Stella gazed down the corridor and sniffed at the meagre offerings of her colleagues. They were simply not in her league.
Stella paused, catching her reflection in the stainless steel wall. She’d looked better. She was losing more feathers daily. Although it hurt to admit, Stella was almost completely bald. Her once brilliant red comb, mottled with disease, flopped limp over her squinting eyes.
Stella pecked at a lever, calling for food. The machinery that should have dropped a high nutrient pellet into her cage lay dormant. Stella pecked again with the stub that had regrown after they cut off her beak. No response. Stella began to cackle with ire.
After all she’d done for them. Two eggs a day when the industry average is one. Blood blisters that never healed. Fat, friable liver riddled with blood clots.
Stella clucked tersely as she bobbed her little head about in consternation. She peered down the endless row of cages, her flaccid wattle swinging as she flashed her neck left and right. Nothing but the incessant cackle of the other hens. Stella slammed her stub beak against the lever again. Still nothing. Beneath her enormous, genetically modified bosom, the rising tide of her anger triggered a great burst of adrenalin that caused Stella’s weak heart to shudder… shudder… And then stop.
Stella fell against the wire cage, dead.
“They’ll be sad to see this one go”, a blue uniformed attendant later declared as he tossed Stella’s dead body into his steel barrow. “She cranked ‘em out like no other”.
“Doubt they’ll lose too much sleep”, his co-worker replied through her cotton face mask. “The next generation chooks’ll be twice as big, no feathers at all and lay eggs as big as your fist”.
The following week, Stella was ground up, fried with a delectable selection of spices and stuffed into cellulose casing at one of Melbourne’s elite restaurants. Once boxed, her corpse was slipped inside a silver warming blanket for delivery to the offices of one of the city’s leading law firms.
On the 55th floor of the Rialto, the firm’s top-billing Associate stared in disbelief at her stammering secretary.
“We talked…this afternoon…my son’s play…” The greying secretary trailed off as she watched rage darken the chubby features of her young boss.
“I don’t have time to stand around to meet some delivery boy”, she snapped. “We’re in the middle of a major transaction, in case you hadn’t noticed”.
“I know; it’s just that…” came the stilted response.
“Go down and wait for him. And make sure they brought my special sauce”.
As the door closed behind her secretary, the Associate shifted her sizeable rump in her chair and winced, massaging her sallow cheeks. Another migraine. The Associate slipped her glasses back on, blinked beneath the fluorescent lights and clicked open the firm’s on-line billings spreadsheet. She was almost 30% higher than any of the other associates. They’d have to make her partner this year.