Curly Tails And Tusks
by Heather Sparrows
for BBK and the Pink Pack (and the pigs from Leyenhof)
Not so long ago, in a dark area of the German Forests, there lived a mighty wild boar. He was still young and not as massive as the older boars, yet he was the strongest: slender and fast, well-trained muscles under a dense, coarse chestnut coat; a long, noble snout; proud ears, powerful legs, and big tusks. His strength, swiftness and daring had earned him the respect of the older boars, and he could run faster than all other wild pigs. In the Forests, he was known under the name of Big Boar Klaus.
Klaus was known for his fierce temper, but also for his loyalty to his horde of pigs and the forests where he had been born. He did not even fear humans, not even the human males who had sticks which could blow fire and bring death.
Klaus’s father, Mighty Heinz, had told him about what he had gone through in his youth:
Humans with dogs had chased the wild pigs and other animals from the forest. There had been too many humans and dogs to fight them. They had made a lot of noise as well, driving everybody from the thicket, and then they had begun to spit fire at them with their deadly sticks. The wild pigs had tried to fight nevertheless; they had killed a few dogs, but had not stood a chance against the humans. Three of Klaus’s aunts, five of his uncles and his grandfather, Old Klaus, had lost their lives during the battle. The humans had piled up all the slaughtered wild pigs, a few foxes, and a deer; had called their dogs back and had made a grisly triumphant noise on gleaming golden things, before they had rolled away in a kind of houses on wheels, taking the dead bodies with them.
If this had not been enough, what made Klaus hate the humans forever, wishing to kill them with their own sticks, have their own dogs eat their flesh and chew on their bones, was the story told him by an old fox who got around a lot. This fox had also visited the place where the humans lived, and he told Klaus they ate pigs! Not only the animals from the forest they murdered, but also other animals they kept exactly for that purpose. The fox told him all these animals were born as captives of the humans, kept in slavery all their lives, and finally slaughtered. Klaus did not take the old fox’s words for granted (he was said to have a wide definition of truth), but he had to see this with his own eyes. So he visited the place where the humans lived himself, together with three of his bravest companions: Achilles, Boris, and Zoltan. He saw well that this time the old fox had spoken the truth. Sadly enough, it seemed the pigs they spoke to were not in their right minds. They were quite content to be slaves of the humans! One old sow, though, told them about her days as a piglet in a human house without holes for letting daylight in, always in the dark. So now she was happy to live in a house with holes which let the daylight in.
If this was true, Klaus decided, the humans were even worse than the fox had made them out to be. So when a human with a fire-spitting stick crossed his path a few days later, Klaus attacked him. To his amazement, the human threw away the stick and ran. Klaus pursued the human, attacking it again, and again. He wounded it, but when his enemy reached its rolling house, which stood on one of the paths the humans had made in parts of the forest, Klaus had to give up his pursuit, much to his regret. He knew, however, it was no use to follow a rolling house. They were faster than the fastest boar.
So Klaus returned to the woods. He found the dangerous stick the human had dropped and carefully took it between his teeth, carried it into the underbrush and left it there to rot. Sometimes, however, he went to the place to sniff at the thing. It did not smell like rotting wood, and it did not rot like wood. It still smelled dangerous ...
And then, not that long ago after Klaus had driven the human away, bravely defending his part of the forest, he smelled a strange pig in his territory. The stranger smelled like a boar, but somehow different from a wild boar – fresh and – sweet somehow. Not unpleasant ...
Be that as it may, a stranger had no business in his territory, and Klaus would make this perfectly clear. He followed the stranger’s trail and found him on the clearing where the wild pigs often dug for tasty roots. There were also chestnuts and acorns in autumn close by. When it rained, the place was deliciously muddy.
With a deep, threatening grunt, Klaus approached the stranger.
By all the creatures in the woods! This boar was not even a wild pig – he was one of those pitiful pink excuses for a decent boar, these creatures who were satisfied to live with the humans! A poor creature for sure, but another boar in his territory could not be tolerated. Klaus was sure that if he made this perfectly clear once, the pink pig would see sense and keep away from him.
"What are you doing here?!" Klaus roared. After all, he had seen these pink pigs: slaves of the humans, just like dogs. He hated humans for what they did to animals, but he did not favour the human slaves either. Most of the domestic pigs he had seen had been terrified of him and the other wild boars. A few had been too stupid to even react to their presence – a boring lot, all in all, except for that old sow; many softened by the food the humans gave them in abundance; fat and unable to stand up against the humans and to live the true life of a wild pig from the woods!
This pink pig, however, did not seem to be frightened by the strong, wild boar, who appeared like the wrath of the forest spirits. For one of these softened human slaves, he had a much too self-assured manner.
"Good afternoon," the stranger said politely, quite unaffected by Klaus’s menacing stance. "I am exploring these parts of the forest. Just passing through."
"Hrrrrummmph!" Klaus grumbled. "Then I suggest you do your exploring somewhere else, and that pretty damn quick!"
The pink boar – and it was a boar, Klaus could smell that much – threw him a glance. His eyes were blue and fairly large. Klaus had never seen a pig with blue eyes, perhaps because he had not looked properly at the human slaves, could be ... This surely was strange. Perhaps the creature was not even a real pig, but one of the spirits of the forest, about which one of his aunts had spoken when Klaus still had been one of the striped young, cuddling together in a warm bog with his brothers and sisters.
Long ago, however, even before he had lost the stripes of his youth, Klaus had decided that this talk about the spirits of the forest was mostly a tale to keep the young ones in line.
"I like it here. This is a nice part of the forest," the pink boar said.
