The Unlikely Team Up of the Turtle and the Pig
That first day they'd come on foot on accident. A handful of humans with big backpacks and upside down maps had wandered in by mistake—probably the Valley warped the magnets in their compasses.
'Gee willikers,' said a Two-Leg, having lowered his map long enough to look around. The man was noticeably upright and reeked of sunscreen. ‘Look at the flowers!’
And well, yes, there were a lot of flowers in the Valley, and nice ones, like roses and azaleas and daffodils. The flowers were fantastic. Otherworldly, even. Sure. But the flowers just should not have been the subject of anyone’s Gee Wilkering, because there, grazing amongst the lovely daffodils, paddling in the crystal water, teeming in the luscious grass, was every kind of animal you can think of. In ones and twos, in big hodge-podge packs, in the sky, birds and fish and horses, lizards and frogs and one very old giraffe. There was an eagle from the Phillipines, two cows from Timbuktu. The most beautiful Pig the world has ever seen. Hyenas played tag around the trees, spectacted by koalas and sloths and drop bears. A bookish turtle wrote poetry on the shore. Magpies swooped through hoops and big scruffy dogs wrestled each other in the sand. And there was a cat, black and aloof, pretending not to be interested in the extremely interesting intersection of wondrous life going on around it.
'Gee willikers,' said another of the Two-Legs on that very first day, as they seeped with slack jaws further and further into the heart of the Valley. 'Is that an elephant?'
Still missing the point, but at least they were starting to ask the right questions.
'What is this place?' they said to each other, as more and more wayward animals emerged from the trees and the sand and the water (where amphibious) to look at them.
The second day they'd come in droves, on buses, with trucks. Some had tape measures. Some had big nets and cages and guns. One of them had brought a lawn mower—typical.
It wasn't until nightfall that the animals could regroup, on a sheltered corner of the beach so everyone could hear. Not that the fish had much to contribute, though. Fucking idiots the lot of them.
'Did you see what they did to Tiger?' asked Squirrel, with a shake of the head.
'Bock..bock..bcGurk!' said Chicken. A beautiful tribute.
'What do we do?' asked Grizzly Bear, scratching his mighty ass.
‘Blubblbublblub,’ said Trout. The animals let this pass unacknowledged.
‘We should fight!’ snapped Crocodile. But he would say that. He’s a crocodile.
‘You know, umm, us birds were talking and we were thinking maybe we just fly someplace else?’
The horses neighed. Giraffe gave a subtle shake of the head but few were up high enough to see it. Donkey stood still and defiant.
'BockbcGurk! Bock.. Bock…bock. BcGurk! BcGurk!’ said Chicken, courageously. This speech roused many.
‘That’s right, chicken. We must fight to defend our home,’ said Lioness, and many nodded, and Crocodile rubbed his talons with glee. Lioness split the group into little squadrons and assigned various missions to them.
And that is how it came to be that Turtle and Pig found themselves beneath the starry skies, discussing, among other things, the mechanics of catapults.
They’d moved down the beach, away from the others. Turtle was being lapped gently by the crystal tide and Pig had had no trouble getting comfy in the sand. This particular fighting unit had been tasked with reclaiming the Cove. Easier said than done. These rocky outcroppings had been teeming with Two-Legs during the day, who laid down monstrous towels from which they played music and ate sandwiches and burned their flesh.
Turtle was shy. Turtle sat and quietly, internally, pondered the animal’s collective and inevitable doom and the tragedy therein. The Two-Legs would surely win. They had guns. And lawn mowers. And also how on earth was a turtle supposed to blitz a rocky outcrop?
Pig was also shy, but the kind of shy that presented as a lot of talking. And since Turtle was so broody, Pig was left to do the back and the forth of the discussion and analysis of various permutations of how the whole storming of the Cove could play out. All of Pig’s thoughts and feelings on everything seemed to be tumbling out in a thick golden stream of words and ideas and disclaimers and anecdotes and observations and non-sequiturs, in between all the many sequiturs, which terrified Turtle to no end.
‘Hey, what are you doing in there?’ asked Pig.
Turtle’s head poked out of its shell sheepishly.
‘Do you know anything about catapults?’ asked Pig.
