A farmer wavers in his determination to kill a pig.
Farmer Giles trudged across the courtyard towards the barn. It was time to deal with the runt.
It was not that Giles was a hard man; indeed, by farming standards, he had allowed this business of the runt's survival to go on for far too long. The pig was full grown now; at least, as fully-grown as it was ever going to be. And the farmer's enjoyment of the film, Babe, was no longer a reason for delaying the inevitable.
Actually, it had never been a good reason, thought Giles. The other farmers would have laughed themselves silly if they had heard of his sentimental notions. And the runt had done nothing to help his case; shown no inclination to herd sheep, seemed uninterested in the other animals around him and exhibited no signs of any unusual talents. It was just a pig in the end, a pretty useless one at that, consuming as much food as any but remaining stubbornly small and thin, a poor prospect for any discerning butcher. No, it was time to end this farce and see whether he could get any half-decent bacon off the thing.
Giles entered the barn and waited a moment for his eyes to adjust to the gloom inside, the early dawn light streaking in dust-flecked beams from the windows but leaving dark shadows in the corners. The sty was against the far side, just visible as a low, white-washed wall and the gate a black square in the center.
There was a vague shape emerging above the wall and Giles became aware that it was a pig's head, it's eyes dark holes that gazed back at him. As Giles approached, he recognized the runt, standing on its hind legs and resting its front legs against the wall. Still the eyes regarded the farmer without expression.
Giles had never seen the runt do this before. Strange that it should pick this day of all days to be different. But no, to follow that line of thought would be to give the darn thing a reprieve, to prolong this embarrassing weakness. The runt had to go.
The farmer reached forward, unlatched the gate and let it swing open. "Come on, fellah," he said.
To his surprise, the runt swung itself down off the wall and trotted through the gate. It stopped next to him and looked up, as if to enquire where next it should go. Giles regarded it with a rueful expression.
"Ah, now ye'll show some spirit, now yer life depends on it, ye bugger."
He turned and walked to the barn door. "Orlright then, let's see if ye can understand this. Follow me, Runt."
Giles heard the sound of the pig's trotters on the hard brick floor and shook his head. The runt was doing as he asked. Far too bloody late for this sort of thing, thought Giles.
He left the barn and walked around the corner to the shed, the pig following meekly. Inside, Giles took down the hatchet from its hook on the wall, turned and looked down at the runt as it stood waiting. Suddenly the farmer knew that he really did not want to do this. The way the pig looked at him, its unexpected obedience, its unsuspecting innocence of what was about to happen, all washed over the farmer and his sentimental heart cried out against the deed. As he wavered in his determination, he could not stop the words he now spoke to the pig.
"Dammit, Runt, I'm a farmer. I can't afford to have feelings like these. It's got to be done and quickly too, before I change me mind. Now stop looking at me like that."
The runt did not stop. Continuing to stare at the farmer, it opened its mouth.
"Maybe we can do a deal," it said.
Word Count: 639