For one of these pink weaklings, he looked fairly big, sleek and muscular. By the dogs, the fellow even had tusks! Not the strong and well-curved, impressive tusks of a wild boar, not at all, but also not the sad, stumpy excuses some of the human slaves sported, either ...
"This is my territory, and I don’t want you here!" Klaus said menacingly.
The pink boar threw him another glance.
"You must be Big Boar Klaus," he said calmly.
"So what?" Klaus asked, even more menacingly.
"So – proud and boarish," the pink boar said, nonchalantly turning over the muddy ground with his snout, nibbling a root or a beetle here and there. "So – strong."
Not feeling flattered in the least that the pink one knew his name, Klaus began to wonder why he did not attack this meddling stranger to settle matters once and for all.
What, by my grandfather’s tusks, is keeping me? he thought. It must be the sheer, unbelievable boldness the stranger showed; to come here, ignore his menacing attitude, snuffling on the soft ground, nibbling roots and little insects as if he, Klaus, had invited him to do so!
Had the stranger been another wild boar, there would have been a gory fight, with probably a bad outcome for the strange boar, but here – the stranger’s behaviour was infuriating, but in no way did he overstep the line which would have made Klaus attack him. Now, though, he went into the direction of the underbrush where the dangerous human-stick lay!
Klaus attacked – and the stranger fought him off: quickly and – as Klaus had to admit to himself – successfully. The fellow was strong for a softened human-slave ... Yes, he was not fat and out of wind, but muscular and sleek. And he was almost as tall as Klaus.
"Off with you, you stupid excuse for a boar!" Klaus growled, angry at himself for being unable to go for the kill. "Go back to where you came from, you , you ..."
"Oh, excuse my bad manners," the stranger said, side-stepping the next attack. "I have not told you my name. I am Dorian. Pink Piglet Dorian."
"Well," Klaus said, charging again. "Everybody can see that you are pink – but a piglet? And Dorian? What a stupid name!"
They both knew, Klaus’s attacks were not meant seriously. Not yet. So far, they were meant to get the pink stranger out of the underbrush, away from the interesting thing that was hidden there ...
"Get out of here!" Klaus snarled again, and the other boar noticed he was serious, so he let himself being pushed out into the clearing again.
"You are so strong," he remarked.
Klaus snorted. He really should kill this idiot, but something kept him back. The other one offended him, but not in a way a boar overstepped the mark with another boar, so attacking to kill did not seem justified ...
And he was not stupid. "What is it in there? What is it you do not want me to see?" the pink boar demanded. He seemed to be playing with Klaus, in his own, strange way ...
"None of your business," Klaus answered brusquely. "’s dangerous!"
The moment he had said this, he knew it had been the wrong thing to say. "Dangerous" was a word which had a strong attraction for the young piglets, in one line with "tasty". He had not been different when young, and, to tell the truth, he was not different now; and why should this irritating fellow, a grown boar who called himself a piglet, react differently?
Before Klaus could do anything, though, the pink boar had zigzagged around him, and had gone straight into the underbrush again, snuffling at the stick, turning it with his snout.
"Stop it, you fool!"
"What is it?" the pink boar asked again.
"It’s a human thing. A fire-spitting stick. Humans kill with it, pigs and deer, every animal. So it’s dangerous!"
At last it seemed as if the pink idiot saw some sense. He took a step back.
"Oh, I see. And how did it get here?"
"I drove away the human who had it, " Klaus said, matter-of –factly.
"Oh, I see, " the strange boar repeated, and there was admiration in his voice, mixed with a slight undertone of – mockery? "You must really be very strong and daring, to attack a human who has a fire-stick."
"It was necessary," Klaus answered sharply. "Could not have him run around with that stick with pregnant females and young close by!"
"Did you hide the stick from the humans? Or from the other pigs?" the pink boar asked.
"What do you think, idiot?" Klaus snapped.
If the pink boar was annoyed over Klaus’s rudeness, he did not show it.
"Say -" the pink snout nonchalantly threw over some earth and leaves precariously close to the dangerous stick "- don’t you sometimes come here alone and look at the human-thing, thinking about the fight with the human? Reliving every dangerous moment?"
"No!" Big Boar Klaus answered gruffly. More and more he became convinced that this pink "piglet" must have eaten bad food the humans gave to the pigs they kept.
"I would, if it was my stick," Pink Piglet Dorian said.
"You’re an idiot!" Klaus repeated. "The good thing is, there is one stick less a human can kill with, and one human frightened enough not to come back here so soon. I don’t have the time left for fooling around here."
"I see," the pink boar said for the third time. "It seems as if you didn’t actually need the stick. Now, what would you say to giving it to me? I would like to take it to an even better place where no human would find it. Besides, looking at it, I would think of a strong boar frightening a human so much it dropped its stick, and be proud of this boar."
"Could you run this past me again?" Big Boar Klaus asked in a dangerously low voice. "I should give you the human-stick? Well, you should have another thought coming!"
"I thought you don’t care much for it," the pink boar remarked, again nonchalantly flicking up dirt with his snout.
"I don’t!" Big Boar Klaus snapped. "But giving it to you? I might as well carry it back to the humans myself!"
The pink boar stopped turning the earth with his snout.
"I don’t live with the humans," he said sharply.
"You look like the kind the humans keep, and you’re crazy enough," Klaus stated bluntly.
Pink Piglet Dorian gave him an estimating look.
"Listen," he finally said, "I was born in a human place and I lived there, this is true. But I have no love for them. So I would be the least probable boar to carry this stick back to the humans!"
"I don’t believe you," Klaus retorted. "You wouldn’t have anything to fear from the stick, because humans don’t kill your kind with it!" He knew he was not fair, but he wanted to drive the stranger away. It seemed as if his word had hit home, because the domestic boar dropped his nonchalant tone and became serious.
