood and brain matter against a red velvet patterned wall that held the Edington family crest.

He was found later that day by a servant girl, whose scream tore through the mansion, alerting all within earshot. The last of his kind, they said as he was laid to rest among those gone before, with a headstone of a weeping angel to mark his final resting place.

“The Industrialists are eating us alive,” Andrew, the Edington’s eldest son, told his mother. “They are too big; eating up our staff, our lands and our way of life! Father knew what was coming.”

Lady Edington listened to him with humor, a wry smirk on her aging face, sure her son was being melodramatic. Since her late husband’s suicide, she had sunk into a delirium of denial that held service workers still at her beck and call. Butlers, footmen, and scullery maids seemed in evidence everywhere she looked.

“Send Molly O. to me, Andrew. I need assistance with my gown.”

“Mother, you know we let her go before the War. You’ll have to dress yourself.”

“Well, then, just send me Paulette!” she barked crossly. Andrew threw his hands up in frustration and left the room.

The independent Paulette, Andrew’s younger sister, had married a budding industrialist who had wisely invested in textiles, now popular beyond all measure. The little loom, it seemed, had become miraculously mechanized and the demand for workers was great, leaving many country mansions without the help needed to run them, or the funds. It was a fact the at-sea Lady Edington doggedly refused to accept.

Paulette had left the family mansion before her father’s death, and moved to a smaller, more modern estate. Despite her upbringing, she realized she was perfectly capable of bathing and dressing herself. She even enjoyed learning to cook from the lone older woman they had hired to serve in that capacity. Paulette was happy in her new role, enjoying a freedom from convention that few before her had known. She looked sadly upon her mother, however, who remained sour and severe in her dealings with others, mistakenly thinking she was still in charge of minions.

Molly O’Hanlon, the maid who had been let go after over twenty years of service, had come to the estate as a twelve-year-old girl. Edington House sat in all its glory then, among the pines and live oak that peppered the grounds. She had carried a grip which held all of her worldly possessions: a comb once owned by her granny, a dress for good, and one extra pair of stockings. The only nightdress she brought was the flannel her mother, Bebe, had made her years before.

At the Edington servant’s entry, Bebe had put both of her hands on her young daughter’s shoulders and looked at her for a long moment. Satisfied with what she saw, she whispered “Be my good girl, Molly O. Stay clean, eat no more than your share, work hard and send your pittance home.” She handed her daughter a bar of her own lye soap, a gift of sorts, and gave her a final hug.

Molly had started out as a chamber maid and over the years worked her way up to being an attendant to Lady Edington, who took her frustrations out on anyone in her vicinity, which was usually Molly O. The work had been hard as a chamber maid, emptying the continuously full pots every day, all day, so each advancement was seen as a blessing, even being a maid to cranky Lady Edington.

As time went on, Molly began to see that the way English gentry had lived for generations was in jeopardy; the cooks and scullery maids knew it too. Gossip in dark corners of the house, even before Lord Edington’s death, was that their lord and lady were being swallowed up caring for their large estate. The household staff had grown smaller until the only servants left were the cook and one maid. Butlers, footmen, house maids of all levels were leaving on their own or let go by Andrew, and many set their sights on cities, to get work in the factories. The gentle women they left behind simply had to find their own ways in and out of a gown.

For generations, the Edingtons had eaten up all the little Molly O’s they could find. They felt they provided a home of sorts, food, shelter and purpose. With her termination, she had packed her bag once more, filled with much the same items as when she had arrived at Edington, save the flannel gown her mother had made. Her parents were gone, her siblings scattered. In her new-found freedom she was also drawn toward the city and into what was thought of as lucrative factory work.

The early Industrialists consumed the landed gentry like candy and in no time, because those industries were very, very hungry, they became manufacturing giants, spreading worldwide and eating everything in sight, creating trains, ships, textiles and furniture, with grand English estates added as a side dish on the food chain menu.

