A New World Beckons, and It's Filled with Death Chickens
rating: +15+x

It sat there, silent, unmoving.

People moved around it, people of all shapes and sizes, of all colors and backgrounds, doctors, staff, security alike.

And it sat there, watching.

It was waiting for something. A girl. A girl that it had vowed to meet one day.

It sensed that it was coming here. To where she wasn’t needed. To where she wasn’t wanted. To where she wanted to be.

And in that moment, it will start something that will kill them all.

So it waited. And waited. And waited. Dust and grime caked its fur. Mud and dirt brought brown to black.

And still it waited. And waited. And waited.

Then a human with black hair picked it up one day, a woman with green eyes and a beautiful smile.

It thought she resembled the girl which it wanted to meet.

She washed it, bathed it, cleaned it.

Not necessary. It just needed to wait.

Soon, it would be able to do its bloody work.

“Okay,” Robo said, trudging up the endless flights of stairs from floor -13 up to floor -12. “What’s my name when we get up to Greattown?”

Siggy sighed, adjusting the dirty, dark, purple backpack on her shoulders and the hood over her head with her good hand. She hated it when Robo did that.

“You’re Rob Wayne, former janitor, scare enthusiast.” She said dejectedly.

“And what’s your relation to me?”

She sighed, rolling her eyes. “You’re my dad.”

“And what’s my daughter’s name?”

She recounted each word with the same bored energy as the million other times when she said them.

“My name is Sarah Wayne, eleven years old, daughter of Rob Wayne, a girl who likes to see wizards and witches, watched Hairy Potts as an eight year old-“

Robo put up a finger. “I think that’s Harry Fatter, Siggy.”

Siggy snorted. “No it’s not! The people at the Library said it was Hairy Potts. I’m sure, Robo.”

Robo sighed as he continued up the flights of stairs. “We’ve been at this since we started practice down at the bottom of the stairs. It’s Harry Fatter.”

Siggy narrowed her eyes. “Wait, why would a wizard be called ‘Harry Fatter’? It doesn’t make sense!”

Robo shrugged. “You never know, maybe his parents thought it would be great to call him fat.” He coughed. “What doesn’t make sense is you calling him Hairy Potts.

Siggy’s eyes widened in disbelief. “Come on, Robo! I mean, you had the same argument.” She shrugged in the same way as Robo. “Maybe his parents thought he was hairy or something and decided to name him after that.”

“And the ‘Potts’ part?”

Siggy stopped.

The gears in her head were churning.

“I don’t know, he was born in a pot?”

Robo laughed. Hard.

Siggy blushed, biting her lip in irritation.

“Hey, at least I didn’t call him ‘Fatter’!”

Robo kept laughing. “At least I didn’t think he came from a pot!”

“He could’ve!” Siggy insisted.

Robo scoffed, jokingly. “Hey kid. You’re eleven, not eight. It’s like the same as saying Santa Claus exists.”

Siggy knotted her eyebrows. “Wait, what?”

Robo turned his head. “What?”

“Santa Claus doesn’t exist?”

Robo continued up the stairs. “That’s one of yer kid’s stories, right? The Library folks said so.”

Siggy raised her voice in surprise. “They told you that? That’s bull-“

Robo looked over his shoulder. “Hey, don’t cuss. You told me that a long time ago.”

Siggy gritted her teeth. “It’s poppycock, Robo! Santa Claus exists, I’ve seen him! Lana told me about him once, and then the next day he was there at my door!”

“Psshhh,” Robo said, disregarding what she said. “The Library folks are really smart. They wouldn’t be wrong.”

Siggy shrunk away in horror. “You’d believe the Library folks over your own best friend?

“Well, they haven’t been wrong so far. They told us where to find the stairwell up to the next floor, didn’t they? Told us how to get up to Greattown too.”

Siggy attempted to cross her arms. “What’s at Greattown anyway?”

Robo looked back at her, smiling from behind his helmet. “Well, provisions, information, food that isn’t cheese balls-“

Siggy raised her eyebrows. “Cheese balls are divine!