"No, " he whispered, obviously shaken, "not with such sticks. But they kill us alright. They keep us to kill us!"
"How do you know that?" Now Klaus threw up a bit of earth, waiting for the other to continue, not letting on that he knew Dorian spoke the truth.
The pink boar looked at the wild boar again, then he began to speak in a low voice.
"One day, a big rolling house arrived at the human place where I lived with my brothers and sisters and the rest of my family.
All of us were herded into the rolling house. It was filled with other pigs already ... Very crazy, yes, Wild Boar, very bewildered and very frightened pigs ...
The house began to roll, and it stank ... If you have seen a rolling house, you will know they spit out stinking smoke from their rears. It was very crowded. Some of the strange pigs had been kept indoors, in the dark all their lives. At least they said so, and they looked like it – pale, almost blind ... they had a strange odour ... Imagine – they had never seen the light, never smelled the earth, never learned to dig for roots and insects, never rolled in the mud, never ran about in the grass ... I could hardly believe it. We all did not like the rolling house, going away from where we had lived all our lives – especially as we all did not know what this was all about and where the humans would take us. Some said to a bigger place where we all would have more room. But no one really believed this. Many of us sensed danger. One of the indoor boars, his name was Albus, said he could see a future, and in it we all would be killed."
"I have been told humans eat pigs," Klaus now confirmed gruffly. Either this pink pig lied cleverer than a fox, or he had gone through a lot ...
"Albus said he saw a big house," Pink Piglet Dorian continued. " Not only pigs went there, but other animals as well. Iit smelled of fear, of suffering and death."
"Did you see such a house?" Klaus asked.
"No," the pink boar answered. "For us, things went differently. One moment we were rolling, the next there was a horrible screeching, the rolling house swayed, and then the roof above us became the floor, then the roof again; we all fell on each other; some screamed in fear and pain; the rolling house was smashed and kicked about, parts of it were torn away, and many of us fell out ... Then I don’t know anything any more ... When I could see again, I saw there was a hole in one of the sides of the rolling house. There was noise outside, pigs squealing, the voices of humans ... the smell of blood and fear and the stink of rolling houses all around me ... There was a sow lying on me, she was dead. A bit further away there were more pigs. They all looked dead, too ... and there was my smallest brother, little James. He was alive. I crawled out of the hole ... It was horrible. Dead pigs lying around everywhere on the whole slope the rolling house had fallen down. Other pigs ran around, wounded and bleeding or just frightened. Above us were a few humans descending the slope. Two of them tried to catch the pigs who were running around. I saw that a big stretch of wood was not far, and I headed there, followed by James.
‘To the woods! They won’t catch us that easily in the woods!’ I shouted to the pigs who were milling about aimlessly. Some took up my shout and followed my advice. I saw a human lying in my path, one of the humans which had been in the front of the rolling house. It was dead and could no longer harm us, but the other humans would come down the slope and find it. We ran into the forest, and we ran for a long time ... We were lucky. The humans which had tried to catch us pigs were distracted by the dead man, and all in all seemed more interested in seeing what had happened to the second one and the rolling house."
"So the humans could no longer control the rolling house, it went down that slope and broke, and some of you escaped. Good for you," Klaus said. "I’m inclined to believe that the humans would have brought you to a place of death, like the old boar said."
"I believe this, too," Dorian answered. A shudder shook his sleek frame.
"So you were in the woods, " Klaus stated grimly. "What happened then?" He admitted to himself that the stranger had been through a lot. This, of course, did not give him the right to come over here and get stupid ideas about his human-stick!
"Yes, we were in the woods," the pink boar continued. "I was there, James, Bonham and Jonesy, whom I knew from the farm, Frigga and Sue, Caesar and a few of the strange pigs who had never been outside. It was not easy. We all had been accustomed to being fed by humans, that is, every day a human came and put tasty mash, potato peelings, apples, and greens into a big trough, so we could all feed. This had not been different for the indoor pigs."
"Hah!" Klaus snorted.
"Now," Pink Piglet Dorian continued, unperturbed, "we had to look for food ourselves. Moreover, the nights became cold, and we had no shelter we could retreat to. We do not have a dense, warm coat like you."
"That’s true," Klaus conceded. "The earth becomes hard, and white stuff falls from the sky. It’s a time where the old, the ill, and the weak die. So you have been in the forest all winter."
Dorian munched a particularly tasty root.
"Yes. And it was like you said. A few of the indoor pigs died. And a few of Sue’s young as well. Poor old Albus ... But we others survived."
"Good for you," Klaus said.
"Do you believe me now that I and my pigs have no desire to befriend the humans again?" Dorian asked.
"I’ll give you that," Big Boar Klaus said brusquely. "But I will not give you the human-stick!"
"Mmmmh," the pink boar answered, snuffling around the stick, "I’m almost prepared to fight you for it."
Klaus gave a deep growl.
"Be careful with what you say, ‘piglet’," he warned. "I might take you up on it!"
Pink Piglet Dorian grunted deep in his chest, and it sounded impressive.
"Just for the stick," he repeated. "I do not want to fight you for these parts of the forest. Just for the stick."
This last remark did it. Klaus charged. The pink boar fought back, and Klaus had to admit that he was strong and not a bad fighter, but then he had not underestimated the stranger from the beginning. This boar might be soft in the head, but he was no weakling.
In the end, though, he proved no match for Klaus, whose strength was great and whose swiftness and fierceness of attack gave him an advantage over much heavier boars.
Dorian fled with a bleeding gash in his flank. Klaus chased him for a while, until he thought the mad stranger had been driven far away enough never to return.
