Pete The Paranoid Pecker was so opposed to facts that we wondered what on turf he thought was evidence. The selfless God-giants had only ever embellished our universe with treats, but Pete scoffed: “No one does anything for nothing. I wouldn’t trust those bastards if my life depended on it”
“Your life does depend on it,” Roosteritis, that wise, old bird, replied.
“So what’s happening past that coop over there,” Pete snapped, as if this were relevant to what had always occurred on our beloved turf.
Roosteritis smiled. The Gods had only ever created well-fed security. Why produce anything else? Logic avoided Pete completely.
“What would happen,” Pete asked, “if your beloved Gods just disappeared?”
“Gods,” the sage Roosteritis replied, “don’t desert their masterly creations.”
“Oh, beautiful,” Pete replied.
“There’s always one in a flock,” Roosteritis sighed.
The pointlessness of doubting the divinity being showered upon us was obvious from observation. The permanent, harmonious repetition of our world reflected the infinite, prosperous past. Pete even thought history existed, his tenacious clinging to this nonsense charming and disturbing, a bird who thought that the natural processes that sustained us were farces waiting to be smashed. Incredible!
Occasionally, I would attack the Gods’ offerings before Steve The Strutter could get to them, my calculated defiance producing what I was really after – sublime punishment.
Steve would trap me, and before the haughty eyes of Princess Plume, the high priestess of judgement, he would say: “You lack discipline, don’t you?”
My voice always exhibited tremulous fragility.
“And,” Steve would say, “you know you’re going to pay for this, don’t you?”
“I know,” I would reply.
“Do you think that resistance is useless?”
“We both know, Steve, that resistance is useless.”
My claws would then leave the ground and the coop’s walls would turn upside down and spin and I would get dumped flat on my back, my wings spread – spreadroostered before the plump Princess Plume who would glare down at me and say: “You’ve been floored by a real rooster, haven’t you?”
“I have,” I would weakly pronounce. “He has left me spreadroostered.”
“And now,” she would say, “you’re going to be flipped around until I give the command to stop.”
“Yes, your majesty,” I would say; and my splayed wings would spread even further apart.
Steve The Strutter would then place his claws on either side of my head, and glaring down at me, he would say: “Rise or I’ll break both your wings.”
“Yes, dominant force,” I would reply. “I’ll do what you say.”
And again the walls would spin and spin until I was left in the coop’s darkness, spreadroostered, churning chemicals buzzing within, thrilled that I had been mastered before the superior disdain of the flock’s most gorgeous creature.
We lived in a paradise of titillation and consumption, a utopia of gluttonous concupiscence, everyone, except Pete The Paranoid Pecker, happy and secure in their roles. The knowledge that the future only contained permanent pleasures made P Cube’s perceptions absurd. And some of those pleasures were even unexpected: one day, Princess Plume grabbed my left wing, and pulling me forward she used her right claw to clip my left leg, somersaulting me onto my back, a technique that Steve The Strutter would have been proud of. I lay spreadroostered for minutes, emphasising her dominant triumph by spreading my claws and wings as widely as possible.
“You sick, masochistic bastard,” Pete The Paranoid Pecker told me later.
“I wish she would spend her entire time tossing me around this coop,” I said.
“You’re demented,” I was told.
“You,” I replied, “have no respect for natural order. I yearn to be humiliated by the unstoppable force of sensual superiority.”
“And this is why your life is a torment of unsatisfied desires. Accept your place in the perpetual realm of dominance and submission.”
“Nothing,” Pete sneered, “is perpetual.”
“I’m afraid,” I said, “that evidence defies you.”
Given that change – that quaint, theoretical idea – had never taken place, Pete’s quixotic insistence on this idea possessed a madness that made my supposedly macabre desires, (from Pete’s warped point of view), seem positively normal. Who didn’t want to be dominated by Her Royal Highness, The Princess of Plume, The Countess of Coop? Even Steve The Strutter was under her masterly control, his hormones rushing, like a hot flood, every time he threw me around before her lofty face. The need to be victimised was essential for the strict maintenance of the system; the more readily we bowed down to the will of the powerful, the more our hearts pounded with pride, the more we adored the superiority of our unquestionable system. We placed faith in high office. Our unassailable institutions were lathered with naturalistic justice. The fact that a hen had the highest office emphasised the soundness of our unprejudiced world. Those who filled the highest positions only had sound intentions. Steve was made to dominate; I was made to be dominated; Roosteritis was made to articulately confirm the highest principles; and Princess Plume was made to rule. Anyone outside these categories lacked common sense. Nobody doubted that Pete The Paranoid Pecker was living in a self-ordained nightmare of neurotic conspiracy. He was a cynical radical. Such was the depth of his wayward vision, that he believed that the past couldn’t be used to predict the future. What a dreamer! And what an insult to our intelligence! He even asked: “How do you know that the Gods really are Gods?”
