Rating: PG-13 for language
Word Count: 2531
Characters: Dean, Sam, OMC
This fic is unbeta'd.
Author's Note: My apologies for so many...uh...smells.
Prompt: There's a reason Dean has a special hatred for chickens.
Please show some love for etoile_etiolee and her fantastic art! Particularly the YEC!
Dean checked his watch. 3 AM. Sam snored on the bunk below. Dean looked out into the pitch dark. It was unnervingly quiet at the edge of the forest. The damn upper bunk was level with the cabin window, which had no glass. Mosquitoes were throwing a party on his exposed flesh.
None of the cabin windows had glass, and the door was merely a frame. There was no running water. The toilet was a wooden privy out in the dark woods. Dean would never admit it to anyone:he was scared to go out to the privy in the dark. He always took his flashlight and gun.
Sam stirred and woke up with a snort. He had the bottom bunk because he was too big for the beds. This way his feet could hang off the end. Dean heard his brother shuffle out of the cabin and out toward the privy. Clumping feet. Softly breaking bushes.
A startled “WHA?” followed by a scream.
Dean sat up, gun in hand. “Sam?”
An ungodly odor stung his eyes and nostrils. Not even sulfur or brimstone smelled this hideous.
“Sam! What the hell happened?”
“Mother-fucking SKUNK! Oh my Jesus—oh crap, crap, crap—“ Crashing in the bushes. “Aaaaa!”
“I can’t see! That thing came out of nowhere! Oh my God, I can’t stand it!”
“I’d help you out, buddy, but you stink!”
“Screw yourself! Oh crap! Oh crap!”
“That’s why you take a flashlight, Sammy!”
When not hunting, the Winchesters took itinerant jobs, where no questions were asked and nobody cared who they were. Pumping gas in Wyoming, construction work in Florida (in the summer—Jesus Christ!) and now working on a farm in Vermont. It had looked so pretty when they drove up. Like a postcard. Green forest, blue sky, red barn, the works. The farmer, Jordan, needed farmhands because, according to him, he’d caught three of his farmhands having a “cow party.” Jordan refused to give details.
The rooster crowed before dawn. The brothers had never heard a real rooster. Sam thought it was cool. (Dumbass thought everything was cool.)
Dean knew it meant another day of getting up, of unrelenting chores. Milking the cows, mucking out the horse stalls, feeding the livestock, chopping wood, driving the tractor out to the fields to spread horse manure over the crops...then a quick wash-down at the barn pump and collapsing onto a thin mattress on a hard wooden bunk. And it was barely sunset. The only pleasure during the day was when Mrs. Jordan brought them their meals. She wasn’t a good cook, but at least the brothers got to sit down for half an hour.
And Dean had parked Baby under a tree that dripped sap all over the car. Dean shot the tree, but it didn’t make him feel any better.
Dean would have made fun of his brother for being a big wuss, but yowza, that skunk stink was worse than a rotted corpse! (But then, Dean had gotten used to rotted corpses by the time he was twelve.) He scrambled down from the bunk and approached his brother, but he couldn’t get nearer than several feet.
“You’ve gotta get to the farmhouse, Sammy.”
“Help me—I can’t see—“
“I’m not coming any closer, dude. Follow the sound of my voice.”
Dean stepped out onto the lawn, calling to Sam periodically to make sure his brother wouldn’t get lost. The yellow farmhouse loomed in the dark. Dean shook his head. He climbed the steps up to the porch and knocked hard on the door.
A window opened on the second floor. “Skunk,” called out Jordan.
“Ya think?” said Dean,
“Please—help—“ Sam whimpered.
“He knows that.”
“Get off my porch. I won’t have that odor in my house.” The window closed. After a minute, the porch light switched on and Jordan came out, pulling on a pair of overalls. “Young man, you were mighty close to that skunk. Go down to the barn, fill a barrel of water. I’ll give your brother the carbolic soap and vinegar. You have to do it every day, but you’ll smell like nothing holy for a week, prob’ly.”
“Kill me,” Sam whimpered.
“DIE, you sonavabitch!”
Dean beheaded the chicken with his demon knife, then dropped the bird on the ground, where it twitched for several seconds. Why these suckers didn’t run around like “a chicken who got its head cut off” was only one of the many things that pissed Dean off. He hated chickens.
