The Pheasant

Emily Hilleren

The Pheasant

Mr. Schwartz has a stuffed pheasant on his desk. So he’s a little eccentric. Well, he is, but the pheasant’s evil.I seem to find everything evil, even those baby dolls for the parenting class. Those beady little eyes, staring up at you… A few people do believe it, though. Like Martine, Lindsey, Kristin, and Julia, my friends who are a little less skeptical when it comes to the paranormal. Well, maybe you’ll believe me, too.

I was sitting there in Spanish, avoiding the assignment and talking with Lindsey, as usual. Somehow the conversation drifted around to the pheasant, as it frequently does. I looked over at it, and it’s head seemed to be cocked at a slightly different angle than when I came into the room. Now it was pointing right at the corner where Amber, Julia, and Hannah had moved their desks to do the assignment.

As I had noticed this happening more and more lately, I decided that I’d better warn Julia before it did more than just follow her with it’s eyes.

So I yelled up at her “The pheasant’s watching you!”

Julia shuddered. A few people laughed at how scared she got (I have to confess, I was one of them). She is overly paranoid, though. Suddenly deciding to do something about Julia’s paranoia.

Hannah, who is eternally trying to change people (without making the slightest attempt in the way of self-improvement, which she needs a great deal of), got up, grabbed Julia’s arm and exclaimed
“Stop being afraid of the pheasant! You’re gonna go over there for to touch it and I’ll go with you.”

“No!” Julia yelled. She tried to struggle, instinctively knowing that this was a life or death situation, but some sort of superhuman strength flowed into that puny, anorexic body, and Hannah held Julia’s arm firmly and drug her over there and placed her hand on it. I was completely astounded that Hannah could accomplish any physical feat whatsoever.

Something happened to Julia as her fingertips touched the bird. It was like her energy flowed into the pheasant, and it got replaced with something evil, something I felt clear across the room, but Hannah didn’t seem to notice, maybe because that’s the same feeling I always get around her.

“See, that wasn’t so bad, was it, Julia? Julia?” she foolishly asked.

“Yes?” A deep voice, entirely unlike her own answered the question as what was once Julia looked up from the pheasant. It definitely wasn’t Julia. Her eyes glowed red and she started laughing maniacally and raving in Spanish. I think it was something about cracker jack boxes.

Hannah screamed and ran. As it was the logical thing to do.

I followed, flying out of there like a bat out of hell.

Everyone did. Except Lindsey, who was always less flighty than the rest of us.

“Hey, cool! The bird possessed Julia!” she exclaimed. “Hey, Martine, where’s your camera?” Of course, Martine was already out of the room along with the rest of us, leaving poor Lindsey standing there, captivated by the sight, until Amber had the courage to run up, grab her by the arm and drag her out of the room to safety.

Mr. Schwartz, who had been out in the hallway observing all of this turned toward his classroom and muttered “El empaza.” Mr. Schwartz walked into his room and locking the door behind him.

I shuddered to think of what was happening to poor Julia in there.

It had started snowing sometime during this hellish nightmare, and by 10:40 a full-fledged blizzard had left us snowbound, trapped in the school with a pheasant that was evil incarnate.

Our principal, Mr. Deide’s voice came over the intercom, “Everybody remain calm. Classes will run as usual, even though we’re snowbound. In the event of a power out…” He never got to finish his announcement because just then the power went out.

So, of course, everybody panicked. At first, I sat in the dark screaming along with the rest of them. Kristin running into me – knocked some sense into me. I calmed down and decided what to do. I walked out of Mr. O’Connor’s room, being careful not to knock over any of the scientific clutter on his desk and headed up to my locker, thanking God that flashlight had gotten left in my backpack.

About halfway up an arm suddenly reached out and pulled me off to the side.

“Lindsey, you scared the crap out of me!” I exclaimed, recognizing the glow-in-the-dark alien t-shirt.

“Sorry,” she half-heartedly apologized. “Hey, let’s head up to Mr. Schwartz’s room and see what’s going on.

“Uh-uh,” I said. “I will not, under any circumstances set foot in that room until the pheasant is DEAD!”

“And how’s it going to die if we don’t kill it?”

“No way, I am NOT going up there!”

“Fine, then,” she said. “It’s your funeral.” She started walking away. I began to think about my chances alone in the dark hallways filled with possessed people and an un-dead pheasant flying around. Besides, Lindsey needed someone to make sure she didn’t get herself killed.

“Fine, then,” she said. “It’s your funeral.” She started walking away. I began to think about my chances alone in the dark hallways filled with possessed people and an un-dead pheasant flying around. Besides, Lindsey needed someone to make sure she didn’t get herself killed.

