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Tastes Like Chicken

Daisy’s favorite place in the world was a flower farm next to the town’s abattoir (which was also a poultry farm). It was set on a high hill overlooking the town like a cobra rearing its head at a threat. Imposing. It lacked all color but red the color of rust – the building was red, the workers wore red, the gate was red and even the chickens were the red kind. A stark contrast with the vibrant colors of the flower farm. Daisy loved frolicking between the rose bushes, the dandelions, the sunflowers, and of course, the daisies. She loved the beauty but she did not enjoy the smell.

The flowers tried but they could not mask the rot in the air. It cut through like a bad fart. That was because of the meat factory, right? It was the town’s main source of income, the meat factory was. Daisy figured that the flowers were planted to try and offset the smell. And it worked, just a little.

Daisy looked at her watch and realized that it was getting late. She rushed through a sunflower maze and appeared at the other end just across the heavy metal gate of the meat factory. A few men were hanging about laughing and talking loudly in that unsettling way men laugh. Like they were telling the kind of jokes Daisy’s teachers at school would smack the back of her hands with a ruler for. One of them waved at her and she waved back. She knew them, of course. Everyone knew everyone in this town. The one who actually waved was Bobby Jr., the mayor’s son. He stood leaning against the gate while Erick the Younger sat on the low curb, looking up at Bobby Jr. The other man was Basket. Daisy didn’t know Basket’s true name for everybody called him Basket from before she could remember.

The men, barely out of high school, were in charge of the plant’s evening security. Not a glamorous job but what else was there to do in this town? Daisy skipped on down the hill, leaving them and the rusty building behind. Off she went through the town and into her home. Her mother welcomed her with a kiss on the forehead. Her mother was a pretty woman, Daisy thought. She certainly wouldn’t mind turning into that when she got older. Mother was making dinner, which was, and had always been chicken patties.

One day, in the middle of a particularly dismal winter, Daisy ran an errand for her mother to a store on the other side of town. The place belonged to a Mrs. Kamana and she made bread. Of course, there were three other stores that sold bread – that were also much closer to her home – but Mrs. Kamana’s bread was freshly baked. Skipping through some light snow in some parts, and heavy snow in others, she clutched her bread basket close and let out a chuckle when she crossed paths with Basket.

“Good day, Daisy,” the barely man said.

“Good day, Basket,” Daisy said.

“Out for some bread, is you?”

“Yes. Mother’s making burgers.”

“Ah. Your mother does make some good burgers. Tell her I says hello.”

“I will,” Daisy said and trotted away.

Mrs. Kamana always sold her bread with a smile on her face. That day was no different although Daisy thought that she looked sickly. The mole on Mrs. Kamana’s cheek, usually a rosy red was turning a curious shade of green. “Are you feeling under the weather, Mrs. Kamana?” Daisy asked. The older lady said she was battling a case of sniffles and would be fine by morning. She was dead the next day. Someone found her face first in her dough.

As customary, funerals in the town were done immediately. Erick the Younger, Baskets, and two other almost-men were the pallbearers. Mayor Bobby Sr. said a few words and everyone agreed that they would miss the woman’s bread. At least three others disagreed. Mrs. Kamana had no children and so her property was surrendered to the town – which meant Mayor Bobby, Daisy’s father said. That night Daisy’s mother made meatloaf. Of course, it was chicken.

A few days passed. Daisy and her father held hands as they walked home. The man was carrying a fresh pack of chicken patties in his other hand. As they walked, he whistled and she hummed. They got home and Daisy’s mother kissed them both, took the pack from her husband, and started dinner. Daisy went to her room to clean up and finish some homework. By the time dinner was ready, the girl was famished. She dug into her meal while her parents discussed bread and gas, how Bobby Jr. was a fine young man, and how Mayor Bobby should be proud of raising such a fine young man by himself. Then Daisy bit into something chewy – probably a bit of cartilage as her father would say. This felt strange though.

She spat the offending thing onto her plate and immediately turned green.

“What is it, sweetheart?” She heard her mother ask but her voice was far away floating through a thick fog of disgust. Daisy’s own voice was lost. Gone away to some far-off place. A place where the thing that sat on her plate could not exist. She had recognized it right away because before it was in her mouth, she had seen it before. It was still the curious shade of green that was on Mrs. Kamana’s face.

 


PROMPT: A poultry farmer is caught supplying human flesh instead of chicken meat.

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