Gallinarius

Writing Prompt: You split a wishbone with someone, and it splits perfectly in half. This triggers a tie-breaker clause wherein the dead chicken’s last wish is granted.

“What happens now?” Alice and Edward both stared in wonder at their half, their exact half, of the broken wishbone.

“Well, what did you wish for?” Edward asked, eyes fixed upon Alice, “Has it come true?”

Alice shook her head, “And I can’t tell you what I wished for silly, or it won’t ever come true!” there was a nervous quiver to her voice, “Do you think it’s true, what Marcus said about…” her voice became a whisper, “Gallinarius?”

“Gallinarius?” Edward laughed, but he could feel the room growing colder, the dark creeping in from the corners, “That’s just a story Marcus made up to scare you, Alice. It’s nonsense, in fact I’m certain Marcus heard it from Peter who heard it from Paul.” he took hold of Alice’s hands, dropping the wish bone carelessly to the ground, “There’s no such thing as…”

Before Edward could finish speaking the room fell to utter darkness in a shattering of glass. Each and every bulb in the dining room exploded before a sudden force that shook the walls. Plaster sauntered in a cloud of dust from out the pale walls, the carpet started rising up like some savage snaking creature, the curtains wailed before howling winds that came completely out of nowhere and sunk deep into the very bones of the room and of Edward and Alice alike.

“Edward!” Alice screamed, “What’s happening?”

Edward drew his sister into his arms in a moment of instinctive protection, sweeping her up from the floor as he rose to stand. He searched frantically for the dining room door, but there was no door, it had vanished and so too had the windows, and the family portrait above the table. The very fabric of the room was melting, reality being stolen by the cackling dust devils of raining plaster. Still the carpet crept up, forming not a floor but a body, cloaked from head to ankle.

What the hell is that? Edward gazed dumbfounded at the figures ankles, they were… spindly, yellowed things that dove down into clawed feet, three toes to the front, and a fourth to the back.

“Jesus f*cking Christ!” Edward threw his hands over Alice’s ears, again commanded by some ingrained instinct. They both fell back before the towering creature as slowly it lowered its hood.

“Christ cannot help you, not now.” the creature clucked.

Its head was a twisted apparition of beak and bright red crest with blackened blood pooling out from pinprick, yellowed eyes. Gangrenous feathers, dripping with rot, coated the creature’s face and neck, and on its body not a single hair was visible. It raised a hand from under the reaches of its cloak, more deformity than fist, then pointed a lone, yellowed finger at the wishbone, “I am hear to collect.”

“This isn’t real, you’re not real.” Edward muttered, “You can’t be.” he closed his eyes and could feel Alice wriggling to turn her head, to take a look, so kept her head down, pressed gently into the soft of his shoulder, “Don’t look, little bean. Whatever you do, don’t look.”

Alice began to shake.

The creature swept up the part of the wishbone that Edward had carelessly discarded, then it settled its gaze upon Alice, “Where is the other half of the bone?”

“Alice?” Edward whispered, still refusing to open his eyes, “Give me your half of the wishbone.”
Alice shook her head defiantly, clutching the bone tight in her fist.

“Alice, please.”

“No!” she almost spat the word from curling lips, “My wish won’t come true, not without it!”

“Oh, girl.” the creature attempted a soothing cluck of the tongue, “Don’t you see, you didn’t win, and nor did your brother. Neither wish will come true, not now and not ever. But there is another, a third party who would prosper from this foul affair. The one whose bone you hold.” the creature offered out its crusting hand, “So please, little girl, don’t be selfish now. Give me the bone.”

Alice’s hand fell limp, Edward quickly pried the bone from her grip and held it out, eyes still firmly shut, “Take it and go!” he cried.

“As you wish.” the creature chuckled, and then vanished from life.

“Is… is it gone?” Alice asked, a tear rolling down her cheek.

Edward nodded, hugging Alice tight as he could manage.

“Was it telling the truth?” her lip quivered, a lump rising in her throat, “About my wish not ever coming true?”

“No,” but Edward knew he was lying, “Of course not, little bean.”

**

Somewhere in the Eternal Coop that resides in the Endless Fields of the Sky;

A conversation was held between a cloaked figure that called itself Gallinarius and a Chicken that had died some few days earlier. It was this Chicken whose bone Edward and Alice had snapped. Though the translation may not be perfect (for they spoke in clucked tongues) this is loosely what was said:

“You want me to do what?” Gallinarius shivered at the very thought, “Are you absolutely certain?”

“Of course I’m certain! Do you know what it’s like, Gallinarius, being kept in a cage? Being fed nothing but sour grains only to find yourself being whisked away in the night and then…” the Chicken let loose a cry of rage, “Murder, that’s what it was. In cold blood, too. I didn’t do a damn thing to deserve their cruelty! I tried telling them jokes, giving sagely advice, I even started my own column in the local newspaper… none of it made any difference.”

“Jokes?” Gallinarius inquired with a queer look in its eye, “Like what?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Say: Why did the Chicken cross the playground?” the Chicken paused for dramatic effect, “To get to the other slide.”

“No wonder you were murdered.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I said, you’re absolutely certain?”

“Yes, yes I am.”

And so Gallinarius left the Eternal Coop that resides in the Endless Fields of the Sky and returned to Earth to execute the Chicken’s wish.

**

Back with Edward and Alice, on the evening of that same day they’d shared the wishbone;

“Edward, I don’t feel so good.” the two children were sharing a bed, neither one of them could stand the idea of being in the dark all alone, and neither one of them could bring themselves to admit what had happened to their parents. Would their parents have even believed them?

“It’s okay Alice, just try to get some sleep.”

“Water?” Alice asked, pulling the covers tight around her.

Edward put a hand on Alice’s forehead, “You’re burning up!” he pulled his hand away, sweat was pouring down the sides of her face.

“Water.” Alice said again, somewhat weakly.

Edward threw himself from the bed and left for the kitchen. His father was asleep in an armchair sat before a now static television set, though instead of buzzing the static seemed to be clucking. Quickly, Edward stole a glass from the cupboard then ran the tap for a few seconds before filling it nearly to the brim. He left for his room without once looking back.

Collecting the water took no more than a minute or two, but when he returned…

Alice was screaming from deep within her throat, her eyes glowing out of the dark of Edward’s room. There was a sound like tearing flesh and the splattering of blood.

“Help me!” Alice cried, her voice deep and guttural, “Help me, Edward!”

Edward rushed into the room, flicking on the light, and as the vision of his sister came into focus his stomach started turning. He dropped the glass, leaving it to smash upon the ground.

Blood coated the back wall above his bed, feathers fell in piles about the room, and his sister sat huddled in the corner, crying. There were no words to describe what Edward saw, nor how he felt.

In place of his sister, the sweet young girl he’d sworn to protect, there sat a half-human monstrosity. Instead of legs there were stumps of yellow with pointed teeth, instead of skin upon her arms there sprouted whitened feathers slowly rotting, and beside her very human head was a second neck upon which sat the smaller head of a Chicken, twitching, pecking, clucking.

Then came the sound of feet on the stairs, their father had awoken. Edward fled from the room and the terrifying gaze of his half-poultry sibling.

“Father!” Edward cried, “Come quickly!” he ran tearing round the corner, colliding with his father’s rounded stomach, falling back to the hard wood floor. He hadn’t seen it yet, but he could hear it, the low frantic clucking up above him.

Slowly Edward raised his head, “Mother of God…”

Copyright © K R Perry 2019

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