Thursday, September 22, 2016
This Little Piggy
The feral razorback had been a monster even before its demise. Now it was just plain hideous. To its three hundred pounds of muscle and sour temper had been added glowing red eyes and hooves preternaturally sharp. The tusks in its lower jaw had morphed into a set of upthrusting fangs. It was covered in a bristly brindle hide except for a bare patch on its neck, where scabbed bite marks of more humanish origin were just barely visible.
It lumbered out of the scrub and stopped dead. Make that “undead,” Ash decided. The pig was close enough for even his poor human nose to pick up on the mixed scents of blood and decay that heralded a vampire. Human vamps covered it up with cologne. This pig probably hadn’t had a good wallow since it lost its little porcine soul.
Whatever it had been looking for, it clearly hadn’t been expecting Ash and Dusty. It glared from one slayer to the other. Its beady red eyes got hotter. With a high, grating squeal, it charged.
Ash shot it through the skull. And dove aside, because even silver wouldn’t do shit to a human bloodsucker, other than maybe slow it down. The wild pigs ransacking Texas didn’t stop for bullets, humans, or anything short of a nuclear warhead. Pumping bullets into Porcula here would only piss him off.
The razorback wheeled with unnatural speed and came at him again. Before it could reach him Dusty charged in and whacked it over the head with a length of fence rail he’d picked up God knew where. Like the silver, the wood didn’t do jack squat, other than make the pigpire madder than all goddamn get-out.
Ash grabbed for his stake, even as his brain berated him for the futility of it. Pigs weren’t built like humans. They were too low to the ground, for starters, and their chests and necks were sheathed in fat and muscle missing from human anatomy. How the hell was he supposed to ram a stake into that?
Meanwhile Dusty and the pig were engaged in a twisty tango of flying feet and thrusting fang-tusks. Only Dusty’s shifter speed saved him from getting his legs, or his belly, ripped open. He couldn’t even get close enough to use the machete. “Little help here?” he yelped at Ash.
Ash saw an opening and leaped in. He couldn’t get anywhere near the vulnerable chest, but the monster’s skull was wide open. Ash took aim and rammed the point of the stake into the bullet hole in the vampire porker’s skull.
The pig stopped still. It shuddered. It made a questioning grunt.
“I don’t think it’s working,” Dusty said. “How often do pigs use their brains?”
“I know something that always works,” Ash said. He grabbed the machete from Dusty and swung at the paralyzed razorback’s neck. It took him a good minute and a lot of hacking to cut through all the muscle, but the head finally fell free from the body. The body remained standing for another good minute before it finally collapsed.
“What the flaming hell?”
Both Ash and Dusty whirled. Drawn by the ruckus, the rancher stood behind them, a rifle in his shaking hands. His wife and daughters clustered in the kitchen doorway, armed with kitchen knives and, in the case of the youngest girl, a spatula.
Dusty, a coyote shifter and therefore the more skillful liar, smoothly took command. “Rabid pig,” he said, without missing a beat. “Probably got bit by a bat or a raccoon or something. It’s been goring your cattle. You’ve been burning the carcasses, right? Tell me you didn’t try to eat anything.”
“’Course not,” the rancher said. “Tore up like they were, by God knows what … Hell, even the dogs wouldn’t touch ‘em.” He stared at the decapitated pig. “Rabies?”
“Yeah,” Ash jumped in. “Best you burn any dead animal you find. Cut the head off too.” The rancher stared at him. Ash shrugged. “Couldn’t hurt. And pass the word around to your neighbors. There might be other infected animals out there. You see anything that acts weird, especially at night, don’t hesitate to kill it.”
“We’ll take care of this one,” Dusty said, jerking his chin at the pig. “No extra charge.”
“Thanks,” the rancher said. He put up his rifle and walked back to the house.
Dusty nudged the pig’s head with his toe. The jaws and their tusk/fangs champed. Dusty leaped back hastily, but it was only muscular reflex as the nerves passed from undead to real dead. “Okay, how the hell did this happen?”
Ash scowled at the head. “Goddamn hipsters.”
“Huh? As your sister always likes to say, come again?”
“Hipster vampires. Those sanctimonious metrobats. You know the ones I mean. The ones who make it a point of pride not to suck on humans. They feed on animals only. Except some a-holes always glut themselves no matter what they’re drinking. This is what happens when a vampire feeds on an animal without killing it outright first. Especially if it fights back, like a boar would, and gets bat blood in its mouth. The animal crawls into a hole or den or some other protected place and dies. Three days later …” Ash kicked at the razorback’s body. Unlike the head, the body didn’t react.
“Scat,” Dusty said. “Why didn’t it dissolve?”
“Too recently dead, would be my guess. Maybe it hadn’t had a chance to infect too much of the local wildlife.”
“I got this,” Dusty said. Cupping his hands to his mouth, he sent a powerful howl echoing out over the scrub. “There. If Lou’s still in earshot, or any of her pack, now they know what’s up. They’ll clean out anything the ranchers don’t get. So, you up for pig barbecue?”
“Not here. Let’s take it over to Annie’s. She’ll want to see this. Anything vampire related gets her full attention.”
Dusty growled under his breath at the thought of having to lug three hundred pounds of undead pork to their pickup. Then, slowly, he grinned. “After Annie studies it and before we torch it, let me do a little cosmetic work on it and take a couple of pictures. Send ‘em to that cryptozoologist over in Barnard. Shots of a genuine Chupacabra ought to make his day.”
“You don’t even believe in Chupacabra.”
Dusty chuckled wickedly. “He does.”
“I worry about you, man.” Ash shucked his shirt. “To wrap the head in,” he explained. “Soon as I get this secured, I’ll be back to help you with the rest of it.”