“Oh, all right, I’ll go, but you’re REALLY starting to sound like Hannah,” I said as I ran to catch up to her.

“Yeah, whatever, let’s just get up there and kill the pheasant.

“I managed to persuade Lindsey to go to my locker first and grab my flashlight. She consented, after a debate over whether my flashlight or Lindsey’s candles would be better, and after that we cautiously made our way to Mr. Schwartz’s classroom. As we approached, I noticed the door was now unlocked, and there was a faint light coming from it, like the glow of candles.

“Turn off the flashlight,” Lindsey said.

“Why?”

“So we’re inconspicuous,” she said matter-of-factly. Then she tripped over somebody’s Spanish book, shouted out a few profanities, and almost fell.

“Inconspicuous, huh?”

“Well, if we would’ve brought a candle, then we would’ve fit in better,” Lindsey said, making her blunder appear to be my fault.

I glared at her. She got the message.

“Sorry… Hey, has my shirt stopped glowing?” she asked.

“Yeah.”

“Okay, let’s go.” We peeked into the room. About thirty people were sitting in the candlelit room, staring at the pheasant and chanting, apparently worshipping it or something. It was definitely the weirdest, and scariest thing I had ever seen in my life.

“Okay, Lindsey, how about we just go find Amber and them, and then come back?”

She agreed quickly, it was obvious she was just as scared as I was.

So we went off and found Amber, Hannah, Lacy, Kristin, and a few dozen people packed in the bathroom, Martine in the commons area, trying to convince Megan she would live to see tomorrow, Travis and Matt (the two most psychotic and caffeine and sugar dependent guys in the ninth grade) desperately trying to dig a tunnel to Video Vault, and most of the rest of the school just sitting out in the lobby, waiting for the lights to come back on.

Lindsey told everybody about the pheasant, but the general attitude was one of disbelief. Most of them just figured that she had seen a bird that had somehow flown into the school and immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was a being of pure evil, as it seemed like something she’d do. And a few people doubted that there even was a pheasant involved at all, but maybe a few illegal drugs. However, we did manage to convince a few people, namely Amber, Hannah, Martine, Kristin, and Matt.

Amber asked, “So, what’s your plan?”

“Don’t have one,” Lindsey replied. Shortly after, I noticed Amber and Hannah had disappeared. But since I was thinking of deserting Lindsey as well, I didn’t think too much of it.

“Pretty sad little group we got here,” Martine remarked. “Why don’t we just go join the pheasant worshippers?”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” I asked. Before she could reply, Lindsey interrupted.

“Shh! We’re almost there!” she said. Then she tripped over that same Spanish book and shouted out the same profanities.

“Run!” Matt yelled, panicking and attracting even more attention. “Yahh! They’re following us!” So we ran off, with thirty possessed people following close behind us. Before long, Julia cornered me.

I tried to get rid of her. “Umm, the lawn gnomes are coming.” She kept coming. I had to think of something. What could distract her? “Umm… Arthur’s on!”

“No, it’s not!”

She now almost had me pinned against the wall. This was my last chance. I thought quickly and came up with an idea that just might work. “Don’t you hate Hannah more than me?”

“Yeah, I do.”

“Well, um, why don’t you go get her instead, then?”

“Okie-dokie,” she perkily said as she turned and left, in search of the Red Beast.

I yelled at Lindsey, “Sic ’em on Hannah!” Since I figured everybody in the whole school hated her. Well, most of the people in this group did, apparently, because they all headed off to go find and sacrifice her.

“Hey, where’s Martine? And Kristin, and Matt?” I asked.

“I dunno,” she said, obviously not caring.

“Well, should we go look for ’em, or go after the pheasant, Lindsey?”

“Oh, they’ll be all-right.”

“And Amber?”

“She left! Who cares?”

“But what if THEY got them!? Any resistance whatsoever is all the excuse they need to kill them!”

Lindsey, untrue to her character, wasn’t upset about this. Instead of showing even the slightest concern for their souls, she just said “Let’s get going” and drug me off down the hall. We went to Lindsey’s locker to fetch her home exorcism kit. (Cross, exorcism manual, holy water, and, her personal addition, a knife.) Then we cautiously walked up the hallway, well, I cautiously walked, while Lindsey skipped along singing “We’re off to slay the pheasant” (to the tune of “We’re off to see the Wizard.”). I don’t know what scared me more, the pheasant, or her reaction to the situation.

When we got to Mr. Schwartz’s room we discovered that the pheasant was gone. We turned around to head out the door and, unlike what anyone would expect to happen in a horror story, we walked through it. So we continued to wander the dark halls, not knowing what we’d find next. We looked inside every classroom and storage closet. And just as we were searching the media center, “Dammit the flashlight died!”

