Monday, September 28, 2009
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They snuck between the parked cars, making their way as close as they could to the supermarket entrance. "How are we going to get in there without being seen?" Roscoe wanted to know.
"We could walk on our hind legs and pretend to be humans," Rosie suggested.
"Seriously?" Roscoe persisted.
"Only one way I can think of, Brother," Rosie said matter-of-factly. "The lightening strike."
"What does that mean?" he said, not liking the sound of it.
"It means that on the count of three, we charge through those doors, grab whatever we can to eat, then charge back out again and make our getaway. We'll be out'ta here before they know what hit 'em... One!"
"But Rosie, this is crazy!"
"Rosie, we're going to get caught!"
Rosie trotted out of hiding, making a beeline for the supermarket entrance. Roscoe groaned, hesitated half a second, then galloped after her. It didn't matter that her plan was desperate, he couldn't let his sister plunge into danger all alone.
They had reached the sidewalk, grunting with the effort, their hooves clicking on the hard pavement, before they were spotted. "Oh my God!" a woman shrieked. "Pigs!"
Suddenly all eyes were on them. Rosie and Roscoe didn't stop, but they could feel a sort of electrical charge building as dozens of human eyes focused on them. For a few seconds the startled shoppers froze, but then a wave of sounds followed them into the store: laughter, shouts, more shrieks.
"This isn't good!" Roscoe panted.
"In, out, fast!" Rosie commanded.
As soon as they reached the main aisle, though, the piglets skidded to a stop, Roscoe almost bowling Rosie over. "Wow!" they gasped. Stretched out before them were mounds of apples, heaps of bananas, potatoes, corn, beans, broccoli... more food than they had ever seen in their lives. Neither of them knew where to begin.
Then it dawned on Roscoe just how silly their plan really was. Here they were, in the middle of cornucopia, but they had no way of carrying any of the groceries, and they certainly couldn't hang around the bins munching. Already the clatter of human footsteps was approaching. "What are we going to do?" he cried.
"Get moving! Grab what you can!" she ordered, dashing over to a basket of tomatoes and snarfing down as much as she could, then darting a little farther up the aisle, where she found a tasty display of baby potatoes. Roscoe wolfed down some apricots and a couple of kiwis before he had to flee the posse of humans on their tail.
The mob seemed to Roscoe like a living, thinking beast. "Go around that way!" someone shouted. "Block that aisle!" another voice commanded. Everywhere they turned, humans appeared to steer them in the opposite direction. The swarm closed in, cutting them off, narrowing their options.
"Run!" Rosie squealed.
They clattered toward the end of the main aisle, sliding around the corner in a panic. They were greeted by a couple of clerks in aprons, one waving his arms frantically, the other armed with a broom. They had no choice but to flee down the next aisle.
"Keep going!" Rosie squealed. "Run for your life, Brother!"
He knew exactly what she was thinking: if the mob blocked off the other end of this narrow aisle, the piglets would be trapped. Their pursuers would close in from both sides armed with mops and brooms. There would be no escape. Roscoe propelled himself forward, urging every ounce of speed out of his churning legs. But when they were two-thirds of the way down the aisle a human appeared to block the way. Then another. And another.
"Don't stop!" Rosie screamed. "Charge!"
She was right. He knew she was right. Roscoe surged forward, shoulder to shoulder with his sister. He squealed fiercely, plunging headlong into the gathering blockade. Some of the humans stumbled backward, frightened by the piglets wild momentum. Others stood their ground. Hands grabbed at Roscoe. He wriggled and squirmed and kicked, fighting for his freedom. Rosie fought hard too, bulling her way through the gauntlet of shouting humans. Dizzy and disoriented the piglets stumbled out the other side.
"Come on Rosie!" Roscoe yelled, righting himself and dashing toward the store entrance.
Sunlight! Roscoe had never been so joyed to see the blue sky overhead and feel the cool air on his skin. They fled the way they had come, out of the parking lot and into hiding behind the houses across the street. They didn't stop for a long time, making their way through back yards and alleys as far as they could from the shopping centre and its crowd of humans.
"That was close," Rosie said sheepishly.
Roscoe agreed, but kept his snout shut. There was no point rubbing it in: Rosie had almost got them caught with her crazy scheme. In fact, the whole adventure had been her idea and Roscoe had to wonder how it was going to end. They'd been too excited for the last couple of hours to think of the shadow that had followed them across the brook. But Roscoe knew it was still out there, and that even if they had eluded it for a little while, it would find them...
