The One You Feed
By James Drummond
Date Published: October 2013
I really enjoyed this YA book. It was one of those scary supernatural books that had me hooked from the start.
Toby is still struggling with his mothers death, a new girl from the reservation comes to his school and something is happening to his best freind Nate.
With a wild beast killing people and Toby isthinking that Nate is somehow involved. This was scary to an extent and the author was great at describing the suspense and feeling of the characters.
This is a 4 stars for me, and I look forward to reading more from James.
Henry Jennings wasn’t sure of when he’d first become aware of the squealing. The high-pitched cries might have found their way into his dream at first. After seventeen years as a pig farmer, he often found himself working the paddocks even after falling asleep. Sometimes his high school sweetheart, a Sasquatch, or a renowned historical figure might join him to lend a hand—his dreams weren’t entirely void of imaginative elements—but hogs were frequently the focal point.
However, this time the ruckus in the stables wasn’t merely part of some unpleasant dream. As the stout farmer blinked away the cobwebs and progressed further into consciousness, the frantic oinks and squeals from outside intensified, overpowering the strong patter of rain against his bedroom window.
What the hell was going on out there?
Turning on his bedside lamp, Henry dragged himself out from underneath the covers and surveyed the floor for a suitable pair of jeans to pull on. Kicking a few options aside, he uncovered a pair spotted with dry mud. He looked again at the downpour outside and quickly decided to don the already soiled jeans along with a worn flannel shirt.
The clock above the kitchen stove read 4:35 a.m. Trying to fall back asleep after investigating whatever was going on outside would be pointless. By the time he settled back into a good slumber, his radio alarm would wake him with the day’s weather and the latest country hits. He might as well check the farrowing huts as long as he was up. Maybe Betty had finally had her new litter. Betty, of course, was an exceedingly pregnant pig.
Most folks were surprised when they found out Henry named his swine. They assumed that by doing so he was just increasing his chances of growing attached to them, making it harder to slaughter the animals when the time came. Henry figured that people assumed this because that’s how they would feel, and because at fifty-two years of age, he hadn’t developed many relationships outside of the ones he had with his pigs.
But Henry didn’t name them out of a need for companionship. That wasn’t it at all. He named them simply because they deserved names.
They were intelligent animals that would provide for folks in innumerable ways. Pork was obvious, but most people didn’t realize that weed killers, rubber, makeup, and antifreeze all came from hog fatty acids. Their glands and organs sometimes supplied insulin for diabetics and ventricles for certain heart surgeries, while the skin of a pig could be used for gloves, shoes, and various types of clothing.
These were just a few instances of how Henry’s hogs might one day benefit society, and already far more examples than he could come up with for most people he knew. That being said, his precious animals were just being a raucous pain in the ass at the moment.
Snaring his jacket and a flashlight from the hall closet, Henry headed outside. A blaze of lightning and the boom of thunder greeted the gruff farmer as he stepped out into a torrential rain. He flipped on the flashlight and jogged over to the stable. The door was securely locked, just as he’d left it. Cursing the downpour, he dug out a set of keys from his front pocket and, shining the light on them, thumbed his way to the one he needed. He then slid the key into the padlock and opened up the stable.
Once inside, he became instantly aware of how the stable’s usually close, pungent odors were diminished, almost replaced, by the fresh smell of rain. That was when the gaping hole in the structure’s side wall became apparent. Henry shone his flashlight through the large, splintered opening. The rainfall outside sparkled as it passed through the beam.
Stunned, he moved the light to the ground, expecting to find tire tracks. It would have taken one drunk or reckless driver to veer this far off the road, but Henry couldn’t think of another explanation for the damage he was seeing. To his surprise, there were no tracks in the mud.
Henry then spotted one of his hogs, Milton, toddling for the breach. For all he knew, the exterior fence had been damaged too, and he couldn’t afford to lose half his stock out in the surrounding forest. He moved toward the makeshift exit to keep the pig from escaping, but only made it a couple of steps before a low, muffled growl stopped him dead in his tracks.
And just like that, Henry’s main concern was no longer preventing his hogs from getting out of the stable, but determining what had gotten in. Spinning around, he shone his flashlight into a nearby stall, then another. All he found were squealing pigs.
He caught only a glimpse of the intruder, out of the corner of his eye, just before the animal struck. It was powerful, whatever it was. The creature knocked the hog farmer off his feet and sent him sailing across the stable.
As he tumbled to the ground, Henry felt a sharp pain shoot up his left side. At first, he thought it was strictly the result of a hard landing, but when he brought his hand to his ribs, he discovered his jacket and shirt had been torn open by the animal’s strike. And although he couldn’t make out anything in the darkness, his fingers were now covered in a sticky wetness Henry could only assume was his own blood.
He spotted his flashlight laying several feet away and considered scrambling for it. Then, out of the shadows at the far end of the stable, appeared two glowing yellow eyes. They were all Henry could see of the creature that had attacked him. They were all he wanted to see.
No longer caring about the flashlight, he rolled onto his hands and knees and began crawling for the door, adrenaline overtaking any pain. After a yard or two, he lurched onto his feet. The ache in his side returned with the effort, and his hand instinctively went back to the wound. His clothes were now soaked with blood.
Henry heard the heavy patter of the animal’s footfalls on the dirt floor behind him, just prior to feeling its teeth gliding through his calf. The beast’s jaw clamped down like a bench vise. It then yanked him back, and before he’d even really registered the attack, Henry found himself soaring though the air again. He hit the ground hard, skidding across hay and manure. When he finally he came to rest, he was lying beside the hole the massive beast had created in the stable wall.
He had to get through that opening.
Maybe this thing had decided to claim Henry’s stable as its own and was simply defending it. If he could just pull himself out into the pen, maybe he’d be safe. He reached out and grabbed at the splintered wood with his bloody hands, his muscles straining as he pulled himself through the breach.
The sensation of rain pelting his face lasted only a second. Then Henry felt the beast’s razor-sharp teeth chomp down once more. He cried out as the creature jerked him back inside the stable. There would be no escape. The squealing of his hogs grew louder, but their commotion was no competition for Henry’s own terrified screams. He felt the sensation of claws cutting through him, but no pain. Henry could no longer feel pain. In the next few moments, he’d stop feeling altogether.