“Aww.”

“Hey, what’s that sound?”

“Hold your breath, Emily.”

“Lindsey?”

“Yeah?”

“Run!”

“Ahhh!” We ran out the door and shut it behind us.

“It’s in there!” I exclaimed.

“No, really?!”

Then, from behind the door, “No, it’s not, it’s me, Hannah. I was following you guys and suddenly Amber and I were grabbed by a couple of those weird pheasant people. But I managed to fight my way to safety. But then some more of ’em came after me, and I hid in here, for to get away.”

“Okay, we’ll let you out,” Lindsey said. “Emily, let go of the doorknob.”

“Sure, NOW you show concern for human life? Why couldn’t you show some compassion for Kristin, and Martine, and Amber, and Matt?” I asked.

Lindsey just shrugged.

So I grudgingly opened the door.

I asked Lindsey if we should go and look for Amber, as she was probably captured. She pointed out that Kristin, Martine, and Matt probably were, too. I guess she was suggesting that they at least had company.

So, with the addition of Hannah, we continued down the hall. We finally encountered the pheasant in the Geometry room, attacking Mr. Holen. I was quite entertained by this, as was Lindsey, but then Mr. Holen noticed us and yelled out his plea for help.

“Lindsey,” he yelled. “If you get this thing off of me, I’ll give you a ‘B’!”

“all right! A ‘B’! I WILL get to ride in that rodeo!” And then she rushed off to tackle the pheasant. It left Mr. Holen (who immediately ran and hid behind his desk like the wuss I had always known him to be) and started attacking her. She stabbed at it and drew sawdust, but before she could try again it was gone.

“Where’d it go?” Lindsey wondered.

“Maybe it’s in Mr. Hoornart’s room,” Hannah suggested hopefully.

“Nah, I saw it head for the office, and besides, Kristin would KILL us if we went near there without her,” I said.

“Besides, he’s not as hot as my Davey-boy anyway,” Hannah replied, then got lost in some fantasy about her Internet boyfriend from Oregon.

And we were off. When we arrived at the lobby no one was there. We headed down the hallway past the Junior High lockers. Suddenly it flew out of Julia’s old locker straight at Hannah, and Julia popped out of the gym, brandishing a hockey stick. I screamed, but my fear very shortly melted to laughter as Hannah attacked the pheasant and began wrestling with it. Naturally, she was losing pretty pathetically and it looked like it would claim another victim, it quite suddenly flew off.

It didn’t take Lindsey long to spring back into action, “Grab Julia!” she directed me. “I always wanted to perform an exorcism!”

“I thought only priests were allowed to do those,” I said, not wanting to tackle a possessed hockey player.

“Shut up, Lutheran,” Lindsey snapped, once again entirely unlike her.

So I ended up having to wrestle the hockey stick away from Julia and pin her to the ground, as Hannah was of no help whatsoever. Then Lindsey pulled out her stupid little exorcism kit thingy and after half an hour…Julia sat up and said “Man! That pheasant’s creepy!”

I was amazed. “It worked. Wow.”

“Yeah, of course it did, dare you doubt the awesome power of God?” Lindsey said, going off on a little Catholicism trip.

“You didn’t do anything weird to my brain, did you?” interrupted Julia. Lindsey just shut up and grinned evilly.

So, with Julia, too now, we set off down the hall. We went up the stairs, rounded the corner, and ran into Mr. Schwartz. He said something in Spanish and started laughing maniacally. Then the pheasant landed on his shoulder.

“You’re too late,” he said. “It’s only you left.” I started to reply. “And yes, Emily, resistance IS futile.” Then he walked off, muttering to himself in Spanish.

“This sucks! I wish I was still back in Filer or in California with all my friends!” exclaimed Hannah. “We never got chased by satanic pheasants there. And there were all these hot guys, I could go see my Davey boy, and…”

“Shut up! We know all about Filer and how great your life was. And you’re not the only one who wishes you were still back there!” Julia shouted, either the pressure or Hannah’s incessant whining was finally getting to her.

Hannah started crying. Nobody even moved to comfort her.

Lindsey tried to give us a pep talk. “Come on guys! Don’t give up! It’ll be fun!”

I interrupted. “Excuse me, Lindsey, how could chasing a demonic bird possibly be FUN!?”

Suddenly, a new voice spoke up. “Hey, Lindsey! Way to look for me!”

“Huh? Kristin?”

“Yeah, I’ve been hiding in the typing room for an hour, waiting for you to come back!”