The piglets froze, shivering as if their veins were suddenly pumped full of ice water.
"Woof!" the summons came again.
Roscoe wanted to run, but couldn't. His feet were rooted to the lawn they'd been cutting across. He twisted his head round, scanning the hedge behind them. There, in the very spot they'd just pushed through, he could make out a pair of dark brown eyes and the black nose of a very large animal. For a second his heart constricted. It was the shadow. It had caught up to them at last.
Next: Segment 10
Friday, September 25, 2009
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It took a long time, and a lot of sneaking, peeking and dodging for the piglets to trace their way to the place where the shopping bags came from and the humans got their food. At the main road they turned right because left led back to Hearts on Noses.
"That can't be the direction the bag-lady came from," Rosie reasoned.
The farther away they went, though, the harder it was to stay hidden. More and more houses crowded up to the road; they had to cross busy intersections, waiting for the traffic to stop then trotting to the other side and dashing for cover. If they hadn't been starving, they would have holed up and waited for nightfall. But their stomachs urged them on. They needed to eat.
Roscoe discovered another thing about being wild: hunger. Animals that lived off the land had to spend just about every moment of every day thinking about food. There was no Janice Gillett wandering the streets of Maple Ridge with buckets full of treats to offer. Wild animals had to scavenge and hunt for their meals.
He turned these thoughts over in his mind. And the more he thought about it, the more worried he became. If we're this hungry, he figured, then just about every wild animal must be hungry too. And if all the wild animals were ravenous, they must be looking just as hard as he and Rosie for something to eat. "What do all those wild animals feed on?" he wanted to know.
"What?" Rosie asked impatiently. She had been keeping an eye on the street, peeking out from behind a hedge.
"What do wild animals eat, Rosie?" Roscoe repeated nervously.
"I don't know. Mushrooms, maybe. Grass if you're built like Mr. Trots or a goat or a cow. Leaves? That's what we have to figure out, Brother. I don't think we're going to be able to do this every time we want a meal. It's too risky."
"I'm not talking about animals like us, Rosie, that feed on plants and such. I'm talking about the coyotes, and cougars, and bears. What do they eat Rosie?"
She looked at him strangely, as if she didn't understand his question. "Don't know," she said. "I'm only interested in what I need right now, and I think it's in this direction." She pointed her snout south and trotted off, annoyed.
Just then a big truck rumbled by, it's trailer painted up like a huge billboard. "Look!" Rosie gasped. Roscoe stared, wide-eyed at a tomato three times as big as him, a lettuce that could feed a whole herd of elephants. Peppers, cucumbers, radishes, carrots...
"Come on!" Rosie cried, trotting off after the truck.
They didn't have to go far. Just a block down the road, it swung into a driveway. The piglets watched from across the street as it lumbered to a stop, turned around and backed up to a huge doorway.
"This is it!" Rosie whooped. "The place where the humans get their food."
To the right of the loading bay, the roadway led into a gigantic parking lot full of cars. People hustled about, some pushing carts stacked with bags and bags of groceries. Others waddled along, plastic bags dangling by their sides. There was no doubt about it, Roscoe agreed. Humans came here to get their food. "But I don't think anyone's going to hand over a bag of goodies to a couple of stray pigs, Sister, do you?"
"Well," Rosie said, determined, "if people won't give us what we need, we'll just have to figure out a way to take it, won't we?"
Roscoe couldn't argue the point. But still, he felt it was wrong what they were planning to do, and that they would get into deep trouble for it. His tummy rumbled loudly, though. Rosie grinned.
"Is that your answer Brother?" she said.
He supposed it was.
Next: Segment 9
Friday, September 18, 2009
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Roscoe hadn't noticed the gnawing in his belly. He'd been too busy running and hiding and keeping his eyes peeled. But now that Rosie mentioned it, he suddenly realized he was hungry too. Really hungry. "What are we going to eat?" he wondered.
Rosie pointed her nose upwind and snuffled. She grunted unhappily. "Nothing in the air," she said. "We're going to have to go scavenging Brother. There's got to be someplace wild pigs get their food. That's the first thing we have to figure out. Right?"