Turtle blinked. That meant No.
‘Maybe we could build one, since you’re not all that fast and I’m not so good at sneaking up on things? I tend to make myself known, you see. Plus I find a lot of the time the thing that I’m sneaking up on scares me more than I scare it—I anticipate the fright, you know what I mean?’
Turtle blinked. That meant Interesting, keep talking.
‘Sensitive nervous system,’ said Pig quietly, embarrassed for the first time in their conversation.
Turtle blinked twice. That meant some strange tonal sweetness in Pig’s delivery of this little turn of phrase had physically struck Turtle somewhere deep inside, triggering some swirling in the belly, a feeling of lightness in the shell, and Turtle must now spend a few moments in completely silent reflection to interrogate this feeling and where it came from and what specifically about what Pig had said had caused it, and so wasn’t to be disturbed under any—
‘Hey why do you blink so much?’ asked Pig. ‘Do you think that I know what it means? I can’t read your mind, you know.’
Turtle smiled. And blinked, but that one was just a normal blink.
‘You’re a very interesting pig.’ Turtle mulled on this a while. ‘Do you swim?’
‘I can just about fly,’ said Pig.
And this was one of those lines that would stay with Turtle for a long, long time.
They watched little stingrays rip about the ocean floor in the light of the moon, which was high and bright. Pig snort laughed and ranted and raved in the most stunning, electric way. Turtle told slow, weird stories about the sea. And they danced—in the shallow end, obviously.
‘I like how the moonlight ripples on the waves,’ said Turtle, in the early hours of what was now Battle Day. Very soon they had a cove to storm. ‘You can almost hear it. A kind of twinkling.’
‘I’d never noticed,’ said Pig. ‘It’s wonderful.’
All up and down the beach they could see animals sharpening spears, practising with throwing knives, coordinating airstrike patterns with mismatched flocks of wondrous birds. Lioness was doing yoga. Crocodile was chomping at the bit.
Pig and Turtle trotted up the shore and settled into the sand.
‘Can I tell you something?’ said Pig, which is what Pig always said before telling anyone anything really important. ‘Call me crazy—’
‘Crazy,’ said Turtle.
‘I think we’re going to win.’
They slept lightly and briefly, nose to nose. Rooster would wake them at the dawn.
Listen. It was really in the air that the realisation first occurred, striking Turtle’s whirring mind much like the animals had struck the jolly, oily Two-Legs not ten seconds previous—in that this realisation was sudden and absurd and also totally absolute. The realisation had in fact occurred while airborne, which Turtle had never once been before, and you better believe the whole spectacle was not lost on the Two-Legs who had never seen a flying Turtle either and were consequently very horrified, all of them, rooted to their beach towels by an immobilising kind of terror that made them unable to run or look away, as they heard their buddies’ screams begin to echo out around the Valley, and they heard the unique but strangely familiar sound of a lawn mower exploding. The sun seemed high and dangerous. Like the UV had been ratcheted up a bit. The struck-dumb Two-Legs on the cove couldn’t move or blink or think because there was a fucking turtle hurtling through space directly towards their nice secluded little beach spot—and they had no idea that that just was just the beginning, because soon after there would be a flying pig, launched by the same ingenious three-log catapult that had delivered unto them the bookish Turtle, who was even in that moment, even literally flying towards a hard landing and a bloody interspecial war, lost in thought, lost in realisation, lost in an epiphany that was complex and belly-swirling. It was this. Turtle loved Pig more than Turtle knew it was possible to love anything. But remember of course that there’s not really any time for all this mushy stuff, because the instant Turtle hits the surface of the cove there will have to be some rapid sense regaining and lateral scurrying to get out of the path of Pig, who is following very closely behind, extremely closely behind it would seem, since it was now possible to see, even in this fleeting and infinite moment in the sweet air above the crystal water, that the faces of the Two-Legs had twisted into completely disbelieving panic, meaning that probably behind Turtle was a Pig approaching the apex of a glorious parabola in the sky, which was blue and wonderful as always. All epiphanies had to be put on hold for the time being, because there were ankles to bite and beaches to blitz and gorgeous, flying Pig to dodge.