Fowl Play – Part 1: Run

It was a quiet and blissful day. A clear blue blanketed the sky above, accompanied with crisp midday sunlight. The golden rays bled through the open shutters of a study room, in which 6 students were present. Each of them sat at a table with a personal laptop and their notes scattered out in front of them.

They were working on their dissertations, in hopes that their efforts over the 4 years at university were not completely wasted. The silence that smothered the room was suddenly broken , when one of the students, Carole Bielby, threw a pen across at another student. She was not one to sit in boredom alone.

The small Biro raced through the air, across the heads of several other students and landed onto a laptop keyboard. Interrupting the focused typing of another student, Vauhn Rogers, much to his annoyance. “I think you lost your pen Carole.” He said, as he picked up the Biro and walked across to her. He placed the pen carefully on the table, next to a pile of notes.

“How’s it coming along anyway?” He asked, leaning over to see her laptop. The screen was filled with thousands of words that made up Carole’s complicated thesis.

“It’s going well I’d say!” She replied, as she stretched her arms above her head, yawning as she did so. “Communications wizard right here.”

Vauhn let out a small laugh. “Confident as always Carole.”

“As confident as I am beautiful, you mean.” She replied as she stared up at Vauhn with a sly grin. Who shook his head gently with a faint smile on his face. However despite her arrogance, one could not deny that Carole was a soft sight on the eyes, with long silver blonde hair, red cheeks and a pair of dazzling crystal blue eyes. She was also fiercely intelligent and found very little that challenged her academically.

On the table to their left sat two more fellow students, Lizelle Grobbelaar and Jason Littleton. They were a quiet couple, Jason more so, and very much kept to themselves. Despite their silence, they were still considered friends by the rest of the group.

However Lizelle sat up from her laptop screen, took off her circular spectacles and rubbed her eyes. “Wish it was that easy for me.” She said across to them, undoing the bobble her hair was in and re-tying it once again. “My brain feels like its about to fall apart.”

“Don’t worry so much Liz, I’ve seen your work, you’re going to do well!” Vauhn replied with a smile strung across his light brown face. “Have some pride in your work. What about you Jason, everything cool with you?”

At first Jason didn’t even register what it was that was said, and continued to furiously tap at the keys on his laptop. He made sure that he didn’t lose his train of thought. After a couple seconds, he looked up sheepishly, pushing his glasses back to the bridge of his nose. “Huh..? Wha.. What was that Vauhn?” He stammered.

“Your dissertation mate, going well?” Vauhn repeated

“Oh, yeah, yep. Quite well thanks.” After that short reply, Jason put his head down once again, to continue thrashing at the keys.

“Don’t take offence Vauhn.” said Liz, as she put her circular spectacles back on. “You know how focused he gets.” She leaned over and gave Jason’s hand a reassuring squeeze. Jason looked up from his work and a little smile grew on his face.

“Don’t worry, I know. I’ll let you guys get back on with it.” said Vauhn as he went to leave. “Oh and before I forget, Carole, try not to loose your pen this time okay?”

“No promises” She replied with a wink.

Vauhn then made his way back to his own table, once again shaking his head whilst chuckling to himself. At the table he was working at sat two more students, Kayla Wampler and Logan Cameron. When he finally reached his seat Kayla turned to him. “Yeah, ours are going fine, thanks for asking.” She snapped, whilst delivering a playful nudge.

” Hey! I didn’t ask because I knew that you two would be getting on just fine!” Vauhn replied calmly.

“I can’t wait for this all to be over.” Logan added dully, leaning back in his chair and staring at the rich blue sky that lay beyond the window. “Tempted to just pack it in now and go buy the biggest cheapest bottle of whiskey I can find and neck it in one.”

Kayla looked over at him. “This is the final stretch of it, you’re going to pass like all of us are. You underestimate yourself.” She said, in an attempt to comfort him.

“We’ll see.” He replied before running his hands through his brown messy hair.

