Chinese Take-Out

by Stephen Schwegler

An estimated seven million wild turkeys encircled the Palisades Center in West Nyack, New York, ready to strike. The mall was the last human stronghold of the avian apocalypse: a fortified monument to consumerism, packed with countless food vendors, a Home Depot to start doing some small-scale farming, a movie theater for some entertainment — albeit only showing Oscar hopefuls — and about a hundred or so other shops able to keep the survivors alive.

Or, at least, that’s what the humans thought.

The largest of the turkeys climbed atop a Hummer that had been left in the parking lot. He wiped some dirt off his snood and addressed his followers.

“Fellow Butterballs!” he said, the turkeys having recently taken back the term. “As we make our way towards total human eradication I just wanted to say how pleased I’ve been with our progress thus far. It’s been a long, hard road to our liberation, but it’s nearly at an end!”

The crowd of turkeys cheered.

“Now let’s stuff them just like they used to stuff us!”

The turkey raised his wings to urge the crowd forward, only to feel some mysterious wetness upon them. Small drops of liquid appeared to be falling from the sky. He began turning back and forth as the water came down around him, his compatriots doing the same. The droplets began to fall faster, closer together. The turkey looked up to see where these tiny little pellets of water were coming from, but only saw clouds. It mystified him. He opened his beak, taken by the moment.


“And then what happened, Grandpa?” asked Simon, sitting with his grandparents in the food court outside Panda Express having Christmas dinner.

“Well, Simon,” said Grandpa, “those of us who had barricaded ourselves inside the mall were unaware that the threat had been thwarted. We were still preparing for the worst. By the time we knew the coast was clear, seven million drowned turkeys had crashed against the walls of the building, trapping us inside. The wet feathers fused together, cocooning every door and window. We were stuck here forever.”

“Forever?” asked Simon.

“You were born in the Abercrombie & Fitch downstairs.”

“Are you sure you really tried to leave?” said Simon, pointing toward the ceiling. “I’m pretty sure that’s moonlight coming through the turkey-dome. It can’t be that thick.”

“All of the hardware stores here are out of ladders,” replied Grandma.

“What about shovels? Did you ever try tunneling underground?”

Grandpa sighed heavily. “You need to understand, Simon,” he said, “we had been in this mall for almost an entire month. And we’d run out of mini-burgers and Jamba Juice ingredients a long time before that.”

“Are you saying…?”

“Yes,” said Grandma. “We got desperate and resorted to cannibalism.”

“But we tasted awful,” continued Grandpa. “Like chicken, my ass!”

“So we all became vegetarians. Except for one day a year.”

“We all vote and the loser gets… well…” began Grandpa.

“You see, you have to have some kind of meat for Christmas dinner. Just wouldn’t be Jesus’s birthday without a rotting carcass on the table.”

“Have to,” added Grandpa.

“But that –”

“No buts, Simon. That’s just how we do things now. Society is inside this mall and we have to make due. Your parents were born here and you don’t hear them complaining.”

“They do all the –”

“Listen, it’s Christmas,” said Grandma. “Don’t you ruin it with all this escape talk. It’s just not going to happen. We’ve all come to terms with this and you should, too. Now, who wants more Pete fried rice?”

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