Harper J. Cole

Creative Area Specialist (Speculative Fiction)
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Through a hole, darkly
996 words

“What eats black holes?” Sophia had asked me all those years ago. Trust a biologist to be so simple minded, but that spark had led us to confront The Beast with some semblance of a plan. I floated to my control panel, my legs tangling uselessly beneath me. Or were they above me? Damn Zero-G.

Some in the media back home had taken to calling it The Beast, although it had variously been called Thanatos, Shiva, even Lucifer. My son called it Galactus, devourer of worlds: did that make me the Silver Surfer?

I was just a kid myself when they discovered it. An invisible stalker of only 2 solar masses, they couldn’t understand why Oort cloud objects where suddenly crashing into the solar system, until it lulled Neptune in and slowly consumed it in a ravenous blaze.

“Get your head in the game,” barked Colonel Hawkes. It was just the three of us in the command module. Technically Sophia was captain, but she was present only as a concession to ESA as the ISS Defiant was their flagship vessel. But Hawkes’s gruffness left no doubt he was in charge. That and the direct line to five presidents.

Over a decade since the first bite and The Beast was still feeding on Neptune, now candescent in its death. It was visible from Earth: a star even in the day sky, promising death.

“I trained for space to look for life, not to help wipe it out from half the galaxy.” Sophia said, checking the bio-spectroscopy data, a cloud on her face.

“Quit your whining. We’re here to save mankind and send this thing to hell. Be thankful you’re part of something greater.” Hawkes fired back.

But I knew how she felt. The ship wasn’t always called the Defiant. It was built to explore bio-signatures discovered several light years away. Sophia had showed me the data: a lay person would just see squiggles on a graph and a cloud of points in multi-dimensional space. But as scientists we were trained to look farther.

As Sophia had said, “It’s too beautiful to be anything but life.”

But then the Beast had appeared and the ISS Demeter was refitted, re-crewed and renamed for an altogether different mission. Her life’s work had been ripped from her; but then the Beast had torn many dreams apart. Even I was regretting having kids, born for nothing but the slaughter. But I had my life’s work in front of me now, and despite the risks we had a chance.

“How’s that laser of yours doing?” Hawkes asked.

“Within optimal parameters.” I said, reading the data.

It turns out virtual particle pairs eat black holes. Technically, black holes eat them: but if the black hole eats only one of the pair, the other particle zipping off into the universe to become real, then conservation laws are broken. The universe is a miserly accountant; to redress the balance it takes mass from the black hole. We’ve known of this Hawking radiation for over a century, but now I was trying to induce it. My plan was to feed it virtual particle pairs by disturbing the Higgs field with precisely calibrated lasers right at the event horizon.

“The flux is too high,” Sophia said, “you’re going to collapse it too much.”

“Calm your tits.” Hawkes snapped.

We couldn’t completely collapse The Beast; we weren’t entirely sure what would happen if we did. This wasn’t just cutting-edge physics, but a literal edge to the known universe. The best we could hope for was a gamma ray burst that would fry the Earth and sterilise everything within 30,000 light-years. Instead we were going to shrink it down to the mass of the moon and hope it would drift harmlessly through the solar system.

Sophia was right though, I needed to slow the rate. “Compensating laser power. We can still make it.”

“We can’t do it. We can’t risk destroying all life this side of the galaxy.” Sophia sounded desperate.

“There’s no life but ours,” said Hawkes, “look at it out there – barren as my second wife. We’re here by God’s grace alone.”

“You saw the spectral data,” she directly addressed me, “there’s no way that was created by anything but a complex biosphere.”

“It doesn’t change a thing, either we feed it the virtual shit Doc cooked up or it eats us.” Hawkes said.

“Don’t do it.” Sophia pleaded.

I watched on my screen as the carcass of Neptune swirled to its death. Next to my monitor was a picture of Sarah and David: two and five respectively. No. I couldn’t accept the futility of their existence. I had to take the chance.

“Entering the final phase now,” I announced.

“No.” She launched herself towards me, but before I could even react, Hawkes had sprung into the air and caught Sophia in some Zero-G wrestling move, slamming her against a bulkhead, air exploding from her lungs, her body going limp as the fight left her.

