Based on a picture by The Laughing Libra.
Popuri fell down on the street with a thump. Rick, following along beside her, tripped over his sister as she picked up scrapes and bruises on the cobblestoned street. And ahead of them, just out of reach, a chicken stood facing them, with what passed for amusement in a chicken's expression. Giving off a triumphant cluck, it ran off in a cloud of dust, free as... well... a bird.
"Darn it," Rick exclaimed, "that's the third one this week! There has got to be a better way to catch these things!"
Suddenly, something in Popuri's mind clicked. "You're right," she said, "and we'll invent it!"
Rick studied his sister's face, and wondered if she'd hit her head when she'd tried to tackle that runaway. The look in her eyes was... inspired... but not exactly reassuring.
Standing up and brushing herself off, she then said the words that Rick would regret for some time to come.
"Come, dear brother. It's time we mechanized."
In Rose Square, three middle-aged ladies were engaged in the time-honored tradition of sticking their noses in everyone's business but their own. Discussion, for once, was not on the wayward behaviors of the town's youth, or on the most fascinating subject of what someones husband was doing wrong that week, but on the chicken that stood between the three, preening itself without a care.
Meanwhile, hiding in the bushes, a young woman with pink hair picked up the 'Fool-Proof Chicken Grabber' that she'd recently bought from Won, complete with a 'Merchant's Satisfaction' guarantee. If for some reason it didn't work, she could take it back at no charge.
Perhaps if she'd examined that more carefully, she would've seen the asteroid-sized loopholes in the phrasing, and realized that the cheap butterfly net she'd just bought was almost doomed to certain failure. Won, despite his 'Engrish' brogue, was a master of the English language, and how to twist it to his ends. And Popuri, jumping out screaming like a five-year-old ambushing her parents in bed, actually got the chicken in her net.
The chicken jumped, fluttered a little to get the strands of the now-broken net off her body, landed on Popuri's head(where she added insult to injury), gave off a triumphant cluck, and was off again right before Rick would've tackled her off Popuri's head.
The end result was a much-bruised Popuri, an apologetic and somewhat messy Rick, a chicken still on the loose, and three middle-aged ladies who'd have several nasty things to say about Lillia's children for the next five years, at least.
In the forest, Gotz watched as two of his farming neighbors set a trap. First, they put down the trigger and a snare loop, then they camouflaged it with dead leaves and baited it with some chicken feed. The pink-haired one(he'd long-since forgotten the names of most of the people in town) had a look of self-satisfied glee at her own intelligence, and her brother Rick(who'd bought that new water-wheel off of him a couple of weeks ago, and had seemed much more sensible than this at the time) followed slowly, with a look of resigned obedience on his face.
Gotz sat down on a stump and discreetly watched what was bound to be an interesting show.
Within a few minutes, a chicken wandered over, lured by the feed lying so conveniently around. From his vantage, Gotz could see both the satisfied look as the chicken finished its meal, and the look of impatient frustration on the pink-haired girl as her trap failed to spring.
Finally, with sad predictability, the pink-haired girl leaped to grab the chicken, missing it as it fluttered safely away, and watching with a sense of triumph as the girl wound up suspended by her wrists within a few moments of springing her own trap.
Gotz chuckled, and got back to work as far away from the scene as he could manage. Of course, if they'd asked, he could've told them that the snare they were trying was too heavy for a chicken to trigger, but that girl looked like she was having too much fun playing Wile E. Coyote to care.
It was a slow business day for Kai. Since there'd been a holiday fairly recently, and it'd been on the beach, most people wouldn't show up at his little food stand for another couple of days, at least.
However, one of the customers he was generally accustomed to having around regularly was busy elsewhere.
Specifically, she was about fifty feet away, digging in the sand. Kai had no clue why Popuri was digging a hole in the beach, but since she had Rick with her, and he was already glaring at him from behind his shovel, he decided he'd best not ask.
Finally, Popuri climbed out of a fairly deep hole(with some difficulty), and laid a blanket over the top, which she then staked into the ground at the corners. Kai shook his head, somewhat puzzled as to why Popuri would need to build a classic pitfall trap.
As a chicken wandered to the feed left on the blanket as bait, Kai started getting an idea as to why. However, it was clear to him that the blanket was staked in too tightly, especially since the target was only about seven-and-a-half pounds in weight. That type of pitfall didn't really work against light targets.
It did work very nicely on humans though, as Popuri lost patience with the trap and pounced like a cat towards the chicken, which fluttered away as the human chasing it fell into her own trap, headfirst.
Kai made a move to see if she was alright, but Rick glared at him as he approached the trap himself, and even more as the chicken ran right past him before he even had a chance to register that the poultry was now fluttering in his direction.
As Rick helped his sister make her way out of the hole she'd dug for herself(thankfully not that much worse for wear), Kai heard him ask her to just give up and ask the local farmer boy to catch the chicken for her.
Popuri glared at him, stomped toward Zack's shed, and muttered something about it now being personal, and bringing out the big guns.
Kai shook his head, closed up shop, and followed them into town as discreetly as he could. This would be too interesting to miss.
