Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash
The supper dishes, finally clean, lay dripping lukewarm water in the dish rack. Turning off the over-bright kitchen lights, Linda retreated into the familiar warmth of the cozy living room. She was more tired than usual tonight, and automatically flicked on the television set. Absentmindedly, she began glancing through her copy of the TV Guide, while she waited for the ancient television set to warm up. The picture finally sprang into focus on the screen, and she hurriedly reached for the dial to escape the battle scene of carnage which had emerged there. Checking all the available programs in rapid succession, she bypassed a commercial — no less insulting for the familiarity of its message (“You’re no one without our product”) — and proceeded past a popular soap opera, and a predictably boring talk show. Finally, she decided on an old, classic Western, and settled down to watch, on the amply stuffed lounge chair across the room.
She became quickly engrossed in the barroom scene which filled the screen. In fact, it was not until several scenes later, the mandatory “cowboys-and-Indians-shoot-’em-up” scene, that she realized something was not quite right. Was that a slight movement she had caught out of the corner of her eye? Glancing around the room, she saw nothing obviously amiss. Except for the sound of the television movie, the volume turned low, as usual, the room was quiet. She turned back to the movie, convinced that her tired eyes were playing tricks on her.
The Indians were losing, again, as in all the other Westerns she had watched. She followed the heroe’s race against death, a frantically fast horseback ride across the screen. And, with an unpleasant start, she realized something. It had happened prior to losing sight of the hero on the screen before her, taking shelter behind a cliff on the far right-hand side of the screen. Her eyes had been dragged, almost subliminally, beyond the range of the TV screen, to something. What? Perhaps it was not her imagination, after all. Perhaps she had truly caught some movement on the edge of her vision. A shudder went up her spine as she contemplated that possibility.
A heavy hint of fear began to creep into her, and her awareness of the action on the screen retreated into the background, as she slowly surveyed the room again. Everything was in place. Just as she remembered it. The old clock on the wall, the matching lamps on the mantle, that silly, foot-long piggy bank she had had the dubious honor of winning at last month’s bazaar, the … Didn’t that piggy bank always face the kitchen door?
As if to deny her suddenly desperate desire to escape the unwanted conclusion, she noted something else. The lace doily upon which the piggy bank normally stood on the nearby side table, had been dragged across that surface — — in keep with that piggy bank’s new position. Staring at the pig in disbelief, she noted in further horror that the expression on the pig’s face, normally a frozen smile, had become an evil grin. In that hammer blow second of chilling realization, she heard the now unmistakably alive piggy bank emit a sound. It was a deep, vicious growl — even more terrifying for the reality it implied than it’s obvious threat. The malevolent grin on the pig’s face widened to reveal a cruel set of needle-sharp teeth. Its evil, red little eyes captured Linda’s horror-stricken ones as it gathered itself to spring. A primal scream of terror died in her throat.
The revolving red and blue lights from the police cars parked outside the house eerily filled the living room through the half-shuttered windows. The room was charged with an almost palpable horror, and the various officers moving gingerly about the room were reluctant to speak above a whisper. Their Lieutenant, in charge of rendering the incident report, had ensured that nothing was touched. The detective photographing the scene was a seasoned veteran of such work. Hours later, studying the emerging picture in the dark room, he would nevertheless stare unwillingly, unbelievingly, at the gruesome story which his photographs had captured.
Splayed upon a lounge chair was the figure of a slight, blond woman, her throat torn out. The mind-shattering fear frozen eternally in her wide-open eyes was utterly haunting. Yet, in some unexplainable way, the violence of this death was made even more terrifying by the woman’s dying act. Apparently, she had desperately grasped with both hands a large piggy bank, holding it to her throat, its otherwise innocent piggy- bank face smeared thickly with her blood. Isolated words jumped, unwelcomed, to the detective’s mind as he studied the photographs. Gruesome. Macabre. Disquieting. He had a feeling that this would remain an unsolved crime. . .