“I am soo tired of cereal,” Sally whined.
“Me too, Sally. Me too,” Will sympathized.
“Really?” said Crimson Hen lightly, “I find I quite like it. I could use a cup of tea, but otherwise, I think our stowaway plan is working smashingly. Anyway, it’s only day three, we still have several days, maybe a week to go before we land in Lithuania.”
Will and Sally both looked at Crimson Hen with an evil eye.
“Whoa, whoa, easy on the evil eye, you guys,” Crimson said, “I’m being optimistic! This is no time for complaining. Buck up! And all that.”
“But Crimson,” Will said plaintively, “you’re a chicken! You’re supposed to eat a diet of mostly grains.”
“Yeah, you don’t know what it’s like,” Sally opined, “what I wouldn’t give for a carrot or stalk of celery . . .”
“Or a hamburger!” Will added, “Oh, man what I wouldn’t give for a hamburger!”
“Shhh – you guys, someone is coming!” Crimson ducked into the cargo container, and they pulled the door closed behind them. They couldn’t latch the cargo container from the inside, but there were so many, that with the door closed, it seemed unlikely anyone would come investigate.
Suddenly, in the dark, they heard the deep metallic ring of heavy footfalls – starting softly in the distance, but coming closer and closer, until it seemed that whoever it was making those heavy, dark footfalls was right outside their container door. Then they stopped. The silence after those ringing steps was palpable, and Will, Sally, and Crimson held their breath.
Slowly, agonizingly, the door to the cargo container swung open. With nowhere to flee to, and Sally and Will having no inclination to fight, they froze, like busted rodents, perched among the half-empty boxes of cereal.
Crimson, however, didn’t have a freeze bone in her little chicken body. She coiled into small ball of sprung steel, ready to rain down kung-fu devastation the moment the intruder showed themself.
The door opened, and light crept into the space, then, silhouetted by the dim light of the cargo area, a figure appeared. Crimson was shaking, and at any moment, a hair trigger response would unleash kung-fu terribleness. The tension in the cargo container was thick like cake batter.
Sally was the first to realize what was about to happen. “Crimson, stop!”
Crimson Hen hesitated.
The person who had opened the door let out a frightened shriek. “Ahhhh!” And then quickly closed the door to the cargo container.
There was silence for a moment. Then the container door began to squeak open again. “Sveiki?” said a quiet voice. The trio on the pile of cereal didn’t move or say anything. The timid voice called out again, “sveiki . . . hallo?”
Sally found her voice. “Hello? We won’t hurt you. I promise,” she said, this last directed more at Crimson Hen than at the little figure who appeared before them as the door opened wider.
Standing before them was a small figure, a child really, with short cropped hair and pale skin. The figure looked very scared, but stood still and didn’t run when Will, Sally, and then a chicken hopped down from the cereal boxes they had crushed in the confusion of the moment.
“I think I was expecting someone, er, bigger,” Will said quietly into the silence.
“Oh – vistiena,” they said watching Crimson Hen disembark, “chicken.”
“Yes, she’s a chicken,” Sally responded, “do you speak English?”
The little figure smiled, “Yes!” then their eyes darted downward, “just little.”
“Well, you clearly know more English than we know Lithuanian,” Will said.
The little figure brightened a little, “You know French? I know big French.” Then they started prattling off in French.
Will and Sally exchanged looks. They knew only too well which of their party knew French. They looked down at Crimson. Crimson Hen was standing with her wings on her hips, barely containing herself.
“Oh alright, go ahead Crimson,” Will said finally.
Crimson immediately hopped up onto a nearby wooden crate and addressed the little figure by clearing her throat loudly. Then began to elegantly, and much more slowly address the poor creature in very good French.
The little figure looked at Crimson Hen, then looked at Will and Sally. They shrugged. Then the little figure let out a little, ‘ULP!’ and then promptly hit the deck, passed out cold.
Crimson turned to Sally and Will. “Why does this keep happening? It’s so frustrating.”
“Well,” said Sally, “I can tell you from experience that meeting a talking chicken is shocking.”
“Humph,” intoned Crimson, “and I’m a hen, for crying out loud.”
A short while later they had the little figure stretched out on a makeshift bed of foam pieces and bubble wrap when they came to. Will and Sally were by their side, ready for them to get up. They sat up Crimsonly and looked from Will to Sally, and then down at Crimson Hen, who made a rather over-ostentatious bow.
The little figure pointed and said, “Chicken – talking chicken!”
“Yes,” said Sally. “This is Crimson Hen. She can talk.”
“Sveiki – bonjour – hello,” Crimson Hen said. “My name is Crimson Hen. What’s your name? Que’est que t’appelle tu?”
The little figure looked back up at Will and Sally, then back at Crimson Hen. Then they began to soften a little, and said, “Moze.” They pointed their hand at their chest and said again, “Moze. M’appel Moze.”
“Well,” said Sally with a little bit dramatically positive affect, “my name is ‘Sally.’”
Moze looked at her and repeated, “Sally.”
Will unfroze a little and pointed at himself, “Will. My name is Will.”
“Will,” Moze repeated.
“Well, this is lovely,” said Crimson Hen, “But we have a big problem here. Young Moze has discovered our existence, and our plan is thwarted.
“We don’t know that for sure,” said Sally, “Maybe our plan just has to adjust a little. Maybe Moze here, won’t turn us in.”
As if on cue, Moze leapt to their feet and pointed at them, “You – stow aways!”
“Whoa whoa whoa,” said Crimson Hen, “Ecoute – listen . . .” She began to speak rapidly in French, none of which Will or Sally could understand. Moze stood stoically with their arms crossed, but as Crimson Hen went on, they began nodding their head, and finally they smiled, reaching out a hand to Sally. She took Moze’s hand in hers, and they shook. Then Moze turned to will and offered a hand again. He took it and shook it with relief.
Moze stood up tall, and gave them a salute. “I help you.”
“I am soo tired of cereal,” Sally whined.