Thursday, September 3, 2009

Friday Fiction for September 4, 2009

Things have been so busy the past couple of weeks, that I didn’t even manage to post anything for Friday Fiction last week. With any luck, I’ll be able to get caught up over the long weekend on what I’ve missed. For now, Vonnie is hosting this week on her blog, My Back Door, where you’ll find MckLinky with the list of wonderful submissions for this week.

This week, I have the first part of a short story that has brewing in my head for the past few days. I’m not sure how long it will end up being, but I don’t think too long. Look for Part 2 next week, and trust me; it will make sense before it’s finished.

Hogs of the Heavens

Part 1

By Rick Higginson

Cranston Berryman glanced again at the larger of the two guards escorting him into the large room. I should have stayed aboard the Voidrunner, he thought as the smaller guard prodded him, apparently just for fun. The remote scout vessel was only minimally armored, but it would have had no problem remaining out of reach of his low-tech captors.

They stopped in front of a raised platform. “As you commanded, your Boarness,” the larger guard said. “Here is the strange creature that was spotted near the border of the wasteland.”

A single throne sat in the middle of the platform, occupied by an ornately robed, corpulent boar. He was flanked by an assortment of barely veiled sows. “Does it speak?” he asked.

“It has not spoken to us, but it does appear to understand our instructions, as it has complied without needing excessive correction.”

The boar turned to his right, and gestured with a hoof that looked like a mockery of a human hand. “Lucinda, my pet, does this creature look like anything from your storybooks?”

The largest of the sows stepped slightly forward. “It is a human,” she said. “I am distressed to see that they are real after all.”

The boar snorted. “You are certain it is a human? What do your stories say about humans?”

“They eat pigs. When I was a piglet, my mother would tell my littermates and me that if we did not behave, humans would come and take us away. They would fatten us up, then kill us and eat us,” Lucinda said. The look she gave Cranston seemed to be one of both disgust and fear.

The boar smiled, showing a set of large fangs. “Yes, I remember my mother telling me similar stories, now that you remind me.” He gave Cranston a narrow-eyed glare. “Can you understand me, human?”

He hesitated. How much should I reveal?

Lips curled completely away from the teeth, removing any trace of an amused smile. “Would you understand better if I told my soldiers to kill you if you do not answer?”

“I understand you,” Cranston said.

The smile returned. “Are you a human, then?”

“Yes.”

“Do you eat pigs?”

Thank God I’m Jewish. “No. It is forbidden for my people to eat pigs.”

“You said, ‘my people’ – there are more of you, then?”

“Yes.”

“Where are they, and why have we not found any of you before, despite your kind being in our stories?”

“My people are on another world, which is why you have not found any of us before.”

“Another world? That is impossible. How could anything get here from another world?”

“My people have the means to travel between stars.”

The boar laughed, the sound something between how a human would laugh, and a squeal. “I believe we have heard such delusions before. Summon the Mocking Sow!”

“It’s not del- ” A sharp blow to the ribs cut off his objection.

“Speak only when addressed,” the smaller guard hissed, adding another cuff with the butt of his spear.

“Pathetic,” the boar said. “How has your kind survived without the protective fat to cushion your vital organs? That strike would have been barely felt by any healthy pig.” The assorted sows joined him in derisive laughter.

The laughter had nearly died out, when a smaller sow barely covered in rags entered the room from a side door. At her appearance, the amusement heightened to a higher level.

“Mocking Sow, come here,” the boar ordered.

She stopped just off-side at the front of the platform, and never raised her gaze from the floor. “Yes, your Boarness?”

“Mocking Sow, look at this creature and tell me if you have ever seen its like.”

Cranston met her eyes as she complied with the command. Unlike the other pigs he had encountered since being captured, there was no surprise in her eyes.

“No, your Boarness. I have never seen its like.”

“Do you know what it is?”

“It is a human, your Boarness.”

“Yes, a human. It says it came from the stars, just as you say our ancestors did. I find this the greatest indictment of your insanity, that your story is mimicked by this perversion of nature. Surely you must agree, Mocking Sow?”

The eyes lowered again to the floor. “I must agree, your Boarness, as always.”

Cranston looked from the emotionally broken sow to the gloating boar, and back again. She was intelligent, and apparently she knew something about space travel.

The boar stood from his throne and came to the edge of the platform. Gazing down at them with narrowed eyes, he laughed again. “If there was ever a better pair of misfits in all this world, I have not been told of them. Mocking Sow, when you first came to me with your ridiculous story and heretical ideas, I promised you if I ever found a bigger fool than you, it would be your mate. Take this creature to your sty; if you are fortunate, it was being truthful when it said its people do not eat pigs.” He turned his back on them, and took a couple of steps towards Lucinda. Glancing back, he added, “What you do with this creature is up to you. If you wish to make it your boar, you are free to do so, only that I do not wish to know the details of such an arrangement. I will summon you both again when I am in further need of entertainment.” He snorted. “Mocking Sow and her mate; what could be more pitiful?”

She grabbed his hand. “Follow me, quickly,” she said. Leading him through the same door she had entered by, she headed down a dimly lit corridor until it ended at a rough-hewn door. The Mocking Sow opened it, herded him inside, and then closed it again behind them.

Faint shafts of light angled into the room from openings high on the wall. A pad rested on the floor in one corner, with a block of stone diagonally opposite from it. In the back was a large earthen jug with a wooden cover, a few meters away from what appeared to be a hole in the floor. She gestured to the stone block. “You may sit, if you wish.”

He settled instead onto the floor, with his back against the wall. “I’m fine like this, thank you. I don’t want to take your only chair.”

She sat down on the stone block, and arranged her rags for the best coverage. “What shall I call you?”

“My name is Cranston. What about you? Surely your name isn’t Mocking Sow.”

“By the command of his Boarness, my name is Mocking Sow,” she said. “Because I dared to speak heresy, my name was taken from me, and I have only the title for the purpose I serve. He has allowed me – us now – to live only so that he can find amusement in mocking us.”

“So what was your name before he took it from you?”

“It is better if you do not know. If you accidentally speak it in front of him, he will know that I have spoken it, and he will have me punished for defying him. If he takes your name as well, you would be wise to remember that.” She dropped from the chair onto all fours, and crawled close to him. With her mouth close to his ear, she whispered, “What star are you from, Cranston?”

To be continued.

6 comments:

Stina Rose said...

interesting...I will be back next week to find out more!

Vonnie said...

Hmmm...interesting! I don't think I've ever seen anyone use pigs as an alien life form.

Joanne Sher said...

Looking forward to more of this - you've got me fascinated AND intrigued. Laughed, of course, at the Jewish comment.

Lynda S. said...

This will give new meaning to: "If pigs could fly." Looking forward to next week.

Dee Yoder said...

"He was flanked by an assortment of barely veiled sows."
Oh man--this made me laugh out loud, Hoomi! I used to think Sara held the title of "most cretive" in the Sci-fi field, but I dunno...boars and sows on another planet far, far, far away...it's hysterical and creative! I can't WAIT to find out Mocking Sow's real name next week!

BethL said...

Hoomi... Your creativity always amazes me. I had to laugh at "Yes, your boarness"!!! :) ...and I must say I was pleasantly surprised that this was about actual hogs and not Harley Davidson motorcycles :). This is the beginning of a great story!