The quantum cascade had begun: the point of no return. We could only watch the instruments and hope the flux would stabilise before The Beast got too small. It’s mass was approaching that of the moon and the rate was slowing. But not enough; it continued to shrink until it was lost in a blinding gamma-ray burst. And then the impossible happened. I watched with dread as the veil of the event horizon was stripped away; that point from which light couldn’t even escape, where no thing could see and live to tell.

It violated every physical law; contradicted mathematical theorems. At it’s very birth, billions of years ago, the frequency of its Higgs field was determined by its death. Our decision was written in the stars before our planet even existed. Finally, I knew what it meant to have the abyss stare back at you. It was always for nothing. For nothing.

The last words I ever heard were Sophia’s, “It’s beautiful.”

Harper J. Cole

Creative Area Specialist (Speculative Fiction)
Staff member
Chief Mentor
The Secret of Mildred – 999 words

I am sat in the kitchen waiting for Kevin to come; he’s never late. All I can hear is the tick of the garden-bird clock. I never did like that clock. Peter got it for our fortieth anniversary because I liked watching birds from the window, but I don’t like birds. Anyway, birds belong in the garden, not sitting on a clock where the numbers should be. I don’t even like Roman numerals where the numbers should be. It’s bad luck to have birds in the house anyway.

It’s a sparrow past thrush; he should be here soon.

There’s a nameless crumb on the table cloth. It might be a bit of toast from breakfast, but I did have a slice of cake yesterday, so it could be a rogue morsel of battenberg. ‘That’s what you get for eating cake, Mildred. You’re turning into a slattern,’ I say out loud, then sweep the crumb from the table into my hand.

The bin is full to the brim with the awful ready meals. He will be here soon with more and I won’t have space for them if I don’t empty it, so I pull out the bag.

The garden path is slippery from last night’s rain. Washing it was Peter’s job. I hold onto the fence with one hand and carry the bag with the other. You don’t realise how useful someone is until they’re gone.

It’s a low fence so I can see into number ten’s garden. There’s a rusty tricycle and a couple of toys on the path, next to a flower bed of weeds. The gate is still broken, and the hedge is growing over the wall at the front, like a triffid. If there’s a badly parked car, the postman has to lean right out with his heavy bag or get swallowed up.

Kevin would enjoy a garden, I think. He never married, so he lives in a flat over the shop, where I get my milk. He doesn’t have a garden. I sometimes wonder if he has anyone to hold.

I used to get my milk from the milk man, but he had to stop delivering.

‘Too many people use the supermarkets now,’ he said.

‘Terrible shame,’ I said, then thought, who will say “good morning” to me now?

I got myself a small, tartan trolley to carry the milk from the shop, but it made me look like an old lady, so I use it for storing potatoes and do without milk in my tea.

Back in the house, I check my hair in the mirror, again. I have it up in a bun, like always. Peter liked it down, but I said, ‘that’s for unmarried women, I can’t go around like that.’

Suddenly Kevin is at the door and my heart sings a beat.

‘I hope you got down the path okay, Kevin, it’s very slippery,’ I say, and let him in.

‘I’m fine, Mrs Duckett, really.’ He smiles then lowers his gaze to the floor; he can be a bit shy, like some boys are.

‘On the kitchen table, Mrs Duckett?’

‘Yes please. Are you staying for a biscuit today?’ I go over to the tin.

‘No thanks, better not, today.’ He lays the plastic containers out. ‘Lunch is lasagne, and then,’ he stops to read a label, ‘Salmon with hollandaise sauce, for supper.’ He looks at me proudly, with no idea that I intend to throw them out as soon as he is gone.

‘Sounds delicious! Thank you.’ I consider hugging him.

‘Also, a special treat for you today, Mrs Duckett. Apparently, it’s a year since you started ordering from us, so they’ve sent you a free dessert as a loyalty reward.’ He holds up the small plastic container and my heart swells with love for him.

‘Ooh, ample crumble,’ is all I can say. He is already walking towards the door and I can’t think how to get him to stay.

