Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Sentinel

No one had ever accused Ian Puffypants of being overly heroic. Short in stature and puffy of feathers, he was a rooster oft underestimated. Other chickens regularly chased him about, while the goose sometimes rolled his rotund body along the ground like a feathered soccer ball. 

But dire circumstances can make heroes out of the most unlikely candidates.

That late-summer afternoon, IPP knew something was wrong. After a languid session lying under a bush with his favorite chicken companion, IPP found that little Hen #20 would not rise when dusk beckoned them all into the barn. He clucked impatiently but received no response.

Confusion gave way to concern and soon, panic. IPP's clucking grew wilder and his pacing more frantic, as visions of nefarious nighttime creatures played in his mind. But something else played in his head, too: some distant, atavistic memory ..... a well, a boy, a dog... Lassie?

And then it happened: The Human came lumbering around the corner, slow and clumsy as usual. But IPP knew what he had to do. Furiously his feathered feet stamped the ground, as he let loose a thin, reedy crow.

The Human turned. Closer it came, stooping just beside them. Strange noises emanated from The Human's lips as oafish mitts lifted the prostrate hen and carried her away.
Closely IPP followed them, until the Human reached the doorway into its structure. He branched off to his own perching station then, uncertain but satisfied he'd protected his hen from the dangers of the dark.

Days later, IPP was strolling around the bushes and he saw her again: Little Hen #20 had returned to the yard. Standing on shaky legs, she clucked a gentle salutation.

"Lassie...." echoed the distant voice again in IPP's head again. And he silently thanked the inspiration that had convinced him to summon The Human that fateful evening.

He would would always remain wary, he thought, but no longer would he curse The Human and its oafish ways.

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