This unbook tells the story of Jonathan Livingston Chicken, a rooster who is somewhat confused about his gender after finding out that he, unlike other roosters, cannot crow. He starts his life as a lost chick hatched from an orphaned egg which randomly ends up between turkey eggs. The mother of the turkey eggs decides to adopt Jonathan who struggles to come to terms with his inability to crow and longs to find out the truth behind his very existence. Despite the unconditional love he receives from the turkeys, Jonathan makes the decision to go on a meaningful journey in an attempt to find himself. On his journey he is forced to make difficult decisions and learn valuable life lessons along the way.
Part One: The Rooster March
Icy winds jab and scream at the masses of roosters crossing the never ending landscape in search of greener pastures. The chickens have all left a long time ago in search of food which they will eventually bring back and spew up for their precious little chicks to eat when hatching time has come and gone. The roosters all gather in one, huge, tight-knit group and as they march, they crow as loud as their vocal chords will permit in hopes of chasing the cold away. Buried between their warm feathers within their loins, each rooster holds a small, fragile egg which he is to protect with his very life.
One rooster in particular; Mr. Cockenballsache looks around at all the other roosters. Many have fallen victim to the heartless night and their eggs are now all naught but sad tales of fallen Humpty Dumpty’s. "I truly hope I don't die like those other fifty-six back there," Mr. Cockenballsache thinks to himself as he crows louder than he ever has before.
There is one rule in the poultry kingdom; no matter how tedious and how difficult the struggle through the winter rooster march is, even if you are to die for this purpose; never, never, ever, ever, ever, EVER! drop your egg. Those who have suffered this fate stop in their tracks and bid farewell to the world as they know it, as one by one they face the reality that they would have been better off on a plate served with a side dish of rice and vegetables.
Mr. Cockenballsache suddenly notices that something is amiss when the warm feeling between his drumsticks is replaced by an odd, uncomfortable breeze. Unimaginable feelings of horror strike him as the harsh realization of his fate overcomes him. "Why me?" he thinks as the words "It’s over" reverberate through his fragile, little mind and he comes to realize that he has dropped his egg. As he stops dead in his tracks, another rooster walks past him crowing a tune similar to, “Green Sally up, green Sally down, last one squat gotta tear the ground." Mr. Cockenballsache accepts the inevitable and gracefully tears the ground before going gentle into that good night.
Part Two: The birth of Jonathan Livingston Chicken
Mrs. Oogaboogalooga, the attractive turkey hen is up and about once again, preparing for the arrival of her precious children. She could have sworn that she only had seven eggs and not eight. She examines the oddly unfamiliar egg, which seems quite different and smaller than the others. Trying to make sense of it, she ponders the situation before recalling her sexual relations with more than one partner. “Must be Mr. Baglah’s addition,” she thinks, “I never could resist his tail feathers, but oh the choices! Why can’t I just have best of both worlds?” She bats her eyelashes seductively, before perching herself on her eggs; most of which belong to a turkey by the name of Mr. Gobbledegook.
Day comes to be replaced by night and night to be replaced by day and vice versa until eventually a small crack appears in one of the larger eggs. A tiny beak breaks through the surface of the shell while Mrs. Oogaboogalooga watches excitedly from above. “Kibble-Kibble-kibble! Chirp- Chirp! kibble!” says the baby turkey as it takes in its very first breath of fresh air. It’s a girl! Mrs. Oogaboogalooga's heart fills with joy as one by one all the baby turkeys emerge from their enclosures and greet the world for the first time ever.
In the predictable series of events that follows; the smallest of the eggs is left unhatched and motionless. For long minutes Mrs. Oogaboogalooga waits patiently for something to happen, but starts to doubt that this one was ever meant to be. “Oh well. At least I won’t have to explain to Gobbledegook where the runt came from,” she thinks before turning her back on the lifeless oval and attending to her perfect batch of seven ankle nibblers.
“Kabble-kabble-cheep-cheep! KABBLECHEEP!” One of the babies starts to make quite a racket in desperation to draw his mother’s attention. “What is it! Cheeperskreepers?” Mrs. Oogaboogalooga asks before noticing that the abandoned egg is suddenly moving. Slowly but surely a small, yellow chick emerges from the egg; much smaller in proportion to the rest of the chicks and lighter in color. “Well you’re an odd looking fella aren’t ya?” Mrs. Oogaboogalooga says as she examines the tiny ball of fluff. “That Mr. Baglah must have an odd gene or something. I’ll call you… Hmmm… You remind me of a chicken for some reason… Let’s see… How about I call you Jonathan Livingston Chicken!”
