A New Dimension: Chapter Seventeen

        “Sally!  Hey, c’mon Sally – wake up!”  Will sat next to the couch where they had laid his neighbor out.  
        Crimson Hen lifted an eyelid of the unconscious woman and put a wing up to her neck.  “Her pulse is steady and her pupils aren’t dilated, she must have hyperventilated from shock, she’ll come around momentarily.”
        “I suggest that when she does, you lay low for a minute,” Will said, rather snappily, Crimson Hen thought.
        “Hey – what did I do?” she replied defensively.
        “Well, you can’t just go around surprising people like that, you have to ease them in.”  Will started fanning Sally’s face with an old magazine he found on the end table.
        “Well how would you feel if people just started dropping the moment you opened your mouth.  And another thing -”  Crimson Hen was about to lay into Will even more, but a groan from Sally interrupted her excoriation.
        “Wha – What’s going on?  Will, is that you?”  Sally rubbed her eyes and lifted herself to an elbow.
        “Yeah, Sally, it’s me, Will.”  He put a hand to her shoulder.
        “Oh, Will, what’s going on?  Did you bring a chicken over?”  She looked around the room hesitantly, finally landing her eyes on Crimson Hen, who was sitting decorously on a chair cushion across from the couch.  “Oh, there is a chicken, I didn’t imagine that.”
        “Yes,” said Will, “and, and, uh, and she talks, okay?”  Will cringed a little as he said that, not sure how to go.
        “Oh, Will, a talking chicken?  I must have hit my head.”  Sally unconsciously rubbed her forehead.  
        Crimson Hen was using every ounce of restraint not to tell that woman off.  The indignity of it, to be treated in such a way.  It was barbaric.  Still, she remained calm.
        “Well, Sally, it’s true, and we need you to kind of pull it together, see, we’re in some trouble.”  Will stood and walked over to Crimson Hen.
        “What kind of trouble,” Sally asked.
        “I . . . I think . . . I mean, would it be okay if I let Crimson Hen tell you?” Will replied.
        “Oh, Will, please don’t start that -” Sally looked at Will, and saw the serious look on his face.  “Oh, uh, I mean, Will, what?”
        Will just looked at Sally with a plaintive look.
        “Well, okay.  This is insane, but okay,” she turned to Crimson Hen, “chicken, you tell the story.”
        Crimson Hen looked up at Will and he nodded his assent.  “Well,” she said, “first, thank you for welcoming us into your apartment.  We are, indeed in a bit of a pickle and could use an ally.”
        Sally exhaled sharply and sat up.  She looked at Crimson Hen and then back at Will, who gave her a little shrug as if to say, ‘see?’
        Crimson Hen continued.  “I have been separated from my friends, and I need to get back to them, but you see, we’ve run into a little snag.  There are some folks who would like to detain us, rather me specifically.  I have discovered that in this version of reality, there aren’t talking chickens.”
        Sally shook her head.  “Of course chickens don’t talk, but here I am talking to a chicken.  This can’t be real.  What?  What do you mean by this version of reality?”
        “Right,” said Will, “you’ll have a bunch of questions, but the short version is that Crimson Hen here is from a different reality, and we’re trying to get her back to her version of reality so she can find her friends again and go home.”
        “But, if . . . if you’re from a different reality – how, uh, how did you get here?”  Sally stood up and moved to the kitchen.  “And listen, I need a cup of tea, would you like a cup of tea?  Do chickens drink tea?”
        Crimson Hen veritably leapt out of the chair.  “Do chickens drink tea?  My goodness my dear, do robot clowns throw pies?”
        “Uh…robot clowns…?”
        “Nevermind,” Crimson Hen cut her off, “of course I’d like a cup of tea.”  She turned to Will.  “Now this is a woman after my own heart.”
        They moved into the kitchen and made a lovely pot of tea.  As Crimson Hen talked, Sally became more and more oriented to what was happening.  
