Tuesday, August 2, 2011


By MJ Heiser

Clive Sinclair is just standing there, smiling smugly at you, the poorly-trained muzzle of his gun meandering on and off mark. He is obviously expecting you to do exactly what he just demanded: Drop to your knees and start clucking. No matter how incredibly fun it had been to be the chicken while you were dancing with this psychopath’s mother, you aren’t a chicken. You’re a man, dammit, and you’re going to behave as such.

Full of your manly pride and swagger, you take Clive completely off guard and drive your plastic costume beak into his face.

It goes better than you expect. Clive drops the gun as if it’s on fire and starts flapping his hands, trying desperately to land a lady-like slap on the side of your face. You crow with delight over his failure. You’re too fast. You’re too accurate. You land blow after blow on his meaty cheeks. That’s not satisfying enough, however. You need blood, and you need it now. You seize the man, one feathery hand on either side of his head, and resume pecking in earnest, aiming now for the not-so-fleshy parts of his face: his nose, his forehead, and his tender, delicate eyes.

“Aiigh!” he screams, seizing your forearms and trying desperately to get you off of him. “No! Mother!”

You must be kidding, you think to yourself, and distantly you become aware of your own voice letting out another rooster crow. You’re calling for your mother? You pansy. You total nancy-boy. You—

“Let him go.”

You stop. Of course you know that voice, but the last time you’d heard it (excluding the scream, naturally), she’d been suggesting you join her in the shower. Now, in a reversal worthy of some sort of alternate-universe James Bond flick, you find that she’s half-dressed and standing just behind her son’s shoulder, his gun in her hand. Her hand is remarkably steady, unlike her son’s, and that muzzle is aimed for the beak.

Possessed by the thought that you’re some sort of Bizarro James Bond, you seize Clive harder, spin him around, and press him up against your padded, feathered form. “Drop the gun,” you say, your voice hoarse from all the crowing.

She shakes her head. “You don’t know who I am, do you?” she asks, but instead of her son’s aggravating smugness, she only shows sad resignation. “I’m Melissa Sinclair, and for thirty years I trained the FBI’s best sharpshooters.” She reaches out with the gun and taps you gently on the nose. “Plus, I’m this close.”

She pulls back the hammer and you can hear a bullet slide into the chamber. “Now, let him go.”

You do as she asks. You push Sinclair away from you, and he scutters to stand behind his mother. She still holds the gun trained with deadly stillness at your beak.

“Wait,” you say, “I did what you asked—“

“Yup,” she says with a morbid grin. “And you have nothing left to bargain with. Not only do you have something my son wants, but you called him a nancy-boy.”

“What if I give him what he wants?” you ask in desperation.

“Kill him, Ma!” Clive shouts from over her shoulder. He sounds like an over-eager five-year-old.
Meanwhile, the cold-blooded sharpshooter slides her eyes over your chicken costume with a mixture of regret, longing, and desire. She coughs once, but that damned gun doesn’t flinch. “Let’s hear what he has to say, kiddo. You have no idea how hard it is to find a good chicken.”

“Aww,” Clive whines, his bloodlust denied.

“You can have the ‘Trotters,” you say, and you milk your sadness for all it’s worth. It takes a little bit of a stretch, to be honest; you’ve had a great time with the guys, but lately Curly, Sweetwater, and the rest of them have been growing too big for their slick and retro-fabulous britches. This kind of behavior has to stop. A return to the hardwoods may be just what they need.

“Really?” Clive asks.

“Just – let me wrap up this last case with them, will ya? Let me say goodbye the right way.”

The gun that had been pointing at your beak drops. “Do what the chicken asks, son.”

Clive sighs. “Okay, fine. But as soon as you catch the killer, the ‘Trotters are mine again.”

“Deal,” you say, holding out your hand.

And as soon as you say that, Missy Synch bolts for the door with the kind of speed and grace you could have never imagined.

“Ma?” Clive asks the still, empty, rat-infested apartment.

You narrow your eyes. You smell a rat, alright, and it’s the kind of rat that likes to dance with chickens and kill people.

Do you...

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