by Eirik Gumeny
Dr. Wild ran into Dr. Mannheim’s office, out of breath and slamming the door behind him. He locked it with great passion.
“Test subject TMO-3,” he panted. “He’s loose.”
“And pissed off.”
“He’s just a turkey.”
“Haven’t you been reading the updates?”
“No, not for the TMOs. I’ve been focusing on the PX project.”
“Well, the short version is there’s plenty to be concerned about.” Dr. Wild grabbed the top of a filing cabinet and began dragging it toward the door. “Help me move –”
The doorway exploded, sending Dr. Wild sprawling across the office and launching the filing cabinet’s contents into the air. As the papers floated down and the smoke drifted up, a very large turkey stepped into the threshold.
Dr. Mannheim tilted his head. “Is that –”
“TMO-3!” shouted Dr. Wild, diving behind Dr. Mannheim and the large metal desk at which he was still sitting.
“I don’t see what the big deal is. I’ve eaten bigger turkeys than –”
The genetically-modified turkey pulled an AK-47 from behind his back.
“OK, that’s new,” said Dr. Mannheim.
“He took out the security team,” said Dr. Wild, grabbing Dr. Mannheim’s shirt. “Now get down!”
In the extended moment it took TMO-3 to wrap his artificially-prehensile feathers around the trigger, Dr. Mannheim was able to flip his desk and join his colleague in huddling on the floor. A spray of bullets soon flew above them.
“Why did you teach him to use a firearm?”
“We didn’t teach him,” replied Dr. Wild, “he picked it up on his own. And quickly.”
The stream of bullets moved lower and began slamming into the desk. Dr. Mannheim, however, was less than concerned.
“That is one hell of a desk,” said Dr. Wild, admiring the lack of artillery tearing through it.
“I don’t fuck around when it comes to office furniture,” replied Dr. Mannheim. “And I don’t fuck around when it comes to being attacked by poultry, either.” Grabbing the phone cord, he pulled the receiver from around the desk and to his side. The earpiece was shattered, but Dr. Mannheim had no intention of listening.
He hit *99 and spoke into the phone: “Attention, this is Dr. James Mannheim. We’ve got a Code 12 in my office and need assistance. Release the Christmas Ham.”
“We have a code for this?” asked an incredulous Dr. Wild.
“Yes. This happens almost every November.”
“Is that why you guys recruited me so persistently last December?”
“It may have played a part.”
The gunfire stopped abruptly. There was a small tunk and then a very, very loud boom. The desk bulged slightly and slid a few inches backwards.
“He’s got explosives?”
“He’s got explosives.”
“You could have mentioned that.”
“I was a little too busy trying not to soil myself.”
An awful squawk cut through the air, followed by a gravelly yet high-pitched voice.
“Devils! Savages! No more will you play God with my feathered brethren! No more will you torture us and experiment on us just for plumper, juicier breasts! No more will you freeze our desecrated corpses and sell them to families honoring their genocidal ancestors! Your time is at an end, barbarians! So sayeth Timothy the turkey!”
There was another tunk, another boom, and then the gunfire resumed.
“You never enhance their sentience. Never!” barked Dr. Mannheim. “That’s rule one!”
“We thought we could make them accept their fate! Make them willingly plump themselves up! We’d already increased their appetites and their ability to gain weight. It seemed like the next logical step!”
The constant barrage of bullets against the desk was beginning to get louder as the metal began to give out. Just beyond it, though, was a frothing, snarling oink.
“What the hell is that?!”
“The Christmas Ham,” said Dr. Mannheim with a cruel smile.
The AK-47 ceased firing almost immediately. A low, steady rumbling could be heard in concert with the oinking. Paper clips strewn across the ground near the doctors began to vibrate and jump.
“How big is that thing?”
“Big. Big enough to feed a small country.”
The rumbling turned into something like thunder. There was a terrified skreak and then a porcine roar. And then there was silence.
Dr. Mannheim inched up over the desk to see what had become of Timothy the Turkey.
Timothy was gesticulating to the Christmas Ham, articulating all he had learned of the scientists’ goals in a kind of animal sign-language. Confusion contorted the pig’s face, but the Ham nonetheless appeared to be nodding his assent.
Dr. Mannheim slid slowly to the floor, his back against the desk.
“Well?” asked Dr. Wild.