Running of the Chickens

Let’s have a show of hands. How many of you know what chiggers are?

For those who don’t, the internet defines chiggers as the juvenile form of a certain type of mite of the family Trombiculidae. Personally, I could care less about their lineage and pray that none ever reach adulthood. In plain English, they are tiny red insects that leap from weeds and grass to burrow into your skin and feed on human flesh. The result is raised bumps that itch like hell.

I became personally acquainted with a few of these juvenile hitchhikers the other day while picking up trash along our road. This seems a high price to pay for performing community service, especially when I hadn’t been convicted of committing a crime.  After all, I’m not that big of a celebrity.

If you’re new to Friday Flash Fiction, the exterminator who captures and relocates rogue pronouns and adverbs is Olive Orkin Wisoff-Fields.  If you’d like to participate in this exercise of madness, head over to her blog for step-by-step instructions. To view the FFF  Hollywood Squares Authors Block click here.

copyright - Sandra Crook
copyright – Sandra Crook

Spectators peek through windows and dangle from second-story balconies, cheering on the daring competitors.

Piercing screams echo from the brick facades of ancient buildings while terror runs rampant down the narrow corridor. In its wake, the street and sidewalks are speckled with blood. Feathers float like snowflakes on the warm summer breeze.

A combatant reveals the beak-marks on the back of his neck and the streaks of blood racing down the calves of both legs.

“What was it like, running from chickens?” asks a reporter.

“Terrifying.  I’ve never been more scared in my life.”

“Would you do it again?”

“Absolutely.”

_______________________________________________________________

The above is an excerpt from a 4,200 word short story, Running of the Chickens, which will be included in my next book, projected for release some time in 2017.

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71 thoughts on “Running of the Chickens

  1. Hilarious, Russel, both the intro and the main story. Be glad you don’t live here because it doesn’t get cold enought in winter to kill off the chiggers and they’re abundant. They even come inside, welcome or not. The cleaning lady we hire washes the floors every day. I could just picture the “running of the chickens.” The chickens in the area of that sport must be visious devils, bred for the sport as they do for cock fights. 😀 — Suzanne

    1. It gets below zero here sometimes, but it doesn’t effect the chigger population. The town I work in considers itself the Poultry Capital of the World. They used to hold an annual event called Featherfest. The event died out after an 8 year run. If we’d had something like Running of the Chickens, it would have caught international attention and still be going strong. I’m sure there would be some people crazy enough to do it.

  2. Personally, I would be very afraid a chickens. Something about their constant peck peck pecking beaks! And they would make a mess of this place. Some love to cuddle with chickens, uh…not me. Hilarious, Russell.

    1. Connie has one hen that crawls up in her lap and loves on her like a kitten. We raised chickens for market when I was a kid. I used to have nightmares about being on the floor of the chicken house, unable to get up, and chickens pecking me. Roosters will definitely chase you. Glad you enjoyed it, Amy.

  3. I started to laugh at “Olive Orkin” and still laughing…Maybe with all the hormones and antibiotics and nuclear feed the chickens get “running with the chicken” may turn out to be a very brutal sport 🙂

    1. The antibiotics were never as bad as the media made them sound. After all, who wants to eat a sick chicken? They do grow chickens much faster today than 40 years ago, although much of it is due to genetics and selective breeding.

      They can certainly run fast and the roosters have big spurs. I’d rather be a spectator than a participant. 🙂

    1. I remember watching part of The Birds to TV as a youngster. I spent most of the movie hiding behind my Dad’s chair. Occasionally, I would peek around the corner at the screen. It scared the crap out of me.

      you are very talented. I never met anyone who could read with their eyes closed.

  4. Dear Foghorn,

    One hear the kids in the family were given baby chicks for Easter, We inherited all of them because the area we lived in allowed them. When they grew up they made dandy garbage disposals and the eggs were huge. We had four hens and a rooster. There’s nothing like the sound of an adolescent rooster crowing for the first time. I thought someone was killing a cat.

    I think running with the chickens could get a bit messy. 😉

    Another barnyard buster of a story.

    Shalom,

    Olive

    1. Thanks, Olive. Your description of an adolescent rooster learning to crow is spot on. Connie ordered 21 chicks in March of 2014. Two turned out to be roosters. They also turned out to be sneaky and mean. She soon found another home for those guys. Personally, I’ve always preferred hens. 🙂

      – Foghorn

      1. I don’t know what’s going on with WordPress this morning. First, it published the same comment twice, then I experienced some other minor glitches.

        As it relates to bird scenes, I much prefer the one in Mel Brook’s High Anxiety.

  5. A lovely story of the underdog fighting back. And the idiocy of those who go in for ‘running with anything’ never ceases to amaze me. Good one, Russell.

  6. I’d rather run with chicken than with chiggers, I admit. We had chicken, and a juvenile rooster, so I know the sound, too. The neighbours didn’t like, so he had to go. But the hens had names and cuddled with my mother. I liked them, too. But neighbours had geese, and they were a mean lot. Your story and intro made me giggle from beginning to end.

