And Pigs Could Fly

He looked like trouble.  He dressed like trouble, but so many people did nowadays.  Even respectable young men wore ragged jeans and hooded fleeces.  No, it was the nervous body language, the inability to meet your eye and the hands stuffed into the fleece pockets hiding who-knew-what.  Janice glanced around.  It was such a nice neighbourhood too.  The houses sat well back from the road behind well-manicured lawns.  No-one was about, of course.  Too early for workers to come home, too early even for the school run, but too late for the lunch run.  Janice adopted an air of assertive nonchalance and strode with what she hoped was a confident air past the young man.

“Excuse me, Miss,” he said as she approached.  Polite.  Maybe Janice had misjudged him.

“Yes?”

He gestured with his hand still in his pocket.

“Purse and phone.”

“What?”

“Don’t mess about.  Purse and phone now, or else.”

Janice looked around wildly, but the front doors were too far away.

“Please.  You don’t have to do this.  You could just let me go.”

“Yeah.  And pigs could -”

As pigs went, this one was relatively small, hardly more than a piglet, not that Janice was an expert in things porcine.  The damage was not so much from the mass as the impact, descending straight down on the would-be mugger.  Both pig and man lay on the footpath, unmoving.  Janice looked up at a clear sky, then back to the bodies.  A small trickle of blood crept onto the flagstone, but whether human or pig she could not tell.  Under the circumstances, there was only one option.

Janice screamed.

++++

Earlier…

++++

“It’s my first time,” said Georgina, giggling.  “I’m a virgin.  Well, a virgin as far as this goes, anyway.  I mean, package flights to the Costa del Sol, yeah, of course, but that’s like sitting on a bus, you know?  If you don’t have a window seat, you might be going down the motorway, never taking off.”  She frowned.  “Except for the sea, of course.  And anyway, I went with the girls, and so we were half cut on duty-free booze anyway.  Not that I’m drunk now.  Stone-cold sober.  Don’t want to miss a minute of it.  I’m just so excited.”

“Yes,” said Dave, pen poised over the clipboard.  “So, the answer would be….?”

“Oh.  Baptist.  Lapsed.  Sorry,” she continued, as Dave made a note on the pad.  “I’m just nervous, I guess, and I talk a lot when I’m nervous.  Religion.  That’s a funny thing to ask.  Is that in case we crash and die?”

“It’s just a standard form.  My job is to ensure we don’t crash and die.  For a start, I have another passenger later this afternoon.”

“Yeah.  Look, I didn’t mean I expected you to crash.  I mean, what sort of suicidal maniac would I be, booking a flight in a micro-light with a pilot that crashes and dies all the time?  Just nervous.”

“Sure.  That’s natural.  We just have to get the paperwork out of the way first.”

“Yeah, sure, I understand.  If I talk too much , just tell me to shut up.”

“It’s not a problem.  Anyway, when we get up, the engine and the wind will drown you out.”

“Ha!  My friends would want me to keep a micro-light strapped to my back all the time, then.”

“Really?  And finally, how much do you weigh?”

“What?  That’s not the sort of question a gentleman asks a lady.”

“No, but it’s the sort of question a pilot asks a passenger.  Look, it’s not very flattering, but when we get up in the air, you’re basically ballast.  I need to adjust the trim so the micro-light flies right, you understand.  It’s a tiny craft, so one up or two up makes a hell of a difference.  I promise I won’t tell anybody.”

“Okay. It’s f… twelve stone.”

“Twelve stone?”

“Give or take.  I’m wearing extra layers.  You know, because of the wind.”

“Do you know that in kilos?”

“No, sorry.”

Dave muttered as he scribbled on the pad.  “Twelve stone, fourteen pounds to a stone, that’s a hundred and forty plus twenty-eight, call it thirty, divided by two point two, that’s – ” He glanced at Georgina out of the corner of his eyes, ” – call it eighty kilos.”

“Oh, doesn’t that sound a lot in metric?”

++++

“Parsons.”  Jones leant on the dividing fence and called his neighbour over.  “Glad to have caught you.  Listen, me and some of the other residents, well, we’re a little concerned.”

“Oh yes?”  Parsons speared the ground with the garden fork and walked over to the fence.  “Concerned, eh?  What about?  Local crime?  The cost of living?  Whether we’ll get through the qualifiers of the World Cup?”

“No.  The thing is, we’re concerned about you, old man,  This self-sufficiency lark.  Well, growing a few beans, fair enough.  Me, I’m a flowers man, but if you want to grow a few tomatoes in the greenhouse, power to your elbow.  But this, well, we’re not entirely sure this is a healthy obsession.”

“Healthy?  Why, that’s exactly the reason I’m doing it.  Do you know what goes into the food you buy from the supermarket?  No, of course you don’t, no-one does.  But me, I know exactly what goes into my food, because I put it there.  Have you ever eaten an egg that’s still warm from the chicken’s bum?  It makes free range taste like sawdust, I’m telling you.  You should try it.  We all should.  Get a barter system going.”

