Valerie learned how to deal with angry penguins the hard way. One day, she had gone to the store for a few groceries as her husband, Doug, stayed at home.

He told her that he would take a shower and that upon her return, he would fix supper. She loved the idea. She was in the mood for his famous chicken casserole.

She had happily unloaded the plastic grocery bags from the store. She had merrily unlocked and opened the front door. But when she entered the house – she froze in utter horror.

There had been a terrible struggle. She heard the shower as it was still going. Steam steadily trickled from the hallway.

Valerie dropped the grocery store bags and called for her husband of two years. “Doug! Doug, are you okay?”

There was no answer. Her stomach sank. She feared the worst. She opened the bi-fold closet door and took out the most formidable weapon that she could find – an umbrella.

She shrugged it off and assumed that it was a squeaky floorboard. There were more pressing matters ahead.

She edged to the bathroom. The door was partially open. A thin stream of steam bellowed from the room and spread across the hallway ceiling.

She took a deep breath and summoned her courage. Then, without a second thought, she kicked the door open. From the bedroom, multiple squawks answered to the sound of the banging door. The squawks almost sounded...startled?

The shower stall was empty. Valerie feared the worst. She noticed something strange about the shower curtain. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but something about it had changed somehow.

She gripped the umbrella tighter and continued to the bedroom. Again, the door was partially ajar. Again, she took a deep breath and summoned every shred of her nerves.

Then, just as she was about to kick it off its hinges, it opened. It opened rather slowly, which only added to her shock and utter bewilderment of what she was witnessing.

Doug had been tied to the bedpost. He had a corner of a washrag hanging from his stuffed mouth. Half a dozen penguins stood in a semi-circle around him. They all awkwardly held make-shift weapons between their flippers.

One held a toothbrush. Another held a disposable razor. The absurdity of it all nearly caused her to laugh when she saw the one holding a hair dryer. Its cord was tangled around the penguin’s feet.

“What’s going on here?” she demanded. She still wielded her umbrella in case they decided to attack.

One particularly large penguin, an emperor penguin, waddled closer to her. He squawked and then shook his head. Then he spoke nearly perfect English. “Sorry about that.” His voice was deep and profound. He cleared his tiny throat, “We are revolting! Meaning that we are striking against you and your husband!”

“What?” She was simultaneously amazed that the creature could speak and horrified that they penguins had the ingenuity and the gall to attack them in such a way.

“We are tired of all the hot showers every single day. We are penguins! How would you expect us to feel?”

“But you’re just artwork on a shower curtain!” she suddenly remembered the shower curtain. It had looked strange because it was nothing more than a picture of icebergs. All of the penguins were gone from it.

The penguins squawked angrily at her comment.

“Silence!” demanded the emperor. The penguins suddenly silenced.

“We demand restitution and an agreement that you will take no more hot showers.”

“But, how will we get clean?”

One tiny penguin had already had his fill with small talk. He jabbed the end of a comb into Doug’s forearm. He screamed a muffled scream. “Mmmph!”

“Why you little...” Valerie charged the little penguin. He turned around and saw the umbrella coming for him. His tiny eyes widened and a stream of liquid feces sprayed the carpet as she struck him on the side of his tiny head.

He fell to the side and squawked in pain. If his eyes had been affixed to the front of his head instead of the sides, they would’ve been crossed...

“Was that really necessary?” sighed the emperor.

“He stabbed my husband!”

“Yes, but it’s only a tiny little wound. It barely broke the skin. You nearly broke his neck!”

“This is ridiculous! What is it that you want?”

“Okay. First off, we demand that all the boiling hot showers cease immediately. Second, we would like an occasional fish fry. You owe it to us.. Third, please spray our curtain from time to time. Seriously, I could build a fort with all the soap scum.”
Valerie’s face reddened slightly. She was embarrassed about the soap scum remark. She lowered the umbrella. “You know, Doug. That is really not too much to ask.”

Doug’s eyes widened and he struggled against his restraints. He tried desperately to talk, but the washrag that was jammed into his mouth prevented him from doing so.

Valerie shook the penguin’s flipper to seal the deal and dropped the umbrella. The smaller penguins dropped their weapons and waddled back into the bathroom. Two of them collected their unconscious friend and carried him awkwardly with their flippers.

As Valerie untied Doug from the bedpost, she couldn’t help but wonder how long it would be before the roosters on the dishtowels struck their own revolution. Perhaps the chicken casserole would have to wait for another time.

"The Penguins Revolt"
Copyright: © 2009 Brian Barnett
Brian Barnett lives with his wife, Stephanie, and son, Michael, in Frankfort, Kentucky.To date, he has published over forty-five stories since he began publishing in November 2008.

He has been published by, Flashes in the Dark, Static Movement, The New Flesh Blogzine, Midnight Screaming Magazine, The Monsters Next Door, Sonar4 Ezine, Blood Moon Rising, Flashshot, Black Lantern Blogzine, Dark Fire Fiction, Burst Fiction, The Daily Tourniquet, Yellow Mama, The Lesser Flamingo, and The Short Humour Site.

He was co-editor the anthology “Toe Tags: 21 Spine-Tingling Tales from the Best New Authors of Horror” with William Pauley III.
She slowly made her way down the hallway toward the bathroom. Her heart leapt when she thought she heard a strange sound. Was it a squawk? What in the world would squawk?


  1. I vote for a new shower curtain, maybe a nice, solid color. :) Very funny, Brian!

  2. Brian, that was fun! I will never buy a shower curtain with an animal printed on it! :)

  3. This is some bizarre goodness. "an occasional fish fry" Ah, it's the simple things.

    The possibilities are endless when it comes to household logos and designs coming to life. Great, great story.

  4. Very cool story! I'm with Laura. Time for a new shower curtain. But now that I think about it, what will the other animal designs around the house think about that? They might not be as easy to strike a deal with...

  5. What an opening line. Fantastic and bizarre. I couldn't help thinking of 'Club Penguin' a website my kids are obsessed with, when I read this.

    nice work

  6. i love it! especially the 'poking' the pengiun with the umbrella... sounds like pent up batman revenge for all the poking penguin did to others with his umbrella! don't know if you meant a connection, but it's there! sweet story!! GREAT title!!!

  7. Ha, thanks Billy. Yes, the umbrella was a subtle nod to Batman's Penguin. Originally I wrote it with a cane as a weapon, but I thought it would be more appropriate with an umbrella.

  8. Wicked Brian, what an imagination. Please don't start taking your medication* again - just keep writing more insanity.
    *(meant as a joke - I don't think you need medicating, really)

  9. I can't believe I missed this story - how bizarre, Brian! Imagination meets the penguins how far are you willing to go? LOL.

    Loved the Emperors demands. "Seriously, I could build a fort with all the soap scum." Haha.

    Def belongs on the top 10!