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Field to Table

by J Campbell

By Joshua CampbellPublished 2 months ago 24 min read
1

Dave knew something was off from the moment the knife sliced into the turkey, but he put it out of his mind as he served the meat to his guests.

It was nerves, he told himself. This was their first year hosting the family Thanksgiving, his family and his in-laws being in attendance, and as Dave tasted the expertly cooked bird, he set his fears to rest. It was delicious, one of the best turkeys he'd ever eaten, and he pushed the mashed potatoes onto the golden flesh as he shoveled it into his mouth. The table had been lengthened for their guests, and the whole clan sat around it as they talked, laughed, and ate.

Dave looked around at the gathering and was glad they had agreed to host this year.

Normally, Thanksgiving was a hectic time for his family. They would start their day at seven-thirty, getting the girls ready so they could leave by nine and arrive at his parent's house by ten. Then they would have an early lunch at eleven, leave by one, and arrive at her parent's house by two. After some socializing, they would eat Thanksgiving Dinner at four, and she and her mother, sometimes with her younger sister in tow, would go out to hit the black Friday deals while Dave and his brother-in-law, Terry, watched the kiddos. By the time they got back, Dave was exhausted and still stuffed from dinner, and God help him if the office didn't give them the next day off because he was good for little after all that.

But that was before they had bought the house.

The house was so big and beautiful that it had just made sense to host both families and be done with it. Dave's mother was already planning to join in the black Friday festivities with Silvia and her family, and Dave was looking forward to putting on his pajamas and relaxing after the meal was finally put away. The kids could play in the backyard or rest in the living room, the adults could get comfortable or head out to shop, and Dave could rest a little instead of going nonstop all day.

Yep, Dave thought as he poured more gravy on his turkey, this year was going to be different.

It wasn't until he started putting away leftovers that he remembered that funny feeling he'd gotten as he sliced the bird earlier.

The green bean casserole, the mashed potatoes, the rolls, the corn, and even the pumpkin pie that remained had been easily stored in Tupperware containers so they could either go to the various houses his family would return to or go into his fridge to make sandwiches and plates for the next few days. Dave was in his comfy pants, the sweats he liked to wear while he watched football or did house chores, and as his full belly pushed at the waistband, he was once again happy that he didn't have to ride out the evening in his jeans as he sat on his in-law's couch like a bloated whale.

The electric knife buzzed as he cut the turkey, putting the pieces in an extra large Tupperware. There was more than he expected, especially considering how much his guests had put away. Terry was currently snoring on the couch, his overshirt unbuttoned to reveal the rise and fall of his swollen belly. Terry had eaten four helpings of the turkey all by himself, and between the lot of them, they should have eaten several turkeys.

When the XL Tupperware was full, the lid barely closing on the almost three-gallon container, Dave furrowed his brow at the still mostly whole turkey as it sat on the counter.

Halfway through filling another container, he heard Silvia come back from her shopping adventure.

"Well," she said, shopping bags fluttering as she came into the kitchen, "I had to knock some old lady over, and I'm pretty sure my face is hanging somewhere in a Wal-Mart backroom of people to throw out, but I think I got everything on our kids Christmas list."

Her joking smile turned into something more akin to "Really?" as she saw Dave putting away the turkey, "Had a little nap before you started on those leftovers, huh?" she asked playfully.

"Nope," Dave said, his attention on the turkey as he carved a long piece off and tossed it in the bucket, "I've been carving for hours."

Silvia whistled as she looked at the huge container of turkey already in the fridge, "My goodness. I guess my turkey wasn't up to par."

Dave shook his head, "Watch," he said, his face very close to the area he had just cut on the turkey.

As Silvia turned her attention to the bird, it was hard to miss as the flesh grew back in the spot he had cut.

Silvia let her mouth slip open, casting a glance to the kitchen door as her sister tried to coax Terry off the couch so they could head home, "What the hell was that?"

"I was hoping you could tell me. Where did you get this turkey?"

"From Kroger, the same place I always get it."

Dave went to the garbage, digging out the plastic covering, and reading the label. It looked normal, a thin flesh-covered bag with some plastic netting inside to hold the bird, but the label looked different than he was used to. A large, technicolor sun was rising behind a barn, and the words Bright Farms were visible before it. Bright Farms wasn't a brand that Dave was familiar with, but as he watched Silvia cut slice after slice off the turkey, he had to say it was a brand that was growing on him.

