Jack meets the Cockatrice

In this excerpt from my upcoming novel, The Beanstalk and Beyond, the Ogress has imprisoned Jack in the giant chicken coop, where he discovers that he is not the only non-chicken trapped within.

Cockatrice scan


When I have told this story in the past, I typically described the bird as a hen or a goose. Truth is far stranger; I have not seen anything like this bird before or since. In the moonlight, it seemed about the size of a good goose, but parts of its head had scales instead of feathers. Its eyes glowed amber, like a dragon’s, if you’ve ever had the misfortune to stare into such a gaze, and its beak had teeth.

“We must escape tonight, before sunlight,” that beak announced.

“Wha-aaw!” I jumped, for I was yet unaccustomed to animals starting conversations with me.“You talk.”

“Of course I talk; I’m a cockatrice. And I am relieved that you speak some words as well. You’re a human, right? Funny, I’d always imagined your kind larger and hairier. No matter. We must escape tonight.”




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