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The Swine of Legion

by Carl Creighton 7 months ago in Sustainability · updated 7 months ago

A demon restored, a species redeemed.

Photo by Dorothea OLDANI on Unsplash

The pigs were playing, dancing in the rays of new daylight coming through the wood of the old barn they'd always called home. Simeon would be home soon and he was a task master. They'd better get their kicks in before then. Besides, they were tired, from a night spent sucking blood.

Outside the barn, a pair of humans were fighting.

The camera equipment came to represent for Olive every failed ambition she'd ever regretted disclosing to others, not just photography. Her partner Andy, an investment banker, had capitalized on this need to punctuate a bonus five bonuses ago with an illusion of altruism, this gift for Olive. Their sixth anniversary shared a date with the camera equipment entering their lives so the night was spent talking about all the pictures Olive hadn't taken and her ongoing battle with depression, the lenses she hadn't unboxed yet, and the dust growing like moss on the tripod and carrying case. By the time the sad celebration had met its end, the Starbucks was open.

The young couple drove down a country road, equipped with cold brews and the camera equipment, looking for a spot for Olive to set up and take at least one picture. They would have to find a spot soon if they were going to capture the oncoming sunrise, which seemed to be the only point of doing this so early, that and calling each other's bluff, the spark that kept their relationship going.

"Wow," said Andy. "Your bitterness really has no limit to it, does it?"

Olive stared out the window bleary-eyed and watched the tall grass pass by them in a blur as Andy drove. Whatever sentiment Olive had expressed that solicited this late remark from Andy was gone now, indistinguishable from her latest unshared thoughts, like a stalk of corn among the innumerable crops behind them. Olive nodded.

"The sunrise will be pretty, though," said Andy.

"Maybe you should take the picture,” said Olive. Ashamed to have said anything at all, she turned the radio on. Hotel California played for a long moment, cut off by the car pulling over abruptly, Andy opening the door just so the music would stop.

"There's an old barn over there," said Andy, disinterested in the mission really but always trying to do her best in terms of Olive. "Might make a good background for your picture,” she added once outside the car stretching.

Olive got out, pushed her glasses into her forehead with her middle finger, trying not to gesture directly at Andy in the process. She eyed the scene. Andy would be her model, it had been arranged beforehand, the impetus of their planning last night.

This was your idea, both secretly decided to themselves.

"The sun's coming from that way" said Olive. "From behind the barn."

Isn't that what you wanted, honey? To capture the sunset?

"Fine," said Olive, responding Andy's unspoken thoughts. She fetched the tripod from the trunk, the camera bag slung over her shoulders and chest, shook her shoulder-length chestnut hair away from her ears and pushed her glasses even further into the bone of her forehead, this time with the lower edge of her palm so she wouldn't have to worry about what her middle finger was doing. Another car slowed down to pass them, making sure they weren't accidentally stranded and instead purposefully partially obstructing the road, not worthy of any pity.

"It really is a beautiful barn," said Andy, squinting between hands framing her face like makeshift binoculars, the sun still below the horizon. "It doesn't look like it's in use, does it? We could get closer maybe, take the picture from inside."

Olive was preoccupied with setting up the camera and tripod, adjusting the knobs, pretending to know what she was doing. After all this work, she took the lens cap off and laughed at herself, noticed Andy going towards the barn, and asked, "Where are you going?"

Photo by Jukka Heinovirta on Unsplash

Nobody would have been more surprised than Andy to find her hand opening the barn door, not usually one to trespass. Nothing about the dilapidated building suggested an owner, but does any spot in the world exist without ownership these days? A break in a broken fence on the way to getting this far had already been reconciled and if not exactly inviting visitors it at least implied that nobody would see or mind. The dark black of pre-dawn was turning into horizontal lengths of dark blue and purple, vapor steaming off the frozen patches of snowmelt teetering between being solid and liquid in the wonky weather of late November. Portions of the high walls were missing. Andy felt no less inside or outside with the gaps between the boards obscuring any distinction, except that a door had been opened and she was now on the other side of it.

The pigs were done playing, basking in the slowly coming light, colored with patches of white, brown and black fur.

“Have you come to torment us before our allotted time?” asked the first pig.

When someone else entered the barn behind her, Andy thought it would be Olive, but it wasn't. A person, their age and gender disguised by a thick grime about their face and body hidden under oversized clothing, worn beyond use as even rags, which obscured any hints of figure, entered the barn. The person walked over to the pigs and when in the rays of daylight transformed into a pig.

“Restore our fortunes, Oh Lord, like the water courses in the Negeb,” said the pig that once was a person in rags.

Andy stood transfixed by the pigs, pulling her gaze away to look over at Olive, who was now in the barn. No sooner had Andy said she thought they should leave did Olive say she thought they should stay.

“I like your pigs,” said Olive to Andy.

“We are not your swine,” said the pig that used to be a person. “We are the swine of Legion. The Lord hath struck us down with the demon at Legion's request, to save mankind from the burden. Our species has been cursed ever since, though these few are my friends. Legion’s grasp on us, for which you must atone somehow.”

A pig in the back snorted.

"I asked the Lord to return Legion to man, for it hath been too long inside the progeny of pigkind," said Olive.

"Is this the vessel you promised us?"

"Yes, Simeon."

Olive fled. Andy was left alone.


Carl Creighton


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