Kayla rolled her eyes, and both herself and Vauhn continued on with their work. The room was then silent once again, except for the faint tapping of computer keys and the occasional scribble of cheap biro on paper.

Until unexpectedly Jason, of all people, spoke out. “I think there’s a chicken in here…”

All 5 of the other students turned to him, stared for a moment, then erupted into laughter.

“Where did that come from!?” Carole replied mockingly.

“I’m being serious, I heard a cluck.”

“I think you’ve been working too hard babe.” Lizelle said quietly to him, trying her best to contain the wild smile that was working across her face.

After a short moment the students had settled down and the silence returned. But Jason was still looking about nervously, trying to find the source of the noise that he swore he heard. Then seemingly out of no where a loud definitive cluck was heard within the small study room.

“Okay… I definitely heard that one…” Vauhn said nervously, as he looked up from his laptop.

All six of the students looked about their surroundings, trying to find the source of the noise, until Lizelle called out from the far end of the room, where she and Jason were sat.”It’s here! It’s a small chicken! Well… It sort of looks like a chicken…”

“How does a chicken just randomly show up here?” Kayla asked inquisitively, as she walked over with Vauhn and Logan.

“Beats me.” Vauhn shrugged.

All 6 of them gathered together in a small group, to look in confusion at thee chicken that had spontaneously appeared. It was unlike that of the domestic kind, the type you would find at your typical farm. It’s feathers were predominately grey, with some of them in its folded wings being blood red. The small bird hobbled about in an uneasy fashion, its body was hunched over forward and its head lacked the bobbing motion usually associated with a chickens walk. The small grey bird seemed to be eyeing up the group of people that towered over it. Then turned its head suddenly to the open door of the classroom that stood several meters away. Another loud set of clucks rang out.

The students all turned round and to their surprise, another grey and red chicken stood idly in the doorway.

“Another one?” Kayla asked, her question trailed off into an uneasy silence.

Carole laughed out loudly before saying “They’re only chickens! Can everyone just calm down!”

Just as Carole had finished her sentence the small bird behind them jumped up and dug its abnormally large claws into Kayla’s back. She screamed out in terror as the small bird began to peck violently at her neck.

The rest of the students jumped back in shock, except for Vauhn who instantly lunged for the small feathered menace, viciously grabbing it with both hands and ripping it off of Kayla. Who now had several lash marks across her back and lower neck.

Without really thinking, Vauhn raced over to a supply cupboard, and forced the bird inside. Locking it shut after the short struggle.

He stared down at his throbbing hands which, much like Kayla, had several deep slash wounds. But before anything could be said the second chicken attacked. This time lunging onto Jason, who fell backwards to the ground in shock as the chicken began to try and tear away at the flesh on his neck.

Carole flung into action, grabbing the chicken by the back of the neck and prising it off her fellow class mate, before slamming its head down hard onto a table. The chickens body twitched and spasmed as it slowly became limp and lifeless.

Liz dropped to the floor. “Jason! Are you okay?” She said, inspecting his neck for any sign of damage.

“I’m good. I’m good.” Jason replied as he was helped up onto his feet. “Thanks for the save Carole.”

“No problem sugar,” She said back calmly, as she dropped the headless chicken carcass to the floor. Carole looked at her tender hands, which were now covered in blood and brains. Then brought her gaze up to see 5 pair of eyes staring at her. She sweetly smiled back at their stunned faces.

“We need to get out of here.” Vauhn said sternly.

No one questioned that, they all fled out of the classroom and into the hallway.

“Who was given the key by Dr Pollum?” Kayla asked nervously.

Logan frantically patted down his body, then plunged a hand into one of his pockets. He produced a key in an open shaky hand to Kayla. Who snatched it straight away and locked the study room, before handing it back to the silent young man.

“What do we do now!?” Logan asked, a distinct look of fear was set in his eyes. “We… We…” Before Kayla could finish her sentence, another chicken slowly walked round the corner of the corridor. Standing idly, about 5 meters from them.

“Run!” Carole blurted out. All 6 of them darted down the corridor away from the new foe, who followed in hot pursuit.