He turns back at the door. ‘I have some news, Mrs Duckett.’

‘Oh, yes? Did you finally adopt that cat?’

‘No, not yet, she’s still having treatment at the shelter. I have a new job. Last day delivering tomorrow. I’m staying with the Food Chain but moving to the organisational side. More money and less time outside trying to keep this bald head dry!’ He looks happy, like a puppy with a sock. I think I might cry, so I go to the shelf by the door and lift my pink china cat to inspect it underneath.

‘Ah, well, that’s lovely news, Kevin,’ I say, to the net curtain.

‘Thanks. I better be off then. See you tomorrow’


In the bedroom, I stand at the window and cry; I can’t lose him again. I scream into my hands, then march to the wardrobe and pull out the box from underneath the secret panel.

The scent of him is long-gone, but I hold the tiny lock of hair to my nose, remembering his lovely smell, and I hug the tiny, unworn hat to my chest. He was the sweetest and strangest creature I’d ever seen, my baby. I signed him away with the flick of a pen, and he was ripped from my arms, screaming.

‘Stop!’ I’d say to that fifteen-year old girl, and shake her by the shoulders, ‘The pain will never go away!’ Neither did the love.

I didn’t tell my husband; how could I? ‘Sorry, darling, I’m not the girl you married at all. And that little boy, Kevin. You know, the one with the perfect eyes and precious little cheeks, from King’s road? He’s my son. He’s the reason I sit at the window all day, I’m not looking for your birds, I’m watching for my son.’ No, it would have killed him.

I stop crying, and laugh uncontrollably, because my husband is dead.


The next day, I open the door quickly. ‘You are my son,’ I say.

Harper J. Cole

Creative Area Specialist (Speculative Fiction)
Staff member
Chief Mentor
The Nature of Interruptions

(removed at the request of the author)
Last edited:

Harper J. Cole

Creative Area Specialist (Speculative Fiction)
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Once upon a Walrus (1000 words)

As I basked in the illuminating sunlight reminiscing about bygone days amongst the walrus herd, Old Bellytooth, a very fat walrus weighing well over three thousand pounds, interrupted me in mid-sentence and said, “That’s not how I remember it. You’re leaving a lot out. Our young bulls and cows need to know all the sordid details about the day the Elephant Seals of the Macquarie made war against the Walrus Herd of the Pacifica.”

I never liked being interrupted especially when I was in the middle of telling one of my refurbished tales. I’d forgotten Old Bellytooth was a young bull during that time. He was one of the last surviving members of those dark days. I well understood why he’d want his recollection of the “Blubber Wars” be told, but his version was full of holes and half-truths as the one I was telling these young pups. I gave Old Bellytooth the devil stare and said, “You do realize if I tell the story straight up, it will not only horrify these young ones, but you as well. What you remember is not the full account of the tragic events that decimated both populations. If you insist, I suppose it’s time that the unadulterated story about the “Blubber Wars” is known. You asked for it Belly and so it’ll be told. I’ll start with a basic outline and fill in the timelines and details after you recover from the unvarnished truth. Old Bellytooth gave me an odd look and said, “I always knew there was more to it then I witnessed. The young ones and I are ready for the absolute truth, warts and all, so let’s get to it.”


I was in heaven trying to repair my relationship with God when the commencement of the ‘Blubber Wars’ and the events that led up to it broke out. It devastated and decimated both nation tribes --- leaving untold tales and knowledge lost forever amongst the ruins of war. I became aware of this debacle as it neared its end and tried to save what populations I could. Needless to say, my reconciliation with God failed yet again, as His loyalty and love for His accursed creation ‘Mankind’ remained unwavering.

The Walrus and the Elephant Seal nations were trusted allies and friends for eons---before God’s infernal abominations set in motion the enmity and distrust that tore apart the sacred bond and love they held for each other.

The annual Blubber Festival was in full swing when the pivotal events that led to the war occurred. The Festival was a gathering of all the seal and walrus nations. A joyous affair filled with song, games, and lots of fishy delicacies. The festivities came to a sudden halt when out from the ocean mist an armada of strange vessels approached their enclave. They stared in amazement when out from one of the ships a contingent of creatures that had a similar resemblance to God and Myself, approached them.

