Pen

The Best of Times Short Story Competition


Autumn 2018 Results




Three Pigs and a Wolf

Copyright © Geoff Covey 2018


Once upon a time there were three little pigs.

As an opening line, that tells us nothing! I mean ever since pigs were invented there have been three little pigs Ė in fact a lot more than three. I mean, we know that pigs come in much larger numbers than three in every litter.

Letís start again:

Once upon a time there were three little pigs who were all brothers. There were probably other brothers and sisters from the litter. As I said piglets tend to be born in large numbers, but the others donít come into this story. All right, if you insist on knowing, they stayed on the farm and grew up and turned into bacon Ė satisfied?

Once upon a time there were three particular little pigs. Particular because they are the ones this story features. OK?

Anyway, for reasons which are unclear now, these three pig brothers left home and set off to find a home. Yes, I know, if they hadnít left they would have still had a home and could have saved themselves the bother. But then there wouldnít have been a story would there? Now stop interrupting and let me get on with it.

After wandering for some time, they came upon a clearing in the woods with a pretty stream running through it and all sorts of pretty wildflowers growing there. Butterflies fluttered from one flower to another and birds sang merrily in the trees.

Just because they were pigs, it doesnít mean they couldnít recognise prime real estate when they saw it.

"This is just the place to build our home!" said Archie Pig.†

"Homes," corrected Bertie Pig. "You snore like a pig. All right itís natural for you to snore like a pig Ė but you snore louder than any other pig Iíve met and I want a place away from you. Iíll share with Charlie."

"No, you wonít!" insisted Charlie pig. "Archie snores like a pig, and you eat like a pig Ė even allowing for the fact you are pigs. I think we should each build our own houses.

"Fairy Nuff," agreed Bertie. "And weíll still be close enough so we can meet up for and really pig out together."

"Yes, makes sense," said Archie. "And if we build three houses, there wonít be room for any undesirable neighbours. Some of the people in the woods live like pigs."

"Stop hogging the conversation, Archie," interrupted Bertie. "Now what are we going to make our houses out of?"

"Well," said Archie, "thereís a lot of clay on the bank of the stream; I think Iíll make my house out of bricks."

"Sounds like a lot of unnecessary hard work to me, and whatís the point?" argued Charlie.

"It will be strong and secure, and if thereís any mean animals around itíll keep them out!"

"Sorry to be a boar, but it still sounds like too much trouble to me," persisted Charlie. "Thereís loads of sticks in the woods. In no time I can collect enough to build a house out of them."

"Still too much trouble," said Bertie, "and what if one of those mean animals Archie keeps on about catches you in the woods?"

"Not very likely, is it? We didnít see any while we were walking through, did we?"

"Hey! I donít keep on about them! I only mentioned them once," complained Archie.

His brothers ignored him.

"So, what are you going to build your house out of then?" asked Charlie.

"Hay!" said Bertie smugly.

"Hey what?" asked a puzzled Charlie.

"Not hey, hay!"

"Eh?"

"No. Hay. Hay, dry grass, straw!"

"Oh, I see," said Charlie.

But Archie did not see, "Heh, Heh, A, O, I, C? What is this - some sort of code?"

"No, Archie." A big sigh from Bertie. "See that hay-stack at the end of the clearing? Iím going to use that to build my house."

"Oh." Archie got it at last.

"Donít start working through the letters again, PLEASE!" begged Charlie.

"I wasnít going to," snapped Archie. He turned to his other brother and continued, "but you canít use all of it. I need some."

"I wasnít going to use all of it! But what do you need it for? I thought you were going to make bricks. Or have you realised my idea is better and decided to copy it?"

"Itís not a better idea. SO, Iím not going to copy it and I am going to make bricks. But you canít make bricks without straw."

"Thatís just a proverb. You can make bricks from just clay, as long as you fire it properly."

"Ah yes, silly me," sneered Archie. "Iíll make my bricks and then just fire them in that kiln over there Ö Thatís funny, I canít see it, but it must be there or you wouldnít have suggested firing them rather than drying them in the sun."

