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Speculative Horror Funny

A pig roast is a great community affair, a cultural cornerstone event, unless of course you’re a pig. Then it’s some bizarrely horrific death ritual, and you probably don't enjoy it very much. I stare down at the plate of roasted pork in front of me, sickened. I know I need the food; it doesn’t change the outcome if I don’t eat. But maybe being long suffering is the only form of protest that I have left. I spear a cutlet with my fork, and twirl the now cold meat around slowly. I watch the way it flops from side to side, mesmerized, imagining that–


“Odysseus, stop playing with your food! You know the deal son. Now we’re all enjoying our food as a family and I’d like you to join.”


My attention is broken, and I stare up at my father. He’s a big man, every corner massive and rounded. His white cheeks are flabby and reddened from the wine in his glass, his great mustache quivers as it chews on another sliver of pork. My mother is on his right, a mirror image in form but with shoulder length permed curls instead of a mustache.  


“Yes father, sorry I was lost in thought”


“Head in the clouds, always with this one!” My mother says and laughs at this uproariously, but thinking of the clouds makes the rest of the family uncomfortable. I see my sister’s face wince slightly across the table from her. She’s a smaller version of my mother, 3 years older than I am but much heavier.


“Eat your food Odis, it’s the most delicious thing we’ve had in weeks. No more of the usual gruel!” She chimes in, entreating me by dipping some pork in gravy and popping it into her mouth. Her jowls quiver as she chews. All I can wonder is if there’s an ideal fat content ratio in meat, and it makes me feel physically ill.


“Want some wine son? I know you’re a bit young, but it’s the best vintage we’ve had yet.” He’s already pouring me a full mug out, not waiting for a response. There’s a nearly endless supply of bottles behind him, and I know the family plans on getting gloriously drunk tonight. The mug is handed down the table and splashes down in front of me.  


I stare at the red stain it leaves on our white table cloth, the one my mother used to so dutifully keep clean. The one I was berated for spilling tomato sauce on, years ago. In light of recent events, stains do not matter anymore. I read out in my head like a news reporter, and it brings a dark smile to my face.


I sip from the wine, and that seems to satisfy everyone. Our great harmony restored, conversation resumes around the table.


“Now don’t forget that this weekend we have ice skating with the Hendersons, I’ve been looking forward to it all year! They always skate circles around us, but since we’ve all been practicing this year…” She eyes us each expectedly, my father and sister nod vigorously, I take another sip of wine. “Since we’ve all been practicing I hope we can show off our new skills.”


“Of course dear, and then I have a double round of golf to play with Henry the next day! My swing is great right now, I think this time the game will be mine.”


“Oh I cannot wait for this weekend. That devilishly handsome Harold has asked me to meet him at the pier for dinner.” My sister actually squeals, and my father and mother nod approvingly.


I take a long drink from the wine. It’s going to my head quickly, but it feels wonderful. I’m disconnecting from reality, and it’s such a better place to be. They’re under some form of group delusion, or collective bargaining. None of this is real. Henry? Harold? Hendersons? How do you make this shit up? I notice that they’re all staring at me, waiting for me to add on.


“Oh that’s funny you all have such big plans, I have a hot date with an oven tomorrow.” I take another sip of wine, and chuckle slightly.


My mother and sister drop their forks, I see my father’s face flush instantly red with anger. I know I shouldn’t have said it, but how the hell are we supposed to ignore it?  


My father’s on his feet so quickly you’d think he was a much smaller man. He’s pointing down the table at me with his fork, furious and shouting.


“You listen to me young man! We are not talking about that tonight, damnit. We’re going to sit here and have a good dinner, and enjoy some good wine, and talk about all the good things we’re going to do. Do you hear me?!”  


I see my sister is close to tears, and my mother has gone completely pale.


“Yes father, of course. I meant to say that I was looking forward to playing legos with young Hank this weekend, is it okay if he comes over?”  


“That sounds wonderful son, of course he can come over!” My mother tries to recover the momentum they were building. They keep up the inanities, but they’re fine to leave me out now. Concerned I might bring too much reality back to the moment, I guess.


I need to get out of this house, run, but certainly they’re watching already. If I run, they’ll just pick me up early. A tasty morsel to start the feast.


I look down at my arm, I’m rail thin from skipping meals. No matter how much my family pushes me, the gruel that’s usually delivered to our home is disgusting and I can only stomach enough to keep me upright. It’s some fattening mixture of essential nutrients that looks like brown jello and tastes like burnt gravy.


In some of the books down in our library I’ve seen pictures of pigs on farms being fed from a trough. Farmers would dump their feed in there, and the pigs would dutifully run over and lap it up. I guess it’s clear where they got their model from.


Excited by the addition of wine, my stomach growls. I know I need to eat something or I’ll just be miserable, so I take a cutlet and start to put it in my mouth. Piece by piece, I mechanically chew and swallow. I try to keep my mind blank, or the nausea will come back.


Tomorrow morning, we will all be euthanized. I’ve heard it’s very fast, painless and humane. But no one really knows, of course, there’s no one to tell you how it feels. They’ll come down in their great ships, descend from the sky, and put us to sleep. Forever. It’s such a strange thing to think about, just not existing.


Every year, they have a feast. Or that’s how we all think about it. You know you’re the chosen family when the quantity of food and wine delivered starts increasing. It all ends with the roasted pig, delivered hot with plenty of side dishes. The final meal, your last taste of this sweet earth. They’ll torch our house, and cook us over the embers as they all stand around with strange cocktails in their hands, laughing drunkenly through the night.


There’s a courage taking hold in me, probably from the wine, and it’s spurring me to action. I’ve gotten down some calories, which will be essential, but I need something more.


“Mum, any chance I could have a cup of coffee? It sounds so good right now.”


“Of course son, there’s a fresh pot in the kitchen. Only don’t have too much, you’ll ruin your sleep.”


I excuse myself and meander through piles of packaged food and wine to the kitchen. I’m out of their gaze here, and I see there’s half a pot left. I pour cup after cup, and guzzle down the bitter liquid. It’s like jet fuel hitting my veins, I can already feel my pulse increasing and my hands starting to sweat.


Now or never, kiddo.


I run for the door, piles of packaged side dishes tumble over and bottles of wine crash against each other as if I leave a wake of wanton destruction. I grab my jacket from the hook, throw the door open, and run out into the night before anyone can grab me. I throw the jacket over my shoulders and zip it up, it’s light but the summer night is barely cold.  


The lights are on me instantly, zooming through the night sky overhead. I don’t even look up. When the white grid lights hit me, I know I’m being measured. I see the start of the forest that borders our land, if I can only make it…


The grid lights go out, and I’m left in darkness. I keep running for a time, and when I hit the line of trees I have to take a break. I collapse against a tree, breathing raggedly, and look behind me. There’s… nothing. They measured me and found me wanting.


Then I laugh and cry until I find the end of my fear.


December 14, 2023 14:44

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2 comments

Mary Bendickson
01:56 Dec 21, 2023

Well, that hit the prompt right on the head. Still not sure who was planning the feast but that was part of the horror.

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Ian Patterson
11:14 Dec 21, 2023

Thanks for reading Mary! I was having fun leaving it vague, otherwise who they are might have distracted from what I wanted to say.

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