Eleven Days Of Turkeys
I went to school like usual. It was boring. When I left to get on the bus the turkeys were waiting – watching. I slipped between them nervously and got on. They watched me leave. Had they followed me to school?
After dinner there was a tapping at the door – eleven taps. My father opened it, but nothing was there. Something short ran past the kitchen window. That night I found eleven feathers in my bed. Of course my mother blamed me for it. Once the lights were out, I heard a tap from the closet.
What had my older brother Carl said about the noises in our house? He called it settling. I tried to go to sleep. Tap. It was just settling. Tap. Tap. I pulled aside the covers from my face as slowly as I could and peered at the closet door. Tap. Had it moved? It seemed the shadows shifted a bit. Why had I told my parents just last week I was too old for a nightlight? Why?
Tap. I instinctively pulled the covers over my face so quickly I didn’t realize at first that I was the one who had done it. My heart skipped a beat. The door had moved.
Tap. Then I heard the gobbling. Turkeys? Did the turkeys get into my closet? How? The gobbling had a distant, hollow sound to it. I couldn’t even be sure where it had come from.
Tap. Well, if it was only turkeys in my closet, that was nothing to be afraid of. I was eleven years old darn it! I wasn’t afraid of stupid birds.
I threw off my covers and stepped onto the floor. Tap. Gobble. Gobble. I deliberately ran to the closet and grabbed the door handle. Tap. Tap. I swung open the door. Nothing was there. Sighing, I climbed back into bed – and sat right on a large, squirming object. Gobble!! The turkey ran into the hallway, spraying feathers everywhere. It was fast.
Finally, my mother got me back into bed. My father plugged in my old nightlight again. Carl and Sally both made fun of me. Nobody else had seen the turkey in the house at all. It took a while to get to sleep.
The next day was Saturday – the day my birthday was to be celebrated. My mother was making my cake as I poured my cereal. “We’re leaving at eleven ‘o’clock for the weirs Dad says. Be ready to go by then,” my mother said.
“Okay,” I replied, heading for the couch. The cartoons were all reruns. I got bored and left to get ready. After a bath during which Carl startled me twice by making poor imitations of turkey sounds, I went to my room to get dressed. When I was finished except for my shoes, I picked one up and a turkey head shot out of it and bit my big right toe.
“Ouch!” I yelled more in surprise than anything else. I dropped the shoe. How had the turkeys got into my shoe? I reached my hand deep inside intent on grabbing one by the neck and dragging it out, but my shoe was empty. It was just an ordinary, normal-sized, empty shoe with no portals to other worlds inside – like most shoes I had worn. As I sat thinking, another turkey head popped out of my other shoe on the floor and bit me on the left elbow!
Eventually I got both of my shoes on and I left with my family for the weirs. It was there that they had the biggest arcade in the state. I hadn’t been since last summer vacation and I missed it. My mother handed Carl and me each forty dollars in quarters and we set off. Carl found a pinball machine. I walked around for a while, waiting for the right game to call to me. My parents watched Sally while she rode a mechanical horse.
I finally stopped at an Asteroids game, but I crashed in less than a minute. Gobble. Gobble. Gobble. I looked all around, startled. I could see no turkeys – only people. Gobble. Gobble. Gobble. I walked quickly towards the source of the noise and rounded the corner into another aisle of games. A tuft of feathers vanished around the other end. Jogging, I rounded the end but saw nothing.
“Ah! This game sucks!” a boy said behind me, giving up at the whack-a-mole and walking away. Nobody was playing it now. It was free! It was never free! I quickly took advantage of the situation. This was my favorite game. Soon, the moles started to come out. Whack! Whack! Whack! I made it to level two – then three. Whack! The moles came up faster and in greater numbers. Whack! Whack! I made it to level four. Whack! Whack-Gobble! That mole sounded different from the others. Whack! Whack-Gobble! Whack-Gobble! Whack! Then I saw. The mechanical moles had been replaced by living turkeys. The turkeys were in the machine!!
