Bird's Eye View

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I've never been more unsettled by reality. The situation is not so incredibly complicated: my parents have been sort of possessed or taken hostage, we're about to get them out before they get brainwashed for good, fed to the chicken, whatever could happen. By the way, if we can also free the rest of the town that has been involved into this mess, it wouldn't be so bad. Right now I don't really give a shit about them, but I'm not sure I'll be able to sleep at night knowing that I let a potential mass-murder.

The thing is, none of the 'plans' I can think of are realistic. We don't have an army. We can't wait for the cops. None of us has any infiltration skills. Plus the factory is big and we have no idea where they are: should we knock on every door? No, that's stupid.

Nathan is being huggy with Domenica again, which makes sense. If I was his age and this kind of stuff happened I would simply piss myself, maybe literally. I'm not sure what kind of rescue team we have here, though.

Dave looks serious, competent, he knows what's what. He has a driving license. On the other hand, just this morning he was getting ready to leave by himself, letting the town go to shit without a care in the world. Also, he's old enough that I wouldn't count on him when it comes to acrobatics.

Domenica is serious too, involved, she has a lot of heart and she has dealt with spooky things before. On the flip side, I'm not sure she's always aware of the danger we're in and while I think she's a great support for Nathan and a fabulous adventure buddy, maybe it's not a good idea to do both at the same time. I don't think we should take a kid into this.

"No matter what kind of plan we come up with, it should be you and me, Dave," I say. I see Domenica ready to protest and I raise a hand. "Let me explain. If anything goes wrong, the first thing that should be at play is Nathan's safety. Do we agree on that?"

Two nods. Good. "Then that means that someone stays in the car, ready to drive away. I think, obviously, it's better if it's you, right?" I look at Domenica. She nods reluctantly.

"It's just," she says, "the way you put it scares me. The safety of all of you matters to me. You sound like you're planning to sacrifice yourself or something. If that's the plan, NO is my only answer."

"Oh, don't worry," I say, "I want to live. I don't think it's gonna be that bad. It's just... precautions, you know? I'm counting on us adults to be resourceful enough to improvize if things go south. What do you think, Dave?"

Dave shakes his head. "I'm thinking I really can't stay away from trouble. What a pain. Domenica, we both work here, so we know the layout. We also have a better chance at going unnoticed if we put on our overalls like the other workers do."

I'm a bit skeptical. "Could that work?" I say.

"I have no idea. We'll have to try. Anyway, we sneak in and if we call you, it means we need to get out and you come get us with the pick up. Most of the factory plant is accessible by car, I think. What do you say?"

I nod. "It doesn't sound too bad, specially since I don't have anything better in mind. Domenica?"

"If you promise to be careful," she says.

"So, we're staying here?" says Nathan to Domenica, almost disappointed. I remember he wanted to 'protect us'. Maybe another time, little guy.

"Nathan?" I say. "Don't worry. I'm going to get my parents back, so you take care of your mom while we're doing that, OK?"

We don't have much more to plan out, so we just get out of the car and start walking silently towards the factory. It's gonna be a pain to sneak in: neon lights are on everywhere, which means it's impossible to hide anywhere. Near the entrance, the ground has been trampled a lot. They're here.

"Hey", I say in a whisper, "how do you think we can catch them? They won't want to follow us."

Dave shrugs. "Knock them out," he says.

"Oh." Yeah, that makes sense. Can I do that?

We get to the changing rooms, put on some overalls that were left here. We find additional weapons and protections: a safety helmet for each of us and a supply of those metallic floor scrapers. I hope we won't have to use them because they look like they could do a lot of damage. Anyway, I feel ready. No one will drag me around now.

We keep walking around the rows of coops, hoping to find out where they have all disappeared. What if they're not here after all? It would suck if they had just gone off into the wild, or walked towards the mountain peak, for example. Which would make a lot of sense, given that the thing they're working for is over there.

After a while we hear a sound, like a buzz punctuated with a louder rumble. The meat chute! They're chanting at the meat chute. Of course. We sneak to the place. The brainwashed townies are all here, in a wide circle around the chutes. They are still bleeding onto the gravel and mud. They look pretty pale. There are so many of them that I can't really see what's happening, but the rumbling comes back regularly, every thirty seconds, maybe. There's now way I will ever spot my parents like this.

"Dave!" I say, still whispering. "Help me up!" He pushes me while I climb a gutter on the side of the nearest coop. I'm petite enough to pull it off. That's still not your average workout, so when I finally get to the roof, I'm completely out of breath.

From up there, the view is quite different. The wide circle is more of a waiting line, spiralling towards the meat chute. One after the other, the bleeding town folks, in a transe state, are throwing themselves into the meat chute head first. With every sacrifice, the metallic container rumbles like a hungry stomach, making the earth shake. This is worse than I could have ever imagined.

I frantically look around. My parents can't have gone through that already. It can't be. When I find them, I realize they are just a few minutes away from jumping down the chute. What can I do?

On top of the meat chute sits is a human figure covered in blankets and comforters. The shape is bobbing rhythmically to accompany the chant. The head priest, maybe? If I stop him, maybe this will all go back to normal. It's a slim hope, but it's hope. Now, how can I ever hope to cross the waiting line of suicidal puppets?

Thinking about this, I look up at the dancing figure again. I feel suddenly very cold and I almost fall down the roof. The blankets have fallen from its face. I recognize it.

What is Tig doing here?


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