Title: The Darkest Hour
A/N: Written for 'The Village Square's writing contest. The theme was Opposites (which I think I beat over the head constantly). And…well, this was mainly written for the lulz. I wanted to name this Animal Farm, but I think I'll leave that for something else. Oh, the song used in this (albeit a little tweaked) belongs to George Orwell. -snickers- With all the other good fics for this contest, I sure as hell know I ain't winning. Good luck to all you other guys!
Summary: "Beast of England, beast of Ireland. Beast of every land and clime," She came towards me, singing that song of death, swinging her blessed sickle to and fro. "Harken well and spread my tidings, of the golden future time."
Our new owner was a witch, and we hated her. That was a sentiment generally agreed upon by all the livestock on this God-forsaken I'll-Forget-You ranch.
Rock, this was the name bestowed upon me by our owner--Mistress, as we all liked to call her. Apparently we were all named after her myriad of lovers; we were all females given male names.
We each had subtle traits that made us different from each other; yet, I doubt our Mistress was able to tell us all apart.
There was Trent: the lazy black and white cow. She hardly ever grazed in the field, and preferred to sit in one place, basking in the sun. Usually near the barn, if it ever started to rain, she would slowly drag herself inside. Because, goddess knows, Mistress would always keep us out: rain or shine.
Marlin was one of my closest chicken friends, and was very sociable. Whenever the treatment we received became unbearable, she was always hopping around, trying to cheer the coop up with her horrible tales of the past. We usually laughed at her, not with her.
Skye was a brown cow, and…no offense to her, but she was the joke of our whole assembly. She'd take hours to answer our questions; though, despite her lumbering stupidity, she was one of the only animals treated very well on this farm. Mistress doted on her, and dealt with her with extreme care. Hmph.
Gray was another chicken, and she was good friends with Marlin. Amazingly, I've seen the actual 'Gray', who sometimes came to the farm. I…didn't see any similarities between the human and my little poultry friend. They were…completely dissimilar to each other. Then again, most of us probably were.
As I said before, Mistress most certainly thought we were all alike.
Finally, there was the one and only sheep on I'll-Forget-You ranch. And she…was the favorite. Even more so than Skye. And her name was…Princess. Something that she was far from, as she was a slob and passed gas every second she got. Nevertheless, she always did her best to help each of us with our problems.
There had been more, but I've heard horrid rumors and frightening tales of what had befallen the earlier livestock. There used to be ducks, and there had been more sheep. That I could believe, as there was a pond outside.
But, for all intensive purposes, that was all of us (I tend to blow a lot of grammar, excuse me).
And we were treated accordingly. If she was scorned, we were beaten. If she was loved, her treatment of us was…less harsh.
She was quite different from our former owners. For us chickens, every morning we had been blessed with the lovely vision of the beautiful, pink-haired goddess. Her sunny voice always brightened our day, and that ever present smile put us at ease. Her name…was Popuri. How very fitting.
She tended to each of us individually, and with such care. Our goddess never rushed us, she watched over us with compassionate eyes, and always made sure we were safe. Ah, how we all loved to reminisce about her chasing away those stray dogs.
And for the cows and sheep…they remembered their glasses-wearing, orange haired proprietor. Rick, as they said, was quite like our goddess. Though he was more methodical, and looked over each of them: one-by-one. No spot would go unwashed, no place on our body un-brushed.
And they--both of them--would always, always, pet us.
See, they were both quite different from our Mistress. Every morning, we would cower in fear--because we knew: at six o'clock sharp, she would come stamping up to us. Her face dark and that ever present scowl on her face, displaying some type of ferocity. She'd crack her fists, slide on that red glove like nobody's business and glare at each of us individually.
Sometimes she would beat us, with tears in her eyes. But I know those were no tears of remorse. Mistress would mutter under her breath, cursing men and growling about her luck. She also went as far as hitting us with her hammer, if we didn't get to her as quick as she wanted.
Or if her petting score was too low.
Mistress would call us all up, one-by-one. Brush in hand, she always dealt with the bigger livestock first. Princess was, without fail, brushed and sheered with pure and utter love. And, for the past few days, so was Skye.
Trent was--once again--met with indifference.
Gray, Marlin and I were always called up afterwards. And, damn it, I always got the roughest treatment.
That wasn't petting! She was nearly choking me! And the eggs I'd laid were always thrown into the shipping bin without a care in the world! It was not fair. Not at all. Hell, sometimes she would forget to feed me; I was also constantly left outside when there was a storm.
Oh, and I failed to mention the fence she built for us: cracked, half-rotted and there was always a place for the stray dogs to slip on through. Luckily, that loyal pet dog of hers (Grant, or something) chased them away from time to time.
Luckily for her, I was resilient. Though I didn't crave for her love like Marlin or Trent, I aimed to be the very best. I laid large eggs, and brought home a couple of prizes too.
But that didn't matter to her. Nope, the chicken never mattered--no matter how good I was, how loyal. It all always depended on that blasted human.
I caught a glimpse of him yesterday, matter-of-fact. He was this blond fellow; wearing this medallion around his neck…he seemed like quite the party boy. And a total player. 'Rock' had come to the farm when Mistress had just finished milking Skye (and jabbing Gray in the side with the scissors).