They extended their necks, reaching for me. I panicked. Whack! Whack! Whack! Whack! They came out faster and in greater numbers. I hit harder. Whack! Whack! Whack! Whack! Whack! Whack! Before I realized it, I had reached level eleven. Suddenly, a turkey ran around the corner, grabbed my won tickets in its beak and ran away. I jumped back and ran in the opposite direction before realizing I wasn’t being chased. I wandered around waiting for my heart rate to return to normal. Then I found my mother. “Let’s go home,” I said.
The rest of the day was relatively uneventful until after dinner when we all ate my cake. My slice had a feather in it – only my slice – the slice that I chose myself after my mother cut the cake up. How did the turkeys know? Not wanting to be teased again, I discretely tossed my feather in the trash.
Even though it was my birthday, it was still my turn to take out the trash. The sun had already set and it was getting dark fast. I dropped the bag in the can and turned to head back to the house. A turkey stood in my way. It had a cracked beak and jerked its head strangely. Three more turkeys stepped out of the shadows into the light. Two of them seemed to have broken necks and their heads hung at odd angles. The head of the third was caked in blood. Had I done this? Gurgle! It was the sorriest sounding gobble I had ever heard.
The four turkeys rushed me and I ran into the front yard. Seven more poured out of the bushes and chased me into the back yard where the surrounded me, pecking and scratching. I shoved them off and ran into the shed. Where was the hoe? Where was the rake? In the dark, I couldn’t find anything to defend myself. A turkey came in after me. I kicked it back out and slammed shut the door. I jammed a piece of wood between the door and its frame so it could not be opened. I heard the turkeys scratching at the outside of the shed.
Then the shed began to shake. The whole place sounded as if it was being kicked around by a family of elephants. There’s no way eleven turkeys could do that! I had merely been concerned before; I could fight off a few toothless animals; I was taller than they were. At that moment I was more than concerned; I was scared. Something much bigger than any bird was outside the shed and it was angry.
When I got back in the house I was babbling gibberish and I had wet my pants. My mother almost called the hospital. Finally, my parents calmed me down. They agreed that something had happened, but nobody believed me about the turkeys.
For a few days, nothing happened and I thought that the turkeys would leave me alone, having got what they wanted by humiliating me. Then on Thursday I saw the footprint. I had gone to a friend’s house after school and we took a walk through the turf field on the other side of the tracks. There right in front of me was a turkey print – a turkey with toes as large as kayaks.
The tracks started and stopped about half a mile apart, my friend and I discovered. It was as if the bird materialized, walked half a mile, and then vanished into thin air. “Maybe it’s a time-travelling dinosaur,” my friend suggested. He was convinced the prints were those of a T. rex, but I knew he was failing science.
“Whatever it is, we finally have proof it exists. My parents need to see this,” I said.
“Wait, no. I’m not supposed to be out here. I’ll get in trouble if we say we saw the prints here,” my friend protested.
I sighed. This was going to be harder than I thought. I wasn’t really supposed to be in this field either. I mulled over my predicament the rest of the day. I found no easy solution. At ten that night I said my prayers and climbed into bed. Fifteen minutes later the window exploded inwards followed by a gigantic beak. Shards spread across the floor. I looked outside to catch a glimpse of a glaring turkey eye before the monster turned and stalked away into the night. My room was on the second floor!
My father burst into the room. “What did you do?”
“The turkey did it,” I stammered.
“I don’t want to hear any more about turkeys! We’re going to have a long talk about this in the morning. Now get the broom!” he yelled. It was the wrong time for me to argue.
The turkeys left me alone until next Monday. That’s when things got really weird. I left class during social studies to use the bathroom. Mrs. Jameson told me that if it didn’t have a bath in it, it was called a restroom. I pointed out that people don’t go there to rest any more than they go there to bathe. She didn’t like that, but she let me go anyway.
I finished my business and walked toward the door. Three turkeys materialized out of thin air and blocked my path. I took a step back and the turkeys began to split. They just divided like amoebas until there were eleven of them. I freaked out. The window was locked. There was no way out. They chased me into the farthest stall and I screamed.