With remarkable agility, the pink boar fled up a steep slope and called back:
"I am Pink Piglet Dorian, and I always get what I want!"
"Come back any time, and I’ll give you another taste of my tusks!" Klaus retorted.
The time that followed the fight was rather peaceful in the forest. No humans came to hunt; no stray dogs disturbed the horde. The wild pigs became so bold that they even went into the gardens of the humans to feed there, mostly at night or in the early hours of the morning, when the humans still slept in their houses.
Winter was over, and the boars left the sows and the young to mind their own business. Klaus was glad, because a few of the young had sorely begun to jar his temper. One of the young boars had thrown his little brothers and sisters around with his snout, then had run up to Klaus with a mighty squeal. Klaus had ignored him. The young one could wait a long time yet before he would be a match for Big Boar Klaus ...
Sometimes, Klaus thought of the pink stranger and how he might be faring. Where was he? How many of the pink strangers were running around in the woods?
Or had the humans come and taken them all away again?
Every now and then, Klaus went into the thicket, where he had hidden the human-stick, to see whether it was still there. One day, he smelled that another pig, another boar, had been there, near the stick. And by the Spirits of the Forest, the stranger smelled like the daft boar who called himself a piglet ... The pink idiot surely had nerves!
Far away, on the other side of the forest, there were the patches where the humans took part of their food from: juicy apples and potatoes in autumn, spicy turnips and sweet carrots. Lots of fine roots as well. Klaus often went there to feed at night. He thought it rather daft to go there by daylight. The first human dwellings were not too far away. By day, a wild pig might be seen and driven away, even shot.
And one night it came to happen that Big Boar Klaus saw Pink Piglet Dorian again ... that sleek pink boar ... He stood among the freshly sown young carrots, feasting, nonchalantly twisting his tail. One ear had half fallen over one eye when he looked at the approaching wild boar.
He swallowed the carrot he had yanked from the earth, before he spoke.
"Oh, hello, Big Boar Klaus. So good to see you again."
The moon came out from behind a few clouds and Klaus saw that the gash in the other boar’s flank, the souvenir from their last encounter, had healed well. A whitish scar showed the place where it had been.
Klaus pushed the pink boar away from the juicy carrots.
"You have been traipsing around the human-stick!" he growled.
Pink Piglet Dorian flicked his ear aside.
"It’s a free forest, isn’t it? Everyone here can go where he wants."
"As long as he’s not trespassing!" Klaus retorted. Again, he felt irritated by his dislike for gouging the pink stranger with his tusks. Everything around the idiot screamed "Make me stay away!", but he would forever be unable to hurt the fool in earnest ... Not that he would ever let on about this to the pink joker ...
"I wonder," he continued, snatching away an especially juicy carrot from under Dorian’s snout, "how it is you’re still here, and the humans haven’t caught you again long ago."
"Oh, you should know I’m careful, my strong wild boar," Dorian said and winked, "Now you see me – now you don’t!"
With these words, he ran back into the forest, faster than Klaus had ever seen a human slave run.
He took another juicy carrot. Grumbling, he had to admit that he – somehow liked the pink boar ...
"Pfrrrrrrrrt!" The human house closest to the carrot crops opened one eye, and a human head became visible. Then the house opened its mouth and spat out a human with a stick.
"Woah!" the human shouted. "Piss off! Woah!"
Klaus took another carrot. This human was afraid. The boar could hear it in its voice. And the stick was not a dangerous one. Humans with dangerous sticks did not scream and shout. When there were many, the humans which made the noise didn’t have the sticks. When it was alone, a dangerous human kept silent so it would not be noticed so soon.
Nevertheless, time to go. It had begun to dawn, and the human might alarm other humans.
The carrot in his snout, Klaus turned and trotted back into the forest.
He heard that the human took a few steps and shouted again, but the smell of fear was prominent around it. This human was no danger.
A bit later, when Big Boar Klaus controlled the patch of the underbrush where he had hidden the human stick, it was gone. Klaus had thought it would happen, because the pink idiot would not be frightened away. Nevertheless, he was furious. Growling, he raided up a few of the other boars to find the pink strangers, but they were elusive. It was as if the Spirits of the forest had made them vanish. Not that this would discourage Klaus and his intrepid horde of boars.
"We’ll find them, even if we’ve got to raid the whole forest!" Klaus growled.
Sure enough, the relentless search of the intrepid boars under his command brought forward a small pig with black spots. Definitely one of the pink thief’s horde.
Big Boar Klaus towered over the spotted stranger.
"Where is the pink idiot?!" he demanded.
The little spotted pig began to tremble.
"E – excuse me?"
"Where is he hiding?!"
"So – sorry?"
Klaus made a deep growling sound. Nervously, the little spotted pig looked around, then at the towering figure in front of him. Slender frame, long skull, well- trained muscle under the coarse black–brown fur. Impressive tusks. Very impressive tusks and glaring eyes. The other wild boars standing around looked no less intimidating. Oh wait – one of them seemed a bit podgy and less watchful. In fact, he was snuffling around for some food ...
The little spotted pig threw himself around and ran, swished past the podgy wild boar, before he could take his snout from the ground. In running, he thought that he must not lead his pursuers to Dorian’s hiding place. So he ran around in circles, and finally to the border of the forest, to the wide hard path on which the humans went with their rolling houses.
The other boars fell back. This path was dangerous. First, it was a human path, and second, the humans also killed with their rolling houses.
Only a few weeks ago, Achilles had found Ronald, a young boar, dead and maimed in the underbrush very close to this path, and Salma, a sow, had seen a rolling house hit her friend Bertha. It had slowed down, screaming, before it had attacked ...
