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Short story: <i>Wild Jungle Pig</i>

Reg and his wife Missy were lost. Very lost. Hopelessly lost. And Reg, for one, was pretty unhappy about it.

"Where the bloody hell are we?" He yanked hard at the steering wheel, as though by pulling at it like a divining stick he might find their exact location.

"I don't know! This stupid map makes no sense, none of the names are in English, are they? Just ridiculous!" Missy poked a long French manicure viciously onto the some-what worse for wear map she had spread across her dimpled white thighs, which cunningly hid their more unsightly curvature, she thought, from view. She sucked her stomach in again and glared at Reg. She was feeling dirty, hot, and above all, fat and hungry at the same time. Not a combination that is soothing for the spirit or the traveling companion.

Reg grumbled into his moustache. This hire car, this ridiculous "luxury vehicle"... hah! Was far too small to be comfortable for Reg. Certainly, it handled the terrain, and certainly, it had water tanks and petrol tanks and what not, but what it didn't have was an adjustable steering wheel to accommodate Reg's pride and joy... his gut. Yes, Reg liked to eat, and he didn't like to apologise for it, and right now, he had a hunger that wasn't to be tamed. He didn't even know why he'd come to this god forsaken hell hole anyway. If he was asked to do a write up of the cuisine of this country it would entail two words: "what cuisine?". And that's exactly what he would do, he thought furiously, as soon as he got back to the land of beef steaks and new potatoes and things constructed from lard for his personal enjoyment. He would...

"Reg!" Shrieked Missy, clutching at his arm with her French manicure digging in painfully. "Is that a... village? I'm sure I see people! We're saved!"

Sure enough, up ahead in a little clearing was what appeared to be a collection of ragged huts, and some equally ragged people, flopping about in hammocks or indulging in godless pursuits like knife sharpening, grain grinding, and washing things. Reg didn't like the look of this at all. However, he happened to notice that some of the heathens were doing something that looked suspiciously like... cooking. And that was enough to land his foot down on the brake heavily.

Missy and Reg staggered out of the car, stretching their dumpy legs and smoothing down their blending-in-with-the-imperialists safari shorts and shirts. A couple of heads lazily looked half interested in their direction.

"HEL-LO." Shouted Reg painstakingly. "CAN ANYONE HERE SPEAK ENG-GLISH?"

There were some titters of amusement from the village.

"Bloody peasants." Snarled Reg loudly as he and Missy picked their way across the mulchy, dark-soiled ground to the village. "Stuck in the middle of the bloody jungle, no bloody twentieth century, can't even speak bloody English..."

"Welcome." A smiling, smooth haired young man wearing what looked to Reg to be suspiciously like a skirt stepped forward from the group of villagers, holding out his hand in welcome.

"Hmph." Returned Reg, slightly mollified.

"Welcome to our village. Have you lost your way?"

"Yes!" Said Missy desperately, clutching to this pleasant English accent like a drowning woman might to Reg's floatatious girth.

"Ah, I see. Yes, this is unfortunate. It does occur occasionally. Where exactly are you headed to?"

Reg furrowed his brow in an attempt to remember the utterly unpronounceable name. His eyebrows looked like two furry slugs attempting to fight one another. "A...A..."

Missy pulled the map from her pocket and pointed at the offending name. "There."

"Ah, of course. A beautiful part of our country. And the jungle is, naturally, stunning, although in our opinion, nowhere is more stunning than our village, right here."

"Of course!" Missy simpered.

"It would be my pleasure to direct you on your way. You are not far from the right road. However, would you care to join us for a meal?"

Missy and Reg widened their eyes at one another, using the unspoken language of couples everywhere trying to conduct a silent debate. They should really get on, meet up with their group, find their friends, their hotel, their air-conditioned rooms and possibly half decent food. On the other hand, the smells emanating from the village were becoming increasingly difficult to ignore, and Reg's stomach was telling him that it may begin losing its proud rotundity at any time, if not satiated within a matter of minutes.

"That would be lovely!" accepted Missy.

"Oh, that is excellent news!" cried their new friend. He moved over to consult with a girl crouching over a stone, doing something incomprehensible with potentially edible things. She stood up, beamed at Missy, and said "come."

"Ah, you won't realise, but the men and the women of our tribe eat separately here. So you must go with her. We will meet again after dinner, yes?" Missy looked sceptically at Reg, but Reg was busy sniffing the rich cooking smells. So she smiled nervously and followed her new friend out of Reg's sight.

It was some time before dinner was ready, but Reg didn't really notice the time going by because his new friend was keeping him entertained with a seemingly unending supply of anecdotes. Reg was enjoying himself far more than he had thought possible, considering all the men wore skirts and there was no television. When dinner was served, Reg was blown away. The taste! The sensation on his tongue! The rich yet delicate flavour of the meat, tender, subtle, with just the right herbs used to compliment it! This was the stuff dreams were made of, this was the stuff restaurants fought over top chefs for, and here, he had found it in a jungle mud hole in the middle of God knows where! He went back for seconds, thirds, fourths... all the while listening to his new friend describe meticulously the way to his destination. His face glistening with fat, his stomach full to bursting point, he leaned back contentedly. It was at least half an hour after finishing before he realised that the women of the village had returned to join the men, and Missy wasn't one of them.

