By Duane Hewitt
Copyright 2016 Duane Hewitt. All Rights Reserved.
The first happened on May 13th. It was just outside the Arkham County Fair after a resident of the area, a certain Heather Skysdale, brought her newly crowned porker back home with her to the farm. In truth, that one pig hadn’t been crowned with the first-place ribbon, but with second place. Still, for Ms. Skysdale it was a notable achievement that quite made her day and more than made up for the exclusive care “Maddy” had been receiving over the past year. After all, Maddy came from good stock, with a handsome boar father and a mother with outstanding genes. It was sometime shortly after Heather had unloaded the pig and walked it back to its stall; a special, boxed-off area of the barn that kept Maddy within the animal community while providing for her the much-needed privacy and clean living required for a pig of such notable stature. Sometime after Heather went back into the house, there was a peculiar sounding “poof” that sounded like an exploding bag of wind. Heather returned to investigate. Although there were no witnesses (at least of the human sort), the goo that covered that part of the barn, and the fact that Maddy no longer existed in her private quarters, was testament enough: Maddy had exploded.
Other accounts then followed, albeit not in any particular pattern. The next didn’t occur until July. The following instances happened more than 25 miles away in an especially beautiful borough of the San Clemens farming community. If anything came close to having that Norman Rockwell appeal, this was it: beautiful meadows that covered gently rolling farmland, with big gorgeous oaks and apple trees that lined the terrain under blue skies. Three of the Boxster kids had each been given their own sweet little newborn pig as celebration for the July 4th holiday. With names of Pugsley, Nugget, and Malfeasance (the latter named because of young Norman’s early attraction to getting his hands on everything related to law that he was able to read), the pigs were treated like the best of pets. Few dogs or cats could have done better and, because the “three little pigs” were kept clean, the parents (on especially rare days) actually allowed them to be brought into the house, provided the children never let them run loose and quickly enough took them back outside.
It was on a bright starry night of July 23rd that the unexpected happened. No one at this point had heard about the Skysdale exploding pig. Frankly, if anyone had, it was not likely believed anyway. So on this particular night, the three piglets were left in a small outdoor doghouse that had been adapted to the pigs and which protected the little animals from wild dogs, coyotes, raccoons and such.
The gruesome discovery was made by Martha the following morning, who came crying back into the house and woke both her parents, while babbling on about what she had seen. Mom and Dad both got dressed and went out to investigate. To this day, no one has an explanation for as to what happened but there was very little left of any piglet. Sometime around 2 and 4 a.m. of that fateful morning, each pig had, without explanation, exploded.
Rumors began to abound. From shock and gasps to sheer outright laughter, word of the “exploding pigs” had become the talk of the region. Even in two of the local farmer pubs, one named the Watering Hole and another aptly called The Pig and Whistle, brought on fits of laughter from local farm folk at the end of each work week.
Then, on September 19th (when most of the tales had subsided), the stories suddenly stopped and became something far more lucid and disturbing: Farmer Bill Bryson had himself seen his pig explode right before his very eyes. The pig was a good size domestic weighing about 170 pounds that he had just picked up in town. Shortly after unloading the porker from his truck, he went to get some additional straw, returned to the pig pen and, before he knew what happened, that particular (unnamed) porker blew up right before his eyes. The evidence was all too clear, and Farmer Bryson remained in some degree of shock as he was left to change and throw away his coveralls and wipe off the bits of exploded pig entrails from his hair and beard. It was after he got through cleaning the pen and the general area that the realization of what had just happened ripped through him. He then shot off to town to notify the sheriff.
Despite the raised eyebrows in the sheriff’s office, Farmer Bryson filed his report. It wasn’t until spring that any more such episodes took place (or, at least, were reported). But it was in late April of that year that a member of the Hogs Association collected the scant available information and made the deduction that, thus far, it had all been episodes of domestic pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus, also: Sus domesticus) that had blown up. That was all about to change. (It was later noted that the peculiar happening with the three piglets of the Boxster family had likely been “Miniature pigs” of the same species, though this was never confirmed.)
The occurrence in April came to be known as the “Yorkshire Incident” because it involved a particularly large American Yorkshire pig, estimated at the time to have been in the range of 450 pounds.
A pig farm owned by Phil Jefferson of Des Moines, Iowa but worked by the Guerlling Family, operating as G. Barney et al, had recently transported a number of hogs from across state (the purchase had been approved and financed by Mr. P. Jefferson while he was traveling for business in Chicago) and, to keep details of the story brief, a number of hogs had been bought for breeding. One of those was a female oinker that had been dubbed “Pretty Betty.” Needless to say, Pretty Betty was not destined long for this world.
It happened during feeding time early, very early, one morning around 4:45 a.m. when two farmhands were distributing slop. One had already left the penned in area. The other, who had turned to follow, was suddenly and violently thrown against the barn door; covered – yes – by the guts of the now-exploded Betty. At first, that one farmhand had come under some scrutiny concerning everything from harboring illegal arms (explosives) to some form of bent stunt. But there was nothing feigned or planned in the man’s emotional response to the event: Joseph “Joey” Surtees had been traumatized to the point of turning him into a babbling, incoherent fool. Plus, the second farmhand had essentially been there, having escaped the pig “paroxysm” by mere seconds.
It was then that episodes of the “exploding pig” mystery took hold of the entire county and northwest part of the (unnamed) state. Everything from theories of invading aliens to contrivances in the feed for the purpose of overthrowing the hogging industry had some gas. The fact was: Everything from Berkshires and Pot-bellied pigs to imported British Saddlebacks were blowing up without reason; without provocation. That mystery lingered till; once again, the episodes seemed to subside and almost die away, until…
The news first hit the Menninger Evening Post. Apparently, a certain Farmer named Edgar W. Brown had taken his prized monster, 1,800 pound boar “Big Ben,” into town for slaughter. There is little to say. Nothing was seen of man or pig again. But Farmer Brown’s truck, which had been used to transport Big Ben, had been found just two miles out of town and, with it, the splattered remains of, as the Post reported it, “something that had an appearance of an almost unworldly event, with a mess of innards and a stench that only the most irresponsible journalist would dare attempt to describe, given the despicable unutterable occurrence.”
For many weeks, no other such reports of exploding pigs were ever filed. As for Farmer Brown and Big Ben, word has it that a special forensics team from the university (or so it is rumored) had, within hours of the find, transported the gruesome discovery and taken to task the grim job of separating that which was, at one time, man and pig. All further news reports of exploding pigs was, around this same time, promptly culled by the media.
Copyright 2016 Duane Hewitt. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. No part of this work may be copied or transmitted by any means whatsoever without the prior written approval of the author. Duane Hewitt asserts his rights as the author to this work and its plot, themes and characters, under International Copyright and Intellectual Property Laws.