The tailor's hands run over my body, tugging and straightening, making sure the suit sits well. It is fine as hell. I admire my body garbed in silk, and later, when the sow I do not love but with whom I share my bed has fallen asleep, I continue gazing at my form in the dim light of the bedroom mirror. The suit is in the closet now; without it, I see the sagging flesh where once was muscle, blotches where my skin used to be a perfect hue of pink.
The suit is fine as hell, and I am too. The years show, but they have treated me well. I am still a handsome pig.
My name is Josef Balthazar Hamfarrow. I am a senator of the Piggy Senate, a ruler to pigs of the world and a boar whose only peers are my comrades. I have a beautiful wife, a mistress twice so and scores of children, for some of whom I ought to be proud. I am in want for nothing in this world, save for the one thing I cannot have.
I do not know what made me this way, why I cannot feel anything towards those closest to me, nor even for myself and my achievements. I am an empty vessel made to carry one desire, with a gaping void where a soul should lie, begging to widen with ripping flesh.
I wish to be eaten.
2. Eyes on Me
I have been asked to hold a speech in front of the United Nations, to commemorate the 45th anniversary since the Piggy Rebellion and the 20th since the rogue nation within a slaughterhouse complex became a legitimate country and was accepted a part of the United Kingdom. This is a dark age for both the beasts of England and animals elsewhere, but for man and pig, it is a day of celebration. I do not see the reason, and though they will be praised, my words will ring hollow.
When we rose to power, for a time, man stopped eating animals at the pigs' behest. Earth recovered from years of abuse, from being eaten away by beasts man feasted on.
Then, we discovered how delicious animals are. We consumed the world with our greed and gluttony, and now it has turned to shit. The sun is a lost, soft lustre beyond a curtain of perpetual gloom. There is little green left, for our hunger is endless. Squawks and moans echo over putrid cities, the song of meatballs and chicken nuggets to satiate my brethren. We only live to feed. We have grown fatter than our forefathers ever thought possible. Man looks at us with ravenous eyes and slavering mouths, but they will not touch us. Those who remember bacon are many, but eating a pig is met with death.
There are those who would forsake their lives for a taste of pork, but they are few and well hidden. The occasional killer is swiftly caught, thanks to the Oracles. I do not know how they function. There are only four pigs alive who do. Still, without fail and without injustice, the Oracles weep whenever pork is consumed and reveal the culprit. I would like to extend them to cover all crime, but the Piggy Senate and the Senate of Man are difficult to convince, for they have read The Minority Report and ignore my argument that it is not the same.
And so, while rapists and murderers and men with pierced noses run free, the sole kind of criminals I yearn to find remain out of my grasp, buried deep underground. Even if I knew where they were, killing a pig senator is punished with something far worse than death and they would not harm me.
This is most unfortunate.
The very wailing of sirens has always sounded red to me.
We emerge from the safehouse to find words spray-painted onto the wall opposite the exit. They call themselves Liberation Piggyfront. The "a" is added with an arrow pointing at its place and the "f" is written the wrong way around, revealing the terrorists to be lowest of the proletariat.
How could they do this, someone asks, and on the anniversary of our ascension? What would drive pigs to attack the senators? I know the answer; I have seen it before. They think themselves poor, but poor for a pig is still rich for a man. They are uncultured swine, easily swayed by promises of glory. Give them guns and tell them that man is our enemy and you'll have yourself an army—but an army easily felled by a trained one.
Why, why, why, from every direction. My compatriots, those who escaped with me, gaze at the walls with a kind of muted horror. The hallways, always so clean, now swim with blood. It is curious, how the people shiver and quake despite the threat being over, but my quietude is infectious. They call me many fine things, a bedrock, stalwart, a hero. Yes, it was I who shoved others to safety when the shooting began, but I am none of those things. I was trying to get out and they were in the way.
If only they knew my impassiveness is hardly due to a stoic disposition. But, they needn't—let them carry on thinking I am immovable. It has carried me so far.
They ask me whether I think this will lead to a war between man and pig. I laugh at that and answer no, it never has nor will it ever. There will always be extremists on both sides.
