One morning, I found one of my pigs outside the pen. He wanted to get back inside; he was tapping on the fence with his snout and his grunts sounded distressed to me. When I let him back into the pen with the others, he seemed pleased. A weird little episode, but I didn’t think much about it.
The next day two pigs were outside the pen. I checked the fence again; the fence was just fine. I put the two pigs back. Easy.
The day after that, there were two pigs missing. One of the pigs was right outside the fence wanting to get in like on the other days. But the other pig could not be located. There were no hoof prints. He was just gone.
So, I looked around my property until I heard some oinking. But the oinking was coming from above me. High up. I’ll stress that oinking ought not come from above. I looked up and there was my pig in a damn oak tree, looking worried. I got the ladder and brought him down—which wasn’t easy, he was a heavy boy—and put him back in the pen. He was relieved to be back with his buddies. But I didn’t sleep well that night. I was up late thinking about the moment I saw him on that branch like a nightmare bird.
The next day a sow was outside the pen, and she was in bad shape. She had injuries on her ears, little cuts. They almost looked like words, but I couldn’t make them out. I looked for predators. There were none, and there were tracks, either.
The next day, a sow was outside the pen, and she was hurt—she had cuts on her back and on her ears. I patched her up and set her back with the others. I looked around and found some tracks, but they vanished right at the edge of a pond. I thought whatever had done this might be in the pond, but it was a shallow pond, and I didn’t see anything in there worth noticing.
That tracks looked like bear prints, but then they also didn’t look like bear prints, not at all, because there was something humanoid about them. The arch, the narrowness. But it wasn’t human either. In the end, I concluded that the tracks were of an indeterminate character.
The next day, the pigs were inside the pen but there were three pigs stacked up on each other. What it was was a tower of pigs: a little tower, but still. They were in some sort of hypnotic state, standing on each other. When I gasped, they snapped out of it and fell. The tower crumbled. It took an hour to get them to trust me again and to get back into the pen.
The next day a pig was in a tree, the same tree as before, and another was dead, pale from being drained of all blood, missing its ears. There were no footprints: no boot heels, no wolf tracks, no bear tracks. I thought what in God’s name.
I had a vet come over. Same vet I been using for years. Good man. Bad divorce recently but knew lots about swine.
What do you think? I said, as he was examining the corpse.
Weird shit, he said.
He said the ears had been removed with surgical precision. They didn’t have any teeth marks on them. They weren’t torn or ripped. They had been removed with a sharp blade and a straight edge of some kind.
No animal did this, he said.
The next day I had two pigs outside the pen, each drained of blood and missing eyes and ears. The eyes and ears were nowhere to be found. They had been removed from the premises and carried to God knows where. This must have been traumatizing for the other pigs. I knew it was for me—I had nightmares.
There was no blood in the pigs. Not a drop. It was like someone vacuumed in there. I showed my wife; she was in disbelief. She accused me of doing it. Are you sleepwalking, Harold? Are you sleepwalking and performing savage acts?
Later we found blood in our lemonade pitcher. As in, the lemons, water, and sugar mixture had been replaced (or transubstantiated) into blood. You better believe we didn’t drink a drop of that concoction.
I called a scientist over to do some tests on the blood. The scientist knew his pigs inside and out. It was pig blood sure enough, he said. But he said there was a some magnetic field around the blood.
What does that mean? I asked.
He didn’t know.
He did a battery of other tests. These were inconclusive. I asked him if he had any advice for what we should do. He said the missus and I should try to love the pigs while I still had them, because you never knew what was going to happen. This seemed like decent advice, though not scientific like I was hoping.
Word got out and soon the Hortonville Gazette was talking about my swine displacements and mutilations. Nobody believed me; they believed the events had occurred, but they disputed the cause and minimized the impact on me. They said it was predators or teenage vandals. They said there was a rational explanation for everything. They published a hurtful cartoon in which I am sneaking into the field and night and putting my own hogs in a tree and cackling about insurance fraud. I wrote a letter to the editor complaining about the cartoon and the tenor of their coverage. But they didn’t print it. They thought I was a loon, and why would you publish the words of a loon in your paper? I wouldn’t. The only thing is, I wasn’t a loon, at the time.
I was in a quandary: some unseen force was removing my animals from their pen, without harming my fence, and placing them in trees or mutilating them and, in addition, swapping out my lemonade with real blood. Who or what would do these things? And who or what could?
I installed a security camera and pointed it at the pen. My wife was sure that we’d see footage of me sleepwalking out there, some dark part of my personality expressing itself all over my pigs in the middle of the night. I thought maybe we’d see a new kind of wolf. But the camera kept shutting off before it got anything good. Upon investigating, I discovered that the wires were frayed. I bought another camera and the same thing happened. None of the cameras picked up the other pigs that got lifted out of the pen, treed, or mutilated. None of the cameras survived the night.
I bought another camera and pointed it at the cameras that were pointing into the pen, so I could at least see what was happening with the mutilated cameras. In that footage, you could see the lights go off in the pig-pen-directed cameras, and that was about it. A figure was seen by my wife in one of the frames. A hand coming out of the darkness. I didn’t see any hand no matter how hard I looked at the footage, but my wife said it was a hand and I believe her. At least she no longer thinks I sleepwalk in an evil way.
Next, I bought myself a hog suit online. It wasn’t cheap. It was the best-looking hog suit I could find via the Google search engine. The suit was extremely life-like—the skin texture, the bristle hair, the snout, the ears. I donned it and I felt like one of my animals.
That night I went inside the pen. I wanted to be with my pigs when the malevolent force arrived so I would have an opportunity to confront it and, hopefully, shoot it in its head with my .38, which I had covertly duct taped to my realistic-looking underside/teats region.
The first night nothing happened: I just oinked around and got weird looks from the other pigs. And man did it smell bad in there. The second night I was tired. I was asleep on my haunches. I knew I had to stay vigilant, but I couldn’t help it. I laid down next due to some sows and it was quite comfortable. Here I am among my pigs, getting a brand-new perspective on life, I thought. I dozed with the pigs and dreamed their dreams.
I was awakened several hours later by a breeze playing at my hooves. I looked down and noticed that the ground was many feet below me. I was being levitated in the night air, and I could see the moon shining clearly above me as I made my way to the top of a forty-foot oak tree. I could not see the thing that was lifting me into the air. I was placed on a branch in the tree. And then I watched as the other pigs were lifted, one by one, over the fence and into the tree. But I couldn’t get down. I fired off my thirty-eight, but it didn’t stop the force from getting the pigs out. I decided I’d make a jump for the branch right below mine. I figured I could move from branch to branch if I was careful. However, the pig costume was cumbersome and did not allow for the acrobatic maneuvers I was envisioning. I fell.
I woke up in the hospital. My wife showed me a picture of strange, cramped handwriting on tiny parchment. What is this from? I asked. She said it was from the back of my ears. I felt my ears and there were cuts already scabbing over, raised like a braille. Then the nurse came in and told me I’d been drained of blood and spinal fluid. Not the whole way, but a little. But she didn’t have to tell me. I felt different, lighter, lesser. I didn’t even ask about the fate of my pigs.
I believe the cuts on my ears spell out a message, though from who or what I have no idea. Are they legible to you?