They turned a tight corner, when Kayla noticed a door labelled ‘Women’s WC’. She threw a glance behind her, before waving her hands to the others, signalling them to follow her in. “Come on!” She cried.

One by one, the 6 of them crammed there way into the women’s wash room, closing the door behind them. “What the hell is going on!?” Carole cried out loudly, before making her way over to one of the white sinks that was fixed onto the wall, washing her bloodied hands clean. Vauhn did the same and ran cold water over the lacerations he sustained on his hands after his brief encounter with the first bird.

“I have no idea, But it would seem we have some carnivorousness chickens on our hands.” Kayla replied, clipping back her dark chestnut hair. Allowing for Vauhn to get a better look at the wounds that she also sustained from the brief encounter in the study room.

“These cuts are pretty bad Kayla, you’re going to need to get these properly looked at,” Vauhn told her, whilst dabbing at the fleshy cuts with the sleeve of his white cotton shirt.

“But how are we going to get out of here with those things around!” Logan exclaimed, “They’re going to kill us all!”

“We need to stay calm and collected about this,” Vauhn replied. “We need to get to the stairwell, and make our way to the ground floor in order to get out of here. We’re only on the second floor. So it shouldn’t be too difficult.”

“But we don’t know how many of those, chicken things there are. There could be more out there,” Logan reminded him, whilst picking timidly at his finger nails.

“We can’t stay here regardless.” Kayla Said, “We must keep movi- Liz… What’s that on you?”

Lizelle ran her delicate fingers through her rich ginger hair. She looked at her hands after, to find them covered in white powder. She rubbed the material between her thumb and index finger, before looking up towards the ceiling. As soon as she did a large clawed foot burst through the foam roof panel.

Liz screamed in terror, as this new foe tore the flimsy square board to bits with its large knife like talons. Jason grabbed her hand immediately, and pulled her towards the exit of the washroom. The rest of the group did the same and as they did the chicken flew down from the hole it had created and stood opposite, silently staring at them .

The group of students and the feathery menace were frozen for a moment, both trying to second guess the others next move. Carole took in a long deep breath and unexpectedly lunged forward.

Instantly Kayla threw her hand out to try and stop her, only to be violently shrugged off.

“Go!” Carole cried before launching her a foot towards the small grey bird.

Vauhn flung the door open and ordered everyone to move. The five students made their way out of the small female toilet. Kayla stayed at the door and turned back. “Carole!”

She looked on in horror as the relentless claws of the small bird slashed across Carole’s throat, her lifeless body slumped to the floor which was now glazed with fresh warm blood. Kayla watched in horror as her now lifeless eyes rolled to the back of her head. She slammed the door, and ran to join the others.

“Where’s Carole?!” Lizelle asked, as Kayla caught up with them.

“She’s gone.”

They exchanged a sombre look between one another, before Vauhn shouted back to them, “Quickly, the stairway is down here.”

However it wasn’t long before trouble came their way once again. As they came up to the corner that led to the stairwell they heard the unmistakable clucking noise once again. Without thinking the group split into two halves, which both took shelter in opposing rooms that lay on opposite sides of the corridor.

Vauhn, Logan and Kayla found themselves inside an I.t suite, whereas Lizelle and Jason had found refuge in an open study room, much like the one they had been in to begin with.

The noise from the bird had stopped, much to their surprise. However, the voices of 2 other unknown students could be heard coming from down the corridor.

“Hello… Is anyone out here?” One of the voices asked shyly.

“If anyone’s around, please help us, one of our friends is-” The young man never got finished his sentence and instead let out a cry of terror

Logan winced in fear as the screams continued slowly, until finally both of the unknown students were silent. The only noise that could be heard was the faint sound of moist flesh being torn from dry bone.

Vauhn peer round the doorway that he was crouched within and took a quick glimpse at the scene. Another grey bird had arrived and joined its counterpart in clawing at the two lifeless bodies. Picking at red ribbons of muscle and flesh.