Silvia laughed as the large Tupperware bulged with bird meat, "Weird, but in a good way. What do we do with all this meat?"

Dave shrugged, "I'm sure this is just some kind of fluke. We'll enjoy it while it lasts."

"Do we put it in the fridge, you think? Would that ruin it?" she asked, indicating the turkey.

Dave just shrugged again, and the two made room for the almost full turkey as they closed everything up and got ready for bed.

Dave figured that putting it in the cold would end their good fortune, but he hardly wanted to wake up to a rotten turkey.

Besides, it couldn't last forever.

* * * * *

"Ugh, turkey again?" Ella asked, moving the turkey around her plate as she glowered at the golden meat.

"I like it," said Clare, their youngest, as she spooned mashed potatoes onto her plate, "It's yummy."

"There are starving kids right here in town, Ella," Dave said good-naturedly, "Might as well eat."

"Wait," Ella asked suddenly, "This isn't the turkey from Thanksgiving, is it?"

Dave looked at Silvia, the two sharing a look that their oldest daughter definitely noticed.

"That's disgusting! Thanksgiving was two weeks ago. There's no way it's still good."

It had actually been closer to three, Dave realized, but time had done nothing to stop the turkey from coming back. Ella had raised an eye when she saw the turkey sitting in the fridge the week after Thanksgiving. Her sister was too young to take much notice of what stayed in the fridge, but Ella had asked a lot of questions about why it was still there?

"It's fine, dear. Your father and I have eaten it, and it tastes just fine. Eat up before it gets cold."

They had put it in the air fryer to heat it up, but it always came out just as crispy and golden brown as it had the first time. The meat never spoiled, even when Silvia had left the Tupperware out one night, and the family had just carried on eating it. Dave found it delicious, and Silvia had jokingly said that she had outdone herself with it. They had been eating turkey regularly ever since Thanksgiving, and no one but Ella seemed to show any signs of stopping.

"I'll pass," Ella said, pushing the plate away with the turkey uneaten, "I've been having weird dreams lately, and I think it might be the turkey."

Dave started to chide her for wasting food, but he, too, had been having some pretty weird dreams. He couldn't say it was due to the turkey, but it certainly played a part. Dave had woken up a few times in the kitchen, the fridge doors open and pieces of turkey still in his hand. The dreams themselves were usually flashes back to Thanksgiving, watching the guests eat and eat as the turkey centerpiece grew to fill the table. The guests grew too, Dave included, though that part seemed grounded in reality. He'd put on ten pounds in the last few weeks but had shrugged it off as holiday weight. With Thanksgiving over and Christmas quickly approaching, there were no end of holiday parties or potlucks at work.

Dave watched as Clare took her sister's turkey as Ella left for her room.

"Don't worry, dad," Clare assured him, "I won’t let it go to waste."

Dave smiled, ruffling his daughter's hair, but noticing a certain roundness to her face. Ella looked about the same as ever, but as Silvia wolfed down her own turkey, Dave couldn't help but notice his weight gain wasn't the only addition to the family. He put it out of his mind as he returned to his dinner. It was just a little holiday weight, nothing more.

* * * * *

Dave pursed his lips when he opened the door to find his sister-in-law on the porch.

It was the middle of the day; shouldn't she be at work?

"Hey, Stacy. What's up?"

She smiled, but it looked a little strained, "Hey, Dave. I was wondering if you had any more of that turkey?"

She was trying to put it off as curiosity, but her demeanor made Dave think more of a drug addict. She was shuffling from foot to foot and scratching at her arm, and Dave was a little worried about her. She had been coming around a lot more lately, and Dave didn't think he'd ever seen her quite this much. It appeared that Silvia had been giving her turkey. It wasn't like they didn't have plenty of it, but it appeared to be having a negative effect on her.

"Sure, I guess. Are you feeling okay? You seem kind of under the weather."

"Yeah, I'm okay. I was just hoping you had some of that turkey. It's so good I can't seem to get enough of it. Terry, too. He's been taking it for lunch every day."

She followed him inside, rambling all the way, Dave noticed he wasn’t the only one who’d put on holiday weight. Stacy had never been very large, at four foot eleven she might have weighed a hundred pounds the whole time he’d know her, but now it was clear she had been eating more than usual. Her stick thin frame was getting pudgy, and Dave wondered again if it had something to do with all the turkey they’d been eating?