    1. I agree. At least you can see a chicken. Chiggers are so darn tiny you need a magnifying glass to see them. By the time you realize you have them it’s too late.
      Glad it gave you some giggles. I had fun writing it.

  7. You kill me with your new baptism of Rochelle week after week! You, sir, are a funny man!
    Are chiggers worse than “no-see-ems”? Those little bastards are near invisible. Mind you, I don’t think they burrow into your skin so chiggers sound worse.

    Why anyone would want to run with anything wild is beyond me! Are there not other ways to get that adrenaline pumping?

    Fun stuff!

    1. Like I told her cousin, Kent Bonham, it takes longer to rename her each week than it does to write the story.

      I’ve experienced both chiggers and no-see-ums. Both are horrible, but chigger bites can itch for up to a week.

      I wouldn’t put “running for my life” in the fun category, but evidently some people do.

      1. And you do it so well! Fun stuff.
        Actually, the joke in my family is, we’ll all sit outside within the porch as long as Yvon, my mom’s beau sits with us. The no- see-ums like his flesh best!! 😂
        Some people are up for anything wild and dangerous!

      2. We went to the boundary waters of Minnesota one year and the mosquitos preferred us to the locals 10,000 to 1. I guess there’s something about hillbilly flesh that they really enjoyed.

  8. Very funny, in its way, but a damning indictment in another. Well done. I keep coming back to read your stories because I love your sense of humour, but i keep hoping you’ll find another colour scheme – this one is really hard on my por eyesight!

    1. I’m glad you enjoy the humor. I’ve contemplated different background themes, but never found another that struck my fancy, or I could just be stuck in a rut. Maybe, I’ll look again. Perhaps they have some new ones available.

  9. The smaller they are, the more they have to prove–no matter what the species! I always thought I’d write a book called “Little Men, Big Problems.” 😉 Of course, that has nothing to do with anything here…

  10. Those chickens are not to be trifled with. At age 3, my little sister was scarred emotionally, although fortunately not physically, by a hen in Great Grandma’s hen house. Apparently no one thought to mention to her that she shouldn’t reach under a nesting hen to help gather the eggs. In future visits to the farm, she found ways to help out that didn’t entail grappling with momma hens.

    Cheers!
    MG

    1. Around age 5, I had a terrifying experience with a rooster (who I named Rufus in the longer version of the story). Once they get their buff in on you, you’re powerless.

  11. Chickens are such a fascinating and mostly amusing creature.

    Also, I am (unfortunately) acquainted with chiggers, who make the after effects of rolling down a hill uncomfortable. Ah well. Mom did warn us, and we didn’t listen.

    Great story!

    1. I found her site, but could not figure out where or how to vote for anyone. I’ve never been able to vote for myself in any contest. My mother insisted to do so was vain.

    1. Did you find one? I took Orkin from the pest control company and added Olive because it seemed a natural fit and rolled off the tongue like a cooking oil.

  12. Once again, a hilarious story. I can’t compete with all your commenters’ animal injury stories – except to say that I do seem to be a prime target for any mosquitoes that are feeling peckish. I like to stay away from wildlife that might bury themselves in my skin – call me a coward.

  13. We have a large running population in our small, half rural/half sub-urban town. They take over the streets from time to time. Some of my neighbors keep chickens. Maybe I should organize a Chicken Run. I’m sure there is some cause that could benefit from such an event. Thanks for the idea.

  14. Cold weather doesn’t kill chiggers either. I was introduced to them in Alaska my first summer there. They ate at my ankles, and then invaded a dinner party I was holding by coming through the screens. In the morning I cleaned chiggers off every surface of my small abode. Horrible little creatures.

    Loved the running of the chickens, very timely, very humorous post!

    1. Why, thank you. A woman at LAX airport said I resembled Hemingway. I smiled, and pulled a copy of The Perils of Heavy Thinking from my bag, showing her that I too was an author. She looked the book over for a few minutes and ordered a copy on her Kindle. I probably made $.38 that day. 🙂

  15. I sure hope I never come across Chiggers. They sound…. itchy. I love your running of the chickens. I think I would prefer chickens to bulls but then I don’t know. I remember a time I was too frightened to enter the chicken house due to one particularly nasty rooster. He didn’t taste good either.

    1. Thank you. I’m always pleased when people comment that they enjoyed the intro. I have been accused of trying to sneak two stories in on FFF. All I can say is, “Guilty as charged.”

  16. Chiggers? Thankfully, I’ve never made their acquaintance. No good deed goes unpunished seems to apply here. Sorry you had to deal with them. I hope Olive Orkin got your hands off your itches and back onto the keyboard. Running with/from the bulls is so overrated. I’m glad to see they’ve made it a bit more of a challenge with chickens.

  17. Thanks, Patti. If I could see chiggers, I’d run from them too. They’re so darned tiny, you don’t even know they’re around until you start itching.

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