In chapter 1 Jake and his mom just got new chicks. One of the chicks is grey with hairy green legs. Jake names her Pecky Greenleg and then finds out that ‘she’ is a ‘he’…and can talk.
In chapter 2 Jake and Pecky decide to try and learn where Pecky came from as none of the other chicks can talk. Jake promises to start at the hatchery.
In chapter 3 Jake tells Pecky he had no luck at the hatchery but that the man he talked to seemed nervous and uncomfortable talking about the gray chicks so they decide they need to go to the post office to find out more about the delivery.
In chapter 4 Jake and Pecky visit the local post office where they learn that the delivery man from McDougal Hatchery came back after the delivery and swapped the package with another box.
In chapter 5 Pecky and Jake decide that they need to take a trip back to the hatchery to confront Gilbert.
In chapter 6 Jake takes Pecky back to the hatchery to confront Gilbert and they discover that Gilbert can hear Pecky too.
In chapter 7 Gilbert tells Pecky and Jake how Pecky came to the hatchery and what happened to the others like him.
In chapter 8 Pecky realizes that he will have to be the bait to catch whoever is after him.
In chapter 9 Pecky, Joe and Gilbert come up with a plan to lure the people who are after Pecky back to the hatchery.
In chapter 10 Joe returns to the hatchery to find out that the plan worked but who they caught was a surprise.
Jake was shocked.
“Children? But, how…children!?”
“Well, what did they say? Why were they getting rid of all the chicks like Pecky? How could you let them get away after what they’d done!?”
“Like I said,” said Gilbert, shrugging. “We had no choice.”
And they didn’t get rid of the others. They took them.
“Took them where?” asked Jake.
Jake let out a loud huff and sat down.
“The kids said they were asked to come to the hatchery and get all of the gray chicks with green legs, but when they got here…Pecky was missing,” said Gilbert.
“So why didn’t they buy the rest? Why steal them and make it look like an accident?”
They were afraid that if they bought them, whoever took me would track them down. They didn’t know that Gilbert picked me as the free ‘rare’ breed for you.
“I don’t understand. The note that came with the birds said they were special and to be protected. Why didn’t you protect them?”
“Well, we didn’t really believe the note. We thought it was a joke until the chicks started to disappear,” Gilbert snapped, lifting his chin.
Jake stood and started pacing the room. Worry and annoyance rolled off of him in waves, filling the room. He scratched his head then stopped and crossed his arms.
“But, the accidents. I thought they were fatal.”
The chicks disappeared so everyone here just thought they were fatal.
Jake sighed and turned to Gilbert.
“That still doesn’t explain why the kids were here.”
They didn’t tell us.
“But they said they would tell us if we met them tonight,” said Gilbert quickly, impatiently shuffling papers on his desk.
“Behind the hatchery at 9pm.”
“But…I can’t stay that late and I would feel a lot better if Pecky came home with me.”
I can’t Jake. I have to be there. It’s the only way they’ll tell us what’s going on.
“I really don’t know how I’ll get back here tomorrow. I’m running out of excuses.”
“You don’t really need to come back. I can, can advertise free chick feed again. Or we can figure something else out,” said Gilbert trying, and failing to look Jake in the eye.
We can try the coupon again. Tell your mom that there wasn’t any chick feed left and more is coming in tomorrow.
“Ok,” he said doubtfully. “I’ll try to convince her.”
Jake left the hatchery and waited for his mom out front. Something about the way Gilbert was behaving was bothering him, niggling at his brain and making him feel…uncomfortable.
Why couldn’t he look Jake in the eye? Was he hiding something? Did he know more than he was letting on?
“No,” he murmured to himself. “I’m just worrying over nothing.”
But the worry continued on the ride home and stayed with him through dinner.
Something wasn’t right.