Klaus saw that the little spotted fool was heading straight for the dangerous path, where the rolling houses were roaring past. He ran faster. The spotted stranger was an idiot, and he belonged to a bunch of thieving trespassers, nevertheless, having seen Ronald’s bloodied and maimed body, he did not want that fate for a pig. Any pig. Grandfather’s Bollocks, not even for a dog!
He overtook the spotted pig just before it reached the human path, doubled back and charged, throwing the smaller boar to the ground. He gave a mighty grunting roar, while the spotted little boar squealed like a piglet.
"Do you want to get killed?!" Klaus bellowed at him.
"Please, please don’t kill me!" the spotted boar squealed.
Klaus grunted derisively.
"If I wanted to have you killed, I could have let you run into the path of one of these rolling houses!"
The spotted boar looked as if he was not convinced. He tried to squirm away and run again, but squealed miserably: Klaus held him back by his little curled tail.
"Not so fast," he gritted out between clenched teeth. "You will get me to that pink thief, and don’t try any tricks!"
A quick look around showed the spotted little boar that the other boars had surrounded them again. And this time, they all looked watchful and very grim, so there would be no escape.
Trembling, he agreed to lead the way to where Pink Piglet Dorian lived.
"Very well," Klaus said. "On your way, then."
The boars took them into their midst, and off they went.
If the pink thievish idiot was surprised and afraid, he did not let on, Klaus thought with grudging admiration. A horde of wild boars, the spotted domestic boar in their midst, would have made any ordinary pig, wild or domestic, run for cover, but Pink Piglet Dorian was no ordinary pig. Still, Klaus was not sure whether the pink stranger was just soft in the head or very cunning and brave.
"Welcome, Big Boar Klaus," he said, looking up nonchalantly from a wet patch he had been thoroughly ploughing with his snout. "Welcome, Achilles, Boris, and Zoltan! Oh, you’ve brought Jamesie home, I see – "
He did not speak further, because Klaus attacked him, throwing him to the ground. There were frightened squeals from Dorian’s horde, but Achilles, Boris, and Zoltan took a grim stance and showed their impressive tusks, so no one of Dorian’s pigs dared to move.
"Where is it?!" Klaus bellowed.
"Klaus, dear, what are you talking about?" Dorian managed. "Well, this is an enthusiastic greeting you give me! I’d never have thought you would be so glad to see me again –"
Klaus shoved him with his tusks.
"Shut up!" he ordered. "The only thing I want to hear from you is where you have hidden the human-stick!"
"But nothing, thief! Now! Or you’ll feel my tusks!"
The pink boar might be daft, but he knew when he had lost.
"Alright," he said. "I yield to brute force" and he made it sound as if he liked brute force when executed by Big Boar Klaus.
Klaus ignored the remark and shoved Dorian again with his tusks.
"Which way, thief? And no tricks, or I’ll gut you! – Zoltan, you come with us! Achilles, Boris – you’ll keep an eye on the others!"
Achilles and Boris took an even more menacing stance, but it seemed to Klaus as if James, the small spotted boar, had spoken the truth: either the pigs around Dorian were all as cunning as foxes – and they did not look like it –
- or they actually did not know what the angry wild boars wanted of them. In the end, it did not matter, as Dorian knew quite well what Klaus was talking about.
Dorian led them straightaway to an earthen cave between the roots of a big old oak tree. It was huge. Klaus assumed it had once been inhabited by a family of badgers, but had long been abandoned. The earth around the entrance hole had given way, so the hole had become wide enough for a boar to enter. A sow must have born her piglets here, because old leaves and twigs had shaped a kind of a big nest.
Dorian snuffled around between the old twigs and leaves and dragged out the human-stick.
Klaus growled menacingly.
"I only hope for your sake that you haven’t endangered sows and piglets by keeping the stick here! How often shall I tell you? It’s dangerous! It kills! It’s not safe around a horde! Humans even take birds from the sky with it! – Careful!" The pink boar had taken up the stick in his snout. Klaus would have liked to snatch it away from him then and there, but the situation was too dangerous, the cave too small for a fight.
Outside, Dorian dropped the stick to the ground.
"If it is so dangerous, why not get rid of it? Make a hole somewhere deep in the woods, where no pig will ever go and no other animal either? Push earth over it and forget about it?"
He looked, though, as if he was not too happy about this suggestion himself.
"Or," he continued, "we could make it work ..." He pawed the stick with his front trotters.
"Idiot!" Klaus bellowed. "Which part of dangerous don’t you understand?!"
Dorian looked up at him nonchalantly with big, blue, innocent eyes.
"Or is it that Big Boar Klaus wants to play all alone with the dangerous stick?" he asked.
At this point of the conversation, Zoltan thought it better to place himself between the two other boars. He had the vague idea that Klaus would go for the kill now, and spilling the blood of a domestic pig would bring Big Boar Klaus too close to a human for his liking ...
The wild boar, however, merely snatched the stick up from the ground and gritted out: "What have you fed on? Poisonous mushrooms? You are crazy, and I’ve heard enough of this shit!"
He swung around to leave – and the human stick went off with a bang that echoed through the forest; spitting out something that ripped a branch from a nearby tree. Birds fluttered up from the trees close by, screeching warnings.
Unnerved, Zoltan and Dorian fled a short distance into the forest. Klaus dropped the stick and retreated a few steps. The thing had moved in his mouth, as if to tear itself free!
"Whoa!" he said, carefully snuffling around the stick, which was now silent again, innocently lying on the ground.
Dorian trotted back from the underbrush as did Zoltan, who was obviously embarrassed.
"Have you seen what it can do?" Dorian asked, looking around. He found the freshly severed branch and sniffed it. "Seems it rips away at a tree without being close to it!"