Suddenly the turkeys and bathroom disappeared and I tripped over a stump. The school was gone and I was in a forest. Where the boogers was I?
“Help,” said someone behind me.
I turned and saw myself. “Who are you?” I asked.
“You first,” the other me responded nervously.
“I’m David,” I said. “Why do you look like me?”
“I’m David. I’ve always looked this way. Did the turkeys chase you too?” the second David said.
I tried to answer, but was interrupted by a voice to the left. “What the boogers is going on?” a third David demanded. Behind him were eight more – eleven Davids in total.
We were all scared, we all had exactly the same memories, and we were all talking at once. It was hard to remember who said what. Finally, one of us got control of the conversation. “Do you feel it?”
“That force in the back of your mind trying to express itself.” All of us stopped and thought.
“Yes. Something is trying to speak to us. Relax and let it out.”
We all relaxed. Suddenly one David said “help” immediately followed by another saying “us” immediately followed by another saying “repair.”
“Help us repair what?” David asked.
“Help-us-repair-our-vehicle,” came the answer from five of the Davids.
“Who are you?”
“We-are-a-creature-with-no-equal-form-in-your-universe-forcing-us-to-enter-other-life-forms-to-interact,” came the answer from all of the Davids in turns.
“Did you make the turkeys chase me?”
“We-made-many-attempts-to-repair-our-vehicle. We-were-microbes-worms-and-stones-before-we-were-turkeys. As-worms-we-lured-a-turkey-through-one-of-our-transfer-points-to-scan-and-enter-it-but-turkeys-are-too-stupid-to-control-well. We-knew-we-needed-a-human-and-that-humans-ate-turkeys-so-we-tried-to-lure-you-through-by-looking-tasty. When-this-did-not-work-we-tried-to-scare-you-but-you-always-ran-in-the-wrong-direction.”
“Is that how I got here? Through a transfer point?”
“Yes. Do-not-be-scared. Once-our-vehicle-is-repaired-you-will-be-returned-to-normal.”
This was too weird. Every David at once had the same idea and ran around the woods trying to find the transfer point back to the boys’ room. One David briefly ended up in the middle of traffic downtown before jumping back through the transfer point to the forest just in time. Finally, one of us found the right point and the rest followed. “What do we do now? We can’t go back to class like this,” one of us said.
As if to underscore the point, just then a first grader entered the room. Seeing eleven identical copies of me, he stopped and stared. “Are you all twins of each other?” Two of me said yes. Two of me said no.
“My aunt Barbara and my aunt Jenny are almost twins except that Barbara wears a blue dress and Jenny is married to my uncle Ralph,” the first grader said.
“What do we do?” one David asked the others.
“Go-back-through-the-transfer-point,” six Davids responded in turn. This was strange. We all had our own minds, but we also had a shared mind – and this shared mind was a creature from another universe. We walked back into the forest.
“You can merge us back together like you did with the turkeys. Do it,” one of me said.
We all gave up. “Where is your vehicle?”
Then we saw it. Of the thirty closest trees, eleven of them were completely identical. Every knot, every scar, every spot of lichen, every leaf, every length, every angle was the same. They were of a strange variety I had never seen before, but I never knew much about trees anyway. For the next twenty minutes the creature in our minds taught us how to use the controls. We twisted some limbs around while holding others in place. Through the joints in the trunk we could see blinking lights.
Suddenly, the ground began to shake and the trees began to glow. “Thank-you.”
“Wait! Put us back together!” one David said.
The rest of the Davids started to run. One of us disappeared and then reappeared. “Hey! I found an open transfer point!” he yelled. The rest of us followed.
I arrived just outside the grocery store downtown. No Davids were in front of me. No Davids were behind me. I no longer knew which of them I had been. In fact, I remembered everything that we had all experienced. That meant I was returned to normal! I ran through the parking lot to return to school. The teacher had probably sent others to look for me by now. I was going to be in so much trouble.
Hold it, why was my head bobbing so much? And was I shorter? I caught a reflection of myself in the window of the barber shop. I was a turkey – and it was ten days until Thanksgiving.