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Blind pigs and fungus.  Yum!

Blind pigs and fungus. Yum!

My dad likes pigs.  I think it’s because he spent his early years on a farm and was nearly killed by one.  Apparently he wandered into one of the pens when he was about two years old and his mother found him prodding the 500-pound boar with a stick.  I owe my existence to the fact that it didn’t turn around and eat my father, as it really had every right to do.

My dad also tells me stories about how his grandfather helped bring the first of some breed or another (I forget the name… Herferdoshiremontship?  Black Blooberworthington?) of pig to Canada.  I ask him what made this particular breed of pig so special (I did not grow up on a farm, so I have to ask such stupid questions), and he mutters something about floppy ears or something.  Maybe that’s an important quality in swine, one that is hard to come by north of the border.

Perhaps to counter this unimpressive revelation, he tells me about how my grandfather designed some kind of new pig crate that kept sows from crushing the piglets.  I ask him if that means he just made a bigger box than the one everyone has been using, and he walks out in disgust.

I think that the Mayor of the District shares my father’s inherent love of pigs.

They reached one of the farms.  The Mayor walked through the open gate and into the vast chamber.  The ceiling was hidden in darkness, arching high above the milling animals.  The walls sweated with the condensation of their breath.  The smell was almost overpowering, and the Mayor involuntarily raised an arm to his face.  But behind it he was smiling.  The enormous room was packed with squealing animals, white, bloated pigs that would feed thousands upon thousands of citizens when they went to the slaughter yards.  They were blind, bred without eyes since they could barely use them in the dim, and had been developed to produce the maximum amount of usable meat that their stump-like legs could handle carrying.  It was a hugely successful example of the careful manipulation of the animal’s blueprint, its “genetics,” as his scientists called it.  They had explained the principals to the Mayor once, but it seemed a vastly complex art, and he was content to know that what they did worked well.

His security agents were recipients of the same careful scientific manipulations.  They were faster and stronger than normal humans, with sharper senses and fewer morals.  His scientists had even suggested that they were pushing them to become their own species, a species that they could control and breed as easily as they did the bloated pigs.

The Mayor chatted briefly with the head of the pig farms, asking pointed questions about the final quantity of meat going to the markets, the necessity of larger chambers, and the sanitation and drainage improvements being made.  The man, a bald, portly, pasty-looking fellow, answered the questions admirably, and the Mayor congratulated himself on his appointment to the post.  He also privately enjoyed the obvious physical similarities the man shared with his charges.

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