Robo chuckled. “Only you seem to love eating them day in and day out for the past three or so years.” He patted his furry belly. “I want variety in my diet, Sigg. Just imagine it- hot stews, rice, escargot-“

“What’s that last one?”

“Escargot?” Robo shrugged again. “No idea, but Doctor Ulman said it was her favorite.”

Siggy pursed her lips. “Hmm.”

They were getting closer to the end of the stairwell now. “Anyways, back to topic, Greattown’s got everything we need. Lana might be there, too. It’s the biggest town in the Site, remember? They probably have kids there.”

“Biggest surviving town.” Siggy corrected him. “There are a lot of stuff on Floor -12 that didn’t survive the skips running around.”

She shot him a dirty look. “And I have met other damn kids before. Remember Cole?”

“Hey. Don’t say that.”

“Don’t say what?”


Siggy cocked her head. “I mean it’s just-“

“And Cole was two years older than you. Stop going on and on about the fact that he’s dreamy.”

“Hey you-“

“Hey!” A voice said from above. “Quiet down there!”

Siggy’s eyes widened.

Beside her, Robo had already transformed into Rob Wayne, a portly man with a dirty suit and a comically large mustache. “Oi there!” He shouted up in a horrible English accent (he copied it from Doctor Ulman). “Whatever are you doing up there?”

The voice shouted down. “Whatever are you doin’ down there? You two are noisier than the Fourth of July!”

Siggy whispered to Robo. “What’s that?”

“I have no idea.” Robo whispered back. He shouted up to the voice above them. “Pardon? What does that mean?”

“It means you two’re noisy as fuck!”

Robo stayed silent for a few seconds, exchanging glances with Siggy beside him.

What do we do? Robo mouthed.

Siggy shrugged and put her left hand up beside her shoulders. No idea.

“Oh!” He shouted back up. “I do apologize, me and my daughter were just discussing something.”

“Well then discuss fuckin’ quieter you sons of bitches! You’re gonna bring the chickens down on us.”

Robo looked at Siggy again. They mouthed the same thing. The chickens?

“Ah!” Robo said. “Real sorry about that! We were just headed to Greattown!”

“Me too, what a coincidence!” The voice responded. “I’ll wait for ya two!”

Robo stared up for a few seconds. “Okay!”

He looked at Siggy. “Better get up there quickly, Hairy Potts.” He whispered, smiling.

Siggy ran up past him. As she did, she whispered in his ear. “Race you there first, Harry Fatter.”

Robo smiled. “Is that a challenge, Santa Claus?”

Siggy chuckled, then whispered back. “I don’t know Doctor Ulman, is it?”

“Ohoho, yes it is, Cole!” Robo shouted as he ran right past her.

Siggy’s eyes enlarged to the size of a small ball as she started to run after him. “You take that back!”

“No I won’t!” Robo said, gaining a substantial lead. “I have the lead, Sig- I mean, Sarah!”

Siggy ran as fast as she could, but she still couldn’t keep up. “Hey, no fair Ro- I mean dad!”

They were getting up to the last set of stairs. Robo was still in the lead, but Siggy was rapidly catching up.

“Come here, dad!” Siggy shouted. “I haven’t gotten to you yet!”

Robo started to let himself lag a bit, slowing down. “No, you aren’t!” Siggy noted that he still had that stupid accent on. “I’m way faster than you, you suckyface!”

Siggy was neck-and-neck with Robo now. If only she could gain with those last few steps…

Then, suddenly, she started edging past Robo.

“Whoooooo!” She shouted, both arms in the air as she passed him. “Victoire for Sarah!”

Soon, they came to the last step. Siggy jumped on it in full-force, the sound of her feet hitting the first bit of Floor -12 a sweet sound to behold.

She put her good hand on her knees as she panted, and as Robo came up to her, he seemed to be panting heavily as well.

“No damn fair, Sarah!” Robo said between breaths. “No damn fair!”

Siggy offered him a high-five. “Congrats for coming in last place, dad.

Robo high-fived her with all the force he could muster. “Shut it, daughter.” He said, chuckling.

