Strawman: ch1, Tale of a Pig

<The following is an ongoing investigation, any help from the public is appreciated. This diary was found among the burned-out remains of the largest domestic terror attack in the state of South Dakota.>




The police?

whoever finds this,

I think I’ve got a problem. Maybe I don’t, but someone does.

I should start from the beginning.

The small brown piglet was born on a Saturday, found just outside the barn. She was tiny, the size of a kitten, covered in blood (afterbirth, I assume.) Odd thing is, the farm didn’t have any pigs; just two horses, a dozen cattle, and that one creepy old goat.

“Are you alive, little one?” It wasn’t uncommon for me to find dead animals on my daddy’s land. The vultures loved to dump their trash.

Sticky with fluids, the creature opened her big blue eyes staring at me with a look of compassion. She made a noise like a squeaky toy. ‘Was that normal?’ I had never held a newborn piglet so I really had no idea.

“You want to come with me to do my chores?” I removed my jacket; a red hooded sweatshirt with the bulldog logo. For a moment I was confused; it must have been from a school I attended in another life. The baby seemed comfortable enough, that was all that mattered. “I’ll get you something to eat, just after I turn on the auto-feeder.”

My daddy’s state-of-the-art feeding system consisted of a rusty red button on a decaying grain silo. A tube crapped out a serving of mulch, placing it atop the rotting pile that was already there. “Ew.”

Papa had gone missing, leaving me all to my lonesome. How many days had he been gone? It was summer, but I’d been done with school for years. All the days just blended together.

I shifted the sticky baby in my arms, causing her to purr like a cat. “I’m hungry too, let’s get some breakfast.”

I guess I could always just leave. I wasn’t a minor, but even if I was still a kid there was no one who’d care enough to report me missing. I had nothing keeping me here, well except for this little cutie pie.

I brought her inside our single-floor wooden shack. She was oddly calm so I placed her on the linoleum tile floor. I assumed she’d fall asleep inside my coat, but somehow, she was filled with energy. The piglet rounded a corner, heading towards my parent’s room.

“Oh well.” Not that I’d get in trouble. I was the man of the house now (for what that was worth.)

In the fridge were a few bottles of milk. I had plenty more in powder form. I was living off pantry food since my mama moved in with her latest boyfriend.

I walked to the kitchen, barely tripping over my own feet as the piglet ran by. ‘What in the Hell?’ At least I assumed that’s what it was. We didn’t have any dogs or cats but it could have been a stray.

I gripped the table, causing my wallet to fall from the pocket of my oversized jeans. (They were my daddy’s pants, now mine. “Ella Annabelle Ryan.” the card was a school ID from another life. “That’s not my name.”

I picked up the piggy, holding her like a cat. “Maybe it can be your name; little baby Ellie with her furry little belly.”

She purred like a cat. Rather odd for a pig, or a boar, or whatever this was.

“Are you hungry?” I tickled her cheeks, coaxing a genuine smile.

The first thing I did was pour some milk into a bowl and attempted to feed my baby with a spoon. When she decided to fling the spoon across the room, I figured she didn’t want that particular item.

I gulped down the rest, letting the chunky dairy fill my stomach. It actually tasted pretty good. But maybe little ones need a bit more sugar. I climbed the stove to the cupboard to see if we had any. there was a plastic container with small pills and a larger one with a single sugar cube that had already been eaten by a mouse.

I created a mixture of sugar and milk, adding just enough water to make a cream. “This looks decent.” I placed a small amount on a clean plate, leaving her alone with the dish. The creature sounded like a cat, maybe she also ate like one?

I returned to the kitchen which consisted of a wood-burning stove and a built-in chest freezer. The chest was roughly the size of a coffin, but it extended down several dozen feet (or so I’ve been told.) I’ve never seen the bottom. “What do we have in here today?”

Right on top were my ice skates, looking as clean and new as the day I tossed them in there. Which didn’t mean much, considering I’d been using them to cut meat ever since I learned how to sharpen the blades.

“I used to be a dancer. Daddy always said I was an angel on the ice.”

Little Ellie crawled onto my lap, squealing out of joy.

“Do you want to go fishing?”

I lowered the tip of my skate in to the bloody abyss, looking to see what I could find. There were large chunks of meat, all frozen and unsealed. For whatever reason, I decided to lean back, letting my laces hang as low as possible, until I felt an odd tug. Since there was nothing alive down there, I assumed my skate hit an odd angle. Either way it was time to see what I caught.

Somehow, I’d pulled up a bright red piece. It actually tasted kind of fresh; bloody, squishy.

Ellie opened her mouth, leaning in the direction of the meat. “Ah!”

