Pigman This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Death, midterms, break-up, heights ... there are many words in the English language thatevoke powerful, terrorizing emotions in our beleaguered minds. Cancer, commitment... all raise blood pressures and make palms sweat, eyes widen and the tear ductswork. Some of these, of course, wreak more havoc than others on our otherwiseblissful lives. Everyone has something they fear above all else. For me, it's asix-letter compound noun: Pigman.

"That one hit you! You only haveone hit left!" yelled Mark as he passed my go-kart in his, pelting me in thearm with a perfectly aimed Nerf arrow. I railed on the throttle in hot pursuit ofmy assailant, foam bow and arrow in hand as I attempted to steer and aim at thesame time. I fired, only to watch the projectile go wide as we continued weavingin and out of the trees scattered across Mark's lawn.

I loved it, everybit of it. I felt serene as the brisk fall air mixed the smells of falling leaveswith motor oil. Go-kart Demo Derby Dart Battle was our favorite pastime, and itwas obvious why. I would get on my trusty steed and drive through the woods onthe half-mile path that led to my best pal's yard. The path had been mowed fromcountless journeys across it, but it always seemed to fade at one spot. It was byhis house ... Pigman's house.

To this day I am certain that Pigman's houseis the exact place where everything joyous and pure stops and all the bad thingsin life dwell. There, the sky is never bright, and the birds never sing. Theoverpowering stench of evil and pigs fills the air, so potent that even thebravest of men dare not tread there.

Mark and I were the exceptions, orso it seemed. Though we whipped through his field with a careless air, our speedwas actually due to the sheer terror that struck our souls each time we nearedhis land. The colossal pigs that roamed his haunt and gave him his name were aconstant reminder of how lucky we were to be alive after crossing his boundary.What went on in their potbellied heads as they glared at us? I prayed that Iwould never know. What could cause a man to breed such demons was a secret knownonly by the king of this fortress - Pigman himself.

He was more a legendthan a man, since I can't really recall ever seeing him around his house, feedingthe pigs or caring for the land. I knew of him only through stories of crazedrants and animal feedings. There were so many stories it was hard to distinguishfact from fiction, and I assumed all were true.

So, each time I crossedthis part of the path to Mark's house, I glanced over my shoulder, just in case.The pigs would glare at me as I drove by praying I'd make it to the other side.Finally, I would reach Mark's house. He'd always be waiting there, Nerf guns,walkie-talkies and all, raring to go.

With only one hit left, I knew Iwas in trouble. I began to deploy my standard "come back victory" planwhen Mark's dad came out on the porch.

"Sorry, guys, you're gonnahave to call it a draw. It's getting dark and we have to get Matt home," hesaid. A smile started to cross my face, realizing that I had avoided defeat, butI tried to hold it back and pretend I was disappointed.

"Dad, youwanna come with us up to Matt's?" Mark asked. Mr. Joiner and I were takenaback; Mark hadn't asked his dad to ride with us in so long that his father, atfirst, was unsure how to respond.

"Yeah, sure. I'll come," saidMr. Joiner, and he hopped in the go-kart. They took the lead and I followed closebehind. It was getting a little dark, but as we continued on, I began to feelreassured by Mr. Joiner's presence. With so much less weight in my go-kart, I hadto ease off the gas to stay behind them. This soon became too cumbersome, and myracing instinct kicked in. Forgetting the path's change from clean-cut toovergrown, I took the next turn sharp and grabbed the lead. Down the path I sped,leaving the Joiners in the dust. I could hear them yelling but was deafened byvictory. Then, I saw it. From the corner of my eye, then filling my field ofview, the trees parted and a giant foot, followed by the biggest leg I'd everseen, stepped out. It brought with it a skyscraper of a man with a face thatwould make Lucifer himself whimper. My go-kart stalled as I cowered under thebeing before me, breathing steam and staring fire, clenching his fists andyelling a string of words I'd never heard used quite like that.

I'd liketo say that I stood up to him, or that I raced around him and continued on, butthat would be a lie. I froze. Stricken with terror, I stayed motionless andprayed to any gods willing to help that somehow he didn't see me. My hopes werein vain as he moved closer to my vehicle. His steps shook the steering wheel Igrasped. You'd be surprised how fast your life flashes before your eyes whenyou're 10 years old, because, believe me, it was quick.

Suddenly, thebeast who was about to devour me looked up, as his focus moved to Mark's dad whowas rushing to my rescue. Without thinking, he came to defend me with anonslaught of retaliating remarks. I felt, however, as if he were only prolongingthe inevitable. "Run, save yourself!" I wanted to yell, but I was stillclutching the steering wheel, clinging to the hope that I hadn't been seen. Mr.Joiner pleaded with Pigman to calm down and talk this over, that we weren'thurting anything.

"Me, Pigman!" roared the giant. "Leave mebe so I can eat these kids!" At least, that is what I thought he yelled; hewas talking fast and I couldn't really understand everything. The battle of wordswaged on and Mr. Joiner held his ground. They continued yelling, and I continuedpraying.

Suddenly, the unbelievable happened. Mr. Joiner had somehowcoaxed the beast to back down, and he actually began retreating to hislair.

"It's alright, guys," he said. "We can go through.Just try not to dig up the grass," he said with a chuckle. We continued tomy house quietly, still trying to grasp the enormity of the scene that hadunfolded.

When we arrived, Mr. Joiner came in with me and discussed theevent with my parents. I told them I wasn't scared, so I wouldn't worry mymother. No need to get her more worked up than she already was.

It's myfirm belief that life is made up of a series of moments, each one changing yourlife as it unfolds into a world of possibilities. This moment was a true test ofcharacter, as Mark and I stood our ground. In the end, I guess it's just anothercharacter-building adventure to tell my kids and wife about when I'm 40. I'llshow them that I too know how to hold true when the odds are not in my favor, andthat I will overcome them no matter what. Just let that be a fair warning to anyother Pigmen lurking out there.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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