He didn’t hate the cows who kicked over the milk bucket when he was milking them. He didn’t hate the horses who tried to crush him into the stall walls when Dean was in there with them. He didn’t hate the pigs—how could anyone hate pigs? They were cute, in a huge, stubbly haired kind of way. The swine milled around, grunting, in their pen, and came alive when Dean and Sam brought the slop buckets. The brothers had to climb in to pour the slop into the troughs. The squealing pigs knocked them over into the mud and manure. Like kids, the brothers started laughing, throwing mud at each other and trying to stand up amid the roiling hogs. Sam still smelled of skunk. But now that it was offset by manure and sweat, Dean let him back into the cabin. Amazing how you could be grateful for windows with no glass.
But the chickens...that was a different story.
Because of marauding predators, Jordan had made part of the hayloft a chicken coop, at the top of the barn. Sam was too tall to squeeze in the coop, so Dean was on chicken duty. How hard could it be? Sure, the chicken feet in a bag had been seriously grody when they were making witch-killing stuff, but this was different.
It was different, all right. Twice a day, Dean went into a low-ceilinged room, wading through a sea of clucking, squawking brown birds, red-combed heads bobbing. Hens pecked his hands when he tried to gather their eggs. He thought of ganking them, and then gathering their eggs. But then the egg supply would run out after a few days. Not practical. Instead, cursing, he reached under each hen, which pecked hard at his wrist. Dean couldn’t snatch his arm away, because that would leave the hen sitting triumphantly on her egg. Half the eggs got broken anyway, and then Dean got into trouble with Jordan. Sam watched Jordan lecture his brother on the proper way to gather eggs. Sam stood there, grinning, while mixing the horse feed. Dean wanted to punch that grin off his brother’s smug face.
It was all Dean could do to plow through the huge flock of evil poultry with buckets of feed—the birds went for his pant legs. Dean was truly at the bottom of the “pecking order.”
The worst of being in the hen coop was seeing that chickens ate everything, including their own eggs. One horrifying afternoon, Dean came into the coop to see a bloodied chicken being attacked by her fellow hens in a frenzy. He made to rescue the hen but nearly got his hand clawed off.
“Yeah, chickens eatin’ each other is a big problem,” Farmer Jordan said when Dean asked him. “Anything bloody, they go right for it. Where I got ‘em, ain’t no free rangin’, so I gotta figure some of my chickens go down for the count.”
“Dude, that’s just wrong!”
Farmer Jordan looked contemptuously at Dean. “You’re a real city boy, ya know that?”
To make matters worse, the freaking birds had yellow eyes.
“Who’s next, you feathery bitches?” Despite the small space in the slaughtering pen, catching a live chicken was almost impossible. But slicing off a vamp’s head was nowhere near as satisfying as decapitating a chicken.
A whiff of skunk hailed Sam’s entrance into the barn.
“Shut up. If you weren’t so freakin’ enormous, you’d be the one those damn birds’d be trying to peck to death.”
Sam gave a small, happy laugh.
"Man, I used to think baby chicks were the cutest, fuzziest things on earth. But now, I see those dead yellow eyes, and I know they're going to turn into chickens."
“If it makes you feel better, I have to go curry comb the horses.” He paused. “Once you get to know a horse, it’s really a sweet animal. I feel privileged to take care of them.”
Sam ducked the flying chicken head and went into the stable. “Buck-buck-buck-buck,” he cackled.
Sitting on hay bales, Dean and Sam looked out over the green fields. “I could get used to this,” Sam remarked. He scraped his bread through the thin beef gravy on his plate. “Blue skies, easy routine, working with livestock...all I need is a good library in town.”
“Not me, Skunk Boy. Geez, why can’t some monster go nuts somewhere? Messed up bodies, demonic omens, dying virgins—anything! I’m going to crack, so help me, Sam!”
“Relax. Whaddaya know, dude, it’s time to feed the chickens.”
“I hate you.”
Sam maintained his air of contented calm. But Dean knew it was going to end, and end now.
“So, old Jordan told me to come help you out.” Sam looked at the two metal garbage cans filled with hot water. “What’s doing?”
His brother grinned. “Chicken dinner time. But first, we gotta pluck ‘em.” He held up a chicken carcass by its legs. “Roll up your sleeves, dude, it gets messy.”