“Sure, I guess.” I made sure to cut off a piece small enough for the creature to swallow. “Just try not to choke.”

She took the bite, swishing around the morsel in her little mouth. Suddenly she squealed and leapt from my arms.

“Ellie!” I panicked for a moment, before I found her sitting outside of the cellar door. “there’s nothing down there.” nothing to eat anyway. She was pawing, scratching; determined, there was something she wanted to show me. I checked the door, it wasn’t locked, but the barricade of trash was a bit concerning.

Ellie rushed by me, disappearing into the darkness. While it had been easy for a small pig to slip through, it took me a little more effort. “Ellie, where are you?” I quickly realized I needed a flashlight before continuing.

“Flashlight,” I muttered, walking towards the barn, “Where can I find a flashlight? the house itself had no grid power, only a generator that connected to the barn.

After much sweat and determination, all I could find was: wood, matches, a few half-empty containers of gasoline (likely meant for the generator.) I would have to craft a torch and hope to God, I didn’t drop it while in the mystery tunnel. (Or set my daddy’s house on fire.)

Without a second thought, I returned to the barn. There wasn’t much to work with. I located a piece of scrap metal and some filthy cloth. I could maybe attach it with some twine. But there was no twine, only small pieces of chicken wire. I was about to touch it when the piglet nudged my leg. “What have you got there?”

Ellie had something in her mouth; a long cylinder that she struggled to carry.

“Is that a candle?” If it was, all my problems were solved.

Ellie happily dropped a yellow pillar candle that I’d never seen before. it was wrapped in paper revealing it to be an emergency flare. I decided to wait before breaking it open. if it was a dud, I could just look for something else later.

Now we were ready. “Ellie, lead the way.”

I followed my pet back to the crawl space. A thought occurred to me; how did she get out of the basement? And how did she find me so quickly? For a newborn, she had one heck of a brain. I figured she opened the door, but when I came back the door was firmly shut. It actually took a great deal of force to open.

Magazines, books, and random papers flew everywhere. In the chaos, I lost Ellie once again. I broke my flare, allowing a neon orange light to guide my path.

The first part was easy to scoot through. I appeared to be going up an incline, and soon my arms were exhausted. Once I was past the point of no return, I switched my weight to my knees, making a sharp turn to the left. This led to a series of slides made of cardboard, plastic, and paper. Thankfully, the room opened to a larger space.

I fell hard on my shoulder. My light rolled a few feet in front of me, coming to a stop at a large, solid object.

There was a large fridge, like something out of a restaurant. ‘How was this in the cellar?’  And where was Ellie?

Someone was scratching against the door, from the inside. ‘Mice, right?’ It had to be. Was this the same freezer from my papa’s farm? there was only one way to find out.

I reached for the handle giving it a hard tug. A rush of cold caressed my skin. I was inside of a metal room, with piles and piles of meat. there was a single light in the middle of the room, but the bulb barely flickered.

I looked around, hoping to find Ellie and leave. Maybe she was a truffle pig, the kind that could track smells from long distances. It wasn’t impossible. “Ellie, where are you?”

I could hear her squeak. She was right behind me, next to the door. Ellie had been the one scratching at the door. ‘No, that’s not possible.’ She was too tiny. The sound came from a higher position; either she climbed something, or someone lifted her.

I nearly dropped my flare. Ellie was cuddled up with the intact remains of an adult male.

Hands trembling with cold and fear, I cupped my mouth to keep from screaming. “Pa? Is that you?” I didn’t mean to say those words out loud.

Part of his jaw was gone, and he also had a cord wrapped around his neck. Did he shoot and hang himself? No, that was stupid. But the other way didn’t make any more sense. Unless someone dragged his body down here. That had to be what happened, but my question would have to wait.

“Eli,” the figure spoke in a gurgle.

Eli was my chosen name. “Dad?” The word escaped on a frozen breath. This seemed too awful to be real.

He lifted his hand, revealing an open wound. “Eli, my boy.”

He had somehow cut off pieces of his own flesh and added them to the meat in our freezer. He had been calling out for help.

I took a step backward, towards the exit. My legs felt numb. if it wasn’t for the cold, I would have sworn I was already dead. My stomach was clenched in pain. That pile of meat was my father. Even if I could find the strength to run, I could never outrun that image. Plus; he was moving, breathing. I couldn’t just leave him there.

But the devil on my shoulder had something to say, ‘How did he get there? Ever think about that?‘ I was going to get myself killed by whoever put him here. It had to be Mama. She hurt him in a way no wife ever should. From what I’d seen with my own eyes, mama had been sick for a while at least that’s what she told him. Daddy thought she just didn’t want any more babies but turned out she had a man on the side. (At least that’s what he told me.)