“Oops. I’m sorry. I meant to look for you, but Emily wouldn’t let me,” Lindsey accused, trying to defend herself.

“Uhhuh. Let’s go kill that pheasant!” Kristin answered, not wanting to get in an argument with Lindsey.

“How?” I asked.

“You mean YOU don’t know?” she replied.

“No, I don’t. I don’t know everything,” I answered. “Still more than all of you, though,” I added under my breath.

“Oh, by the way, have you seen Martine?” Lindsey asked.

“Last I saw she was headed off to ‘borrow’ Mr. Hintz’s laptop and look up stuff on the pheasant. But that was right after Lindsey lost us all.”

“Hey, I said I was sorry! And we’re not waiting around for Martine, I wanna kill that pheasant before Kristin kills me!” And we walked down the hall, in the dark, towards 300 people out to get us.

“I just realized that Mr. Schwartz was right. This IS utterly hopeless,” I said, for a moment realizing the futility of our mission.

“Shut up!” Lindsey yelled at me.

“Yeah, you should be used to everyone hating you by now,” added Hannah the eternal comforter.

“We’re gonna go in there now,” Lindsey said, taking a step toward the door. As she peeked inside she said, “This reminds me of when I was getting chased by the lawn gnomes.”

“The what?” Kristin asked.

“The lawn gnomes. Like in my story.”

“That was just a story, Lindsey, it wasn’t real,” I reminded her.

“But it was!”

“Sure, Lindsey…” I replied.

“It really was!! You wanna see pictures!?” she asked, reaching for her wallet.

“Okay… I thought it was just a story.”

“Well, obviously it isn’t.”

“Fine then.”

“Fine.”

“Quit your stupid fighting!” Kristin yelled.

“Jeez! We were just kidding,” Lindsey replied. “Ahh!”

“What?! What?!” we all asked.

“Somebody tapped me on the shoulder!”

“I did.”

“Oh, Martine, whew. Did you figure out how to kill the pheasant?” Lindsey immediately asked.

“As a matter of fact, I did.”

“Really? How?”

“Easy, really. All we have to do is…” So she got into this long, technical explanation, but seeing the blank look on our faces, she said “Aw, heck with it, all I need is some-”

“Hey, who’s that?” I interrupted.

“Where?”

“Over there, he’s holding this laser thing.”

“It’s Matt Nelson,” replied Lindsey.

“The nuke ray exists? The one capable of generating 2x the force of a black hole? The implode, explode, implode one? The one with the little protection shield thingy?” I asked, amazed.

“Apparently.” Lindsey replied.

“Woah, what nuke ray?” Martine asked.

“It’s something from typing, Martine. But YOU wouldn’t understand since you took Word Processing like you’re better than us,” Lindsey answered.

“Typing’s stupid,” she defensively said.

“Quit fighting!” I yelled. “Hey, typing isn’t stupid. Maybe if you’re a rich little brat that’s had a computer since she was five…”

“You’re just jealous.”

“You’re right.”

“Shut up! He’s firing it!” The laser went off. The energy from those 2 AA’s lit up the whole hallway and we saw Mr. Schwartz’s desk and computer implode, explode and implode again. But in the nick of time, the pheasant flew off. Before he could shoot again, the pheasant had flown over his head and out the door. Matt pursued it and caught up with it in front of Mr. Heinen’s room. He didn’t miss that time and the pheasant disintegrated, leaving nothing but a pile of ashes on the floor. There was silence for a minute and then:

“Cool! I need one of those things!” Martine and Lindsey simultaneously exclaimed. “No, way,Lindsey, you didn’t believe me!”

“Aww.”

And that was the end of the pheasant. It didn’t seem to have any permanent effects on anyone, we were all a bit dazed, though. And even Julia was normal (for her), except for the fact that she joined rodeo and started watching The X files. I found out that Lindsey was acting so weird because of the unusual alignment of a few planets, I forgot which ones, I’m not really into that kind of stuff. The power came on pretty quickly after the pheasant was destroyed, and we got plowed out soon after. School was canceled for the rest of the day and the next, so things were pretty much normal when we came back. Except for Mr. Schwartz. The loss of the pheasant had pushed him over the edge, and he quit his job and left town, supposedly to move to some tiny, Spanish-speaking nation. I’m surprised there weren’t more rumors, but Mr. Schwartz, and the amazing events of that October day just seemed to disappear from the collective consciousness of the student body until it became doubtful that it had ever even taken place.

But it still made one heck of a story!

NOTE FROM EDITOR: Ms. Hilleren was just a kid (maybe 16 yrs) when she submitted this back in 2000, now she must be at least 35! Something to think about.

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