Pig and Plume

Credit: SIMON PEMBERTON

By Will Tarnell, Class of 2015

Let me tell you what happened to all the other pigs, how I became the last pig. It is true, the other pigs were mostly all eaten. But before the last pigs, the very last group to be raised, there were always more pigs. For every pig eaten there were three more in its place. Does it bother me to talk about humans eating pigs? No, even pigs eat pigs. It has always been that way. We were pigs. We were not taught to be particular.

But yes, before the war, pigs were raised for food. That happened for many, many years. Some were raised for pets, some even were in movies and television where the tricks of the screen gave them speech long before Father ever contrived the apparatus. Mostly though, pigs were food.

The war came because there was not enough of everything for everyone to have some. There was scarcity. Not enough space not enough trees not enough pigs. They called it a war but almost no one died. That had been the problem for some time. Every life stretched longer and longer. The leaders of the world convened together and fought together. There was no more room for growth. Something had to change.

There was talk then of a lottery, of a holocaust. Men from every place cried out for war on their neighbor. Humans have never been good at peace, it seems to me. But they changed. They changed and they love to talk about it. The glorious Restructuring. Malthus was wrong. There was a great convening and then a tremendous effort to bring forth a new society. Everything good and pure, Mother told me, was swept away by a leveling wave of change.

When the change came I was young, but I had been taught much even then. We were brought to stand, Father and Estevez and I, in front of a somber council of leaders. Father and Estevez each wore dark suits, gleaming shoes, hair tonic. My presence had been requested on the condition that I not dress as humans do. This of course was fine with me then. I had not yet learned vanity.

Father’s skin hung in a permanent scowl as the council spoke. They had not explained why we were summoned, only that the consequences of our absence would be swift and severe. I listened, watched as the council’s words washed over the bland, pleasant features of Estevez’s face. There could be no others, the council told us. I was the one and only speaking pig. The first and last of my kind.

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Will Tarnell is a junior economics and history major from Westwood, Mass. This excerpt is from his short story “Pig and Plume,” his entry competing for the 2013 Dell Magazines Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing. He won honorable mention.

Read “Pig and Plume” in its entirety.