That had to be it; Mama put him down here, and that wasn’t right. He had been nothing but good to us, but how the hell was I going to get him out?

‘No! Stop it!’ The words screamed in my head. ‘This is sick, but you have no part of it. You don’t need to do anything. You don’t even need to call the police. What would you even say? There’s a mysterious underground freezer that may or may not be a dumping ground for bodies? ‘I got a dollar that says Daddy’s remains would be long gone before any help arrived.’ I’d be sent to a mental hospital (and lose much more than a dollar.) ‘Just take one step backward and then another until you leave this place behind.’

Ellie suddenly rushed to me. She was squeaking, trying to nudge me back to my father’s body.

“No, please.” I wanted to leave but I couldn’t move.

Ellie looked at me with an expression of concern; big doll-like eyes glanced up at me before switching to a menacing glare. I could tell she was planning on playing her only card; she was going to force me to stay.

“Are you refusing to move?”  I could have kicked her off of my leg, but I was afraid of hurting her. ‘Am I really talking to a pig?’

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my father’s hand move. He was reaching for me.

I turned towards him, taking a step closer into the frozen mouth of hell. “Why did mama hurt you?” I’d meant to ask ‘when’, not why, but there was no going back.

“She wanted to leave me. Served up divorce papers, and everything.”

“How’d she afford that?”

My father struggled to breathe, blinking back frozen tears. “You’ll have to ask her.”

“Did she do this to you?”

“No. I thought I’d be all cute and try to end this worthless life.”

That answer made no sense. “Do you think this is funny?”

“I made sure to leave everything to you, before eating my shotgun. or trying to.” He grunted as he attempted to stand.

Needless to say, Papa fell in a massive heap of flesh and bone. Yet he was still alive.

I finally screamed.

“I’m fine,” he said with a grunt.

“You’re fine?”

My father had fallen on his face, but slowly he was attempting to put weight on his one good hand. “Your mama was trying to rob me of what was mine; she’d want this land, sell off the animals and start over.”

It was clear by his movement he had no feeling in his legs. His one good hand was covered in blisters and blood; this was his crawling hand. All I had to do was keep the door open. “I don’t even know where to take you.”

Ellie squeaked again, back to her adorable little self.

“You know another way out?”

The pig nodded proudly. She led me around the entire parameter of the freezer room, past several piles of long-expired meat. Soon we came across a door and with it, a wheelbarrow.

She ran up the side of the wall, making a perfect dive into the barrel of the container. Her landing resulted in a disturbing squish. The container was not empty. I released with my dominant right hand. In my mind, the goal has been to knock the whole thing over before taking possession.

Unfortunately, my left hand was stuck; adhered to the handle by a thick frozen goo. How much of this meat was the result of people hiding dead bodies in this place?

Ellie crawled to the front, like a mermaid on the bow of a ship. She let out a cheerful squeak. I had to do it, I had no choice.

I returned to my daddy’s mangled corpse. “Can you stand on your own?” It would make the task of loading him much easier.

My father nodded. His eyes overcompensated for the fact he had no lower jaw. I didn’t want to touch him. His clothing was caked with blood and dirt. The fabric was coated in a shiny pastry-like glaze, which I could only assume was frozen sweat. From what I knew, the human body was like a piece of meat; kept in a freezer, there would be little to no decomposition. (And that was when the body was actually dead.)

Papa attempted to pull himself up by putting his weight on the wall. His legs were all but useless, it seemed like the only limb he had full control over was his good arm. Without a second thought, I grabbed his bicep, letting him lean on my shoulder.

He managed to lay on his back. With his shoulders resting on the handles, and legs spread, his body barely fit. At least no part of him was touching the gore that coated the rusty metal surface.

Ellie squealed with delight, climbing onto my daddy’s knee. She stood tall on her hind legs; confident, and strong, pointing her little piggy snout in a very specific direction. I just needed to have faith in her.

My father was not a large man, standing at just under six feet in height. He worked hard all his life, building lean muscle. His body was a source of raw power; his lungs, his heart. A memory of his breath rippled through my cold skin. It was an odd sensation that sent shivers down my spine.

I flinched as I scraped the icy wall, nearly causing Ellie to fall. “I’m so sorry!” I picked up the piglet, placing a single kiss upon her forehead. ‘Why was I losing my focus? This makes no sense.’

With Ellie back in her place at the front of our vehicle, I stood up, slapping myself in the face. “I’m ready, let’s keep going.”

Papa needed a doctor and I needed to not get caught by whoever owned this massive freezer. Soon I was face to face with a rusted metal door. I took a few steps back, looking for a handle. I needed to check what was on the other side before putting anyone else at risk.