“Yes, maybe so, but that’s the nub of the problem really.  Growing fruit and veg in your back garden, well, that’s a little against the grain, most people would go for an allotment for that sort of thing, but okay.  You’re eccentric, and it’s not illegal, a man’s home is his castle, sort of thing.  But livestock, that’s a different matter entirely.  It’s affecting the housing values.  It’s bad enough with the noise from the weekend fliers at the airfield.  Have you got permission from the council?”

“Don’t need one, chum.  And poultry-keeping, did you know it’s the fastest growing domestic animal ownership in the country?  Oh yes, more and more of us are keeping chickens.  It’s about to outstrip bee-keeping.”

“You’re not going to keep bees?”

“Oh, no, no, more’s the pity.  It’s Brenda.  She doesn’t want the kids to get stung.”

“Okay, but that.”  Jones pointed to the fenced off area.  “I mean, that’s beyond the pale.”

“Pinky?  Well, I would have preferred to go vegetarian, that’s true, but Pinky makes a lot of sense.  She eats all the kitchen waste, see, and what comes out the other end makes wonderful manure.  Besides,” – he dropped his voice in case Pinky should hear – “I could never renounce bacon, not really.”

“But the smell!”

“Oh, Pinky’s got used to it.  Besides, it’s a healthy smell.”

“That’s not what I meant, and you know it.  And what about hygiene?  You surely can’t be happy about your children playing with pig faeces.”

“Well, they wash their hands when they come into the house, and they don’t exactly play with it.  It’s fenced off, see?”  Parsons nodded towards the array of children’s play equipment.  “The kids play over there, there’s my fruit and veg, and Pinky’s sty is fenced off.  Solid as a rock, this fence.  I built it myself.”  Parsons gave the fence a healthy smack.  The post answered with an ominous crack.

++++

Chancer turned the magazine sideways and studied the centre pages of Phwoar Magazine.  It was a shame about the staples.  They looked too much like body piercings, and he’d never really got into that.  Earrings, okay, but some of the girls nowadays would have problems prising themselves off the fridge door, they had so much metal stuck in them.  Still, staples notwithstanding, she was a bit of all right, this month’s centre spread.

It wasn’t porn.  No, porn had pictures of couples in it.  Or triples, or even….  But no, this wasn’t porn, not if they didn’t actually show girls doing it.  It was art.  Nudes had featured in art since ancient times, and Chancer appreciated the shadows cast by the subtle lighting, the pose, the curves.  Man, those curves.  No, he wasn’t a pervert, he was a patron of the arts, and Chancer’s appreciation of this form of art bordered on obsession.

Outside someone whistled, the shrill, piercing whistle of someone who had two fingers and knew how to use them.  Chancer looked out of the window of the small tower.  Dave stood there by his micro-light with another mug.  A woman this time, a bit porky for Chancer’s tastes.  Still, times were hard.  He’d do her, if he had the chance.  Maybe close his eyes and think of this month’s centrefold.  Yeah, maybe he should learn to fly, give joyrides to bored housewives.

Chancer leant out the window and gave Dave the all-clear wave, then he settled back in his chair again and turned the page.

++++

Dave opened the throttle.  The craft responded, but slowly, bouncing across the grass of the airfield.  Twelve stone?  And the rest.  He gunned the throttle, opening it full and hoping he could pull the nose back far enough.

++++

“You could help,” shouted Parsons, as he chased Pinky through the rows of runner beans.

“What, me touch that filthy animal?  I warned you, Parsons.  It should be on a farm, not in a suburban back garden.”

“Brenda!  Kids!  Get out here.  I need some help.”

++++

“Foxtrot Papa one-seven-niner, commencing final approach.  Afternoon, Chancer.”

Chancer put the magazine down and picked up the microphone.  “Tower to Foxtrot Papa one-seven-niner, Roger that, Terry.  I’ll put the kettle on.”

He rose from his chair and turned towards the tray with the tea makings laid out.  Then he froze, spun round and ran to the window.

“Crap!”  He grabbed the microphone.

“Turn right!  Abort.  Terry!  There’s a micro-light in your way.”

++++

Dave heard the plane engine, even over his own.  He glanced over his shoulder and swore.  The plane was so close he could see the terrified expression of the pilot.  He banked to the left, screwing the throttle open as far as it could go.  The trim wasn’t right.  The woman who had lied about her weight sat in front of him, making the nose of the micro-light sluggish and unresponsive.  It dipped, the cables and struts creaking as he fought for control.  The plane passed, the turbulence of its passage throwing the tiny craft around.  It was too late, the perimeter fence of the airstrip loomed, too close to attempt a landing.  They were dropping.

++++

Parsons and his wife shooed the pig from the potatoes onto the patch of lawn that held the play equipment.  Pinky sold Mrs Parsons a dummy, ducked under the swing and skidded around the climbing frame.  Mr Parsons, concentrating on the chase so much, did not register the whine of the engine or the long, high-pitched scream of Georgina, finally robbed of words, until they skimmed over his head.  Pinky vaulted the see-saw just as the micro-light crashed into the other end of it.  In the horror and concern no-one saw Pinky execute a perfect arc over the house.

++++

Janice stopped screaming and looked around.  There was nowhere a pig could have come from, no nearby office block it could have fallen from, no overflying aircraft from which it could leap.  She dropped to her knees and crossed herself.

Oh, this Sunday she was going to church for sure.

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About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

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