"All right, I said you could have some straw, didnít I?" The brothers scowled at each other.

Charlie tried to be a peacemaker. "Actually, if you donít fire them you do need straw. But then they are properly called 'adobeí rather than bricks."

Charlie suffered the fate of so many would-be peace-makers. The former antagonists now turned on him. "All right, ďstick-manĒ, go and collect your sticks while we build proper houses."

So they each trotted off on their trotters and started work.

Bertieís job was the easiest. Initially he did little more than hollow out the haystack. Then he searched in the woods until he found doors, windows, plumbing fixtures and all the other bits and pieces he needed Ė itís remarkable what you can find in woods if you look hard enough. The house was soon finished, 'chop-chopí you might say Ė if you didnít want to offend the pigs. With his work done, Bertie fell asleep in the grass by the stream.

Charlie had a somewhat tougher time of it. First he had to search in the woods to find enough sticks of the right sort and carry them to his building site. Then he had to build them into a house. Finally, he had to search in the woods for doors, windows and other fittings necessary to finish his home. His brother Bertie had already collected the easy to find ones close to the clearing, so Charlie had to look further afield (fortunately he didnít mind using clichťs - when he couldnít find the right size of windows).

At last his house was finished and he could also doze in the sun.

As you knew was going to happen, Archieís house took by far the longest to build. First he had to dig out the clay from the bank of the stream. Then he had to mix it with straw left over from Bertieís house, and form it into brick shapes. Then he had to lay the bricks out carefully in the sun to dry.

Perhaps there would be a time for him to rest while he waited for the bricks to dry?

But no. By the time he had made the last brick, the first ones were dry and he had to start laying them (fortunately a hen came by and helped lay a few bricks for him).

At last the brickwork was finished and the roof tiled. (I forgot to tell you but he made some clay tiles as well).

His brothers were awake now and looked towards him from their deck chairs, being careful not to spill their gin and tonics as they swilled them down. They shook their heads and even began to feel sorry for him for doing things the hard way.

But Archie could not rest. He had to find doors and windows and stuff in the woods. His brothers had scoured the woods pretty well, so he had to go further afield to find enough clichťs to finish the house. This meant that he had a long way to carry the heavy stuff. Fortunately, pigs being pigs, he didnít have to bother to look for a bath so he didnít need to struggle back with that.

At last the house was finished!

With a sigh of relief, he gathered up a bottle of champagne and a tray of canapťs and headed outside to relax. But just as he got there and was about to sit down, Bertie saw a sinister figure entering the clearing. In horror he shouted out, "WOLF!!"

The three little pigs ran to save their bacon! Each rushed into his house, slammed the door (ask any teenager: a door isnít properly shut unless it is slammed) and shot the bolts. Then they realised the bolts wouldnít be any use now they had shot them Ė they should have saved their ammunition to use on the wolf Ė so they had to make do with turning the keys. Then they had the bright idea of putting the keys in the locks and turning them again.

Although the pigs had run, the wolf had seen them. He stalked up to the first house, which happened to be Bertieís converted haystack, and he hammered on the door.

"Little pig, little pig, let me in, let me in."

"Why do you say everything twice?" asked Bertie.

"C-cos, sometimes I st-stuter; and itís m-mean of you to m-mention it. So just let me in!"

"Not by the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin."

"What??"

"Look, I didnít have time to shave this morning. All right?"

"If you say so; but I still donít see what your beard has got to doing with it?"

"Ummm. It rhymes, you know. Iím a pig, so I have to ham it up a bit."

"Irrelevant."

"What elephant?"

"I thought we were only doing pig jokes? Now stop messing around and let me in."

"No!"

"Look!" The wolf was getting cross. "Iím from the council, and youíve built this house without any sort of planning permission. And even if we let you keep it, I have to assess it for rates. So let me in."

"No!"

"I have an order from the mayor. So you have to let me in to inspect the house."