She followed him to the fridge and, sure enough, the turkey was still in there in all its glory. The whole bird sat within as two tubs of meat sat on either side like silent sentries. He reached for the smaller tub but changed his mind as he reached for the two-gallon tub. He could always carve some more. If she had enough, maybe she wouldn't need to come back for a while. The thought was strange to Dave, but he suddenly found himself feeling very protective of the turkey.

Stacy looked at the Tupperware of meat as if Dave had handed her sack of crisp hundred-dollar bills.

"Thank you, thank you so much," she breathed out, sounding relieved as she hugged the container to her chest.

She left in a hurry after that, saying they would see them at Christmas for sure, and Dave was left wondering what the hell had just happened? As he watched her go, Dave suddenly wanted to call her back. He wanted to stop her, to tackle her, and take the turkey back, and as he closed the door, he ran heavily back to the fridge, his mind crying out for the delicious. He sank his hands into the turkey, pulling out chunks as he pushed them into his mouth. The turkey continued to refresh itself between each bite, the gouges growing before Dave's eyes, and when he sank to the floor at long last, he felt a sense of fulfillment that he'd never felt before.

* * * * *

He was showering that night when he noticed the first of the bumps. He felt them through the washcloth as soaped up, and his fingers shook a little as he dropped the washrag. They were under his arms, a large patch that stretched down his side, and when Dave checked them in the bathroom mirror, he was shocked. He had thought maybe they were a rash, but the bumps looked less like pustules and more like lesions. The little lumps seemed to be spreading, and Dave didn't like the scaly patches of skin between them either.

"What the hell?" he breathed, shivering as his fingers slid over the spots.

It felt kind of nice, tickly even, but Dave made a mental note to call his doctor the next day.

He had been meaning to talk to Doctor Malcolm for a while anyway. The weight gain he was experiencing had gone beyond the normal holiday pudge, and the dreams were becoming worse each night. The guests at his table now seemed to change before his eyes, eating the turkey as they grew round and squat, their limbs shrinking as their bodies twisted. Their skin would brown, crisping until they looked burnt, and as they all turned to look at him, Dave would come awake with a start. He was becoming worried that there might be something in the turkey that was affecting them negatively. He had noticed Clare and Silvia seemed to be getting rounder as the days went by, and there was definitely more a waddle to their gate than an actual stride. He could see himself getting stouter, and with the exception of Ella, he felt like all of them might be experiencing a certain amount of binge eating.

He could see his family fattening up, but for what?

Dave thought for the first time then about getting rid of the turkey, but he wondered how his family would take such an action?

Ella would be elated. She had begun cooking her own meals to get away from the constant stream of turkey, but Silvia and Clare would be outraged. They had turkey for breakfast, lunch, and dinner most days, and Dave realized he was just as guilty. What had started as a cost-saving measure had become an obsession, and Dave wasn't sure he could bring himself to part with that cursed bird either.

As he climbed into bed, something made all the more difficult as he became fatter, he put his hand on something course that had made its way under his pillow.

As he rolled under the covers, Silvia already snoring beside him, he pulled it out and was surprised to find a handful of feathers under his pillow.

He checked his pillow, thinking maybe they had come from inside it, but he couldn't find a source.

He was tired by the time he sat his pillow down and decided to just go to sleep.

He'd make an appointment tomorrow.

Maybe Dr. Malcolm could shed some light on all this.

* * * * *

Dave felt the phone shake in his hand as he made the call.

The phone number to Bright Farms had been easy enough to find, but as it rang and rang, Dave became worried that no one would pick up.

They had to have answers; they had been responsible for this turkey, after all.

Someone had to have some answers; otherwise, Dave thought he might just go crazy.

Doctor Malcolm certainly hadn't been able to give him any.

Doctor Malcolm only offered more questions.

"I dunno what to tell ya," Malcolm had said, running his hand over the bumps as he pressed against them.

Dave had shuddered. The bumps had spread to his back, and he felt humiliated by the whole experience. He'd been sitting in his gown, fifty pounds heavier than the last time he'd been there a few months ago, feeling like a freak as the bumps covered his ample flesh. As he got undressed, he noticed that some of them had migrated to his chest as well, and Dave hoped that Doc might be able to give him some good news.