"What did I tell you?" Klaus asked grimly. "It maims. And it kills. A human with such a stick doesn’t need to come close!"
"So – what do we do with it?" Dorian asked.
"We?" Klaus snorted. "You will do nothing! I will take it to a safe place!"
"We could find out how it works," Dorian suggested.
Klaus stared at him in disbelief.
"You are mad! Definitely! You. Will. Do. Nothing," he then repeated, as if speaking to a very young piglet. "And if I ever find your snout snuffling around where it doesn’t belong, I’ll gut you!"
Without a further word, he took up the human-stick in his mouth and trotted off without looking back. Zoltan followed, and a bit further on, they were joined by Achilles and Boris. They ventured further into the woods, always making sure that no one of the domestic strangers followed. After a while, Klaus sent the other boars away and ventured forth on his own.
It was not easy to find a good place to hide the human-stick from the pink thief and his nosy horde, as well as from the humans. Besides, though Klaus would never admit it – the pink idiot had hit a nerve with his words about finding out how the human-stick actually worked.
He told himself that it was against his principles and against everything his foreboars had taught him: An animal of the forest, a wild boar at that, did not want to have anything to do with a thing a human had touched. Besides, the thing was made by humans for humans. Humans walked on their hind legs and used the claws on their forelegs to grab things decent animals took in their snouts. Stupid idea for a boar to make a human-stick work, an idea only that daft pink idiot could have! Klaus was sorely tempted to make a big hole, throw the stick in and forget about it.
On the other hand – he had made it go off once. He thought hard and sought to remember what exactly he had done when the stick had roared, jerked, and spat out the something which had hurt the tree. He had spoken to Dorian, the thing in his mouth, grabbing it where it began to become a bit thicker; he had swung around – Klaus’s curiosity had been awakened. He noticed that the stick had a kind of growth where it became thicker; he had no other word for it. Klaus assumed that making the thing spit out the hurting something had to do with this kind of growth ...
For the next days, he worked on the stick, chewing, gnawing like a rabbit, shaking it like a dog. Finally, he found out the trick and made the stick roar and spit: once – twice – three times. He was proud, but stopped any further tests, because the noise upset the horde and other animals in the forest. Besides, it might alert the pink idiot ...
During these days, however, no pink stranger showed his snout or curly tail anywhere near. Klaus was not foolish enough to believe the strangers had left the forest, but he was content they kept away from him. Until ...
... until one day, one of the pink pigs, a stout boar the pink pigs called Bonham, came tearing through the underbrush.
"Big Boar Klaus!" he called. "Big Boar Klaus!"
Klaus took a menacing stance and grunted: "What do you want?!"
"Pink Piglet Dorian – the ‘umans – they took ‘im!"
"What?! Where?!" Klaus snapped.
"There’s a farm – down West – bordering on the forest – ‘E went down there sometimes to feed on the carrots in the greenery patch – and today – today –" The stout pig took a gasping breath.
"Today what?! Speak up, Boar!" Klaus barked.
"Today, just when Dorian was there, a small rolling ‘ouse came along, a few ‘umans got out, looked around and grabbed one of the pigs feedin’ there, ‘Enry. It ‘appened all so very fast! Dorian charged at the ‘umans, ‘Enry ran away, and they grabbed Dorian instead, shoved ‘im into the rollin’ ‘ouse and went off wiv ‘im! It ‘appened all so very fast!"
"Do you know where they took him?" Klaus asked.
"I thought the rollin’ ‘ouse would go along the road, so I took a shortcut through the forest. It’s not far. They took ‘im to an old ‘ouse and put ‘im into a smaller ‘ouse for animals. Then they left again. I looked around and I found – I found –"
"What?!" growled Klaus, when the stout boar paused again and swallowed.
"I found another small ‘ouse. It smelled of blood. Another poor pig must’ve lived there. But now ‘e was dead. Found ‘im angin’ – in two ‘alves –"
A few sows and young squealed in horror. Klaus cursed.
The stout domestic boar swallowed again.
"I tried to get Dorian out, but ‘e’s locked in tightly! ‘Elp me, Big Boar Klaus! ‘Elp me free Dorian!"
Klaus did not hesitate. "Very well," he ordered. "Show the way! – And I do not want any other of you pink idiots running around!"
"I didn’t tell the others yet, I came straight ‘ere!"
"Very well," Klaus repeated, and gave the stout boar a grim look, adding in a low voice, so only the domestic boar could hear him: "If this is one of the pink idiot’s tricks, I’ll have his hide!"
"Believe me, Big Boar, that’s no trick!" Bonham answered. "I’m not in the mood to play tricks!"
"We’ll see," Klaus said.
He went to fetch the human-stick from its hiding place.
The domestic pig led Klaus, Achilles, Boris, and Zoltan through the forest, and yes, soon enough a small house came into view, almost hidden among the trees, and two smaller houses stood behind the biggest one.
There also was the rolling house in which, according to Bonham’s story, the humans had abducted Dorian. It stood quiet and was not moving, which meant the humans could not be too far away. If humans covered long distances, they always did this in their rolling houses.
"Dogs?" Klaus asked. A lot of humans kept dogs, and although Klaus and the other boars would normally not avoid a fight with a dog, he found they had more urgent things to do at the moment.
"’Aven’t seen or heard any dogs," the domestic boar whispered.
It had become dusk, and the biggest house opened one bright eye. This clearly meant that at least one human was around, and he was not asleep.
Klaus noiselessly dropped the human-stick he had brought.
"How many humans have you seen?" he whispered to Bonham.