"Shanít!"

The wolf paused and looked around. "Huh!" he said, "you canít keep me out anyway. This place is so shoddily built I can just break my way in. In fact, I reckon I could just blow it down Ė in fact I think I will."

"Iíd like to see you try," came a mocking voice from within.

"All right, I will," retorted the wolf. He huffed and he puffed, and Ö

He sneezed an enormous sneeze!

His eyes started running and went red, his skin started itching and he had an uncontrollable urge to sniff.

"Oh no! Iíve never had hay-fever this bad before!"

He slunk away to the sound of unsympathetic chortles from Bertie.

The next house in the clearing was Charlieís house built out of sticks. The wolf wandered up to it, checked the list on his clipboard and knocked on the door. "Little pig, little pig, let me in, let me in!"

"Why do you say everything twice?"

"Iím n-not going th-through that ag-gain. Just let me in, will you?"

"Not by the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin!"

"What has your facial hair got to doing with letting me in?"

"Well, I havenít had time to shave this morning and Iím in no state for visitors!"

The wolf took a deep breath and counted up to several. "Firstly, it is now afternoon and secondly, Iím not a visitor. Iím an inspector from the council, you have built this house without planning permission, and I need to investigate. So stop wasting my time and let me in!" He was shouting by now.

"No," sneered Charlie. "So what are you going to do? Blow my house down?"

"It looks pretty rickety to me, so I probably could. But Iíve got bad hay fever, so I think Iíll just shoulder barge it and knock it down instead."

He ran back turned and gave a mighty charge. Faster and faster until he hit the wall with a mightyÖ "Yeouch!!"

The wolf had failed to notice two things. Firstly, although the walls looked flimsy enough, the branches were in fact tangled and even woven. So the whole structure had a lot more strength than he expected. Secondly, some of the branches were well endowed with thorns, and several of these had found their way into his shoulder.

The wolf staggered back in anger and pain. His feelings were not soothed by the guffaws coming from within the house.

After resting for a little to regain his breath and something of his temper, the wolf muttered something about 'third time lucky,' and headed for Archieís house of bricks.

"Little pig, little pig, let me in, let me in! And d-donít ask me why I said everything t-twice!"

"All right, I wonít ask you," replied Archie. "But I wonít let you in, not by the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin."

"Donít tell me you havenít shaved either."

"Well Ö I was busy this morning."

"You and your brothers are the most slovenly lot of pigs Iíve ever met! I bet even other pigs refer to you as pigs!"

For a while there was silence. The wolf managed a slight smile. At last he had scored a minor hit.

But then the pig spoke. "Maybe we are slovenly, but Iím inside and youíre outside and thatís how itís going to stay."

"Now look here. Be reasonable," pleaded the wolf. "Youíve built your house without planning permission. Iím from the council and I need to inspect it."

"No!"

The wolf tried switching to the 'Iím a good wolf' approach. "Look, it seems quite well built. I can probably recommend that retrospective planning permission be granted, and then you can just pay your rates and everyone is happy."

"Iím happy now without paying rates."

"Look, my patience is running out. Are you going to let me in?"

"No!"

"Then Iíll have to take other measures."

Archie sneered, "So, what are you going to do? Huff and puff and blow my house down?"

"Yeah, now you mention it; something like that anyway."

"Go on then and try."

"I will!"

The wolf went off in a huff.

A little while later he came back in a puff Ė the result of carrying a heavy box.

The wolf got his breath back and actually giggled a little.

He opened the box, pulled out small packages and placed them all round the edges of the brick house. Then he lit a fuse, retreated and put his paws over his ears.

There was a roar and a sound just like that of bricks falling to the ground.

"There!" called out the wolf. "Maybe, I couldnít blow your house down, but I blew it up all right, didnít I?"

But pity stopped him from blowing up the other pigís houses, "Pity I ran out of dynamite. Still, thereís always tomorrow! Letís see how sticks and straw go against a flame-thrower!"