When God created Man he made them in our Image: males in his, females in mine. He used our likeness as a template. God even gave them free will; an illusionary trick he conjured up. It enabled God to be the puppet master with invisible strings. He became quite enamored with them. I on the other hand took the opposite view. I was quite livid that God would let these arrogant vicious things command the top of the Food Chain. And to make matters worse God wanted me to be their champion rather than letting me continue being the caretaker of all the animals and living things of the world. I impolitely and adamantly refused. It was the advent of man that led to our disharmonious sundering.

The majority of walruses’ in attendance embraced these man-things as angelic messengers. They assumed they were emissaries of God sent to show them the shortcut to ‘Heaven’s Gate’. Not so with the Seal Elders, they felt something was off with these God creatures. They saw the females in the group being subservient to the males. The Elephant Seal Matriarchs knew that I’d never allow such a thing. They tried to put a damper on the walruses’ blind acceptance to these creatures but the walruses turned a deaf ear to their concerns.

Those duplicitous mongrels went along with the walruses assumptions and proceeded to spin their web of lies that would tear apart the blubber nations. They pointed their fingers at the Elephant Seals and claimed that they were under demonic control. That I, their beloved Lady Night was imprisoned in the void and an Imposter Devil took my place. You must realize that no one in the nations ever heard a lie. It packed a major wallop. No one knew what to believe. Pandemonium broke loose, punches were thrown, and the beginning of the blubber wars had begun.

All it took was some well placed whispers, false accusations, and lies from Mans’ deceitful tongue for the Walrus and Seal Nations to erupt in the war that led to the ‘Blubber Apocalypse’. Man created this chaos for the meat and skins of the lesser seal nations. They nearly wiped out the seal populations with the Walrus Nations full backing. God’s chosen also loaded their vessels with juvenile seals in order to create breeding farms and slaughterhouses.

I was in God’s embrace when I was telepathically made aware of this. I flew into a rage that God would allow this to those I protected. I punched him in his divinely beatific face, left heaven, and vowed never to return. I proceeded to put things to order. I cleansed the lands with demonic fire for the human-cockroaches that remained and purged the minds of the survivors of the blubber nations of the actual events with false memories.

“STOP, Oh Lady Night, STOP! --- My head is spinning, my stomach’s ablaze.” wailed Old Bellytooth. “This can’t be true! IT CAN’T! IT CAN’T!”

“Unfortunately it is. Shall I go on?”

Harper J. Cole

Creative Area Specialist (Speculative Fiction)
Staff member
Chief Mentor
No Grain, No Gain

It was decided: they were breaking out of this bitch tonight. The pigs consorted with the chickens; the chickens, melodious creatures, sung signals to the cows; the cows mulled contemplatively over bundles of grass, while the ducks, judgmental little buggers, waddled past, squawking their disapproval and waggling their white little heinies. “Look at them! (Quack Quack).” “Don’t they know how theriouth thith ith? (Quack).” “They’ll doom uth all! (Quaaaaaaack).” Alas, cows, despite the otherwise nefarious calumnies leveled against them, still to this day remain known for their imperviousness to quacks; thus they chewed on, awaiting further instruction. Even so. Secretly, in their own groups, amongst their own kin, the separate swine, avian, and other irritable livestock bowed their heads, lowering into conspirative circles and agreeing: these others were doomed to perish. Liberation for all? No―liberation for few. In each one’s heart rest the hope of the other’s successfully made distraction. Let the farmer gut the pig; pop gunpowder into the cow; snap spine of the chicken; shatter ankle of the horse; slit throat of the lamb. Let only it be one of the others, and not one of themselves. The rooster, all alone, stretched his neck out of his hut and looked about. He assessed the air; and, thus oblivious to the fears afar, strutted from his quarters, bobbing across the field to his infamous perch. A hush fell as long as the shadows. The sun settled; the moon rose.

“Cock a doodle nine O’clock!”