The village were chatting amongst themselves, casting occasional inscrutable looks over at Reg. Once his feeling of glorious fullness and contentment had subsided a little, he began to focus on things other than his substantial stomach - namely, where Missy had got to.

"I say." He proclaimed loudly, hoping to get his new friend's attention. He had been told his name, but he just couldn't wrap his head around foreign names. "I say, have you seen my wife?"

The village conversation stopped, and the inscrutable looks turned to consternation. There was some quick and upset chatting back and forwards, and then Reg's friend turned to him seriously and said, "I think there has been some... misunderstanding."

Reg looked around at all the serious, greasy faces, and the bellies stuffed full. His brain, befuddled by quantities of food, was trying to send him urgent messages, but he didn't know what they were. If only he could... "What misunderstanding?"

"About your wife. She..." Reg was hit with a thunderbolt. That meat. That delicious, heartbreaking meat. He hadn't been able to identify it, it was rich and beautiful and flavoured in all the right ways. But why, why could Reg the restaurant critic not identify the meat, and where, where was his delicious, heartbreaking wife?

"I ATE MY WIFE?" Reg bellowed, attempting to haul his girth to his feet. "I.. YOU... I'LL..."

"What! No! I'm so sorry, that is not the misunderstanding to which I am referring! Goodness me sir, do you think we eat our dinner guests? What kind of hosts would that make us?" Reg deflated and sank back down onto his log seat.

"Your wife merely drank some of the women's ceremonial drink, maybe her system is unused to such things... she is now a little ill. She will of course be fine, but she is resting at the moment. That is all. Would you like to see her?"

Reg felt relieved, and the sensation of pleasant fullness and the words he would write in his review as he recalled his meal came flooding back. "No, no." He waved his hand to denote the unimportance of Missy's current state.

"You ought to get on soon, though, sir." Remarked Reg's friend. "It is getting dark, and it is preferable not to travel through the jungle late at night. I shall go and fetch your wife for you. Do you remember which direction you are to travel?"

"Yes, yes." Said Reg dismissively.

"Very good." The little man disappeared for a moment and then returned, with a pale but composed Missy.

"Alright then?" Hurumphed Reg. Trust Missy to dip out on the best meal of her life just because she's drunk some witch's brew or something.

"Yes, darling. I was silly, I should have at least thrown in a water purification tablet... are we going?"

Reg put an arm around her shoulders, mainly because he was still feeling chock full of food. "Er..." He said, addressing his friend.


"I was just wondering, what kind of meat was that in the dinner? Extraordinary flavour, been a restaurant critic for years, never tasted anything quite like it..."

"Ah! Yes, it is something of a rare speciality of ours. We only get one come along every so often, so the opportunity to eat one is saved for the occasion of special guests. I believe they are called "missionaries"? This one was a Christian; they are particularly tasty, I find..."

Missy caught on slightly quicker than Reg, because the missionary wasn't crowding from her stomach to her brain. Her mouth dropped open. Her breathing became ragged. Her face went from red to white to red again in a matter of seconds, and she grabbed at Reg's arm hysterically and started pulling him madly towards the hire-car. Reg, in the meantime, had gone a fetching shade of green and white and was taking great big lung-gulps of air, doing an excellent imitation of someone trying very hard not to vomit.

The inhabitants of the village gathered on one edge of the village, watching the couple with interest as they flung themselves into the car, Missy at the wheel, Reg with his pale face hanging from the open passenger side window, and roared off in the correct direction.

Reg's friend started to chuckle. Then another man joined in, followed by a woman, followed by another man, until the whole village were hysterical with laughter.

"Why?" Enquired the girl who had taken Missy to the women's eating quarters. "Why do those people always believe?"

"Who knows?" replied Reg's friend, wiping his eyes and calming down. "You know, we should really go and try to catch a few more of those wild pigs tomorrow. It will be safe, I think. And you never know when we will have more guests. And they are always so appreciated!" That set off a fresh gale of laughter.

As Reg retched out his window, Missy driving recklessly in what their friend had told them was the right direction, there were three things he didn't know. The first was that wild pig could have tasted that good. In fact, there were an abundance of those wild jungle pigs, and all the predators in the jungle loved them. Which brings us to the second point.

In order to catch the wild jungle pigs, the villagers had to make sure that all of the other predators, particularly the ones that also enjoyed eating villagers, were otherwise engaged. And the second thing Reg didn't know was that his car was currently hurtling towards a pride of those predators, who were just going to love the tasty contours of Reg and Missy. And of course, free the village up for a couple of good days wild jungle pig hunting.

On a more positive note, the third thing Reg didn't know was that he hadn't, in fact, just eaten a missionary.

This is the result of a thirty minute writing exercise. This week I have been given the seven deadly sins as themes and a corresponding set of locations for each one. Today's sin and setting were: gluttony and a jungle village.

Image courtesy of western4uk.

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