“The trouble with chickens,” Professor Feltenner had written in her journal, “is that they don’t scale very well. And when they scale up, their instincts do not. They have been domesticated for far too long. What I need is a wild chicken, a chicken who has never been bred for tameness and domesticity. That, then, should be clever enough for what I need.”
Professor Feltenner’s travels into the jungles were the stuff of academic legend. It had become the very morbid joke around the university that if you did not like a student, it was a clever idea to get them to take Feltenner’s classes, because there was a very good chance she would then take them with her on one of her summertime or winter-break expeditions – and then there was a very, very good chance that they would not return.
Professor Feltenner, on the other hand, always returned – even that last time, that fateful trip when she came back with one bedraggled grad student, two smallish cages, and a man named Gorvald she claimed to have found in the middle of the jungle. Since Gorvald’s accent spoke of the Rus and the far-Eastern mountain ranges, everyone at the university raised eyes at that – but Gorvald was good with the things in the cages, and someone needed to be. Gods above knew the poor grad student whimpered every time she saw so much as a feather.
“The trouble with chickens ought to be solved by working with a more pure specimen,” Professor Feltenner wrote in her journal. “Today, Gorvald and I begin the experiment on the junglefowl we have acquired. With luck, working from an enlarged junglefowl pair, we can begin breeding better and juicier meat with a much more sensible bird.”
The junglefowls’ thoughts on that were never properly recorded; once they had dealt with Professor Feltenner, they (with brains that scaled up, it seemed, much better than their domestic counterparts’) opened the doors to the lab and fled, taking several carriage-sized domestic fowl with them. You could hear their cries late at night in the forests near the University, and the professors had a new way to rid themselves of difficult students.
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