"They aren't pustules or folliculitis, and there doesn't appear to be any drainage from them that I can see. They don't ooze when squeezed, and your x-rays don't show any growths below the skin. It's not a rash or something dermatological. I can't really tell what's going on, but," he hedged, "it almost seems like," but he stopped himself, shaking his head as he flopped onto the spindly stool near the wall.

"What?" Dave asked, ready to grasp at any straw he might offer.

"It almost looks like the skin under a bird's feathers. After you pluck them, their skin looks a lot like that. But that's stupid." he added, laughing a little as he made a note of Dave's chart.

Dave agreed, chuckling a little, though he didn't think it sounded so stupid.

He had looked up the number shortly after getting home.

Dave didn't know what he expected this Bright Farm to tell him, but he knew he needed answers. In his mind, these guys would know what was going on, and maybe they could help shed some light on his situation. With every ring that passed, Dave was more and more certain that no one would pick up. The number would be old, they would be closed, they wouldn't know what he was talking about, no one would…

Someone picked up on the sixth ring just as Dave was getting ready to hang up.

"Bright Farms General Store, Thomas 'ere, how can I help ya?"

Dave was stunned for a moment, the man having to say Hello a couple of times before finally finding the saliva or the words to speak.

"Yes, we bought one of your turkeys this year for Thanksgiving."

"Uh-huh," the man said, and Dave heard the scritch scratch of a pen, "if you're trying to make a return, you can just take it back to the store. We don't have any kinda special policy or anything."

"No, I was just trying to get some information on your products. My turkey seems to be coming back after I cut it, and I'd like to know if there are any side effects of this kind of thing.

"Coming back?" the man said, and then Dave heard his gasp, but not like someone whose surprised.

He gasped like someone whose seen a celebrity.

"Oh my goodness, it's you! You're one of the chosen ones! I'd never got to meet one before the change; this is amazing. It's an honor, sir. I hope you know how lucky you are. He only chooses a handful every year, and it happens to less than one percent of all those who buy our birds."

"What are you talking about?" Dave asked, not sure what to make of all this.

"Oh, I'm sorry. It's been three weeks. I assumed you had already noticed the changes."

"What exactly are these changes?" Dave asked, hearing the front door open as his kids came home from school.

Ella went straight to her room as she did every day, but Clare made a beeline for the kitchen. Dave could see her as she waddled in, her changes even more noticeable than his own. As she opened the refrigerator, he was unsurprised to hear the seal coming off the turkey container. He saw his daughter, normally very athletic and energetic, laboring to breathe as she put turkey and gravy onto a paper plate. Her ankles had begun to thicken, and Dave almost thought he could see something like scales in the patch of flesh between her socks and her jeans. Her teacher had called last week about her poor performance and about her eating in class which was not allowed. She'd been sneaking extra turkey to school to eat between meals, and her teacher was threatening to give her detention if she didn't stop.

"Well, dry patches of skin, bumps, weight gain, a sharpening of the bone structure. Have you noticed any feathers appearing randomly yet? That's the biggest tell."

She came up out of the fridge then, her cheeks already bulging with turkey, and Dave couldn't help but notice the feathers in her hair.

As she walked to her room, the plate piled high, the turkey feathers wafted down from her lustrous brown hair.

"Don't worry, pal." Thomas went on, clearly grinning on the other end of the phone, "I know this is a lot to take in. We'll send someone over real soon to help walk you through it. Before you know it, you'll also have a new home in the field."

Dave let the phone fall to the floor, his feet taking him towards the bathroom in a wobbly gate.

He leaned in close as he looked at himself in the mirror, smoothing out the skin on his face as he looked. His face seemed normal, but Dave couldn't help scrutinizing every feature. The bags under his eyes made sense; his dreams had been plagued by the eating dream for almost a month. His skin appeared plumper but still normal, though Dave couldn't help but see things that may or may not be there. Was his nose sharper? Were his eyes smaller? He looked under his neck, the double chin now prominent, and thought he might also have some of the bumps under there. He tried to tell himself that it was all in his head, but the longer he looked, the more certain he was that nothing was the way he remembered it.

"What are you doing?" a voice came from behind him, and Dave realized that Silvia had come home while he was checking himself out.

He turned to tell her everything was okay, but as his tears started falling, Dave fell heavily to his knees and clutched at her.

"I'm scared, Silvia. I don't know what's going on. I'm changing, and I don't know what," but she put a finger to his lips as she stooped down, bringing her face close to his.

