“A bacon sarnie? How can you say that in front of…” the horse paused for a moment, nodding his head sideways to indicate the little piglet standing in the circle of friends. “Him,” he finished.
“I’m just saying it like it is,” the cat, Sid, argued while at the same time smiling slyly. “It smells good too. I never could resist eating that.”
“You bastard,” Qwakers the duck shouted, wading in to Babe’s defence. With a flap of his wings he sent the cat flying from its perch; it ran away. “That’s right, fuck off!” he finished, flipping the cat the bird.
“You’re one tough ’ombre, aren’t you,” the duck’s girlfriend cooed, which wasn’t easy for a duck. Her name was Salma and she was the sexiest animal on the farm, her eyelashes were longer than could ever have been imagined on a duck and her eyes had that ‘come hither’ stare that made Qwakers’ heart skip a beat. The fact that she couldn’t blink, accounting for the glassy stare, didn’t put him off. He couldn’t figure out why she’d stayed with him all these months – ’til death us do part, he thought, which might be sooner than any of them had ever considered.
“I hate that fucking cat, don’t you?” the cow, Trude added. “He’s always going on about my bony hips, says there’s nothing to hang onto. Bastard.”
“What’s bacon?” a little voice piped up from well below their average head height.
The horse, Goliath, looked down with sad eyes and a long face. He always had sad eyes and his face was always long; it’s just the way he was. “Nothing at all, young fella me lad. Let’s leave the farmer and his wife to their breakfast. As for me I’ve got some oats with my name on them.”
“On the grains?” Babe asked. When he was being dim-witted his inner monologue almost never kicked in.
“Duh,” a feline voice could be heard in the distance.
The question ignored, each animal went on their way. Babe and the sheep dog, Shep – the farmer was not noted for his originality – ambled over to the barn and lay down in the hay and snuggled up, spooning with the dog’s front paw over Babe’s shoulder.
“We should never have started this,” Babe whispered quietly.
“It’s only natural,” Shep said.
“That’s not what the others say,” Babe replied, feeling downhearted. He’d always believed in the innate goodness of animal-kind, right up until he’d announced their love that could not be named. Not that they wouldn’t, it just had no name in anyone’s language.
“What do they say?”
“They say things like ‘it’s bad enough we’re going inter-species, but the same sex as well?’. It seems we’ve just started our own minority group of two. And something about using pork as a verb. I didn’t get that one.”
“They’re just jealous. Goliath stands out in the field in all weather, dumb as a stump that one. Qwackers, well, he’s just Qwackers. And the rest, they simply don’t count. The sheep are just too stupid.”
After a while they dozed blissfully.
Shep raised his head. He’d heard something. Getting up quietly to investigate, he left Babe on the straw, most of which was on his side – again. If there was one complaint…
Mustn’t get distracted, he chastised himself, and went outside to investigate the cause of his premature arousal, a rare occurrence since he had met Babe. Everything seemed to be okay, so far. A cry came from the farm house; it sounded like the farmer’s wife. Running to the back door he was just in time to see the farmer himself burst outside, blood all over his front, and carrying a hand in one hand and a meat cleaver in the other. A hand? Shep ran over to him but the Master just used the extra appendage to take swipes at him. Easily dodging these pitiful attacks, he dove indoors to check out the old girl; if that was her way of giving him a hand, Shep reckoned their marriage wasn’t going to last much longer.
He skidded to a halt on the linoleum floor. There was blood everywhere and poor old Mrs Farmer just lay there, groaning quietly while blood pumped from the stump that would definitely have looked better with the hand in-situ. Ah, that explains it, Shep realised, his brain finally whirring up to full speed. And sitting there, cool as a cucumber next to the wife was that bloody cat, calmly licking at the ever increasing pool of blood, almost like it was its right. Still, Sid the purrrfect bastard cat was her favourite creature on the whole farm, so perhaps this action could be viewed as accepting its inheritance.
Never one to waste an opportunity, and considering his lunch was late, or so his stomach was telling him, the sheep dog began lapping at the pulsing blood, relishing the warmth as it flowed onto his tongue.
Small hoof beats on the kitchen floor made him look around. Babe had walked in, leaving the cutest little cloven-hoof marks drawn in blood. How sweet.
“What’s going on?” Babe asked. “Why has the Master done this? He seemed angry to me.”
“No shit. What gave that you that idea?” Shep quipped; he was always like this when his sleep was interrupted without good reason. He carried on drinking. Babe just looked hurt and said nothing. He was a sensitive soul, a little beef-headed but that was the price he paid for his good looks. You couldn’t have everything in life.
“There are some other people coming up the road,” Babe announced. “They look just like the Master.”
“What, that ugly? That explains why you never see big herds of them roaming the countryside,” Shep retorted while continuing to drink the blood. Waste not, want not, he thought. They were only people, nowt to do with him, and no mistake.
Mrs Farmer finally stopped groaning and the free flow of blood ceased as well. Damn, Shep thought. At least he’d had enough to last until dinner. Looking around it seemed as if they hadn’t even started making his lunch anyway, and it seemed they weren’t about to any time soon.
Babe walked over to the wife and nudged her face. “I think she might be dead.” He nudged her once more just to make sure he was right. Her eyes popped open and she gave him a funny, crazed look. The eyes themselves were completely white and blood dribbled from the corners. Babe didn’t like that look at all and backed away, growling the way Shep had taught him. It seemed like the right thing to do.
“I think we ought to go,” Shep suggested. “I have a funny feeling about all this.”
Copyright © 2014 David Kingsley Roberts
Zombie books by David K Roberts:
The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle
The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – Cabin Fever (Sequel)
Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle
Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle – Z Factor