The Mohawk-feathered chicken who manages to escape the brutal Farelli Poultry Farm only to find an abandoned farm pained with secrets, lost hope, a slew of nutty birds and a beast that may very well be responsible for the bloodstained wheat that separates the two farms.

While the birds refuse to save the birds at Farelli's, a sudden death propels them on a great adventure that will unlock secrets and change their lives.

the blood did not always separate the two farms.
There was a time when the fields were bright and alive, an endless plane of gold undisturbed by anything that didn't belong. Every farmhouse stood valorous beside its blooming gardens, even the sparrows would sit on the roof of the barn admiring the vastness of the land. The southern winds whispered through the wheat like an ancient lullaby.

That time ended with the blood. No one outside Hallow Planes knew exactly where it came from, except those who were present
during the tragedy of course, and no matter how cruel the earth became over the years the blood never washed away. Like a blackened vein it stretched north for one mile, ominous, forever scarring the land.

And every morning, Scotty The Seagull cruised above the blood embracing the current, feeling the coolness against his face. He loved spring. The winds were strong and fresh from winter, and when the air zipped across his ashy feathers he lifted his head and glided to the clouds. To everyone outside Hallow Planes, Scotty looked like your average, dumpster-loving seagull, but at close inspection he was no ordinary seagull at all. He had largerthan-normal eyes (for a seagull anyway), a few missing tail feathers, and he'd acquired a reputation of sorts. Not a bad reputation. Just one that labeled him a wisecracking birdbrain, which made him feel very proud indeed. Not all birds can be talented in wisecracking, it's something
you're born with he would always say, and he felt fortunate to be a master at it.

He swooped down from the clouds and looked west of The Blood Mile at the beaten farmhouse, wondering if it would ever be saved from its misery.

This farmhouse slumped like an outsider, aged and forgotten. Weeds reached up and around the slanted porch that fell to the right, just a few more years and it would take it whole, devouring every brick and every window.

The tractor outside the barn, although tarnished, had never been sparked, and it too was imprisoned by the mob of pointy greens. But there was a clearing from the back of the barn to the perished garden. From there the ghost of a oncehanging sign rattled the two chains that hung from a post. It had been years since the place had a name.

This farm had become a nostalgic memory and a memory is only nostalgic when something good is gone. Scotty shrugged and continued east of The Blood Mile where tractors plowed the fields spreading manure under a clear and brilliant sky while the combines separated the straw from the chaff and the chaff from the grains. This place had, in fact, a name.

A stunning assemblage of fields, pristine service areas, storage rooms and offices formed the gloriously overblown and massive Farelli Poultry Farm. Mounted above a glass double-door entrance was a white, yellow and red sign of Frank Farelli holding an egg with the happiest chick breaking out of its shell. In bold letters the words Trust in Farelli hung just below the sign on two shiny chains. It told people that this was a safe place; that the citizens of Hallow Planes could rely on the quality of this farm.

Like many times before, Scotty landed on the
ledge of Farelli's sign glaring at Frank's animated face. He knew it wasn't his real face because the real Frank had crooked teeth and hardly ever smiled. The real Frank had less hair on the top of his head, two chins and creases around his spinachcoloured eyes. In fact, everything about the sign was downright disturbing. So, he plucked three feathers from his behind, lathered them with spit and slammed them against the first "T" in the word Trust until the entire letter was covered. He pulled back to admire his work and wondered why he didn't do this sooner. "Much, much better," he said.

"Rust in Farelli! You bet!"

When he was done scolding and spitting against the sign, he swooped around the building to an opening in the wall. There he joined Charlie, another seagull visiting from Florida.

"Has Eighty-Four hatched yet?" asked Scotty.

"Nah, not yet. Poor little chick don't wanna come out and I don't blame it." Charlie pecked the itch under his wing and surveyed the room jammed with swift machines.

Hundreds of eggs wiggled and hatched on shiny metal tables where twenty-three Farelli workers in thick white lab coats separated each chick by gender and launched them down their appropriate tunnels- females went to The Rotisserie Room, males went to The Grinder. Both rooms were as frightening as their names. Number Eighty-Four took his time. "Been twenty-five days," reminded Scotty.

"Maybe it's a dud."

"Nah, I see it wigglin' and peckin'. I've had my eye on it.

It's a shame this chick don't have a chance because from the looks of it we have a fighter."

"Fighter? It's too scared to even hatch out of its shell! It's a real chicken, all right. I'm surprised Mr. Pig-Face hasn't done 'way with it."

"Oh he will." And to both their surprise, Number Eighty-Four cracked the top of his shell. Scotty and Charlie cawed in unison, almost falling off the ledge.

The chick shook the goo off his feathers, his black pupils adjusting to the fluorescent lights that screamed down at him, then that dreadful hand came and launched him down the tunnel.

