It seemed like the upticks happened all at once. I mean, I could be wrong, it’s hard to tell, really. The changes were slow and fast, like a strong breeze minus the scent of a racing storm. No one noticed the upticks, till they were sweeping through the homes. So, it’s hard to judge a timeline, really.
I remember when they locked down the internet and all the news sites were taken off line. Anything creative was all of a sudden restricted. You know, games, music, blogs, vlogs, pretty much all of social media, and no downloading of that stuff, either. You could imagine, then, just how many people were totally pissed off. So many of ‘em. Oh, gosh, so many of ‘em.
But, we didn’t really hear about it ‘till later. And even then, at the county meetings, when ole Sam Landers, Tilly Goodrich, and the King family broadcasted their voicemails from New York, California, Florida, and Texas, even then we didn’t think it would spread clear out to us, which it didn’t. Not at first.
Us county folk, well, it just wasn’t the five-alarm fire for us that it was in the cities. We could still do some stuff online. You know, banking, email, shop, stuff like that. Commerce was allowed, but that was about it.
Sam Landers’ brother had called him in the very beginning, when all the gamers took to the streets in Manhattan. Yeah. His message said that ICE brought out all the gear to gather those crowds, and they were apparently backed up by droves of security cronies. Water cannons, pepper bombs, and aerial chloroform blankets took out most of the folks.
I recall Sam’s brother sounding concerned, I mean, I could hear it in his voice, hell, we could probably all hear it in his voice, but he was safe. He had said so. There wasn’t a one of us at the county meeting that had the gumption to say anything to Sam about the fear in that message. I think we just ignored it.
Tilly Goodrich played her daughter’s message. Her voicemail said the protests in L.A. had shut down most all of the freeways, until they started to buckle. None of us were too sure what that meant, and that message was cut short, so I may never know. I can surmise, though. Yeah. You know, I think about it now, and it just. . . I can’t. . . I can’t even fathom. But back then, we were all just thankful we lived out here, you know?
Anyway, so yeah. What was I saying? Oh, yeah, things just happened at the same time. Back before the web crash, in the summer, business had been taking off. The administration had eased up a whole bunch of farming restrictions, which was a good thing for us. We had the hog farm then, and not having to spend so much on litigated feed meant we could double, and then triple our hog count.
We didn’t realize what was happening at the time, but our biggest account had doubled their hog purchases. We were concerned that we couldn’t keep up the breedin’ and feedin’ fast enough to fill all the orders that were coming through. I get it now. I should’ve connected those dots, but we weren’t getting the news fast enough, you know? I didn’t know. None of us really knew. It was so weird.
Well, the whole scenario became a little clearer when Tommy King followed one of the hog trucks, after the county meeting. The Kings had about a dozen kids on their cattle ranch, and they were always nosing around on everyone else’s farms. I’d long known that the King kids were Intel operators for their dad. We were selling way more hogs than usual, and the Kings kept tabs on that, let me tell you. More hog sales usually meant more pork demand, which meant less cattle sales for the Kings. Yeah, anytime ole Denny King felt his pocketbook shrink, he just had to know why. He was a paranoid fucker.
So yeah, Tommy King followed one of our loads over a hundred miles into town. How he was never nabbed is beyond me, but, the King kids were oily. Well, I’m thankful he did what he did, anyway. He came back and told us what he saw, down in the landfill outside of town. He told us what he heard, too, but the worst part was what he smelled. He smelled the hogs. Thousands of them. And to think we all thought they were just going to slaughter, to make millions of Sunday dinners. Well, that’s not what happened at all, now was it?
It ended up being too little too late for the Kings, and for Sam Landers, and poor Tilly Goodrich. They were gone two days after we heard the news of Tommy’s findings. Like, just gone. A day later it was Darren and Lorraine, the hobby farmers, and the Swanson family. It was a whole week later when they came for the rest of us. It was horrible. Our hogs ate everyone.
That summer, when our biggest account was buying up our pigs, we didn’t know it was the administration’s fault. But it was. They had already taken over the supply chains, and if they weren’t hauling folks out to the hog pits, then they were starving ‘em out of their homes and businesses. I guess there ended up being about 500 hog pits in total, before the United Nations finally stepped in and bombed the shit out of D.C.
Keep in mind, each hog pit had thousands of hungry pigs, and pigs will eat anything if you let ‘em. I’ve seen a pig get a taste of fresh blood from a scratched sibling, and it was all over with. That pig tore its littermate apart in mere seconds. I’ll never forget that, so just imagine what a thousand bloodthirsty hogs could do to a crowd of starved, defenseless people. Tommy said the screams were never-ending that day he followed the truck.
Upticks. That’s what I call ‘em. Upticks in control. Upticks in protests. Upticks in missing people. Upticks in hog sales. Upticks in hog pits. You do the math. If I never see another swine, it will be too soon.
Molly Roland is a writer by nature, and she enjoys stepping over the invisible lines society loves to draw.