Rudyard, the rooster, woke up a few minutes before
sunrise. He stretched his wings. They were covered with black feathers,
with an odd yellow and red one mixed in. He yawned and reached up to
scratch the red comb on top of his head, then rubbed his beak. "Time to
get up," he said, jumping up off the pile of hay he’d slept on. He walked
out of the wooden coop and looked up into the pre-dawn sky. He stretched
again then flapped his wings. He flew up to the top of the coop where he
perched, looking at the horizon.
The sky was beginning to lighten. It was filled with
deep purples, reds and blues. The dark night sky was vanishing quickly. He
took a deep breath of air and let out the loudest cock-a-doodle-do he
could. He crowed thirteen times. As he finished the last crow, the sun
began to rise, its golden rays spilling onto the glen. The grasses, that
once looked black and empty, came to life as the sun’s fingering rays
carpeted it. The purple heather seemed as fire. Little creatures and
insects began to creep out from under the rocks and boulders dotting the
landscape. The roses growing on bushes near the coop turned crimson red.
Rudyard could see that the leaves took on a brilliant emerald green glow.
The carnations became as pink as a baby’s soft skin; the sunflowers looked
like creamy yellow butter and the daisies became white, instead of gray.
Rudyard hopped off the coop and began scratching the
pebbly ground. Bugs came scurrying out from underground, heading for
safety, but Rudyard was too fast for them and gobbled them down quickly.
He held a wiggling spider in his beak; its legs, long and spindly, tasted
delicious as he swallowed it. A fat juicy grub inched its way across the
rich brown earth in a desperate attempt to get away, but Rudyard ran over
to it and enjoyed it for breakfast.
Soon the other animals in the farm began to stir.
Rudyard stood proudly, watching the hens come out of their coop to begin
their day. Each one was plump and covered in snow white feathers. Rudyard
watched the sheep as they scampered about the rocks, bleating and clomping
through the bushes, looking for a tasty plant or seed to eat.
Rudyard looked up into the sky. The sun was well up
now. The sky, a brilliant powder blue. Not a cloud was in sight. He
strutted about, happy to be where he was. A small stream flowed silently
into a loch, not far from the farm. Rudyard shivered when he thought about
its seemingly gentle waters. He knew better than to be fooled. A sea
serpent lived in that loch. Too many of the hens and other roosters had
ended up as a meal for a hungry serpent. Rudyard wanted to make sure he
never would be.
Trying to distract himself from those frightening
thoughts, he glanced over towards the small village of Drummy. He could
see the thatched roofs of people’s houses and the stone towers attached to
the ruins of a crumbling Norman church. Soon the morning sunrise would
bring all the villagers outside to begin their day. He heard noises coming
from the trucks carrying early morning milk and newspapers, and the
postman’s car as he went from house to house. Smells of hay, sheep, and
dairy cows, mixed with scents of sizzling bacon and sausages, drifted
through the air towards him.
Turning again, he saw the pine covered hills standing
majestically. Rudyard thought about how he’d like to fly up to the top of
one of the tall pines and do his early morning crows. He wondered if
anyone would hear him if he did. Would he even be able to fly up that
high? He was just a rooster, not an eagle.
He was distracted from his thoughts by the sound of one
of the hens clucking wildly. He turned and ran towards the noise, moving
quickly through the bushes. He jumped over the pebbles and patches of
thistle. He ran around a clump of blackberry bushes and stopped. There sat
Rosemary, the hen, with her back against a huge boulder. The monster from
the loch was standing in front of her, its gaping jaws filled with sharp
teeth and it looked hungry. Rudyard gasped a deep breath. What was he to
do? How could he help Rosemary?
Rosemary clucked and clucked. She was terrified.
Rudyard could see her shaking and shivering with fear. Her feathers were
moving up and down and back and forth as her body shook giving them the
appearance of blowing snow in a wintry blizzard.
Rudyard looked around, trying to see if there was
something he could do to help his friend. He came up with an idea. He
flapped his wings and flew up to the top of the boulder that Rosemary was
leaning against. He lay down and dangled his front wings over the edge,
struggling to reach her. He could see the sea serpent’s eyes, deep and
dark, glaring at him. Rosemary stopped clucking and raised her wings up
high above her head. Just then, seeing what was about to happen, the
monster lurched towards her. Using all his might, Rudyard grabbed
Rosemary’s wings and pulled her up until she was on top of the boulder
with him and out of harms way.
The two chickens stared down at the angry serpent. It
sat at the bottom of the boulder hissing for several minutes before
accepting defeat and wandering back down to the loch. They didn’t get down
until they watched it slink into the deep water and swim away. Its tail
swished back and forth and it disappeared.
Rudyard accompanied Rosemary back to the chicken coop.
He warned her not to ever go near the loch again. She clucked a thank you
and went inside with the other hens. Rudyard flew up to the top of a tall
wooden pole and stood there, proudly keeping watch over the chickens.
His eyes kept going to the hills and mountains. He
wanted to welcome the new day sun from the top of the largest tree. He
flew off towards them, touched down to the ground and strutted over
towards one. When he reached the bottom of the pine, he looked up. He
didn’t realize how big it was. He flew up onto the first branch, then flew
to the next, stopping at the top of each to rest. Now and then he’d turn
around and look down. He was high up yet the top still seemed so far away.
All day long he flew from branch to branch. As the sun set and the sky
went ablaze with crimson red, pink, orange, purple and blue, he reached
the top of the pine tree.
He stood there, unable to move. The beauty of what lay
in front of him mesmerized him. He could see for miles in every direction.
Things looked different than they did when he was on top of the pole in
the chicken coop. He saw the stream as it flowed north towards the loch.
The sun’s setting rays reflected off the loch like a giant mirror. It was
beautiful. He could also see the sea serpent swimming around in it. He saw
the reeds that lined the muddy banks of the loch. The glen, instead of
being green, was now a dark brown color. The croft cottages were black,
silhouetted against the deep purple sky, the glen looking even more
majestic than it did in the bright sunlight.
Soon darkness filled the heavens. Rudyard saw the stars
twinkling and the huge moon shimmering. Somehow he felt closer to it being
that high up. After watching the marvels surrounding the pines for several
hours, he began to get tired and closed his eyes.
As if on queue, he woke up just as the first ray of sun
came over the horizon. He filled his lungs up with fresh highland air and
began to crow. His cock-a-doodle-doo echoed off every tree, off every
building and off every sand dune. The chickens woke up and came out of the
coop to start their day’s clucking. Rudyard proudly crowed,
He knew that from then on, at least one day a week, he
was going to climb up to the top of the pine and look down on the glen
below. At least he’d get to keep track of the sea serpent!