Even my woven mask cracks when we come out to meet the army unit sent to escort us to safety. They are agitated, far more than they should be now the culprits have been caught. It catches my eye that they're all pigs, even the pilot of the helicopter, though hooves make it difficult to operate vehicles.
No one tells me what is happening, even when I demand it. I'm not used to being ignored, particularly not by snappy grunts. I swallow my indignation at the sight of the burning city. The human-populated sections are ablaze, and as we soar away, sparks dot the distant silhouette on the pig quarters, too.
What is this? What is going on? Finally, I receive an answer. Three of the four human senators were killed in the assault. The last was executed on live TV.
We are at war with humanity.
4. War Is Hell
June 11th, 1985
My dearest Madeline,
I hope this letter finds you well. These past days have been hellish, and the thought of your embrace is one of few things keeping me sane. Never have I wished as much I'd have given into my nature and ignored the consequences of divorcing Bretagne as I now do. Were I given another chance, I would step out of the shadows with you, hand in hoof.
Madeline, I won't be able to return to you. I have been informed the alleged leader of Liberation Piggyfront has been killed in combat, but still the humans press on. This is no longer about revenge. Their war cries have driven many of my soldiers mad. Bacon, bacon, bacon; this is their ceaseless chant, a syllable sung when a boot falls. They will not rest until pigs are once more counted amongst beasts, not as equals.
They have cornered us and my soldiers fight bravely, but the thought of the horrors awaiting the captured has made every pig save one bullet for himself. Rumours now circulate that captives are being butchered for their meat. Try as I might, I cannot dispel them; it is psychological warfare, I try to explain, but it is too effective. The smell of our cooking brethren reaches us when the nightwind blows from the north.
Precious Madeline, I have a confession to make. I am not the hog you thought me. I am cold, uncaring, even manipulative—but never towards you. It is only now I realise how deeply your love has touched me. Alas, had I realised it sooner, perhaps this all could have been avoided.
It is a testament to my honesty that, even as I pen down those words, I regret nothing. The cessation of gunfire brings not peace of mind, but a promise of an approaching end. I hear the hammering of their boots, feel their roars vibrating underfoot. Bacon, bacon, bacon. This bastion will fall tonight.
Pray not for me, Madeline. There is no fear in my heart. I have made the right choice.
Goodbye, sweet love.
5. Of Man and Swine
Bretagne or recipient,
I write this from within a cage in the camp of humans, under the watchful eye of one young Lieutenant Merriweather. A fine lad, with whom I think I could've been friends in another life. Alas, in this one he has become my enemy, but I have established a rapport with him. He is an honourable man and has given me his word that this letter will find my family or, should they have perished, someone in the senate.
By the time my letter reaches you, the Oracles have surely confirmed what I am about to tell you. Perhaps you've grieved for me; I assure you it is wholly unnecessary. Even as the ink dries, the butcher sharpens his cleaver and heats the oil, watching me in the same manner as you, Bretagne, watch vanilla flan or minted mutton when they are carried in. Inhaling deep my doom and bane, I am not afraid. This is what all my efforts have led to. They will flay my skin and devour my guts, chew my muscles and carve me to the very bone. I will scream, but not for fear. I will scream for orgastic rapture. They think they've conquered me, and they have; but it is I who am the victor.
I am the mastermind behind Liberation Piggyfront.
The fools with guns were but pawns to me. I armed them, both with weapons and promises of the greatest quarry known to all—man. They had eaten us, long ago, but we had never done the same. Was it not our time to taste them, asked my mouthpieces, my recruiters. I gave them the tactics, taught them how to strike where man would hurt the most. The tension between our peoples had been strained for a while now, and I knew an assault by pig radicals would snap the twines still binding us together. We could only lose. Hooves make operating guns difficult.
Perhaps you will never receive this letter. Perhaps you, too, have faced the grill before the good lieutenant finds you. I care nothing for it. I only want historians to know the following:
My name is Josef Balthazar Hamfarrow. I have been eaten, and I regret nothing.
This story originally appeared in Third Flatiron: Monstrosities.