Then, they heard steps rattling on the ground in front of them.

They both looked up, and came face-to-face with a large, muscled, blonde-haired woman. The owner of the voice that they had talked to earlier.

“I thought you promised that you’d be quiet?” She said, disappointed, her voice characterized by an even greater twang than Robo’s.

Robo stood up, still panting. “We were.” He smiled at Siggy. “Just not on that last flight.”

The woman shook her head, smiling as she did. She extended her hand towards Robo. “Nice to meet ya, ya noisy asses. My name’s Alina.”

Robo took it and shook it with restrained, aristocratic vigor. Like Doctor fucking Ulman, Siggy thought. The voice that came out of Robo’s mouth was no less pompous.

“Robert Wayne, you can call me Rob. I’m a scare extraordinaire and a former member of the janitorial staff.” He put extra stress on “janitorial”. It took everything in Siggy not to sigh.

He gestured to Siggy. “This is Sarah, my daughter. She loves wizards and witches and Harry Fatter.”

Alina squinted at them. “Riiiight.” She cleared her throat. “Well, I’m a former member of site security, so there’s that.” She turned her gaze to Robo. “Where did ya say you were headin’?”

“Greattown, good ma’am.” Robo said. “My daughter and I wish to visit it to find a certain someone.”

Alina crossed her arms. “A certain someone, ah? Well, welcome to the club. First time heading to Greattown?”

Robo nodded. “You can be rest assured of that.”

Alina gestured to the door beside her. “Well, even if you two did head to Greattown before, you would barely recognize it now. Stuff’s… changed.”

Robo cocked his head. “Changed how?”

“Changed in a way that would rival all the other floors.” She placed her hand on the door. “Take a look.”

She pushed it open, and the sight robbed the breath from the both of them.

Instead of the dull, grey corridors that they’d come to expect from a new floor, they were greeted with an endless sea of green, lit by great bioluminescent balls from the extremely high ceiling that shone a light on the entire scene. Trees populated the floor in sparse copses, a sight that both Siggy and Robo had never seen before. Great stone pillars supported the ceiling from the ground, looking like it could barely hold up the weight with their sparseness, but seeming to never crack under the pressure. Wind blew through the great meadows and the farmlands, and in the far, far distance, they saw it- the tell-tale grey of concrete, dictating the ends of this paradise. In the center, they saw a town that almost resembled a cylindrical tower with multiple grey rooms in the center, surrounded by a great collection of tents, concrete buildings, and a few structures made out of wood. A basic palisade rounded out the entire thing, made out of long and sharpened wooden stakes with guard towers scattered throughout.

“Woah.” Siggy and Robo said at the same time.

“Beautiful, ain’t it?” Alina said. “Well, look at it and behold. What you see here was apparently some kind of restructuring thing. Stretched the floor so far up but didn’t affect the chickens above and below. All that grass, those sky lanterns? Wasn’t there last time. Perks of living in an anomaly, I guess.” She came through the door, her shoes touching the uncountable blades of grass.

She looked back at the two at the doorway, who were standing there with their mouths hanging open. She beckoned them to come out.

“Hey, what’s the hold-up? You guys haven’t seen grass before?”

Siggy still stood there, slack-jawed and astonished. “I- I-“

Robo spoke up to cut her off. “Of course we have! It’s just that it’s so beautiful and original that we are simply astonished by the sight.”

Alina chuckled to herself. “Well, yeah. It does have its perks.” Her eyes explored the vast interior of the floor, as if she were admiring it for the first time again. “Killed a lot of people when it happened though.”

Siggy and Robo weren’t listening. Instead, they were both staring at each other’s faces, daring the other to go first.

“You’re a witch aren’t you?” Robo said. “Be my guest.”

Siggy shot him an irritated look. “You’re the big tough monkey man. You go first.”

“No, you.” Robo said, gesturing to the grass.

“No, please.” Siggy said, her lips curling up in a fake smile.

Robo crossed his arms. “Do it.”

Siggy crossed her arms. “No, you do it.”

Half a dozen feet away, Alina rolled her eyes.

