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Bread farms? What the hell are bread farms, I hear you ask? One of the great secrets of modern society. You probably think all bread is made from dough and baked in ovens, don’t you? Thought so. Well, that’s what the powers-that–be want you to believe, after all. And they’ve done a damn good job. Only a year ago, I was as unsuspecting as you. I didn’t realise that certain kinds of bread were born and raised as animals, only to be slaughtered and sold. I don’t know how long it’ll be before they catch up with me, but while I’ve got the chance, I want to tell you the truth they don’t want you to hear, and what happened in a remote town in the Scottish Highlands last year…
It all started early last year on a band trip up to the Scottish Highlands. We had hired a cottage for the week to practice – being surrounded by nothing but fields and hills, it seemed the perfect place. It wasn’t until the second night we noticed the strange noises coming from across the fields, and began to realise that this countryside wasn’t all it seemed to be.
The tall wire mesh fence a mile or so from our cottage looked out of place there… so tall and menacing in the middle of farmland, it was unlike any farmer’s fence I’d ever seen. Well, how could we resist? We just had to see what lay beyond. Kevin was the first to notice them… the strange looking birds in the distance. Normally we’d just laugh at him, blaming his nonsense on too much Newcastle Brown, but he was disturbingly sober… worse still, the rest of us could see them as well. They had huge bodies and no apparent heads, with a sandy coloured, smooth looking coat. The big one’s overpowering “Squaaaaawk!” broke our gaping and snapped us back to reality… Where the hell were we?! The closest explanation that sprang to mind was a Twilight Zone re-run.
The image of those freaky birds stuck in my mind for the next few days, and I could tell I was not alone. After all, it’s not everyday you see something like that, is it? Little was mentioned (well, what can you say about something like that?!), but we all became somewhat spaced out by it all, and the unusual silences between us said all that was needed to.
Our last evening in the cottage was the next time we would cross the paths of the strange birds. The noise started very quiet and faint, barely audible – a mass high pitched squawking sound – but grew louder by every passing minute. Like some mutated car alarm from hell. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I looked out the window at the sunset… a sandy carpet was creeping over the hill. They were heading straight for us – hundreds of them. We just had to follow them as they stampeded past the cottage… heading in the direction of the local village a few miles away.
Their looks belied their true nature… in a big way. We didn’t find that out until we reached the village – the sight that struck us was surreal to say the least. They seemed vicious little bastards… leaving a trail of carnage in their wake… broken windows, mutilated animals, smashed fences and roofs… who would’ve thought it? It’s about as surreal as the idea that a flock of pigeons could break into your house and tear the place apart. It just shouldn’t happen. When the birds started attacking the four of us, we knew we had to get in somewhere. Everyone seemed to be fleeing the streets, and the town hall looked really appealing right then. Inside it was full of the wounded – apparently, the attacking birds had surprisingly sharp teeth, and had no qualms about sinking them in to confused passers-by.
Just then, two men in combat gear came in and gave us all gas masks – we were told not to go outside. After ten minutes, we couldn’t help but peek out the door, and were greeted with the sight of about half a dozen men in gas masks firing what looked like gas grenades at the animals, shooting the ones they missed with their rifles. After another few minutes, the firing stopped. It was finally over.
It wasn’t until later that night we found out, to our amusement, that the men with the guns (tranquiliser guns, as we found out) in actual fact worked on the farm we saw earlier that week with the birds. They told us the whole story - tonight was only the third time in the past century that they had escaped, apparently, and after the chaos and panic of the last few times, they had taken extra precautions. The birds, we were told, were a rare secret breed that could be made into bread - they were fattened up and slaughtered, then baked into loaves. The only downside to breeding them is their extremely violent nature, which was the cause of tonight’s chaos. Their breeding was a centuries-old tradition that has been kept secret, basically because of the expected public outcry that would ensue if the news broke about it.
Anyway, we got to take one of the bread birds home with us – we’ve named it Ernie. So next time you come to one of our shows, if you hear a loud “Squawk”, don’t be alarmed – it’s just our little freako mascot.
by Scott Miller
All stories © 2000 by Scott Miller.
All rights reserved. No part may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic means, including photocopying, recording or by any information and retrieval system, without the written permission of the author.