I’m here today with thousands of others, no idea why, I can’t ever remember not being here! I’m trying to memorise everyone’s name, but they all look so alike! It’s incredibly crowded, everyone is talking at once, I can barely hear myself think! Food is plentiful; it’s as if they don’t want us to stop eating, though it’s a bit boring and hard to pick up as it moves by so quickly. They look after our health and any time I see someone sick they are whisked away immediately, though I’ve never heard back from anyone as to what the hospital is like.
We see the sun shining through when the big rusty doors open at the end, but it’s always over too quickly, and we all wonder what it’s like beyond those doors. We’re told that one day we’ll all be out of here, so we must be patient! We were chosen, apparently, because we were the fittest and a special day awaits us all, but it only comes around once a year. We never get any news from the outside world, just the occasional sparrow that drops in through the ceiling grid to steal our food, but they never stop to chat.
A pigeon told us once that we’re in a sort of ‘holding camp,’ but he was too busy throwing bread over his head to elaborate. I’ve heard ‘holiday camp’ mentioned by the human called ‘vet,’ who said she was really looking forward to spending just two weeks in one; so that’s reassuring. The pigeon also mentioned ‘Christmas,’ a time when you get lots of presents and take part in a big feast, so I’m looking forward to that too; more variety than we’re eating now, surely! There are no toilets so the floor is a terrible mess, but every night this giant machine slowly screams along, spraying everywhere, picking up everything and dropping straw behind it.
When it bunches us all up at one end we jump over it, that’s how I know I can’t fly; we are more scared of crushing each other than of the machine, which does leave the floor clean and comfortable! Maybe we’re being punished for something terrible we did when we were too young to remember; there must be some purpose to all this! Every day seems like the last here and you lose track of time, wishing something different would happen, anything really! I believe in a beginning and an end, so this must be the middle, but I’m not sure how far we are from either end.
Well, somebody heard me because something different has started to happen! Towering machines belching black smoke have arrived outside, I can hear them, I feel the throbbing through the ground and everyone is getting very excited. The rattling feed conveyors have fallen silent, and the big doors screech as they slide open, and yes, they are staying open! It’s cold, windy and raining outside, but the smell of crisp, fresh air has filled our lungs with so much goodness, we’re all just taking deep breaths, staring at each other; hoping this moment will last forever!
The machines seem to be offloading lots of youngsters; they’re not sure what’s happening or where they are, all running around like headless chickens! One shouts, “How long have you been here?” I shout back, “Nearly a year I think, but it’s our turn to join in the feast, so we’re leaving on that machine you arrived on.” They all look so scared, I guess like we did when we arrived, but they’ll soon settle in and look forward to the ‘Festive Season.’ The men loading seem anxious to get us on board, they are acting a bit rough, kicking out sometimes, but one mentioned “piecework” so I guess they can’t be that bad. “First lorry ready!” shouts one of the humans.
On the road now, so crowded we can’t move, but at least we can’t fall over and the fresh air is filtering through every tiny space, fluffing up our feathers, making us all look so much more elegant. As I peer through the open vents, I feel so lucky, I can see what’s outside, and it’s more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. Creatures, like us but a lot smaller, soaring through the sky, other animals grazing in the lush green fields, young ones playing with their mothers; I wonder if I did that when I was young? Maybe I had a mother? Humans, just like ‘vet,’ pushing prams, old people feeding pigeons, young humans playing with dogs, oh such a wonderful world, I feel so blessed to be part of it.
We’re turning down a bumpy side-road now, the rains getting heavier, turning white and flaky, and I see a sign pointing to somewhere called ‘Abattoir,’ sounds so French, exotic even. As we arrive, another lorry pulls out, a huge colour picture of one of us smiling on the side. I didn’t even realise we could smile, and now I feel silly because I’m trying to. ‘Happy Turkeys’ it says on the side of the other lorry, but I wonder why they can’t see out as we can? Our engine has juddered to a halt; the doors are opening, more shouting, looks like this could be the end of the line.
It’s amazing how exciting the unexpected can be! As the doors open to our new home a terrible smell, a stench of fear rushes out to engulf us! Nobody wants to go in, but the humans are getting angry and prodding, kicking shouting, forcing us forward. A pigeon by the door mutters, “Only the author can save you now.” “What do you mean?” I replied, “How can we contact this Author you speak of?” “His wife has read the first draft, it upset her greatly and she’s already spoken to him, so you’ll have to wait and see.
He does have the power to save you; the Author can change anything!” Wait, something strange is happening, my wings suddenly feel strong, bursting with energy, and the others are furiously flapping too. Many have started flying out of the lorry in front of me, bumping into each other, squawking loudly as they soar into the cloudy sky. This is amazing, we can fly, but how is that possible? We are all in the air now, circling in a big flock above ‘Abattoir’, looking down at the humans who all seem to be in disbelief. But where do we go now, what do we do, who will lead us? The same pigeon flaps past, I’m sure he’s grinning, “Don’t worry, you’re safe now, the Author’s wife saw your plight, so he’ll script you to a place where you can all have a wonderful time, after all, it is the Festive Season!” “Happy Christmas everyone!”