submitted by Abigail de le Badie

JASPER: Near Morristown is a 400 acre farm handed down through the Barrett family for generations. I recently met the final heir, Francis Raphael Barrett, who wrote and told me of a horrific beast conjured forth in their stockyard during the Great Depression. It had terrorized the locals in the spring of 1936, and caused many to abandon their family farms in terror. What the economic troubles of the times had been unable to do, the Stench Pig of Jasper County accomplished with a single devastating appearance.

I receive many such letters, telling of monstrous entities, and it is quite easy to separate the hoaxer from the true informant. In this case, the thought of a demonic swine chasing farmers from their lands brought a smile to my cynical disposition---until I shuddered at Barret's horribly graphic eyewitness account of watching the ghastly thing butcher his own father and drag his corpse into an infernal cauldron of steaming slop and stinking mud. The creature left behind a grieving widow with six children, of which Francis was the youngest and only remaining survivor. He said that once each decade since the nightmarish creature first sprang forth, it returned to claim another of the Barrett boys. The final son was inviting me to mark the 60th anniversary of his father's death. I reread the account several times, and then called upon Barrett personally.

The dreaded date would fall, he said, on May 1st, a date I well knew as Beltane, one of the most important fire festivals of the Druids. I packed a small overnight bag and hurried to meet my host, arriving late in the evening on April 30th. The farmhouse itself was in good repair, though this year's crop was badly neglected and much of the equipment housed rats and other animals. I found Francis in the gathering gloom of his kitchen reading a copy of Witches and Other Night-Fears, by Charles Lamb. When he saw that I'd noticed the book, he said, "I been studyin' on this type of thing. None around here believes in the Stench Pig no more, and I got a queer reputation as it is, so I do my studyin' mail order from books. The kids call me crazy and the police check on me to make sure I hain't got a few of them kids in my cellar." He laughed at this, a sad and hollow laugh that unsettled me greatly.

He motioned for me to sit and offered large mug of a strange tea made from Jimson Weed. As we sipped the hot liquid, he began to tell of a loving family whose boars were widely sought after as breeding stock. The family had once owned hundreds of hogs, but no Barrett had owned a pig or eaten pork since 1936.

"When the Depression struck, the government sent these agents to farms all over, to force us to sell our stock at cruelly low prices and then they turned around and shot the hogs on the spot, telling the farmers to set fire to 'em." Francis paused, looked out the window, and continued, "The dark little man who come to our farm, Agent Rofocale, as I recollect, said that this was done to stabilize the farm markets. It might have been good for the country, but it looked like sin to us, wasting all them pigs. I remember the glee on this man's face as he killed our boars, sows, and piglets. He forced my dad to pour kerosene over them. Made my dad toss the match. They fought about it, but he made my dad do it."

Burning hog pile

As the pyre of dead animals burst into flame, the bumping buggy of Federal Agent Rofocale disappeared over the hill. Behind him, the most fetid smell imaginable began to permeate the area, and Francis recalls the ground became soggy and turned to mud. Given the drought that year, this was considered very unusual by all. The pile of carcasses began to sink into a gurgling morass of green and viscous bile that burped up stinking bubbles of yellow gas. Oddly, the flames were not quenched, but burned more brightly as it sank. The Barretts then noticed among the flames more than the expected spasmodic twitches of the bodies-a true writhing was happening within. The shocked family watched the profane conflagration actually mold the mass of cloven hooves, bristling fur, and cartilaginous snouts into a single entity!

As if this appalling sight were not enough, the accursed thing then turned to them, lumbering out of the muck. It stretched more than twenty feet from tusked maw to bullwhip tail, and was alive. The luckless farmer shouted for his children to find safety. Hiding behind the rear wheel of a tractor, young Francis watched helplessly as his father raised his hands in a futile gesture of protection. A gout of green-black chlorine gas belched forth from the nostrils of the brute and the elder Barrett caught it full force. His skin blistered in a horrid fashion, the pus filled sores rapidly bursting to drop lumps of flesh and gore on the grass, leaving whole areas of bone exposed to the gathering twilight. His wife screamed as the Stench Pig bit into the poor man's leg and dragged him backwards into the quagmire. Tense minutes passed after both disappeared below the slime, and then the great hideous beast erupted from it again, as though spat out by the earth itself. That porcine mockery of physical laws flew unnaturally into the sky, turning in ever widening gyres as though searching for something.

It must have been seeking other blazes such as that which spawned it, for as it spied the fires left in the wake of the darkly clad government agent, it sped off and caused unholy devastation to property and person alike. Near dawn, the Stench Pig returned, plunging down through the mud to vanish once again from sight.

"Every ten years, the Pig comes back to devour in horrible vengeance the next in the family line. I seen each of my brothers die, and held Mama back from following them into the accursed portal to what vile world I don't dare imagine....though I'll know tomorrow, won't I?"

I assured him that we would do all we could to prevent his legacy from being realized. We spent the next morning ritually coating our bodies in fresh dew, and marking out charms and protective sigils upon the ground where the Pig would make its appearance. Francis had, by his own instruction, become adept at such occult pursuits. I began to believe that together we would prevail where his siblings had not. How wrong I was, how ignorant of our peril.

As the sun set low, the first scent of sulphur hit me. I watched the ground go from hard and solid to thick mucous-like ooze and suppressed a gasp as the bestial entity clawed and pawed its way up from the muck. Francis howled incantations, which I could scarcely hear above the deafening roar of the croaking and squeals of the monster before me. I joined in the spell-casting, and am sorry to admit that although I do not now believe they would have made a difference, I found my voice choked off by the sight and stench of what had risen from the very bowels of the earth. It was more bison than boar, with the recognizable features of a warthog, though twisted into obscene deformity. The human mind can not dare conceive-nor human tongue dare describe-the hideous nature of the Beast. Our inabilities are sometimes our greatest protections.

There arose the furious barking of dogs and before I was overcome by the noxious gasses, I heard the comforting, though futile, reports of firearms being discharged all around me. Before passing out, I saw several County Patrol cars arrive on the scene. I awoke in the front room of the Barrett house under the ministrations of a young paramedic. I was told by the authorities gathered there that Francis Barrett had been "abducted" during the night, though by whom and for what reason they were either unwilling or unable to say. The papers mentioned something about vigilante justice for wrongs done to local children, although the charges remain unsubstantiated and are quite probably deliberate misinformation disseminated by the police. Nothing was said of the monster, and I was cautioned that brooding on these events might harm my health. Their meaning was unmistakable.

Whatever the fate of those Barretts and the fiendish being which claimed them, it can not help but be ironically noted that the entire estate passed into the hands of the very government which had set the story in motion. The farm and all its contents were claimed and auctioned by the state, there being no heirs remaining.

Last week the property was purchased by wealthy, unnamed interests from Hopkins Grove.

(*Jimson Weed is a narcotic plant of the genus Datura, common in Iowa, and believed by the Aztecs to be a sacred protection against evil spirits." The application of morning dew is a ritual associated with Beltane, as discussed on page 158 of Kathryn Paulsen's The Complete Book of Magic and Witchcraft.)

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