When had he ever agreed to go wild, Roscoe muttered. The simple solution would be to point their plump bodies back toward Hearts on Noses. They'd missed the morning feed, but Janice would be so happy to see them, she'd whip up something special. Mmmm, Roscoe sighed, imagining fresh leaves of lettuce, bunches of carrots, chopped apples, whole cobs of corn.
His delectable vision wilted as the two of them pushed through the underbrush and broke into the open. Suddenly Roscoe was aware of a new fear that had taken hold of him: the fear of humans. The piglets stayed out of sight as much as possible, making their way up ditches, along side roads and through back yards. They'd always been nervous of strangers. What sensible animal wouldn't be? But away from Hearts on Noses that nervousness ballooned into an inescapable terror. They mustn't be seen. And if they were spotted, they must move quickly to avoid capture. Playing with the children in a public park had been a mistake.
Was that what it meant to be wild? Being afraid of everything! It seemed to him there were shadows everywhere now, invisible shadows gliding alongside them, making them shiver like an icy wind.
"Smell that?" Rosie said.
Jolted out of his fearsome reverie, Roscoe sniffed at the sultry air. "Yech!" he cringed. What he smelled was something like rotten eggs, only worse.
"It's coming from over there," Rosie pointed her nose toward the driveway of a nearby bungalow. "Let's go look."
"Look for what?" Roscoe objected.
"That's not food, it's garbage, Rosie!"
"Beggars can't be choosers," she informed him.
They made there way up the drive, alongside the house. Next to a side door in the carport, stood a metal container, it's lid skewed by a bulge of black plastic. "It's coming from there," Rosie said.
"And it can stay there as far as I'm concerned," Roscoe grumped.
Ignoring him, Rosie snuffled round the base of the container. It wobbled when she poked at it with her snout. "Okay," she said. "Lunch is about to be served." Stepping back a couple of paces, she charged, rearing onto her hind legs and shoving the can hard with her front hooves. It toppled with a crash, its lid rolling halfway down the drive. The plastic bag flopped partly out, but remained sealed.
"Come on!" Rosie bossed.
In no time she had torn it open, spilling its contents onto the pavement. Appalled, Roscoe watched as his sister pawed through the trash. What did she expect to find? Janice had garbage cans too. Nothing even close to edible ever went into them. No self-respecting pig would go looking for a meal in there. He was about to say so, when the side door to the house was suddenly yanked open, and a burly human thrust his head into the carport.
"Hey!" he bellowed.
Rosie and Roscoe high tailed it out of the drive, back onto the street.
"Stop!" his shouts pursued them. "Come back!"
But they didn't listen. They charged down the street, cut through a yard a couple of houses down and kept right on running until they couldn't hear his angry cries any longer.
"So what now?" Roscoe panted, when they felt safe enough to stop and rest.
"Don't know," Rosie admitted. "But we've got to eat."
Roscoe's stomach growled in agreement. They moved on, not wanting to remain in one place too long. Creeping behind hedges and fences, they made their way back toward the main road, where they thought there might be more chance of finding food. "Maybe some passing human will throw something edible away," Rosie reasoned. Roscoe couldn't think of a better plan.
They were close enough to hear the sound of passing traffic, when something caught Roscoe's eye, something that made his ears perk up and his mouth water. "Hey look!" he said, pointing toward an elderly woman walking along the opposite side of the street. In each hand she carried something Roscoe recognized immediately: plastic bags. Out of the top of one of them poked a long loaf of bread and what looked like a luscious bunch of spinach.
"Let's follow her!" Rosie said eagerly.
"No!" Roscoe cut his sister off. "We have to go to where she's coming from, not where she's going to."
"She's coming from the place where the humans get their food." he explained. "She must have turned left off the big road. So we have to trace her route back and look for other humans carrying bags. Find out where they get their supplies, and we might be able to get something to eat too."
Rosie stepped back and stared at her brother admiringly. "Roscoe!" she grinned. "You're a genius."
"No I'm not," he flustered. "I'm a hungry pig, that's all."
She laughed, brushing up against him fondly. "You should brag a little bit from time to time, Brother. You're smarter than you look."
The compliment warmed him inside. Rosie was not one to say anything she didn't mean. He didn't have long to enjoy the glow though.
"Come on," she said. "I'm starving."
Next - Segment 8