Vauhn turned his attention over to Lizelle and Jason who sat across from them in the corridor, huddled tightly together in the door way of a study room . He ushered the couple to make their way over while silently mouthing the words, “Come now. They’re distracted”

The two of them whispered to each other for a moment, before Lizelle propped herself within the doorway. Ready to make the short leap across.

Kayla, Vauhn and Logan shuffled backwards, making a space for her to land in. Vauhn looked her dead in the eyes and counted down silently. “3… 2… 1..”

In one swift motion, Liz had silently and gracefully flew through the short width of the corridor and in 3 quick steps, had made it to the other side undetected. She let out a deep but quiet sign of relief, and opened her eyes to see Kayla and Logan before her. Vauhn however was still fixated on Jason, who was still to make the short bound.

The two young men poked their heads slightly round their respective door ways in order to observe the two birds that were still feasting a short way down from them. With a gulp, Jason turned his attention back towards Vauhn, who was ushering him over as he did with Liz moments before. He began to count down from 3 again silently, only to have Jason shake his head vigorously.

He put up a hand to tell Vauhn to wait, while he mustered up the courage to make the short bound across. Jason closed his eyes and steadied his restless breath. His heart was racing, he could hear each hounding beat pumping in his ears. Then, he stepped forward. But as he did, one of his eyes opened slightly and caught a faint glimpse of the shredded bodies that lay heaped shortly away from him.

He jumped back into the doorway that he had just stepped from.

Vauhn heart dropped instantly, he peered round once more to see that the two birds were aware of his presence and were scouting the area. Their heads jerked and twisted as they scanned their surroundings with their solid black beady eyes.

Trembles shook Jason’s entire body as he stared at the floor frozen in an icy fear. Jason looked up slowly, to see Vauhn across from him waving his hand. “Come on. Go!” He said silently.

Jason took a final deep breath… then lunged himself out into the corridor. Instantly the two chickens were upon him, he had missed his window for escape. Jason cried out in terror as two sets of deadly talons were sank deeply into his flesh.

“Jason!” Liz called out in horror, lunging forward herself in an attempt to aid her partner. However Vauhn slammed the door shut and flicked the small lock present under the handle. Sealing the two birds outside and leaving Jason to his demise.

Liz slammed her fists weakly on the door, before sobbing slowly, “Jason.. No…”

Kayla wrapped a reassuring arm around her, squeezing her shoulder softly. Before pulling her in completely and enveloping Liz with both arms. The poor girl sobbed heavily into her breast, her tears carrying the heavy anguish that she now felt in her heart. “First Carole, Now Jason,” She whispered.

Vauhn and Logan sat crouched low, looking upon the two embracing girls in silence.

“Liz, I know it’s hard. But we can’t mourn for Jason or Carole here. If we stay here, we’ll …” Kayla let her sentence trail off. “We need to keep moving Liz. Okay. Can you do that?”

Liz weakly nodded in reply, wiping the tears from her red eyes. Kayla brought her arms around her once more. No words needed to be said.

The moment was cut short as, from across the room, a faint sound of shuffling could be heard. Vauhn turned his attention to the rows of black computers that lay before them, attentively listening for the faintest sound…

Then again, a very soft sound of shuffling could be heard coming from somewhere within the room… The exact source of the noise was unknown, they all sat in silence. Petrified once again.

Vauhn stood up slowly, searching for any alternative exits within the I.T suite. One single door stood on the opposite side of the room slightly ajar, a mirror image of the door they had just come through.

The only thing that stood between them and the exit, was the rows of computers, which housed whatever it was making the mysterious noise.

“We have to make our way across” Vauhn told the others, as he crouched down once again. “There’s a door on the opposite side of the room, and it’s our only way out.”

Logan leaned forward slightly and whispered “What do we do about the thing that’s in here with us… Do you think it’s one of those birds?”

“I don’t know.. But I have an idea.”

