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One Summer at Greenapple Farm

The stars twinkled in the clear night sky as Greenapple Farm slept on an unseasonably cold night in May. Most of the animals were huddled together in the barn as best they could to stay warm as Chopper the dog, who usually slept outside, sprawled inside his sparse doghouse. Maximilian, the farmer's wife's large gray tabby cat, was the only creature awake, prowling around the farm and its immediate surroundings, as was his habit. The farmer and his wife were snoring quietly in their second-floor bedroom, unaware of the cat's nightly routine.

Chopper's paw trembled slightly and his eye twitched as he slept, a sign that the dreams would soon be returning. Chopper had been haunted by the dreams for some time now, but since Old Augustus died over a year ago, he had nobody to whom he could confide. Old Augustus had been top dog at Greenapple Farm for a long time, yet Chopper could only remember him as old. Old Augustus had served as Chopper's mentor, a father figure for the young angry dog. Chopper missed him.

A tiny yip escaped Chopper's mouth. His paw trembled again. The dreams had arrived.

Chopper found himself in the middle of the chickens, the hens all clucking and pecking and ignoring his presence. Radcliffe the Rooster strode purposefully amidst his charges, beaming with pride. He too ignored Chopper. It was like he wasn't even there. Chopper's feelings were suddenly hurt. "Why nobody talk to Chopper?" he asked. There was no answer. He approached Radcliffe the Rooster and asked "Rooster, why you not talk to Chopper?" but the rooster breezed by the confused dog, ignoring him.


Chopper was becoming angry. "Why everyone ignore Chopper!" he shouted, but nobody paid him any attention. There seemed to more chickens now, many more than had originally appeared, and they all ignored Chopper. The dog was very angry now. "Stupid chickens!" he thought bitterly, "Make Chopper mad!" The increasing number of chickens was creating a rush of feathers all around the dog, who tried to veer this way and that to avoide the rush. Chopper was surrounded by chickens now, who continued to ignore him but also were bumping into him. Chopper hated being touched anyway and now he was feeling claustrophobic. "Too many chickens!" he was shouting now, trying to avoid the stampede.


The noise of the hens' incessant clucking merely contributed to Chopper's discomfort. He whipped his head around, desperately seeking an escape route, but there was none. He was getting pressed in by all the clucking hens now and he began snapping at them. "Too many chickens for Chopper!" he cried.


Wait a minute, what was this, the chickens were now paying some attention to Chopper. They were all staring at him wide-eyed. "CLUCK CLUCK CHOPPER CLUCK CLUCK CHOPPER!" they began to sing in unison. Chopper was confused. "No no, Chopper not like so many chickens, so many chickens&" But Chopper felt the familiar stirrings of hunger deep within his dog's belly. Surrounded by so many chickens, so many plump juicy hens, Chopper couldn't help but get hungry for their fat tasty flesh. "So many chickens for Chopper," he thought, and licked his lips in anticipation of a fine feast.


The hens were teasing the poor dog now. Chopper was confused. Why weren't the chickens afraid of him? Why weren't they running away? Why, they were LAUGHING at him! "Chickens not laugh at Chopper! Chopper EAT CHICKENS!" and with that the dog launched an all-out assault on the mass of feathery plumpness pressing in on him from all sides.

Suddenly he found himself alone. The chickens had disappeared in an instant. "No chickens for Chopper," the dog said mournfully.

"Tsk tsk, poor young Chopper, so much chicken meat yet not a morsel to eat."

The voice was thin and old. Chopper turned around and there was Old Augustus sitting in front of him, exactly how the younger dog had remembered him. "Old Augustus, what you doing here?"

The frail old German Shepherd simply smiled and lay down on the ground. "Young Chopper, have you forgotten all that I taught you already? I'm very disappointed in you, pup."

Chopper was crushed. His mentor, his hero, was disappointed in him. Chopper had always tried to be a good student to the older dog, but now&

"Chopper tries to be good," Chopper started to say, but suddenly the older dog's body began to slump oddly and the fur and flesh on Old Augustus's body began to turn to dust. "NO!!! COME BACK AUGUSTUS!!!" he shouted, but the old dog's body had already been blown away by the wind.

Radcliffe Rooster was back now, and crowing loudly.

"NOOOOOO!!" Chopper cried, and sat up suddenly, disoriented.

It was sunup on Greenapple Farm and Radcliffe Rooster had just announced the dawn from atop the barn. Chopper had been dreaming. He lay down inside his dog house, upset. "Stupid chickens in stupid dreams," he muttered.

"Whatsammata mutt, you have another bad dream?"

Chopper lifted his head to see a grinning Maximilian across the yard.

"Heh heh, stupid dog," spat the cat, who turned and disappeared into the bushes near the front door of the farmer's house.

Chopper growled inside his dog house. "Chopper hate Maximilian. Someday, Chopper KILL Maximilian," he thought.

In moments, however, Chopper's dog brain let the memory of the dream and the cat fade away. He yawned and stretched, and started his dog day by visiting his favorite bush.


2006 Michael S. Cohen

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