Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Sigurvegari, or Sigur for short, didn’t think he was that different from his fellow farm animals. Everyone was a little quirky. Rabbit didn’t enjoy milk, Horse hated breath mints, and the pigs couldn’t stand the noise of their own footsteps. Sigur just didn’t like to go outside of his hutch. It wasn’t that he hated that outside world, his cage was just comfortable. That was all. Sigur also hated to talk, so when he conversed with the pigs and compared carrots with the rabbit, he would write down his thoughts on a little pieces of paper and slide it through the wire mesh. He even gave the horse some diet tips. She was trying to lose weight.
Once a day, the farmer and his children would come into the barn and pour feed into the troughs, which were so old that their engravings still read “Made in the USA.” The humans always talked about borings things: taxes, property values, or when they had guests over, the weather. Sigur thought that they were so bland and white that they probably learned what skeet was from a David Foster Wallace essay. But one day, the farmer and his family didn’t come, the troughs were not filled with food, and no one was informed about the weather in Polk County.
“I bet it’s raining,” Horse said. “That, or we’re the only living things left.” She flung back her mane and tried to smile, but the flies that buzzed around her nostrils would not allow it. Instead, she sneezed.
“Yeah. It was probably a meteor or a tsunami or a an intergalactic death ray that turns cows into disco dancers,” the pigs said in unison as they tries to wipe the mud off of each other’s faces.
SIgur pushed a piece of paper out of pen. Horse picked it up and read it aloud. “Maybe they’re just on vacation.”
“But who will feed us?” Rabbit said as tears streamed down his face. The animals’ jokes had been in vain.
Two days passed. Three days. Four days. And no farmers came. The animals starred at the barn doors like it was a portal to some kind of heaven. That the wooden double doors would swing open and their savior would walk in and fill the troughs with their favorite combination of gruel, racehorse meat, and whatever the farmers had for dinner last night that their house dogs has passed on. Horse didn’t approve of this specific formula.
“We should do something,” Rabbit said as he starred at the barn wall. The other animals were unsure if Rabbit was some kind of genius or just brain dead for having starred at the walls for the vast majority of its life.
“Like what?” Horse said.
A piece of parchment flew out of Sigur’s hutch. The paper hit Horse’s foot, but the stallion either didn’t feel the impact or ignored it. It was hard to tell.
“A race,” Rabbit said. “The winner gets the rest of the food.”
“But I would need a head start,” Horse said.
“Never. Remember back in 96?”
“Have you seen your feet? Their…”
“My feet? Your legs look like tires?”
Sigur stomped his foot against the bottom of his hutch and the barn fell quiet. He extended a paw and pointed toward the piece of paper that lay on the floor.
“Well all die in here, and it’s because of you,” Rabbit said. It was unsure whom he was talking to.
“Me? You have a giant’s appetite.”
“I’m not fat. You take that back. You take that back right now.”
A pig wondered over to the piece of parchment and read it.
“An election,” the pig said. We’ll have a vote. And the animal with the most votes gets to decide what we do next. Ok?”
None of the other animals raised a complaint. They were all too busy fantasizing about the act of winning, about all the power and satisfaction and comfort that would come with winning. They needed that.
The election would be held in three days time and Sigur spent the vast majority of that time trying to figure out how to get the rest of the farm animals to like him. He had always tried to accomplish this, to connect with the other animals, but now there were rules, there were stakes, someone would win, and with that, it all mattered so much more. He read the biographies of famous politicians, magazine columns that advised people on how to sound intelligent at parties, and dummy guides to how to make people do what you want. Sigur counted his lucky stars that all this reading material lined the bottom of his hutch.
Sigur could hear the rest of the animals practicing their speeches. Rabbit promised carrots and backrubs and questioned horses’ sexuality. The pigs told tales of midget strippers and thought that rabbit didn’t have enough leadership experience due to his preoccupation with walls. Horse called the pigs inbred and critiqued their speech patterns in an essay she entitled The Squeak is a Lie. Sigur didn’t know why he suddenly hated his fellow candidates, but somewhere inside of him, in a place he could only describe as a depth, he felt like he had been told to.
Election day arrived and the animals agreed to a banquet. During the first course of apples and hay, Horse stood up to delivered her speech.
“Remember the age of food? Remember when we could pick boulder-sized apples fell from the roof? I can return us to that. Let me return us to that.”
“Lies!” Rabbit said. “This is her stallion magic at play. Just look at that mane.” All the animals looked at the mane, and for a moment, felt an anxiety, a deep urge to return to the era of apples falling from roofs.
“But the rabbit never provided food to anyone,” the pigs said. “Look, our graph has all the information necessary. Pig #1 and pig #5 held up a color-coated chart that detailed, in mathematical objectivity, that Rabbit didn’t provide food and that he may also be an evil animal.
Horse raised her hind legs and picked the graph out of the pigs’ hands. Rabbit went for the Horse’s jugular. The pigs jumped into a bale of hay, but not before biting Rabbit’s back legs. Guerilla warfare had always been their favorite. Sigur decided that he couldn’t eat his carrot anymore. He opened hit hutch, climbed out onto the barn floor, and stomped his foot. A mist of blood floated in the air as silence fell upon the room.
“There are no apples ceilings. There is no mane magic. And there is no color coated chart detailing why a person is terrible. There is me. And there is you. And there is us. We are here. We are here. We are here.”