The exchange there had been pretty interesting, and all of us watched with curiosity. Because we had nothing better to do. It had started to get pretty heated, and all my stupid, fellow beasts came up to me to apologize and wish me luck.
"Sorry about this." Marlin sighed.
Gray shrugged and flapped her bleeding wing, "Sucks, eh?"
"Whatever." That was Princess. From, like, twenty feet away.
They all knew I was doomed--I was also quite aware of this fact. Arguing for the humans meant almost certain death for me.
But a miracle happened. Just when Mistress was about to deliver a quick slap to his face, 'Rock' blocked it and was immediately all over her. And by 'all over', I mean they started to make-out.
All tongue. I swear my chicken ears heard a couple of moans in there.
It was quite a display to watch, but I was elated that my suffering would be delayed. Everyone cheered for me, and we went back to our meaningless lives.
I was safe, for now.
But we couldn't live in fear forever. Sooner or later, we needed to overthrow her. I was sure of that. Short-lived thought was short-lived, sadly.
That night, Mistress was in such a good mood that she'd actually put us in our sheds. Although, she had been lazy: all of us--chickens, cows and sheep--were packed in the same animal shed. It didn't matter much, however, since we'd all gotten our fill through the day.
And, for a second there, we were all reminded of home. Of our pink haired goddess, and glasses-wearing proprietor, not this manly looking witch and her red glove of doom. Of the endless sunny days, not marred by the constant rain we deal with now. Of the wondrous love and care they blanketed us with, not the hate and neglect dropped on us on a daily basis.
The next morning, we were awoken by the flash of thunder outside. We chickens huddled together, as did the sheep and cows.
This was a bad omen.
But six o'clock was slowly approaching, and we weren't the least bit worried. Yesterday had ended on a good note, right? There was nothing to be afraid of, right?
Three hours passed. We were getting antsy. Just where was Mistress?
"Beast of England, beast of Ireland. Beast of every land and clime." Came a muffled voice from outside; the heavy rainfall managed to drown out whatever was said next, but we all froze.
That tune, that bastardized tune of our grief-laden ancestors…
"Soon or late the day is coming, tyrant men shall be overthrown. And the fruitful fields of my farm shall be walked by me alone."
We all inched away from the barn door, eyes widening. That song…we'd heard it once before. The last time she'd sung it…Carter, the sheep, had been killed. Murdered by our Mistress.
The shed door opened, and in she stepped, wearing white. She was dripping wet: face flushed, eyes narrowed. In her hand was a sickle, a light golden sickle--blessed…and her mouth was drawn into a sneer.
Closing the door behind her, she leaned against it, staring at all of us. "The ring has vanished from my finger and the feather from my sack. Love and life shall rust forever. Cruel faith shall always crack."
Mistress pushed herself off the door and shuffled towards us. We all moved backwards, our hearts pounding ferociously. Which one of us did she want?
She mumbled through the rest of the song, her eyes settling on Skye and she smiled. I let out a sigh of relief--it would be sad to see her go, but as long as…
Her eyes moved to me and stopped. Wait. Wait.
"Rock…" She started moving again. Moving towards me.
I squawked and flapped my wings, trying to escape. It was no use, however. "Beast of England, beast of Ireland. Beast of every land and clime," She came towards me, singing that song of death, swinging her blessed sickle to and fro.
And then, quick as ever, she was by my side and grasped my neck. Blast! She was wearing those speed boots of hers! Blessed!
She squeezed hard and I tried to squawk again, but nothing came out. I was forced to stare up at her, wagging my feet around uselessly in the air, trying to catch a gulp of air. It was useless. Her cold, wet hand tightened its grip, and I could feel the darkness slipping over me.
…You wretch! You ungrateful bitch! I've done everything for you, and this is how you repay me?! I've laid the largest eggs, I haven't made you spend a dime on medicine, I never stood in your way.
"Avenge!" I squawk, even though it was useless. "Avenge me, my sisters!"
The whole group of livestock was nowhere to be found, however. Where…where did they all go?
"Harken well," Mistress continued, raising her sickle.
You. You. You bitch!
And spread my tidings, of the golden future ti--
"Here Rock." The farmer smiled, handing him a small bowl. When he gave her a confused look, she merely smiled and narrowed her large, beautiful eyes. "It's a special soup I made for you. I know it's not one of your favorites, but I think you'll like it."
"Ah…t-thanks, babe." The blond responded, rubbing the back of his head. Why she was giving him a present? They had just broken up a few days ago. "Um…what kind of soup is it?"
She blinked and shrugged, crossing her arms. "Chicken soup. Actual chicken soup, not the fake ones from the city. Well, I need to get going now. See ya." The farmer threw him a wave before turning around and walking out of the Inner Inn.
And he stared at her back, completely confused.
And a few days later, a new chicken was born on 'I'll-Forget-You' ranch. The female farmer kneeled down in front of her, smiling broadly.
"I'll name you…Kai, my sweet. I would have used Rock…but I had trouble with the last four." She grinned again, patting the small chick's head. "I'll take good care of you…if you treat me the same way."
She then stood and sauntered off, singing an all too familiar tune. "Beast of England, beast of Ireland, beast of every land and clime…"