Part Three: Fancy Shmancy Feathers
“Jonathan! Jonathan!” Mrs. Oogaboogalooga gabbles in a crazy frenzy a few months after his miraculous hatching. “It’s dinner time!” “But mom! I’m old enough to feed myself now!” Jonathan protests as his mother tries desperately to vomit into his mouth. “Rubbish! Come here so mommy can feed you!” Once again Jonathan is forced into his mothers’ insistent breakfast routine. “Why don’t the others have to get fed anymore?” He asks between mouthfuls of mush. “They’re much bigger than you sweetie. Haven’t you noticed?”
“That’s because I’m a chicken mom!" Jonathan protests. Mrs. Oogaboogalooga rolls her eyes before saying, “You are not a chicken, you’re a rooster and why I can tell that you are not fully grown is because you can’t crow yet like other roosters. Now eat up and go walk around aimlessly like you’re supposed to!”
“If only I could crow. Why am I so different? How did I end up between turkey eggs and why did my parents leave me? If only I knew,” Jonathan thinks as he paces up and down an empty strip of field. Far away; somewhere unknown to him he can hear something very eerie. The sound is unlike anything he has ever heard before. It makes him want to tap his feet on the earth. He begins to dance; something he has never wanted to do before, but has the sudden urge to do. Suddenly in a moment of insanity, he begins to swoop, tap, spin and twirl in the air like a true master. “My feet! They feel so excited; as though they have a mind of their own!" He thinks as he becomes overwhelmed by bursts of energy and life. However, his moment of ecstasy is suddenly interrupted by a loud and extremely powerful, “KOO-KOO-LOO-KOO-KOO!"
Jonathan spins around and stops completely. Flabbergasted by the sudden noise; he looks for the source, before spotting the longest and most extravagant tail feathers he has ever seen in his life. He recognizes the noise as an unmistakable crow, but he has only once before (very briefly) seen another rooster in his whole life.
“Is something the matter young lady? I couldn’t help but notice that you were having some kind of breakdown. Is it physical or mental?” The rooster says as he moves out of the shady area of a nearby tree with his chest extended as far forward as it can go.
“I was…It was my feet…. They were uh- I’m not a lady! I’m a rooster!” Jonathan says in an affronted tone. “Dear goodness! Are you sure lad? You seem a bit out of proportion,” the rooster says while thoroughly studying Jonathan. “Yes. I’m sure. I lift my leg to pee. Who are you anyway and what do you want?” Jonathan replies in a low embarrassed tone. “I am Sir Roostafari,” he says with an impressive flick of his large comb before asking, “Can you crow well? Only roosters know how to crow." Jonathan looks about him as though trying to find a crow somewhere nearby before saying, “I can try I guess.”
“Are you telling me you have never crowed before dear boy? Surely a rooster of your age should know how to crow by now! This should be interesting to see; go ahead then!” Sir Roosterfari says before tapping his foot expectantly. Jonathan clears his throat and instead of crowing he gives a loud “SCREEEECH” “Wait! I’ll do it now!" He says before giving it a second attempt. "KRAAAAHHHH! ERRRRRRRRK!”
Sir Roostafari begins to laugh hysterically, “A chicken trying to crow. KEKEKEKEKEKE. You make me laugh so. I have to tell the others about this!” He says before turning and walking into the distance with an almighty air about him.
Jonathan bows his head in misery and then slowly lifts his head and looks up at the sky; a single tear drop running down his cheek as he begins to sing:
- "I woke up it was seven.
- I danced until eleven,
- Just to figure out that I cannot crow.
- I think I know a lot of hens but I am just like them.
- What's the use of being a cock?
- when you don’t even belong to a flock,
- and here it goes
- I'm just a chicken and life is a nightmare.
- I’m just a chicken; I know that it's not fair.
- Nobody cares, cause I'm alone and the world is
- having more fun than me
- And when the night is almost dead, I'll go on to be fed
- by my turkey mother again.
- I'll try to think about the last time, I had a good time.
- Everyone's got somewhere to go,
- and they're gonna leave me here on my own and here it goes:
- I'm just a chicken and life is a nightmare.
- I'm just a chicken, I know that it’s not fair.
- Nobody cares, cause I'm alone and the world is
- having more fun than me;
- What the fuck is wrong with me?
- Don't fit in with anybody.
- How did this happen to me?
- Why the hell couldn’t I just be a sheep?
- because every day is the worst day ever
- and I'm just a chicken..."
Part Four: The Journey
Darkness falls over the land like a black, velvet draping as dusk extinguishes the remaining light. Jonathan still has not come home and Mrs. Oogaboogalooga is growing extremely worried. She holds her children close and peers out into the horizon every now and then in the hope of seeing him, but there is no sign of him anywhere. Morning arrives and she still has not slept a wink. She calls for Mr. Gobbledegook to go out and find him.
Mr. Gobbledegook agrees and travels far and wide, asking questions which wield nothing but disappointment every time. Eventually he sits down by a pond and thinks of all the possibilities in the world. Anything to make his beloved wife happy again. In the water he spots a duck; and remembers tales similar to that of his adopted son about a duck who happened to be ugly. "Hmmm...," he thinks, "Hmmm..." "AHA!" "Hmmm..." and before he can come up with any conclusions, he notices a rather familiar chicken sitting under a tree, looking sullen. "Jonathan!" He shouts and to his pleasant surprise the chicken looks up. "Where have you been! Your mother's been worried to death about you!"