"Three," the boar mouthed back. "But –"
"Into which one of the small houses did they put him?" Klaus interrupted.
"The bigger one –"
Surprisingly noiseless for an animal of his size, Klaus slid over to the bigger of the small houses. Sturdy wooden planks with pieces of metal barred the entrance.
"Dorian? You there?" Klaus whispered.
"Who’s there?" came back Dorian’s voice.
"’S me, Klaus. How are you?"
"Oh, I’m fine. I have been fed, and somebody else must live here, what with the straw on the floor and a trough. It’s quite comfortable, but I fear –"
"You’re damn right to fear. According to your friend, Bonham, Pig Somebody Else is hanging dead in the house next to you."
"I thought something was wrong," Dorian breathed. "I smelled the blood ..."
"We’ll get you out," Klaus said.
"Oh?" Dorian sounded doubtful. "I’ve tried to get out already, dear Klaus, but I fear I’m in a kind of impasse ..."
"We’ll get you out, "Klaus repeated. "Do you know how many humans are around at the moment?"
"I think three, which would be all of them," Dorian whispered. "I have been fed not long ago, and I haven’t heard them leave on foot, nor have I heard the rolling house –"
"Fits in with what we see. Listen, you should make a lot of noise. Which will bring at least one human out to open the door – and then you run. Run him over!"
"What if more humans come out?"
"My boars and I will distract them – hurry now!"
"Wait a moment! Klaus, why -?" But the big boar had already left and had rejoined the other boars.
"Told him to make a racket to lure at least one human from the house. They will open the door to the small house. When that door’s open – not earlier – we’ll attack and cause a diversion, so’s the pink one can run! Got it?"
"Yes, Big Boar Klaus!" Achilles said, speaking for them all.
"Yes!" The stout boar called Bonham repeated.
Boris looked a bit doubtful at him, but Klaus gave a short, low grunt of approval.
"Are you sure, he - ?" Zoltan began, but was interrupted by wild rustling, loud grunts and shrill squeals. Then there were thumps, as if the captured boar was throwing himself at the door with all his might.
The plan seemed to work: The biggest house opened more yellow eyes and finally its mouth, spitting out all three humans.
"What the -?"
"Hey! It got out!"
One of the humans ran after Bonham, who apparently had reckoned on human eyes in the dark seeing just a domestic pig, thinking their captive had escaped. This caused a delay in the door to Dorian’s prison being opened, because the two other humans called after their companion to come back, one even ran after him. He was in turn followed by Boris, and the third human called after the second one, apparently too afraid to open the door to the stable alone. Dorian meanwhile sounded as if he had gotten the disease the old fox had spoken of, the one that drove cows mad.
Klaus cursed the stout boar under his breath for distracting the humans before they could open the door to Dorian’s prison. He saw one of the humans who had run into the woods come back, limping. Not Boris, though ... And no Bonham either ...
Those bloody idiots!
"Gone. Hell knows what he’s after. Ran into the woods as if a load of demons ‘d been after him! Without a torch! He’s gone barmy if you ask me! And what the fuck’s up in there?"
Dorian had not ceased his noise. He was squealing as if he felt the butcher’s knife at his throat already.
The humans listened at the door, then looked at each other.
"Can pigs go rabid?"
"Nonsense! Gimme that key! You got the gun?"
Shit! Klaus thought. A "gun" was a human-stick, that much human he had learned from the men he had observed. We’ve got to be fast ...
"Alright. I’ll open the door now. And whatever comes out, you shoot it! Got that?"
Now be fast, Dorian. Be damn fast, Boar ...
A chain rattled, and the bigger human poked around at the door, which suddenly opened. Out shot Dorian, running over the human who sat down on his butt with an "oooof".
The other human fumbled around with his stick, but Achilles and Zoltan charged. The human screamed, dropped the stick and ran back to the house, where he slammed the door. By then Dorian had vanished into the woods.
"Back into the forest!" Klaus roared. He himself, however, snatched the human-stick the thinner human had dropped and ran towards the bigger human, who had gotten up from the ground. Klaus shook his head wildly, the human-stick went off, and the big human went down again with a scream.
Klaus briefly thought of gutting the injured human with his tusks for the dead and cut up pig in the smallest hut, and for intending to do the same to Dorian. However, he just went close, stared at the wounded man, turned around and left, the new human stick still between his teeth. He had seen the human’s eyes, and they had been full of fear. Could well be that there was one human less in the world to slaughter animals ...
(He would be right. Bill Jackson could never touch pork again, let alone slaughter a pig. He never told anyone, not even his sons Jim – who had lost his nerves and fled into the house – and George – who had gone after the domestic pig he believed to have escaped, in the dark, without a torch, spraining his ankle and running into a tree, while the pig escaped – that he had seen an enormous wild pig with a shotgun in its mouth coming towards him. It had actually fired said gun, the bullet hitting Bill in the leg. The big wild boar had come close and had actually stared at him.)
Klaus, Achilles, and Zoltan went into the woods again, where they were joined by Boris. Deeper in the forest, Pink Piglet Dorian was waiting with his faithful boar Bonham. He carried the other human-stick, but on seeing Klaus, dropped it to the ground.
Klaus felt his anger rise. He let the stick he had taken from the human that day fall to the ground.
"You good-for-nothing heap of pork! My boars and I and even one of your own risk our hides to get you away from the humans who’d have killed and gutted you – and all you can think of is creeping back to steal my human-stick! The stick I brought to defend you! I should have left you to be killed, you spirit-forsaken fool!"
Klaus’s mighty roars and grunts filled the nightly forest and made birds, mice, rabbits, badgers and foxes shake and quiver in their nests and holes. Even his own boars retreated a few steps.