Dean plunged the carcass into the hot water, lifted it out and stripped the feathers off in a downward motion. Even though the chicken was dead, it felt great to rip the plumage off. And even though it stunk really bad. There were bad smells everywhere on a farm, even if you left out Sam. Dead wet chicken smell was vomitaceous.
“Dude! That’s gross!”
“Dive in, Sammy, these chickens don’t pluck themselves!”
“Pluck you.” Sam gingerly picked up a dead, headless chicken, put it in the other garbage can of hot water, and watched Dean, imitating his brother’s easy motions of ripping off the feathers. “Damn, this is worse than skunk!”
“I don’t know about you, but I am NEVER eating KFC again.”
When Farmer Jordan’s smile was that wide, Dean knew his life was ruined.
“Gotta job for ya, city boy.”
“Yeah, whatever.” Dean put his hands in his pockets, trying to look unconcerned.
“You gotta clean the chicken coop.”
“Sure, I can do that. Those sonsabitches haven’t beaten me yet.”
Jordan’s smile broadened, showing yellowed teeth. “Here’s the thing. That ain’t the floor you’re walkin’ on up there.”
Oh Jesus God no—
“The floor’s might about two feet under the chicken guano. Your brother will pull the dump trailer under the window. You shovel the stuff down into the trailer. Sorry there ain’t but the one window, but you oughtta be used to it up there by now.”
No no no please no—
“Here’s your shovel. Get movin’. We’ve got crops to mulch.”
Dean dragged the shovel behind him up the stairs and opened the door to fluttering and squawking. He looked down at the floor that wasn’t a floor. “I stopped the Apocalypse, I can shovel chicken poop,” he said to himself, put the shovel against the ground, and pushed it down with his foot.
The thick, acrid choking odor seemed to pour straight into his body, like demon possession. It made skunk smell like expensive cologne. Around him, chickens clucked and pecked at his legs. Dean lifted the shovel, and aimed its contents at the orange dump trailer below.
Shove down, pull up, dump out, shove down, pull up, dump out, repeat. Every fifteen minutes Dean, gasping for air, ran out of the chicken coop into the hayloft. Satan had definitely created chicken shit.
Slowly, warped floorboards showed in the area he was cleaning. Dean was sure he would faint before the job was done. Screw it, he’d go down there and demand Sam take over—this couldn’t be done by one man!
Below, the dump trailer was slowly filling with manure, showing gray-brown in the sun. Chicken manure didn’t even look like regular livestock manure. Regular manure was all shades of brown. This stuff was gray green, with feathers stuck in it. Eeeeeeuuuuccccchhhh.
Shove down, pull up, dump out, shove down, pull up, dump out—
Sam stood by the dump trailer, waving—
A fried chicken leg.
“Mrs. Jordan fried up a whole mess of chicken! Tastes great!” Sam took a large bite, chewing dramatically.
“I WILL END YOU!” Dean pulled up a huge shovelful of guano, intending to fling it right at his brother’s head. As he took aim, he felt his boot slip on the floorboards. Suddenly he was catapulting over the shovel, out of the window—
HOLY MOTHER OF CRAP HE WAS UPSIDE DOWN IN A MOUNTAIN OF CHICKEN SHIT!
It was in his mouth, nose, ears, eyes, in his clothes, everywhere. This was how his life was going to end? Choked by chicken shit? He panicked. Jesus, he really was going to suffocate! Dean thrashed, but there was nothing to grab. He wasn’t sure if he was upside down, or sideways, or what.
He felt hands grab his ankles, pulling him upward.
Laughing their heads off, Sam and Farmer Jordan had their hands around each of Dean’s ankles. They hauled him out and left him lying atop the grey-green-brown mass.
Dean spat the vile stuff out of his mouth, eyes watering, ears and nostrils clogged. He couldn’t believe he’d almost died in a dump trailer full of chicken crap.
“You shoulda seen it, city boy! Pretty as a hawk swoopin’ down on a mouse!”
Sam hopped down from the edge of the trailer. “Wow, you were beauty in motion, dude.”
“Just this once, city boy, ya can use the shower.”
“Does it taste as good as it looks?”
In later years, more than Azazel, more than Lucifer, more than Alastair, there would always be a special circle of pure hatred in Dean’s heart. Occupied by chickens.
A/N: More of this story is true than I would wish on my worst enemy.