"Oh there he goes!" said Scotty, falling back and swooping one story down to another opening in the wall.

Charlie followed and they both watched Number Eighty-Four crash on a mountain of other newborn chicks, some bleeding and broken from the fall. Then the claw came and the chick's legs sprung back dodging and shaking. It snapped above him, beside him and in front of him, unable to pluck the agile chick off the other chicks- until another claw came from behind and launched him on a belt, and he began to move.

"Well, whaddaya know?" said Charlie. "Eighty-Four's an athlete. I can respect that."

Number Eighty-Four was quite the athlete. In fact, he pushed himself up to the top of the belt while all the other chicks slapped him silly trying to push him down. But Eighty-Four made it on top, and that's when he saw The Grinder screaming ahead— cracking, grinding, and splattering.

"I can't look!" said Charlie, covering his face with his feathers.

The rip-roaring tornado of crushed bone and guts squealed as Eighty-Four moved faster and faster, and when all the cries and tweets vanished within The Grinder's teeth, a chicken leg smacked him in the gull and ejected him off the belt. This was the first time this ever happened. In fact, Frank knew to build a tall enough wall around the belt for unfortunate situations like this. God forbid some chick tried to escape. But there he was, in a moldy corner, alive, panting and tweeting.

"Caaack!" yelped Scotty, whacking Charlie across the head. "We gotta live one!" He dove inside the room, landing in front of the trembling bird. "Nice to be alive, ain't it?" he chuckled. "Don't know what took ya so long
but ya just won me ten fresh worms and a two-nest suite in Florida. Charlie and I had a bet, ya see, of how long it would take for you to hatch—" He looked back and gasped.

"Hop on my back before Mr. Pig-Face Farelli comes to—" And before he could get another word in, a black sneaker knocked the wind out of Scotty, sending him against the wall.

The chick backed away looking up at young Luke Farelli. His fair skin barely touched by time gleamed with sweat, brown hair parted to the side, and unlike Frank his father, his eyes shimmered like a rising South Pacific wave in the sun.

"'re so small..." whispered Luke, and he placed the chick inside his red backpack.

Scotty lay in a corner, seeing doubles, hearing Charlie's uncontrollable cackle from
the opening. He hated his cackle. In fact, he hated everyone's cackle except his own, so he sprang to his feet about to give Charlie a swift whack across the head when a gigantic, beast of a man bulldozed by. Scotty jumped back and pressed himself against the wall until his skull hurt.

Frank Farelli loomed over Scotty and Luke with his enormous body. "How in God's name did you get in here, boy?" He growled. "You ain't supposed to be here. Let's go!" He grabbed a fistful of Luke's shirt collar and dragged him down the hall, Luke's sneakers screeching against the concrete floor until the door slammed shut behind them. "The chick's a goner," said Charlie falling back, spreading his wings and gliding over the tractors.

Scotty jumped forward, tripping, smacking, coughing his way back to the opening and he looked back into fields.

Charlie was long gone now, heading to the Great Iron City for another dumpster raid. Then, Scotty looked down at the never-ending slaughter. Tweets fired out like bullets from The Grinder, machines humming and clamping all together creating one mind-splitting song he couldn't understand.

He knew not to stare too long; he knew not to let this massacre get to him. As beautiful as the world pirouetted around him, this was yet another reminder of the darkness that dwelled in places unknown, vicious places adorned with bright lights, shiny glass and clean brick, a most clever disguise, indeed. He shook all this away, shook his head and his entire body until every creepy-crawling thought evaporated, and he fell back with the wind.

Through the slaughter room and a
warehouse, over a cobblestone path and into a high-rise building, Luke followed his father down a stark white hallway clearly designed for the insane. Portraits of animated chickens with goofy eyes and feathers hung behind clear glass on the walls that seemed to go on forever. The tiles glittered in the light as if they were walking on broken glass, and a medicinal stench lingered in the air that made him wonder what really went on behind each door.

Frank stopped in front of the cafeteria entrance and turned to his son. "I'll be three minutes and then I'll take you home. Eat whatever you like. Just don't touch the blue box in the fridge. Stay far away from that." Then he disappeared around the corner.

Luke settled on a round table and sat down. He looked back to make sure no one was around and pulled the zipper of his backpack open to find Number Eighty-Four beaming
up at him, sandwiched between a bundle of pencils an awful anchovy and ham sandwich.

Luke smiled and placed the chick on the table. "You look funny," he said, running his fingers along the chick's natural mohawk.

Just like Scotty, Number Eighty-Four was no ordinary bird. He'd been born with a rare feather disorder that would conceal his comb with wisps of vertical feathers. But of course, he didn't know that just yet.

