She knows she is in trouble the moment she steps into the chicken yard. The bucket of feed hangs from her left arm, scoop in her right hand. But she never even gets a chance to scatter their morning meal.
Normally, the birds are around her feet instantly, before she even gets the gate latched behind her, pecking and scratching at the dirt, searching for each little morsel of food as it falls from her hand. They squawk and cluck and flap their wings and make a generally raucous noise.
Today, though, they are silent as stones. The chickens stand stock still, and to a one, they watch her. Even the birds facing away regard her with coldness, heads cocked around so at least one dark eye apiece is fixed on her. It is as though she has caught them in the middle of some illicit activity and it is only the shock of having been caught that prevents them from fleeing… or fighting.
The scoop tumbles from her hand, clattering to the ground. The sound is shocking to her ears, especially in the eery silence of the yard, and she screams, a high, sharp, hysterical sound, which she chokes off immediately.
The chickens either do not notice or simply do not care. They only watch. The look in their eyes is icy, predatory, calculating, and she shivers. She can’t help herself.
She finally screws up enough courage to turn around, to leave the yard and these hateful creatures behind, to run back to the safety of the house — but when she does, she discovers that Big Red is between her and the gate. The rooster stands tall and proud, and for a moment — a single, solitary moment — he watches her in silence, as well.
Then he stretches upward, rising up onto his toes and flapping his wings, and crows his battle cry. The sound is deafening, louder than anything she has ever before heard.
The chickens surge forward, and now they are all around her feet. She drops the bucket of feed, spilling it across the yard. The chickens ignore the food.
They have a completely different banquet in mind.