“Come on, Si- Sarah.”

“Well, you come on, dad.”

Then, suddenly, they felt themselves being pulled out into the floor, their shoes (in the case of Siggy) and bare feet (in the case of Robo) touching the grass for the first time in their lives.

Alina could only grin to herself. “Was that so bad?”

“Woah.” Robo said, his feet feeling the grass beneath him.

“This is…” Siggy walked around. “New.”

“Why is it so crunchy?” Robo said.

“Because it’s grass, you dumbasses.” Alina said, shaking her head. “Come on, we don’t have much time. Supper’s in an hour.”

She turned away to head to the town, and Siggy and Robo followed, marvelling at the feeling of treading on grass as they did.

The walls seemed to loom when they got close- large and imposing wooden palisades that seemed to preclude everything from the sight of anyone outside. In the middle was a gate, guarded by two people wearing site security armor and with assault rifles at the ready.

“’Sup, Alina.” One said. “You got outlanders?”

“Noisy ones.” Alina responded. “Father and daughter.”

The one on the left laughed. He turned his head towards Siggy. “You two from the lower floors, kid?”

Siggy’s eyes were wide. She nodded. “Y-yeah. Definitely. From -24.”

“Whoo, damn. That far down? You guys have come far.” The one on the right looked at Robo. “What, your dad never taught you the virtue of staying quiet after all that time?”

Robo put his arm protectively over Siggy’s shoulder. “It was only on the upper flights, after we met Alina. We kept quiet before that.”

The one on the left nodded. “Stay safe you two, alright? This ain’t the lower floors where it’s big enough that nothing can hear you. Up here, shit can get dangerous.”

Siggy raised an eyebrow. “Why is that?”

“Chickens, kid.” The one on the right said. “Lots of chickens.”

Alina spurred them forward. “I’ll explain later.”

Past the gate, the crowds within were bustling, far more than any of the crowds they’d seen from the one settlement that they’d visited. Relative to even that, Greattown was large, with a population numbering in the low hundreds. Around them, so many people were talking, walking, and going about their daily lives that it simply felt overwhelming to the two. To the side, there were hawkers, selling their goods to passersby. Just ahead of them, there seemed to be a large red tent, and beside it a market that was full of people.

“That’s a lotta people.” Siggy said.

“We had more.” Alina said, cryptically. “At least we got farms now.”

She went past them, gesturing them to follow her. “Come on. I’ll take you to my house. You two seem appropriately lost.”

Robo and Siggy exchanged glances. Robo spoke up. “Alright.”

Past Alina, they wove through the crowds of people. Now that they were in the middle of the town, she smelled all the tell-tale signs of civilization that neither of them had smelled before- fried food, roasted meat, stewing vegetables, and along with them the smell of sweat accompanied by the hollering and baying calls of vendors.

They left it as soon as Alina beckoned them into the great concrete cylindrical tower at the center, where a variety of people were ascending and descending the thing with ladders and ramps towards where the different floors should be.

They came to one of the ramps that ascended steeply upward. Alina stepped on it with no problem, and Siggy and Robo meekly followed.

People passed them as they walked on the ramps and the precarious concrete outcroppings of the structure. Some passed without giving them any mind. Others nodded at Alina as they walked, while more seemed to gawk at the two with curiosity.

Siggy seemed to instinctively shrink away at their inquisitive looks.

“Don’t mind them.” Robo said, holding Siggy close. “Don’t.”

Soon, they came to a small room on the side of the structure on the second floor. In front of it was a large metal door, with a translucent window and a lock on the knob.

Alina fished out her keys, unlocking the door as she did. It gave way with a long creeeaaaak, allowing them to head inside. As they did, in a practiced manner that suggested that she’d done this hundreds of times, Alina turned on the electric lantern to her right, and it was then that the interior of the room became clear.

At the center of the room was a mattress, with a few books beside it. Off to the side were desks, with a variety of things atop them- a baton, a suit of site security armor, an assault rifle, as well as a bunch of picture frames that contained a variety of strangers and taken from various locales. There wasn’t much space for anything else, sadly, and this was made apparent when Alina sat on a rickety desk chair to the right of the mattress and gestured to the entire room.

