Friday Flash: The Pigs

Michael’s assignment of monitoring and cleaning up after twelve pigs seemed easy enough.  At the end of the sixteen week program, he would receive board eligibility for the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine.

Day 1~  Needles of rain stung his face beneath the plastic hood as he trudged through sucking red mud and entered the long white building housing the pigs. Inside, he was bathed in warm yellow light and the sickening sweet smell of fresh, damp hay. A few grunts and soft snuffing sounds greeted him as he carried fresh water to the pens.

“Ellooo, piggies,” he sang, peering through the wire fence. He dropped the water bucket on his foot, soaking the ground around him. “Je suz,” he whispered. “You are about the ugliest things I’ve ever seen.” He took a step back, shaking his head like a dog trying to get water out of his ears. Their bodies were hairless, pink and fleshy like human skin, with large bulbous growths on their oversized heads. They all stared calmly at him. “Sorry, fellas. But for the good of mankind.”

Day 13~ Time to get a blood and tissue sample from one-six. Michael had gotten used to the pigs’ strange looks, but sometimes their behavior still creeped him out. He spent the first hour or so in their pen as instructed; talking to them, petting them, cleaning and washing down their bowls and rubber toys. He decided to take the samples while they were distracted with eating. “All right,” he said, checking the tattoos on their hindquarters. “Which one of you lovelies is number one?” They glanced up from their trough, chewing and then went back to eating. “I know, you don’t understand any of this,” he rambled as he found pig one and gently inserted a needle into a stubby leg vein. “But, you have important jobs. Helping us figure out how a nasty little thing called Alzheimer’s works.” He capped the blood filled syringe and got out a scalpel and bag for the tissue sample. “Besides, better than ending up as bacon on someone’s breakfast plate.” He laughed to himself and glanced at the other pigs as if they’d get the joke.

His heart did a little flip flop and he froze. The pig on the end was staring at him, two black beady eyes meeting his gaze. Now, he’d seen animals acknowledge people, glance at them warily, but there was something so aware, so purposeful in this pig’s stare that he actually felt the hair stand up on his arms. It wasn’t until he slowly backed out of the pen and shut the gate that the pig broke eye contact and went back to eating with the others.

Day 27~  Michael discovered sow number eight–or Lucy, as he had nicknamed her–dead of a brain hemorrhage. Hay had been pushed over her body. Six of the pigs, including Cujo—the one that always stared him down—were standing around her in a circle with their heads hanging. He would have to make a note of this. Along with less rooting, they were exhibiting expanded social behavior.

Day 42~ During one restless night, when he couldn’t sleep, he decided to check on the pigs. He found them standing in a circle. Loud grunts were coming from the circle. Were they…arguing? When they noticed him in the shadows, they all stared for a moment then slowly walked away and began to root in the hay. Which would have been fine if they wouldn’t have kept glancing up at him to see if he was still watching. He decided to have a talk with the Director.

Day 43~ The Director excitedly showed him scans of three of the pigs’ neocortexes. Larger and more folds than should be there.

“Do you think this is such a good idea?” he had asked.

“Well, why not? Think of the possibilities, Michael.”

“I am.”

“Ack,” he waved his arm in frustration. “You’ve just watched too many science fiction movies. It’s not like they’re going to start talking or knitting sweaters, Michael.”

Day 44~  Michael entered the facility and was trying to get the lights to come on when something smashed into his body from behind. He felt the warmth of the heavy mass scramble off of him.  Dazed, he pushed off the ground.

“What the hell?” he shouted, pain turning to anger as he stumbled down the aisle. “What’s going OoNnn…” FWAP! He was flat on his face after tripping over a second warm body that rushed under his feet. Turning slowly over on his back, he stifled a yelp. Cujo was barely two inches from his face, his black eyes gleaming in the dim light; hot, rancid breath choking him. Suddenly, he lunged forward and sank his sharp canine teeth into Michael’s neck.

As the warmth and shock flooded his body, Michael stared at Cujo. Drops of blood were dripping from his bottom lip and…was he smiling?

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  1. #1 by Marisa Birns on April 30, 2010 - 2:58 pm

    Yes, no one likes to be enslaved and treated like experiments!

    This was scary. It’s a good thing I’m mostly a vegetarian now. Though don’t know what I’ll do if the plants decide to unionize. 🙂

    Well crafted and gripping.

  2. #2 by John Wiswell on April 30, 2010 - 3:11 pm

    Cujo the psycho pig is just as scary as Cujo the rabid dog. Freaky experiments here, and a neat story.

    A typo in Day 43: ” noecortexes” instead of “neocortexes”

    • #3 by soesposito on April 30, 2010 - 5:51 pm

      Thanks for the read, Marisa. I’m a recovering vegetarian, so food and animals have made their way into a lot of my stories lately.

      Gracias for the catch, John!

  3. #4 by Eric J. Krause on April 30, 2010 - 6:18 pm

    Very creepy. Loved the structure of the story. Well done!

  4. #5 by Kim Batchelor on April 30, 2010 - 6:18 pm

    I work on the human side of research, but I’ve often wondered what happens on the animal side. Thanks for the heads up, Shannon.

    Also, do the pigs wearily or warily stare? Just a little editing question.

    PS And I’m pescatarian.