Dorian, however, the focus of the mighty boar’s wrath, remained unperturbed. He nonchalantly twisted his corkscrew tail and flicked his ears.
"I saved the human-stick for you," he said calmly. "It’s a thank you for what you have done to save me."
"Wait a minute - you give me what belongs to me in the first place?!" Klaus roared. Again, though, he found he could not attack the pink idiot.
He snorted, lowering his voice a bit. "I know you can put your words as cunning as a fox!"
"I see, Big Boar Klaus, you took another stick from the humans," Dorian continued, snuffling at the new human-stick. "So – if you don’t need the old one any more –"
The two boars looked at each other over the two human-sticks. Klaus’s three boars held their breath.
"I’ve been thinkin’..." Bonham said meekly into the rather tense silence "... do pigs need ‘uman-sticks at all?"
Klaus’s three boars as well as Dorian and Klaus himself looked at the stout domestic pig in astonishment. Bonham, however, stood his ground.
"They’re ‘uman things after all, not made for pigs."
Silence again. Bonham gave a snorting grunt, the equivalent of a human shrug.
Dorian spoke first.
"Well ..." he said, sounding a bit doubtful.
"I think he’s right!" Klaus interrupted him. "Humans don’t have tusks. Or claws. Or talons. This is why they use such sticks. It’s not fitting for a boar. Nor for any decent animal."
"So?" Dorian asked, obviously astonished that Klaus should have changed his mind to agree with Bonham. "Have you got any suggestions then, what to do with the human-sticks? We cannot very well give them back to the humans, can we?"
Klaus thought for a moment. Then he turned to his three companions.
"Go home. And take Bonham with you," and to Dorian: "You come with me."
Obediently, Achilles, Boris, and Zoltan trotted off.
Bonham hesitated, looking after the three wild boars, then turning to Klaus, who had snatched up the old human-stick.
"Someone has to tell the others we are safe, Bonham," Dorian said. "Jamesie will be very worried."
With these words, he took up the second human-stick and followed Klaus.
Bonham flapped his ears, then turned around and trotted off in the direction where Boris’s big hairy backside just vanished behind a bush.
Dorian and Klaus trotted along a path wild animals had trodden out, leading them deeper and deeper into the forest.
He wanted to ask the big wild boar where they were going, but carrying the human-stick demanded Dorian’s full attention. Speaking with this thing between his teeth was impossible, and he did not want to set it off by accident. So he silently followed Klaus, who also seemed fully concentrated on carrying his dangerous human-stick.
The path became more and more overgrown, and so narrow that it might have been comfortable for a fox or a weasel, but no longer for a full-grown boar. Their passage was hampered by twigs and brambles, which scratched their flanks and caught the ends of the human-sticks. Besides, the ground became moist, soft and slippery, and they sank in deeply with every step.
Klaus still in the lead, they fought their way through a thicket of bushes and brambles, and found themselves at the shore of a small lake.
Dorian wanted to step forward, but the wild boar suddenly stopped, and Dorian was blocked by Klaus’s bulk.
"Careful," the big boar hissed between clamped teeth. "Ground’s treacherous. Go exactly where I go. Not far now."
Diligently, Klaus put forward foot after foot, testing the ground, balancing over tufts of grass where the ground was more firm.
Dorian followed in his wake, carefully putting his feet only where the wild boar had been putting his. He was glad the sun meanwhile began to come up.
Finally Klaus stopped. There were no more bushels of grass ahead, indicating islands of firm ground in the bog. Instead, there was only water now. It looked murky, so Dorian could not make out how deep it was.
"You stay here," Klaus ordered. "I will swim out and drop the human-stick into the lake. Then I’ll come back, you give me the other human-stick and I’ll go out again."
Dorian was not keen on a bath in the lake which surely would be cold, but he wanted to show the wild boar what a domestic boar could do. Maybe also that his pride was a little hurt about being so foolish as to have himself get caught by humans, which made him say.
"I can swim out as well, you know."
Klaus gave him a look which said enough about foolish pink show-offs who went too close to human dwellings and got caught, but he said gruffly:
"Fine. If you must."
He went into the water, still carrying the human-stick. Snorting and grunting, he began to swim. Dorian followed.
The water was cold indeed, and the human-stick hampered his progress even more than on firm land, but he managed to catch up with Klaus. It paid off that he was a strange boar who on a warm summer day had sometimes swum in the lake at the farm where he had gown up, even though the old pigs had berated him about his un-piggish behaviour, and no one of his siblings had ever wanted to do the same.
They had swum rather far, but the massive head of his wild companion could be seen moving still further out, and so Dorian went on as well.
Finally Klaus stopped swimming, opened his jaws and let go of his human-stick. It sank, immediately swallowed by the dark water. Dorian followed his example and released his human-stick as well.
Without a word, the wild boar turned and began to swim back to the shore. Dorian did the same.
They scrambled back onto the bushels of grass, and - Klaus again in the lead -made their way back through the bog in silence, jumping over the grassy islands, squeezing through the brambles and bushes, finally reaching the path again.
Only when they came to the clearing from where they had begun their expedition, Klaus spoke.
"Well, I suppose you and your pink pack will be staying around. I’ll give you a piece of advice: Don’t cross my path too often, Pink Piglet Dorian, and keep the small spotted idiot away from me! Something else: Don’t reckon upon me being around to save your sorry pink ass when you get yourself into trouble again!"
He turned around and trotted off.
"Klaus!" Dorian called after him.
"What?!" the big boar growled, turning around again.
"I like you, too!"
The wild boar snorted derisively and vanished into the underbrush.
Pink idiot! he thought, grimly amused.
Feel free to write me at kargoo at arcor.de.
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