        “So the military is after you?” she asked.  “That’s bad.  They have lots of resources.  I think they’ll find you eventually if they really want to.”
        “Well, I’ve been chased by worse,” Crimson Hen said, “the trick is to just stay one step ahead of them.  Which is why we need your help.  We need to escape this apartment complex.”
        “But won’t they be looking here?”  Sally asked.
        “Yes,” said Will.  “I expect they’ll expand their search to this building when they find that we’re not in my apartment.  We need to move quickly.”
        “And you want to go where?”  Sally asked.
        “Lithuania.”  Crimson Hen responded matter-of-factly.
        “Lithuania.”  Sally repeated disbelievingly.
        “Right,” said Will in a conciliatory tone, “but first we just need to escape the apartment building.  You have a car, right?”
        “Well, yeah, I have a car.  It’s in the parking garage.  But –” Sally paused, not sure how to say what was on her mind.
        Crimson Hen gently intuited her question.  “My dear, we have imposed upon you, and up until now, you are not identified as being associated with us.  If we leave immediately, that status can continue.  If you help us, you too may become a target for our military pursuers.  That window is closing, and so, dear provider of delicious tea, you must decide very soon what you will do.  If you decide to stay uninvolved, Will and I will go without hesitation.”  She looked at Will, who nodded in understanding and agreement.  “We will have no hard feelings about it what-so-ever.”
        Sally took a long pause.  She stood up and looked out the window.  In the distance, she could see the flashing lights of the military police vehicles.  In the quiet, they could hear the sound of a helicopter thwopting somewhere in the distance.  She took a deep breath.
        “Well, you can’t stay here, and if what you say is true, you haven’t done anything but try to find your friends, which is noble and good.”  She paused again, but said finally.  “I’ll get my keys.  How are we going to get past those military police?”
        Crimson Hen stood from the pillow she was resting on.  “You’re right.  If we just pile into a car, the military police will certainly search it.  We’ll need to find another way.”
        “What if we escape some other way, then meet up with Sally in her car later?”  Will asked.
        “Right,” said Crimson Hen, “we only need to figure out how to get past the military police blockade undetected.  Hey – no problem!”
        “No problem?!”  Sally was incredulous, “how do you propose to do that?”
        “Oh, I’ve gotten past worse.  There was this one time when me and my friends were surrounded by robot clowns and -”
        “Hey,” interrupted Will, “can we focus on the task at hand?  How are we going to get past that blockade?”
        “Oh,” said Crimson Hen, “that’s easy.  What we need is a really good distraction.”
        “A distraction?” echoed Will uncertainly.
        “Yes,” said Crimson Hen patiently,  “A distraction, something to draw their attention away from us as we escape.  You know, like the bucket on the roof.”
        “Oh,” said Will, “right, a distraction.”  He thought for a moment.  “It’d be nice if we could blow something up really big.”
        “That would do,” said Crimson Hen, “but something less destructive would be better.  What would be ideal is if there was something that both drew the military’s attention and also confused them at the same time.  An explosion would do the first, but if they’re a military that’s worth their salt, they’ll be able to recover from an explosion distraction very quickly, and regroup.  They’ve trained for that.  What we need is something for them to respond to that they don’t have any training with.”
        Sally had been looking out the window during this discussion, and big, wide smile was spreading across her face.  “Hey you two, I think I have an idea.  Do either of you know what’s on the far side of this apartment complex?”
        Crimson Hen and Will looked at each other.  “No,” they said in unison.
        “Come and look.”  Sally pointed out the window.
        Will walked and Crimson Hen fluttered over to the window where Sally was pointing.
        “See that big sign down there?” she said.
        “Oh, that’s perfect,” Crimson Hen said.  “Just perfect.”
        Will whistled softly and read the sign out loud.  “Farmer Brown’s Organic Poultry and Eggs:  Local Free Range Chickens Raised Right.”

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