    • #6 by soesposito on April 30, 2010 - 6:24 pm

      oh lordy, thanks Kim! Have been away from writing for a few weeks and it shows 🙂

  5. #7 by mcdonnellwrite on April 30, 2010 - 6:27 pm

    Scary, creepy pigs. I’ve heard that pigs are intelligent animals, but this was really scary. They’re getting us back for all the bacon we’ve eaten.

  6. #8 by karenfrommmentor on April 30, 2010 - 6:31 pm

    Yikes. That was so icky in a good way. I’m a fan of pigs, so this was all the more gripping for me.

    I have a friend who has a tee shirt that says: “I’m a vegetarian except for bacon.” And I thought she was kidding. Nope. Apparently Bacon, with its siren call, is the work of the devil.

    and to add to the typo catching extravaganza….you spell Michael “Micheal” a couple of times.

  7. #9 by yearzerowriters on April 30, 2010 - 7:05 pm

    You know trouble’s a brewin’ when a pig’s called Cujo!

    Nice tale Shannon. Pigs are very close to us in all sorts of ways scientifically speaking. Some payback for them now and again seems reasonable

    Marc Nash

  8. #10 by Laurita on April 30, 2010 - 7:10 pm

    Little the sly little mention of Cujo’s canine teeth. It’s too bad they didn’t start knitting sweaters. That would have been a better ending for Michael, but this ending was just perfect for the story. Nice job.

  9. #11 by Gracie on April 30, 2010 - 7:39 pm

    Awesome. Piggy revenge.

    I like the structure and the total creep factor here.

    Well done.

  10. #12 by Susan Cross on April 30, 2010 - 9:46 pm

    Okay Shannon. I read your Poem in your Pocket first and then I read this. It almost sounds like you’re bipolar 🙂 Wow, you have quite an imagination (or range of experiences). Great story. Creeped me out, I admit. Great poem, too.

    • #13 by soesposito on April 30, 2010 - 10:19 pm

      When it comes to writing I’m very bipolar. My favorite topic is science and my favorite style is literary. They don’t mesh at all, so I end up doing one or the other. (Guess that’s why I love Atwood so much, she actually makes it work)

  11. #14 by Mark Kerstetter on April 30, 2010 - 10:45 pm

    What do you expect from a pig named Cujo? Michael should have had more respect. Nice to see you back to #fridayflashing!

  12. #15 by Anticrombie on April 30, 2010 - 11:20 pm

    This little piggy went to a dark place,
    This little piggy chewed bone.
    This little piggy had bloody vengeance,
    This little piggy plots on it’s own.
    And this little piggy cried, ‘FREEDOM’ while they all stormed the home.

    Nice how you can take a predictable path, but still pull me through to the end. nice job!

    • #16 by soesposito on April 30, 2010 - 11:42 pm

      HA! LOVE IT! Yeah, I was kind of worried about being predictable here, but didn’t want to have a wacky ending just for the sake of having a wacky ending. Thanks 🙂

  13. #17 by ~Tim on May 1, 2010 - 2:10 am

    Creepy good fun!

  14. #18 by Lily Mulholland on May 1, 2010 - 10:18 am

    Yes, Cujo was a bit of a giveaway – I too might have preferred the sweater ending! Nice to see you back Shannon 🙂 Reading your writing is always a pleasure.

  15. #19 by Sam on May 1, 2010 - 1:26 pm

    Ooh, creepy! Great story, I loved how it developed. I had an idea what was coming, but there was a sense of momentum that just wouldn’t let me stop till I got to the end. BTW, I may have to re-evaluate my liking for bacon!

  16. #20 by Laura Eno on May 1, 2010 - 11:19 pm

    You know, you are poking at the soft underbelly of my nightmares with this, Shannon! I think that there are animals just like this out there…waiting…Cujos lurking in dark alleys…

    Your stories are always awesome!

    • #21 by soesposito on May 2, 2010 - 1:32 am

      Well, if they’re not out there already…we’re working on creating them.

  17. #22 by ganymeder on May 2, 2010 - 6:16 pm

    This story makes me sooooooooo glad I’m vegan!

    Creepy and well written.

  18. #23 by Cathy Olliffe on May 2, 2010 - 11:24 pm

    Cujo… heh!
    Suspenseful, well-written story, nice structure and cool how the pig gets his revenge.
    Pigs are smart animals … you just shouldn’t mess with them!

  19. #24 by J. M. Strother on May 3, 2010 - 3:36 am

    This was a nice little piece of horror, all the more effective as it does not depend on any monsters, other than those of our own making. Nice job.

    And never make bacon jokes around pigs. That’s bad karma — you’re just asking for it. 😉
    ~jon

  20. #25 by Deanna Schrayer on May 7, 2010 - 3:40 pm

    Sorry I’m so late Shannon. When I got to the end of Michael and the director’s talk, (I was already on the edge of my seat), my cell phone went off and scared the bejesus out of me!

    Great little piece of horror!

  21. #26 by Jen Brubacher on May 7, 2010 - 9:36 pm

    Never name an animal Cujo! You’re inviting trouble. 🙂

    I’ve seen it with Sharks… but Pigs is truly creative. Nicely done.

  22. #27 by Pj kaiser on May 9, 2010 - 12:54 pm

    Shannon I’m so glad to have u back in fridayflash. We missed you 🙂 killer piggies, that’s quite a wake up call!

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