Drabble: Zen’s Hens


This post features my character Zen
His story appears in the No More Heroes anthology
No Spoilers

Once while writing, I accidentally rhymed within a sentence. (I want to say the sentence was discussing ‘Bill’s skills.’) I was amused. I giggled. And then I proceeded to find words to rhyme all of my character’s names.

I am an expert in procrastination.

Anyway, if the image is particularly intriguing to me, I’ll write it out. So, here’s one for my grumpy mathematician, Zen.


Zen’s morning began with dropping his coffee on the way to his office, and he was convinced that there was no possible event that could make him put the loss of much-needed caffeine out of his mind. This was before he opened the door and saw the chickens.

Hens, really, as they all seemed to be female. Whatever their gender, the sight made him forget the previously spilled coffee almost instantly. The fact that the hens were here at all was indicative of a bad morning, but it got worse. As soon as the door was open, the hens all started charging for it, chuckling to one another about what pleasant fun it was to disrupt another’s day. He shut the door, but not quickly enough. Three had gotten out.

Dropping his books with a mighty sigh, Zen began his pursuit of the chickens. This was, unfortunately, not the first time he had done this. One of the students in the behavioral science department was doing her thesis on these animals. All semester, chickens had appeared all across campus, and it was a common sight to see one’s teachers wrangling them back to their coop.

“I have a PhD in mathematics,” Zen muttered to himself as he tried very hard to corner his clucking adversary.

The hen bobbed its head as if to say it was impressed.

“I was the top of my class.”

She clucked her deepest congratulations for his accomplishment.

“I should not,” Zen growled as he crept forward at a crouch with his hands reaching in front of him, “have to spend my mornings doing this.”

The hen allowed him to get close enough to feel the tips of dirty, white feathers before she transformed into a flurry of movement. Zen made a few flailing attempts to grab it, but soon it was merrily strutting down the stairwell and Zen was flinging ineffective curses after it.

“Good morning, Dr. Dove!”

Zen spun around to find Ellen McAllister, grinning in a ‘yeah, I saw what you just did’ sort of way that made Zen want to give her extra homework. Unfortunately, she was not a student in his department.

“Your chickens got out again,” he informed her. “How does this keep happening?”

“I’ll be typing up my final paper soon,” she promised, which was in no way an answer to the question.

“And then I’m assuming we’ll be eating these things?”

She laughed. She must not have been aware that Zen wasn’t the type to make jokes. “Well, anyway, thanks for catching them so many times. You did really well.”

“Thanks,” Zen mumbled, and then processed the strangeness of the statement. “What do you mean I did ‘well’?”

“Well, I guess it’s safe to tell you now,” she said, tucking a notebook away. “My thesis doesn’t actually have anything to do with the chickens, per say… I was doing research on how different cultures go about catching animals and wanted to compare the herding methodology between the different departments.”

“Departments,” Zen repeated. He couldn’t remember a time when he was less amused. “Meaning.”

“Well, Math, obviously. Also English, Physics, History, Philosophy and Art.”

Many comments came to mind about the ethics of using accomplished professors as lab rats, but none of them were even remotely appropriate, so he just left. Get more coffee. Start the day over. Maybe eat a chicken sandwich for lunch.

But before he got too far, he became the victim of his own curiosity yet again. Turning around, he asked, “Which department was best at catching the chickens?”

“History,” she said. “But Math was a close second.”

“How close?”


Well. Zen obviously couldn’t allow that. He walked back to his office and told the girl, “Take notes.” He opened the door, gave the chickens a ten second start, and then set out to show the History department how it was done.


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