He could see the bumps rising up her neck as they came close, and the longer he looked at her face, the more her nose began to look like a beak.

"You're just hungry, dear. Come on, let's get some dinner in you. You'll feel better after that."

Dave tried to shake his head, but as she helped him up and led him to the table, he became less and less sure. Clare was already waiting for them, her eyes glazed over a little as she stared into space. Silvia was at the table, too, feathers rising from the neck of her sweater, and Terry's too, his nose having taken on the sharp point of a beak as he turned to look at Dave. When he opened his mouth, nothing but a gobble came out, and Dave felt his fear rising up again as Silvia sat him beside the turkey man.

He wanted to run, he wanted to deny all this, but when she sat the golden brown idol before them, he felt the drool slide down the corner of his mouth and knew he couldn't leave.

They all fell upon the bird, ripping and eating as the meat returned as pristine as always again and again.

Dave's fears were nothing before the bird, and as he ate, the people around him grew and grew. Their bodies changed, their features twisted, and when Dave tried to mention it, nothing came out but a thick and guttural warble. Soon he wasn't even grabbing the meat anymore. His hands had shrunk into useless wings, and they were all digging mouthfuls of flesh out with their sharp beaks.

A scream turned their heads towards the living room, and they could all see Ella as she stood in confusion.

She retreated then, her door slamming from farther down the hall, but it hardly seemed to matter.

The rafter of Turkeys turned back to their dead cousin and continued to eat, growing fatter and fatter as they gorged themselves.

* * * * *

Thomas found the door unlocked, and as he and his brothers and sisters came into the house, he smiled at the scene before him.

Five fat turkeys, still picking at the bones of their meal as they warbled and gobbled. Three hens and two toms; not a bad haul at all. They had made quite a mess, but that was okay. There would be nothing here for the police to find when they came to investigate, certainly nothing to tie Bright Farms to it.

"Load them up," Thomas said, his family going to work, "we have a few more stops to make before we head back."

They herded the birds out the door, running them towards the truck that had been pulled up to the front door, so they didn't have to chase any of them. There were always questions when people saw them running down the road in their overalls and Amish dresses, which led to other unexplained disappearances. It was always better when they came to see the light on their own, but converts sometimes had to be made rather than found.

"Who are you? What's going on?"

Thomas looked over and saw a girl coming up the hallway. She looked to be about twelve or thirteen and scared out of her mind. It appeared that the siren song of the bird hadn't snared her, but Thomas knew there was a greater call than that of the turkey.

He bent down, giving her his widest smile as she looked at him with open fear.

"My dear, have you ever heard of The Bright? I find it helps put things in perspective during trying times like this."

* * * * *

Dave had never been so happy in his whole life.

Being a turkey was easy. Eat, sleep, make little turkeys, and wander the fields around his new home. There was no job to go to, no mortgage to pay, no parties to attend, no conversations to carry, and no expectations to live up to. No, he thought, as he dug his beak into the ground for more bugs, he was wrong about expectations.

Even as a turkey, there was one expectation.

He looked up as a group of birds was led to the waiting trailer, their heads held high as they waddled to their destiny. Dave could see a few of them that seemed to have a light glowing inside them, and he knew how lucky they were. There would be some new faces in a few weeks, and Dave knew that soon it would be his turn as well. Easter, or maybe next Thanksgiving, and then he would fulfill his own expectation.

Maybe his glow would grow before that day, and he would be responsible for ushering in some new faces as well.

Someone called the turkeys to lunch, and the rafter came running. Dave looked up at the smiling girl holding the bucket and thought he recognized her for a moment. She looked familiar, her long dark hair in a braid, and a name tried to work its way to the surface before Dave pushed it down even as he pushed his face into the trough. That was something he had cared about before he'd become a turkey, and the food in the trough was his only care now.

Eat, sleep, make little turkeys, and grow fat.

That was how a turkey fulfilled his destiny.

fictionmonsterpsychologicalslashersupernaturalurban legend
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About the Creator

Joshua Campbell

Writer, reader, game crafter, screen writer, comedian, playwright, aging hipster, and writer of fine horror.

Reddit- Erutious

YouTube-https://youtube.com/channel/UCN5qXJa0Vv4LSPECdyPftqQ

Tiktok and Instagram- Doctorplaguesworld

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