After a quick briefing the two young men proceeded to put their plan into action. Each had made their way over to opposing ends of one of the long singular desks, that held a collection of desktop computers upon them. Each of them positioned one after another in a long uniform line. Another desk littered with computers sat opposite. The source of the faint ruffling noise was somewhere underneath the two desks, where exactly the boys did not know. But both determined to find out.

Vauhn signalled Logan, who had just appeared at the other end of the desk. Slowly he got up, stopping for a moment as the ruffling noise could be heard briefly once again, before continuing to silently disconnect a keyboard from one of the desktops. He gave a nod back towards Vauhn when he had the keyboard firmly gripped in his hands.

Vauhn suddenly jumped up into the middle of the two rows of computer desks and shouted “Come and get me! You chicken bastard!” In an attempt to provoke whatever may be hiding from them.

Sure enough, something jumped out from under the table and Logan, without thinking, heavily brought down the keyboard onto it.

“Ow!” The creature cried out in pain, “What the hell are you doing!”

Both Logan and Vauhn both froze for a second. Laying on the floor before them was a girl in a white lab coat, who was rubbing her head vigorously. Liz and Kayla crept their way round, to see what was going on.

Logan dropped the keyboard hastily back onto the desk, and went to help the girl. “I’m so sorry!” He stammered nervously, “I didn’t know that-”

“Just back off, you creep!” She replied, pushing him away. “I can get up myself.” The girl climbed back up onto her feet, still rubbing the sore patch on her head, where the keyboard had struck. She re-did the bobble that tied back most of her rich brunette hair. Two wavy strands gently spread from her forehead and flowed to her jaw line, framing her pale brown face in a soft chestnut border.

“We’re sorry for attacking you… We couldn’t be too careful..” Vauhn explained calmly. “Not with these… Chickens around.”

“It’s fine, It’s fine.” The dark hair girl replied, taking a brief moment to calm herself down. “What are you guys doing here?”

“Escaping from the chicken menace… You?” Logan replied, a hint of sarcasm to his voice.

“Likewise. I was going to head out into that opposing corridor. I’m trying to get to the west stairway”

“That way is out of order now.” Vauhn said to the new acquaintance. “We’ve got to head that way.” He pointed to the only other door that stood opposite them.

“Well we can’t head that way either… I ran in here running from a-”

She stopped her sentence midway as she heard the door creak open. They all fell straight to the floor and bolted underneath one of the desks and listened.

A bizarre unnerving noise pierced the room. Whatever the creatures were, they were sounding less like the average chicken. Instead of the usual cluck that the students had heard previously, an unearthly screech rang through their ears. The shrill started out in a low menacing tone, then shot up to an unnervingly high pitch.

Kayla clasped her hands to her ears as an icy shiver shot up her spine. Vauhn reached out for her knee and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

Then came a tense silence, nothing but the faintest of footsteps could be heard. As the bird slowly made its way into the I.T suite.

All five students remained perfectly still, huddled underneath the desk. “We should move,” The newly acquainted girl whispered, as she pointed towards the end of the desk.

Vauhn nodded and cocked his head to signal the others. They all slowly shuffled their way down, being careful to avoid moving chairs that were stood nearby. The slightest sound was made by their un-nerving passage, that of the nylon carpet scraping against their clothes as they crawled.

It took them little time to reach the end of the long white desk and when they did they huddled together once more, remaining out of sight.

Vauhn leaned forward, attempting to look round the corner of the desk but was quickly grabbed by Kayla. “What are you doing?!” She growled in a hush tone.

“We’ve got to find out if the coast is clear at some point!” He shrugged her arm off. “We can’t just sit here Kayla.”

“Will you two be quiet!” The new brown hair girl snapped.

Kayla turned to glare at her. But her mood suddenly shifted, as did everyone else’s, as a clattering sound could be heard coming from above.

Logan turned and stared at Liz, who sat next to him, with wide worried eyes. Liz clasped both hands over her mouth, to subdue a scream of terror she could feel brewing in her throat.

“It’s above us,” The brown haired girl mouthed silently as she pointed upwards.