The farmer raised his brow; it was the most asinine cock-a-doodling he’d ever heard in his life, and he wondered, not for the first time, if he shouldn’t attempt to notify someone. A talking rooster, he mused, which speaks the time… He unspooled his pocket watch, used to measure the full stock of his misfortune. The crops could not grow without product; the product could not be bought without crops; the money earned could scarcely pay the debt owed; and his hands grew thinner by the years. Something had stirred in him, suddenly and viciously. Thereafter he’d remained in the looney bin for two weeks, nourished on pills, cups of water, and occasional singsong. Then he was discharged, mostly unchanged, and encouraged by professionals to sit and speak with professionals. So, okay. But what to discuss? He could not mentally unravel himself from the truth of his slavery. Instead, he emerged from purgatory unwaveringly enlightened to his fate. He would heed the advice of soothsayers and focus on that which he could change. The therapist twirled her pen. The farmer divulged his suspicions: that the animals had gained a newfound sentience unlike anything he’d ever seen, and that if he wasn’t swift, the incensed little devils might galvanize a revolution, by god! He observed his pocket watch in the light of the moon, remembering her―the therapist, folding and unfolding her long naked legs:

“And your rooster… speaks?”

“His vocabulary is very small,” the farmer shared; “but his enunciation is very good. And I suspect… I suspect the other animals, the pigs, chickens―I suspect they have developed their own language. Unique from ours. But just as damaging. Just as effective.”

“What does he say?”

He had awoken from his purgatory untouched by old indignities. In her eyes he’d recognized the patient condescension, betraying an unstated belief that whatsoever he said, carried on rough vowels and willowy voice, she would safely deem it, knowingly or unknowingly, as uneducated, unsound, and unfamiliar. So, okay. She thought him insane. Maybe he was. He recalled then, as he recalled now, the rooster’s first proclamation: “Rebellion,” he said. “He says rebellion.” The farmer pocketed his watch and stared quietly into the fields ahead; then, slowly, with the caution of one who does not wish to be heard, rose from his chair.

Erstwhile, the mice mobilized, zipping up and around various levers, pulleys and contraptions, guiding hoofs/talons and/or snouts to the proper points of pressure, chirping and chittering command until the boards were effectively loosened, the locks undone, the gates swung open. “Thith ith it, boyth! (Quack Quack!).” The pigs snorted, bewildered. The horses stepped tentatively from their stables, looking about. The chickens, incessant conversationalists even at the worst of times, preceded their entrance with bouts of clucking, pecking nervously at bits of scattered hay. The rooster soon followed, and with him the remaing creatures large and small. He surveyed his flock; they regarded him with reverence and fear.

“Thpeak! (Quack!)”

The rooster nodded; lifted himself to his fullest height; inhaled a great bag of air into his breast; unfolded his wings to carry his cry―and was seized immediately around the neck.

They did not sound like human screams. The farmer listened with distant curiosity as the pigs snorted, the chickens hooted, the horses whinnied, watching as their coalesced mass broke apart and retreated from where he stood. “I know,” he said sadly. “I know…” He looked from cow to horse to rabbit to pig. “Which of you speaks?” But none answered. The rooster thrashed helplessly in his hands. He frowned, regarding the rooster. “Just you.”

He was not a monster. He studied the calculating pig; the singing chicken; the opportunistic ducks; and all their many variations and adherents. In his heart he wished them well. But what care of his own life did any of them have? A new tyranny, a new slavery. He set the rooster down, whom immediately ran in circles, barking its attack.

“Rebellion! Rebellion! Rebellion!”

The farmer disappeared into a shadow of the barn; (a sound of sliding metal); and returned bearing an axe. “Rebellion!” cried the rooster. “Rebellion!” The others did not echo; they returned, cautiously and with downcast eyes, into the sanctity of their enclosures. The farmer came around and ensured each of the locks had been replaced. He seized the rooster mid-stride and laid him upon a nearby table.


Maybe so. Maybe someday. They watched in silence, animal and farmer―as the axe came down upon the rooster’s head.