“Home sweet home, you two.” She said. “It’s cramped, I know, but it’s… home.”

She leaned forward on her chair. “Makes yourselves at home. I don’t have any other chairs, so you two can sit on the mattress.”

Siggy nodded. “Thanks.”

Robo nodded as well. “Yeah. Thanks.”

They sat awkwardly on the mattress on the floor, Siggy barely fitting on the mattress as Robo took up the majority of the space.

It was an uncomfortable arrangement all around.

Alina reclined on her chair. “So… what are your numbers?”

Robo and Siggy immediately perked up, startled. “What?” They said at the same time.

“Your designations! You’re skips, aren’tcha?”

Robo stuttered. “I- I-“

Alina put out her hands in front of her in a gesture to convey that she meant no harm. “Hey, hey. Don’t worry about me. I won’t murder or imprison or contain the both o' you. You seem alright. If you weren’t, I’d’ve reported you to the guards at the gate. They know how to sort a skip real quick.”

She leaned forward again. “And Imma good judge of character, so trust me.” She looked at the both of them. “What are your designations? And your names? Your true names?”

“Well…” Robo said.

She chuckled to herself. "And drop the British accent, Rob. You aren't fooling anyone."

Robo just stared back at her, surprised.

Siggy spoke up. “I’m uh… 239. Siggy. This is 2006, RoboMonkey.”

A silence followed.

Alina squinted at them intensely, as if she were trying to figure out what they were.

Siggy, at that moment, felt terrified.

Then she smiled, and laid back on the chair. “Means nothing to me. I don’t read the files.”

“You… trust us?” Robo said. “Why do you trust us?”

Alina smiled. “Trust is in short order out here. So long as you two don’t accidentally blow up the town or suddenly trigger another restructuring, you’ll have nothing from me. Just be careful outside, yeah?”

She gestured to the both of them. “What do you two do, anyways?”

“Well…” Robo said. “I can shapeshift into anything that scares people. That’s about it.”

“And from your name, what scares people is a RoboMonkey?”

Robo knotted his eyebrows, then nodded. “Yeah. Of course.”

Alina chuckled. “What about the form you’re assuming now?”

“Well, Sig-“

Siggy immediately shot him a dirty look.

Robo shrunk instantly. “Nevermind.”

Alina chuckled again. She turned to Siggy. “How ‘bout you?”

“I…” Siggy squirmed on the mattress uncomfortably. “I can cast spells. That’s about it.”

“Spells, huh? Which ones?”

“Fire. And light. And summoning stuff.” She looked up at her. “That’s about it.”

Alina seemed surprised. “That’s it?” She crossed her arms. “You can’t heal people, for example?”

Robo and Siggy exchanged glances.

Then, carefully, Siggy placed her hand on her right hoodie sleeve, rolling it down to reveal her arm.

At that, Siggy rolled down her right sleeve with her left hand.

The stump of her arm ended abruptly beneath her elbow.

“Damn.” Alina said, a pitying look on her face. “I’m sorry.”

Siggy smiled weakly, then rolled her sleeve back down again. “It’s alright. I’ve lived with it since I was eight.”

Alina looked intently at her, worry and sympathy coloring her face. “Fuckin’ ‘ell.”

“Well, enough about us.” Robo said, wanting to get the topic immediately away from Siggy’s arm. “What about you?”

Alina chuckled. “Me? Nothing much to say, really. I was in this office when the CB went down, we banded together, people died, the restructuring happened, I was lucky to be in here again, about seventy percent of us died, and I’ve worked as a scout for chicken infestations ever since. That’s about the extent of my experience here.”

Siggy cocked her head. “As a scout? For chicken infestations?”

Alina nodded. “Yeah. They’re all around the upper and lower floors, so people like me periodically ascend and descend to check. Luckily, each floor is super big, so it's taking them a while to fill even one with eggs." She looked at them. "You guys haven't seen them before?"

Robo shook his head. "We were lucky to know the way out of -13 and -14."