They sat their hopelessly waiting. Every dread filled moment dragged on endlessly. Each second felt like a minute, every minute an hour. As they sat, listening to the claws scratch back and forth on the hard table top above.

However the clattering of the claws seemingly trailed off and the group were left in an uneasy silence. They all shifted their nervous eyes between one another.

Vauhn pointed at himself, then pointed outwards with one finger. Liz and Kayla both shook their heads in disapproval. Despite this Vauhn began to lean out once more, shaking Kayla’s hand away as she inevitably tried to stop him.

He poked his head out slowly, turning as he did to see the top edge of the desk and half of a computer monitor that sat upon its surface. He edged outwards more, then raised his head up further in order to gain a better view of the desk above.

Out of no where two ferocious set of claws came flying towards his face. Vauhn clasped the two legs of the bird and fell heavily backwards. The giant talons that were thrashing at his face were unlike that of any normal bird he had ever seen.

They were extremely large and sharp and the rest of the feet were covered in large grey scales, of which Vauhn clung onto. Attempting to distance the wild claws from his face.

“Vauhn!” Kayla cried, leaping out from under the desk.

“Go! Now!” He shouted.

Each of them seized the moment and dashed from under the desk towards the door. Logan latched onto Kayla’s arm, dragging her along. The whole time she remained fixated on Vauhn. Who was trying his hardest to prevent one of the deadly talons from reaching his face. The cuts on his hands, that he had sustained previously, re-opened and a wash of red seeped down his arms.

Within moments all of the company, except for Vauhn had made it through the door. Logan was the last one through and instinctively went to slam it shut behind him. However Kayla jumped forward and prevented him from doing so before shouting, “Vauhn! Hurry!”

Vauhn heard her shout from across the room, however it was this brief moment of distraction that allowed one of the might talons to tear its way into the side of his head and cleave a deep gash down his face.

A surge of red gushed from the wound and soaked the collar of his shirt. Vauhn cried out in pain.

“Vauhn please!” Kayla cried out once more, “Hurry!”

He clambered onto his feet, still gripping tightly to the feet of the blood thirsty bird. He proceeded to slam the bird down onto a computer, the pain that pulsed from his fresh wound fuelled his anger and strength. With each repeated blow the bird let out ear splitting screeches, until finally it was silent.

Vauhn looked down at his hands, the deep lacerations oozed out a wash of blood.

“Vauhn!”

He cocked his head up as he heard Kayla call his name again and noticed the bird beginning to twitch upon the desk top. He turned on his heels and ran straight for the others, who were still waiting for him beyond the door way.

“We need to move now,” The unnamed girl said to Vauhn, as he made his way to them, slamming the door shut as he did so. “That bird called for back-up”

“How do you know that?” Kayla asked firmly.

“I’m a zoology student.”

Kayla raised an eyebrow suspiciously, “So do you know what’s going on here?”

The zoology student quickly shifted her eyes between the 4 people coldly staring at her, “I’ll explain later. But right now we need to move. There’s a lab on the floor below us, that one of my friends is in at the moment, he claims its secure.”

Logan looked over to Kayla and Vauhn. Who in turn both looked at each other.

“It’s the best plan we’ve got,” Kayla said quietly, before turning to Vauhn, “we need to get you some medical aid.”

Vauhn just nodded, looking down sombrely at his throbbing hands and feeling his warm blood soaked shirt sticking to his skin.

“Come on then. Follow me.” With that, the young Zoologist turned and ran, her white lab coat billowing up as she went. The rest followed in hot pursuit down the corridor. She lead them into a stair well and they all made there way down a floor. Shortly after which the zoologist led them to the entrance to the lab..

She fumbled in her pocket for her phone, and rapidly punched the keys that appeared upon the small touch screen. Liz, Logan, Kayla and Vauhn looked behind themselves at the stairway, looking for any sign of movement and listening for any slight sound. They all jumped slightly as the latch to the laboratory was unlocked.

The heavy door slowly swung open and one by one, the students all made their way inside.

End of Part 1

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