Roosteritis smiled with sparkling delight.
“Have you ever,” he asked, “seen grain falling from above into the Gods’ hands?”
“Have you ever seen,” P Cubed retorted, “what happens beyond that house over there?”
“That,” Roosteritis replied, “is the Gods’ domain. Only a chosen few have passed that point and returned. And all who have returned from there have spoken of riches unimaginable. Do you think that mere mortals possess such means?”
“Nobody around here – including you – knows what to think.”
“Knowledge,” Roosteritis asked, “can’t come from observation?”
“Only if,” Pete replied, “you observe everything. We observe almost nothing.”
“You lack discipline,” Steve The Strutter pointed out.
“I agree,” Princess Plume smirked.
“Keep away from me,” Pete sneered.
“Most of us lack discipline,” I said, “accidentally” nudging Princess Plume.
Steve glared at me. Nobody nudged Princess Plume and got away with it. I had no intention of getting away with it.
Quickly, I was draped over Steve’s shoulders; then the coop spun; everything blurred; I felt weightless. I landed flat on my back, prostrate between Steve’s claws.
“This,” Steve said, pointing a wing at me, and then at Pete, “will be your destiny if I hear you questioning Roosteritis’s wisdom again.”
Steve put a claw on my chest and said: “Lie there or I’ll break you in half.”
“Yes, dominant force,” I squeaked.
I lay with my wings and my claws spread widely. I adored width – especially the voluptuous vastness of Princess Plume’s salacious bottom. The wonderful weight of Steve’s right claw was pinning me to the ground. I couldn’t believe my luck: total conformity was bringing me complete pleasure. I didn’t have to do anything special and still I got rewarded with bliss. My wings and claws could not have been spread further apart. I was floating with lascivious humiliation. My helplessness before the unconquerable force of superiority gave me an ironic feeling of immortality. So pleasurable was the system that had made me such a willing and conspiring victim that I had no need to question the validity of my surrounds. Everything I could want was being provided to me without my having to lift a wing. I couldn’t believe my luck – our luck. It seemed demented to raise questions surrounding the utopia of this set-up. Such a plethora of easily acquired pleasures were at wing and someone was warped enough to want to question the undeniable permanence of our kingdom. And he didn’t even want to be placed under the sensuous control of Princess Plume! That rooster – Pete The Paranoid Pecker – was abnormal. He shunned normal desires. The desires of the group were abominable for him. He had to have been acting. He must have been jealous of Steve The Strutter and envious of Roosteritis’s intellectual gifts. Pete was an extremist. He lacked gratitude and a sense of reality.
So we thought.
A new metal monster appeared one day beside the Giant Coop, the place that Pete The Paranoid Pecker mysteriously referred to as “the house.” Seeing these metal monsters was nothing new. The Gods disappeared and re-materialised in what Roosteritis called “the time-space ether from which all is born.” Of course, Roosteritis’s vision was way beyond us and I could only wonder what on turf ether was. Anyway, we all looked up: a black God emerged from the monster. The monster’s transparent face had a dazzling diamond that highlighted the God’s blackness. We had never seen a black God. Every God we had ever seen had only ever been white. There seemed to be no limit to the Gods’ ability to create.
Enervating disbelief seemed to be lifting me off the ground, as if Steve The Strutter were giving me another well-deserved lesson. Something unexpected was happening, surprise blurring the edges of my peripheral vision.
The black God stood on the edge of the yard with his white counterparts, admiring the grateful flock. We pecked at the morsels that the benign harbingers of bliss had provided, their selfless probity towards us making us feel great. Only logical order, based on the unquestionable principles of submission and domination, reigned; only good existed within the heartening limits of our perfect culture. Had other flocks existed elsewhere in “the time-space ether” their modus operandi could not have matched ours, for our community was in harmonious, static balance. History had never existed, a waste of time trying to explain that to Pete The Paranoid Pecker.
