When you offend the gods and snub tradition, things can go badly wrong, and they can occur in the most unlikely places and circumstances. Rockwell’s story was a worthy finalist in the 2012 Story Quest Short Story Contest and it was worth the wait to include her story in this special edition. GH
All the world was burning, and as she stared at the devastation below, Keiko knew that her beloved chicken was to blame.
She’d found him on the lower slopes of the mountains, huddled miserably in a stand of bamboo, his feathers dull and dirty, missing in places as if he’d molted out of season, and torn away in others where he had fought with some other creature and survived at least, if not won. She’d taken pity on the poor, half-starved bird, and tucked it under one arm as she turned and followed a narrow path back to the village that was her home.
The hills were steep hereabouts, and were densely covered with cedar and pine and cypress, and the ubiquitous stands of bamboo. She could just see the roofs that marked that sprawling collection of homes and barns and shops as she descended toward the flatter lands where the village and the surrounding fields lay. She supposed it wasn’t really a village anymore. What had started as a small farming community had grown over the past few decades to become a bustling market town. But Shimizu was still a farmer’s town at heart, and she a farmer’s daughter.