The door led to a sewer with a light at the end of the tunnel. I wanted to see what was at the end, but there was a fear in the pit of my stomach. The door was going to lock behind me. Without even getting a view of the other side, I just knew this door would require a key. (If I was careless enough to let it slam behind me.)

I moved the wheelbarrow, wedging it in the space I made in the doorway. My hope was to hold the massive metal slab in an open position long enough for me to get the entire vehicle out.  This was not a job for a single person (with only two arms.) I had to ram the door with all my strength, hoping that my father and Ellie would survive.

Somehow my pa caught the door with his good arm, allowing us enough room to make it through. The door slammed behind us, causing the walls of the tunnel to shake. I checked the door, making sure it was locked, but then I realized my moronic mistake. Of course, the door to the murder freezer was locked from the outside. It was the inside I needed to worry about; someone would check on the room, and that someone was going to be pissed.

We needed to keep moving. Thankfully, the wheelbarrow was still functional, even on the wet, rocky surface. I went straight towards the light. Running on adrenaline, I quickly made it to the sunlight. I took a moment to thank God, just as a rumbling collapsed the tunnel behind me. “What the?”

We were in the nearest town, within view of a gas station. I had no idea how to make it home. “Ellie?” She was sitting proudly next to the collapsed entrance to the tunnel. Somehow, she had moved a few rocks, causing a massive avalanche that sealed the path to Hell. ‘Ninth circle of hell is made of ice, right?’ I could have sworn I’d heard that someplace.”

The force had also knocked the wheelbarrow on its side. My pa sat up, his blue eyes taking in the sun. In the daylight, I could get a better look at his lower jaw. He didn’t seem to be in pain, but perhaps that was because he was still frozen.

“Papa, do you know how to get home from here?”

He nodded. With much effort he lifted his injured hand, pointing towards a field of straw.

I vaguely recognized the tree line. “I think you’re right.”

I put him in the bed, letting the body start to regain warmth. I was about to hunt down the home phone to dial for help, when a pair of hands covered my mouth, dragging me into the hallway.

“What have you done?” it was Mama. Her face was covered in sweat as if she had just come from a long run across a certain field.

“What have I done?”

She pulled me out the back door, making sure to look around before continuing. “You always wanted to take his place.” Her tone changed from threatening to compassionate and kind.

“What?” That made absolutely no sense. I loved my pa, I felt horrible for what he had gone through. If anything, I wanted Mama dead.

“Don’t act dumb Ella Anne!”

I was already enraged, and those words (my dead name) felt like a branding iron being pressed to my soul. “Eli,” I muttered through gritted teeth. “My name is Eli.”

“I’m sorry, Eli. You know how hard it’s been for me. I was trying to be a supportive parent. That’s why I let you wear his clothes.”

“You let me?” I held back the urge to laugh in her face. I was a grown-ass man.

“To make it look like he’s still walking around,” she added, trying to convince me that I was always in on her plan. “You look so much like him, it’s actually kind of disgusting.” She giggled, smiling at her own hate-filled joke. She had murdered my daddy and left me behind in the house to die.

I clenched my fist, digging my nails into my palm until I felt blood. My anger was boiling over, like a pot of hot oil that had just been introduced to frozen french fries. “You never loved me.”

“I’ve never been a fan of your life choices, but if it meant keeping your daddy’s benefits I thought,” her words were cut off as I grabbed her by the throat.

“You thought what?” I honestly didn’t want to kill her. I just hoped the next words out of her mouth would be something that explained away the nightmare I was now living in.

“Ella,” she replied through gasps. “Sorry, I mean Eli. I thought we were friends. You and me against the world; you and your mama.”

That was when the door opened just a crack. Ellie poked her head outside. and in a very human voice repeated the word, “Mama?”

My mother’s face went pale, causing me to loosen my grip. Once she was able to breathe again, she screamed and ran off.

“Odd.” I didn’t quite understand why. Ma didn’t hate animals especially not baby animals. And there was nothing terrifying about little Ellie. ‘Whatever.’ I had a sick feeling she’ll be back.

Ellie giggled. I turned to see her sweet little face. She had my father’s big blue eyes; the bluest eyes I’d ever seen.

<This record was cut off, with fire around the pages, but it is the hope of the state district attorney and the FBI, that we can locate more information in this case.>

Clearly, these are the ramblings of a mentally unwell individual. The name Ella Annabelle Ryan (as well as the alias: Ella Anne, Eli) has been handed over to the FBI, the name turned up several viable leads. Six local individuals match the description of the figure seen on the surveillance entering Mount Rushmore National Park in the hours before the event in question.

Civilians are to be advised: Suspect is still at large.

next: Strawman: ch2, Minuteman

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close