I heard squawking of feather-raising dimensions. A white God had grabbed Steve The Strutter by the neck. Princess Plume’s squawking hysteria accompanied fluttering feathers; Roosteritis shot through the coop’s flap. The pleasant surrealism I had been feeling hardened into terrified disbelief. Strange chemicals swirled up my body, exploding in my head, creating new emotions.
Steve’s lifeless body hung like a limp penis in the God’s hands, something I couldn’t ever imagine in relation to Steve who had spent his life erect – especially after flooring me in front of Princess Plume.
We dashed into the coop’s gloom. Pete The Paranoid Pecker was in semidarkness, his eyes like malicious stones.
“I warned you idiots,” he said.
“There was no way you could have known,” Roosteritis replied.
“I told you before, you silly, old jerk,” Pete said, “that no one does anything for nothing.”
“You couldn’t have known—”
“Shut the fuck up!”
Attempts to protect reputations didn’t appeal to Pete.
“There was no evidence,” Roosteritis persisted.
“You,” Pete said, “are a puppet in the grip of your own moronic ideas. Self-interest rules and it goes for those bastards out there as well.”
The silence was profound with concern. Princess Plume was staring vacantly at the ground, shaking.
“Idiocy,” Pete said, “can be defined as: Pleasing hopes passed off as facts.”
“But,” I asked, “how could we have predicted this? It was beyond expectation. There was no reason to be so pessimistic. I don’t even suffer from small doses of pessimism.”
“You aren’t so stupid,” Pete said. “Maybe from now on you might start using your brains. We have to think outside the coop – as it were. We have to brainstorm – to assume the seemingly impossible.”
“But why did they kill him?” I asked.
“Food,” Pete replied.
“You mean,” I asked, “they eat?”
“Ridiculous!” Roosteritis scoffed.
“That’s what you said,” Pete said, “when I told you that these so-called Gods were up to something.”
The imperious silence was a vacuum free of good and evil.
Roosteritis turned his back on Pete and stared through a crack in the coop’s exterior wall. It struck me as ironic that he had begun to observe, rather than to just confirm what he wanted to believe. I realised that truth had not interested him: he had just been interested in looking for excuses to inflate his ego.
The concept of significance, which I then realised was essential for living, had disappeared from our flock. We had been living a dream of self-adoration. We were probably nothing more than a food supply.
“They’ve been fattening us up,” Pete said, “for special occasions.”
Because Pete’s thinking was bereft of ideals, he was feared and detested; but I started admiring his hard-headed logic. He became my only source of pleasure; but it was a dry, despairing form of life’s finest entity. I would have traded knowledge with a return to those days of ignorance in which I had been able to experience the thrilling humiliation of being floored before the snooty beak of Princess Plume. My life in those fretless days had had the illusion of significance; I had been the willing vehicle for the furthering of the forces of strength and sensuality. I had revelled in being the useless male put on this turf for the sole purpose of being expertly put in his place by beauty and expertise. The delight of being lifted off the ground and somersaulted before the commanding vision of Princess Plume had been replaced with the truth. Ahhhh! The Truth! What a misery-inducing phenomenon! Who invented it!? The horrifying truth unsympathetically defines limits. Life was now not a delightful present, but an anxious phase of waiting for an undesirable conclusion, now humiliating, without blood-tingling consequences, and when they broke Princess Plume’s sleek neck, something broke deep within me, like the end of an amazing era.
Because we were just prisoners, not special beings in a significant system, as we had thought – just entities bred to propagate other life-forms – Pete invented Biolectic Limiting Nothingness.
What a philosopher he was. He had no interest in protecting reputations.
I loved his lectures on BLN, my previous hedonism replaced by intellectual advancement.
But I still missed Steve The Strutter and Princess Plume, and occasionally I still hoped for distracting pleasures to save me from reality.
Roosteritis became a sad cult figure, hollering skywards demented pleas for divine intervention. Knowledge really horrified him; his proclivity for producing unfounded conjectures turned him into a lonely outcast who blamed the collapse of the previous system on something he called The Devil. The fact that he was a master of ad hoc explanations would have been funny had it not been for the fact that we were all prisoners waiting for execution.
Kim Farleigh has worked for aid agencies in three conflicts: Kosovo, Iraq and Palestine. He takes risks to get the experience required for writing. 50 different magazines have accepted his stories. He likes bullfighting, fine wine, food and architecture, which might explain why this Australian lives in Madrid. Although he wouldn’t say no to living in a chateau in the French Alps.