Alina smiled. "Well, lucky for you." She gestured outside, to the direction of the walls. "We stopped bothering to barricade the doors to their coops a long time ago, since they almost always jumped over or broke through them immediately, so our job is to clear the stairwells for travelers and put any eggs in water, patrol and catalog where the coops are, and-“

Robo interrupted her. “But I mean, why chickens?”

Alina smiled, chuckling at the question. “I ask myself that everyday. They’re skips, like you two. What explanation is there?” She cleared her throat. “We lose a lot of people to them every year, but we manage. They mostly stay near their coops, but they're still enough of a threat that we dedicate people to making sure they're relatively contained and don't make any more infestations that we can't handle.”

She gestured to them. "Your turn. What brings you two fine folks to Greattown?"

Robo answered. "We're finding someone. An old…" He looked towards Siggy.

"My aunt." Siggy completed the sentence for him. "We've been trying to find her for the last… three years?"

"Damn." Alina said. "Well, I don't know where else you guys have docked, there's only really us and the Library within the last five floors. But hey, if your aunt ain't dead or up at 0 already, you can be rest assured she's here. You can probably find her at supper."

Then, at that moment, Siggy’s belly rumbled.

“Hey,” Alina said. “You hungry, little girl?”

Siggy nodded.

Alina got up from her chair and turned to the door. She smiled. “Thankfully, you guys had the fortune of meeting me. I can treat you to your first meal, no problem.”

Siggy smiled. “Thank you very much.”

Alina opened the door, and ruffled her hair as Robo and Siggy went past. “No problem, kid.”

Then she turned off the lantern, closed the door, and at once everything was darkness.

The big red tent with which everyone gathered to eat their communal meal was extremely crowded, jampacked with about two-thirds of the entire town.

To their right, sellers stood serving people in exchange for coin, and as Siggy neared it, the smell was absolutely heavenly. It was just as Robo promised. Stews, vegetables, even some meat- each dish smelled tastier than the last, and as she slowly neared the booths, Alina put her hand on her shoulder and shoved a handful of metal bottle caps into her hand.

“Pick whatever you want. Just make sure to only eat what you need to, though. People are waiting.”

At that, Siggy zipped away, excitedly chattering as she headed to the booth of the nearest stew vendor.

“Is she always like this?” Alina asked Robo as they found a table.

“No,” he responded. “Usually, she just eats cheese balls.”

Alina shot him a look. “Cheese balls?”

Robo chuckled. “Yeah.”

“Damn! How the hell have you been raising her?”

Robo put his hands on his waist. “She’s the one who makes the food, not me. I’m just the shapeshifter.”

Alina laughed. “Just make sure to rein her in when the time to say Peace comes.”

Robo looked at her askance. “Peace?”

“Sorta prayer before you eat. Everyone does it however they want, and we decide to just have a moment of silence so people can actually do it. Someone leads, usually. We take turns doing that. The most important people usually do it the most times, though.”

Ahead of them, Siggy had a handful of stew in her good hand, and to her it smelled absolutely divine.

She sat across from Robo and Alina, and look questioningly at them.

“What is it, Sigg?” Robo said.

Siggy smiled, before she pushed the bowl of stew towards them.

“You guys want some?”

Before they could respond, a sudden burst of feedback filled the entire tent.

“Agh!” Robo said, covering his ears. “What the hell is that?

Alina smiled. “Something to get everyone’s attention.”

In front of everyone, a figure with a microphone stood up on a podium, black hair cascading past her shoulders.

“It’s time to say your Peace.” The figure said, her voice young and kind.

“Why are you all looking that way?” Siggy said innocently.

“Shh, Siggy. We’re beginning.”

Knotting her eyebrows, she looked over her shoulder.

Then, in front of everyone, she found her.

Jet-black hair, the perpetual kind smile on her face, the warm green eyes that said that everything was alright.

In her arms was a freshly cleaned teddy bear, like the one she gave Siggy a long time ago.

As everyone stood in silence, Siggy’s mouth lolled open.

At that moment, only one word played across her lips.


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License