Archive for April 4th, 2012

4th April
written by amber


When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake – not a very big one. And not really a rattlesnake, that’s just what the colonists called them. The original biologists had named them ‘legless chattering den dwellers’ or at least the Latin equivalent of that mouthful.

The pigs weren’t really pigs either, but Gus couldn’t recall what designation the biologists had given them, besides edible.

The blue pigs ate rattlesnakes and morph-gophers and feathered lizards and living rocks and just about everything else, but nothing ate blue pigs besides people. No one knew how their population had been controlled before colonization, but the 3500 people now living on Lonesum had not had the least effect on the blue pig numbers.

Blue pigs were easy to herd, easy to kill, they could be prepared in a variety of ways – people called them the Schmoos of Lonesum, referring to a drawn cartoon of pre-expansion Earth.

Gus wandered over to his greenhouses, for no good reason, seeing as they were empty and dry. Extreme weather swings throughout the year had made plant growing impossible without great expenditures of power, but only so many solar arrays had been sent from Earth. Settlers like Gus, with a solitary nature, preferred to keep some distance between his cabin and the comparatively crowded main town of Campo where the power grid had been established. Even there, however, the greenhouses had been abandoned. Blue pig meat was both protein and carbohydrate, and a delicious liquor could be distilled from their fat. Most people in Campo lay around in the street all day, drunk and happy.

Gus didn’t drink, and he tried to keep busy, maintaining his acreage, keeping up with local and solar system events via the net, but his one bad habit, smoking blue pig bristles, kept him too mellow to have a lot of ambition.

Out behind his greenhouses, he found something disturbing – a nest of morph-gophers. He whistled for the blue pigs. Morph-gophers, like all the other small animals of Lonesum, were deadly to humans. Their vicious bite would fester within moments, with terminal infection following quickly. Several of the gophers ran at him and Gus retreated inside the nearest greenhouse, jumping up on one of the benches. The gophers would be inside soon. He hadn’t yet gotten around to repairing the holes in the outer wall.

Where were those blue pigs?

Gus leaned against the semi-transparent wall and rubbed dirt away to see what was happening outside. Sure enough, the gophers were circling around, trying to find a way inside. Then a thump above him drew Gus’s attention to a feathered lizard landing awkwardly on top of the greenhouse. It slid down the wall, but not to the regular welcoming committee of hungry blue pigs.

Where were those damn blue pigs?

Gus carried no weapon. It wasn’t needed. The blue pigs kept all the smaller animals under control. He hadn’t even brought a communicator with him. He sidled along the bench until he was near the front of the greenhouse, where he cleared another hole to look toward his cabin and the porch where he’d last seen his pigs.

The pigs were no longer eating the rattlesnake. Instead, the snake was eating a pig. All around the yard, blue pigs lay motionless while the smaller animals of Lonesum devoured them.

Gus then understood how overpopulation of the dominant fauna was kept under control.

Humankind had come to Lonesum and put themselves on the top rung of the food ladder, but their fate would be the same as that of the blue pigs, he feared.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

For the final month of the Story 365 Project, I’ll be using first lines from many of my favourite books. This is from Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.