"Mr. Gobbledegook. I err... I can't come back home. I really wanted to tell you, but mom would never have allowed me to go." Jonathan says with a worried look on his face. "Go where?" Mr. Gobbledegook asks. "To find my flock. I am supposed to be a rooster, but I can't even crow. I want to see if there are others out there like me."
Mr. Gobbledegook remains quiet for a moment; a slight frown on his face, before asking, "Are you sure this is what you want to do Jonathan? You know we are all here for you." "I know sir, and I appreciate it more than ever, but I have to do this for my own peace of mind."
"Very well then. I will explain to your mother in a way she will understand. Come visit us when you are ever in the area again you hear?" Mr. Gobbledegook says with a soft smile. "Thank you sir. For everything. Send my love to my mother." Jonathan replies as Mr. Gobbledegook waves goodbye and makes the long journey back to the turkey nest.
"Right then. Time to make like a rock and fall in the road," Jonathan thinks to himself as he sets off on foot to discover his answer to life the universe and everything else besides. He once heard a tale of a massive flock of chickens that gathered in the warmer parts of the country this time of year. It would most certainly be a good place to start.
He sets off through the most obvious route; one which involves steep, bloodthirsty mountains containing everything from leopards, hyenas, vultures and snakes to giant crevasses with never-ending depths. It is the only way he will be able to find his flock and walking around the mountain would be absolutely pointless and far too easy. So north he goes, using the sun as his compass.
Jonathan's journey leads him to places of extreme pressure in which he stares pure evil in the face. He suffers dehydration, gets trapped in a cave out of which he then escapes unharmed, gets chickenapped by a group of tribals wishing to cook him, witnesses the gruesome sport of seal clubbing, gets seduced by an ostrich who befriends and then betrays him and finally survives all by rolling down the other side of the mountain after being chased by farmers.
Hope is almost all lost as he peers into the distance which holds nothing but endless fields of nothing. He lays down on the ground, unable to move anymore, almost ready to give up completely and allow his end to come. Through one, weary eye he sees a blurry figure approach him, but his whole body has given up and complete, painless darkness ensues.
Part Five: For Flocks Sakes!
"Shhhhh you'll wake him up!" says a soft voice from somewhere in the darkness. Jonathan appears to be in heaven at first as he slowly opens his eyes and looks up to see himself surrounded by the most attractive chickens he has ever seen in his life, all of whom are whispering softly and laughing girlishly in his direction.
A larger and more mature chicken approaches the nest in which Jonathan has been comfortably placed. "Oh! Good morning. I am glad to see that you are up and well, we almost thought we had lost you there," she says as she approaches him with some corn in the palm of her wing. "Wh-Who are you and where am I?" Jonathan asks in sincerest confusion. "I am Mrs. Gollywalk and these are my children; Blixie, Dixie, Pixie, Ixie, Wixie, Fixie and Mixie. Oh, and I almost forgot about Quixie," she replies while each of the chickens nod, smile and wink before him in the order that their names are mentioned.
"Dearie, where did you wonder off to? A rooster of your age shouldn't go venturing into the dangerous mountains with all them farmers and tribal’s about. You will get yourself killed!" Mrs. Gollywalk says in a motherly tone. "You- you called me a rooster!" He replies in utter bewilderment. All the chickens begin to cackle with laughter before Mrs. Gollywalk says, "What? Did you think I was going to refer to you as a pigeon instead?" More laughter erupts around the nest, and an embarrassed Jonathan can't help but laugh himself and feel a new burning happiness for not being confused with a chicken for a change.
"Alrighty, let me get back to fence sitting. You get some rest now you hear, and then we will find your parents and return you to them" Mrs. Gollywalk says as she waddles away while humming a false tune. Before Jonathan is able to respond, one of the other chickens with long eyelashes approaches him and says "Hi. I'm Dixie. Are you feeling a bit better at least?"
Jonathan smiles warmly at the chicken before replying rather shyly, "Buh, uh, mb-high Dixie, I'm p-p-pleased to meet you." Dixie giggles softly before saying, "Pleased to meet you too." For a long moment there is an awkward silence before Jonathan musters up some confidence and says, "So I see you have a lot of sisters. Big family huh?"
"Sisters? What do you mean sisters? I only have brothers!" Dixie replies rather harshly. "But you’re a- a chicken right?" Jonathan asks trying to make sense of all the ixe chickens he had just seen. "Good lord no! I am a rooster as much as you are! Those mountains must truly have muddled with your mind. Get some sleep, hopefully you will come to your senses soon!" Dixie replies as he walks away muttering, "Silly boy."