Karen sat on the bench by her house, and seriously considered dumping her boyfriend. No one with any sanity left could come up with something like this. An escapee chicken was carefully eating a small amount of bait left on the bull's eye of a paper target, which had tripped a lever. The lever released a rope on a winch, which then dropped a weight onto a see-saw, the other end of which snapped up, sending the chicken standing there fluttering safely over the waiting cage...
...And directly onto Karen, who then felt two very heavy people land on her as the chicken fluttered off again and ran toward the inn.
As Rick begged her for forgiveness, Karen watched Popuri walk into the Supermarket with a manic, determined expression on her face, and decided it was time to see if Jack could help her stop his girlfriend before she went too far and hurt someone.
She walked away just as Popuri came out with a really big box.
As Ann, Kai, Cliff, Gray, Duke, and a handful of the other regulars at the Inn watched, Popuri officially took her 'Automatic Chicken Catcher' ideas way too far. Doug thought it rather unfortunate that Harris was sick right now, because this was quite the show he was missing.
Then again, Harris probably would've had to arrest Popuri and Rick for this little incident, and then he'd have to go to the trouble of catching the chicken himself, so it pretty much evened out in the end.
At last, the star of the show appeared, fluttering once more onto a baited target. This time, the target was already on a see-saw, which then knocked over one of Lillia's old flowerpots. This struck dead-center on one of Rick's shoes, which then flipped end-over-end toward a small basket. The basket was attached to the catch of a throwing-arm device, which flipped over, cutting a rope with the knife attached to its end. The rope was attached to a small cage suspended over the target, which was then released and fell toward the ground.
Actually, the cage hadn't been properly aligned, so as the chicken dashed off, her meal long-finished, the cage fell instead onto Popuri, watching her trap work from behind a nearby lightpost. As the bar crowd laughed, Popuri shrieked in rage and ran toward home.
No one would've been laughing if they'd seen the red box she walked out with five minutes later.
As light faded around the 'Jack-of-all-Trades' Farm, a small dog whined piteously by the door of the barn. A very scary chicken had chased him out of his own home, and was now sleeping there as if she owned the place. And to make matters worse, two humans were between him and reclaiming his territory.
"I really don't think this is nece..." Rick began.
Popuri spun around, her cheeks puffed up in rage and her eyes glinting with insanity. "It is nece, Rick. It is extremely nece. That bird has defied science, and now it must PAY."
Rick backed away slowly, his hands in the air. What his little sister said really made very little sense, but from what he could gather, she'd gone completely off the deep end.
Mind you, the explosives she was now sticking in Jack's doghouse were a BIG hint, as well.
Popuri continued to stick the black powder sticks she'd managed to buy in Forget-Me-Not Valley into the doghouse. That chicken thought it was so smart, huh? Well, she'd show what happened when humans got serious. Pulling a length of fuse behind her, she went around the corner of Jack's barn, lit a match, and put her fingers in her ears.
The explosion could be heard in Flower Bud Village. A small mushroom cloud, smelling unmistakably of gunpowder, hovered over the debris of what had once been a very nice doghouse. And Popuri, really a little closer than she should've been, cackled maniacally at the wreckage, soot coating her front entirely. She'd done it. The chicken was gone! For the first time all day, she felt perfectly at peace.
Her eyes widened in horror. Turning around, she saw the chicken, sitting sedately behind her. It'd probably been there the whole time, and if she'd not screwed her eyes shut she would've seen it.
Her laughter faded, replaced by sudden anger. Lunging toward the chicken again, it ran right between her ankles and straight into two quietly waiting arms.
"Y'know Pink, if you needed to catch a chicken, you probably should've just asked me."
Jack sat quietly in his doorway, as if he'd been there the whole time(which, she just realized, he probably had). In his left hand was a palmful of chicken feed, and in his right arm was a happily eating chicken.
Anger fell out, giving way to tears. Popuri fell to the ground, sobbing uncontrollably at a day that'd spun wildly out of control for her. A reassuring arm fell around her shoulders, a feathered body nuzzled her gently, and Jack walked her and the chicken home with what quiet dignity could be salvaged.
No one would ever forget the day Popuri decided to make an automatic chicken catcher, but most of them had the good heart not to mention it in front of her. And even the ones who didn't had the sense not to mention it around her boyfriend, who was known to be somewhat protective of his 'silly chicken girl.'
Rick tried his best to forget that day in alcohol, and Karen did eventually forgive him, seeing that he'd only really been a pawn in the whole scheme anyway. She did show him a few tricks on catching live animals though, and helped him to build some wire fencing to keep the chickens from going too far. Popuri was busy helping Jack rebuild his doghouse, and was therefore spared that particular chore.
Strict explosives laws were put in place in Flower Bud County, making the production, possesion, and use of fireworks, explosives, and other accelerants require both a license and very close supervision by trained and experienced pyrotechnicians.
And the chicken that started this whole disaster never really escaped again, although Jack did buy her off Rick as consolation. Besides, he'd gotten attached to the little troublemaker. In Jack's chicken coop, she lived a very long and happy life, producing several offspring and winning quite a few Chicken Festivals in the meantime. Things wound down, and life went on, but Jack, Rick, and Popuri do still reminisce sometimes about that day, and looking back, Popuri does laugh about it.
She'll kill you if you ever tell her kids, but she'll still laugh about it.