"I hope you and Bridget get along." Bridget was Luke's German Shepherd, and she was known to get-along with every cat, dog and bird (with the exception of a few devious mice) in town. "You could ride her back all day long..." he imagined, and then looked over to his schoolbook. Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer had become
his favourite book. Not because he had to read it for school, or because it was popular, but because it was his inspiration on becoming a pirate—gold teeth and all. When Tom and Huck ran off to the island in the Mississippi River, he realized that would be his escape plan too. He'd make sure to thank Mrs. Picklebottom for giving him the book, and send a letter to Twain himself for coming up with the idea. Becoming a pirate in the Mississippi River was perfect because being the son of Frank Farelli wasn't easy. In fact, Frank had a set of very specific rules and curfews (mostly for academic purposes) for his son, which included getting honours in Business and Mathematics. But Luke despised both subjects, and did horribly on his tests. Who needs business training when someone has dreams of becoming a pirate?

"I'll call you Sawyer." The name clicked, it felt right, and Luke smiled again.
"I'll take you with me, and we'd have all kinds of adventures. I'll teach you how to build a boat and how to fly a kite." When he heard shuffling outside the cafeteria, he shoved Sawyer inside the backpack—closer to the terrifying anchovy sandwich.

Frank walked in with the same hard frown Luke had grown to expect. "It's best you forget whatever you saw here today." He glared down at his son picking the dirt from under his fingernail with the tip of his car key. "It's dangerous and not suitable for children. You understand?" "Why are you killing all those chickens like that? And some chickens looked freak show weird. What are you doing to them?"

Frank raised his eyebrows and placed his pudgy hand on Luke's head. "God gave us chickens to eat, boy. I just make them...more delicious."


"Forget about it! You hear me? If you know what's good for ya, you'll keep your mouth shut." The blood vessels brightened against his cheeks, jaw clenched.

Luke bowed his head. "Or what?" he whispered under his breath.

"Don't test me, boy. Let's go home."

But home didn't feel like home yet. He missed the farmhouse, but they had to demolish it to expand the business. Now he lived in the city and went to an awful school infested with snobby rich kids who all praised his father for his humane ways and delicious chicken wings. Frank was definitely a celebrity in the city, and while Luke was somewhat proud of his dad, he now wondered if that sick
slaughter room would change everyone's perception.

He got up from the chair, slung the backpack around his shoulder and followed his father out the door and into the backseat of a Mercedes.

Huck would hide Sawyer in the tree house, he thought staring out the window, clouds creeping over the sun and wiping the field of its gold.

Meanwhile, Sawyer waited inside the pocket, barely alive, the red world quivering, darkening and potent with a foul odour as pieces of lettuce, ham and mayonnaise brushed against his feathers. He tucked his face into his breast and held his breath.

As the Mercedes thundered down the long, desolate road, the anchovy tickled Sawyer's throat. And like a string of Morse code, uncontrollable tweeting burst out of his
mouth. He flailed in all directions trying to stop his beak from opening, face swelling, throat scratching until a light tore through and Frank's burning pupils deepened above him.

"Luke! What's this?" growled Frank.

"I'm taking him with us! He's mine!" Luke reached for his backpack but Frank wrapped his fingers around Sawyer's body, almost squeezing his insides out through his eyes, and launched him out the window.

"No!" Luke slammed his fist against his father's headrest and turned to the back window. The chick soared through the air and crash-landed on the gravel. Sawyer rose to his feet, while Luke's face disappeared over the road. Then the silence came, and the world grew heavier and heavier around him.

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came from a video I saw a few years ago. This video shocked me as I witnessed hidden cams of farms across North America treating their animals with such cruelty, I couldn't believe the brutality these farmers were inflicting on their animals. Animal cruelty is an issue that is still alive today and the inhumanity involved is devastating.

Below is the horrific video, courtesy of Mercy for Animals that prompted me to write a story about the effects of fear, what it means to be brave and the power each one of us has inside to make a difference in the world.

Viewer Discretion Be Advised. Graphic Content.
Andy has dedicated his life to the "Art of Storytelling" ever since he could hold a pencil. He constantly presented his older, and "much cooler" sisters with his stories and adventures. Their feedback, however reluctant, was a large factor in his growth as an author despite the occasional embarrassment of their younger brother's consistent tug.

Andy writes for all ages and has developed treatments for major motion pictures, television pilots and stage acts in addition to the upcoming screen and stage production of Tandum Entertainment's State of Women.

The Blood Mile is devoted to providing enlightenment for the humane treatment of animals by giving a voice to those who don't have one. "This isn't about eating meat. It's about ensuring there are humane and respectful ways to treat animals and about educating in a new and thoughtful way of this circumstance."

It is here to enlighten, entertain, educate and provoke discussion.
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