Authors: Vicki Grant
Tags: #JUV000000, #Young Adult
Copyright Â© Vicki Grant 2006
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Pigboy / Vicki Grant
ISBN 1-55143-666-3 (bound) ISBN 1-55143-643-4 (pbk.)
I. Title. II Series.
PS8613.R367P53 2006Â Â Â Â Â Â Â jC813'.6Â Â Â Â Â Â C2006-903444-3
A school field trip to a heritage farm turns dangerous when
an escaped convict appears on the scene.
First published in the United States, 2006
Library of Congress Control Number:
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover design: Doug McCaffry
Cover photography: Getty Images
Orca Book PublishersÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Orca Book Publishers
PO Box 5626, Station BÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â PO Box 468
Victoria, BC CanadaÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Custer, WA USA
V8R 6S4Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 98240-0468
Printed and bound in Canada
09 08 07 06 â¢ 4 3 2 1
For the wonderful Maggie deVries,
with thanks for getting me hooked
on writing books. V.G.
No. It was worse than that.
A “heritage” farm.
A big, fat, stinkingâand I do mean stink ingâheritage farm. No running water. No electricity. No pop machine.
I couldn't believe it.
The other class went to a television studio for their field trip. They got to look through the cameras and talk to the
announcers. One kid even got to read the weather forecast on the news. How cool is that?
Our class, on the other hand, was going to a stupid farm somewhere out in the sticks.
Is that fair?
I don't know why I was even surprised. What else would you expect from a guy like Mr. Benvie? There's no way he'd actually do something fun. He's a big Mr. Do-gooder. He spent his entire summer building a well in this village in Africa.
Good for him.
I mean it. I'm not just saying it.
It's really nice all those people aren't dying anymore. It's great they have water to grow their crops and feed their animals and stuff like that.
But that doesn't mean that farming is actually interesting.
That doesn't mean that any body around here actually cares where food comes from.
That doesn't mean that any normal
teenager would actually want to waste an entire day at some stupid boring farm.
Mr. Benvie's a teacher. He spends his whole life with kids. He should have known that.
I mean, what's wrong with the guy? Clearly, any field trip involving manure is not right for a bunch of fourteen-year-olds.
But manure wasn't even the worst part of the stupid field trip.
The worst part was that the farmer grows pigs. And pigs are also called hogs. And there's this poor guy in our class called Dan Hogg who everybody hated.
I don't know why exactly. Maybe it was his hair. Or his teeth. Or his glasses. Or the fact that he answered Mr. Benvie's questions as if he might actually have a brain. Usually he just tried to sort of disappear, but it never worked. Idiots like Shane Coolen or Tyler March wouldn't take their eyes off him. They wouldn't shut up about him. They wouldn't quit laughing at him.
That's what really bugged me. Mr. Benvie saw what was going on. If he was such a good guy, why did he go and make it worse? He was all concerned about these people who live a million miles away. But he didn't seem to mind torturing some poor kid in his own class by telling everyone that we're going to see “how chickens, cows and
are traditionally raised.”
That was too much for Shane. He yelled, “Visiting some of your relatives, are we, Dan? I always wanted to meet your mother.”
Everyone cracked up. Mr. Benvie said, “All right, that's enough,” but I could tell he had trouble not laughing too.
I hated Shane Coolen.
I hated stupid field trips.
But, most of all, I hated being Dan Hogg.
The day of the field trip, Mr. Benvie had the stomach flu. I was so happy when I found out.
I figured there was no way we'd be going to that stupid farm now. I couldn't believe my luck. I'd been up all night worrying about how I'd survive seven hours of hog jokes. I practically jumped for joy when the principal said Mr. Benvie would be out for a couple of days. Maybe, I thought, by the time he got better, he'd
have come to his senses. Maybe he'd let us do something else instead. Visit the tire factory or see one of those boring history movies or go to the fire station. Anything but that stupid farm and its pigpens.
For a while, it looked like I might actually make it through the day.
Then there was a knock at the door, and the principal introduced our substitute teacher. I saw the rubber boots she was wearing. I just knew what was coming next. The principal put on this big phony smile and went, “Ms. Creaser is delighted to be able to accompany 9B on your exciting trip to historic Windmill Farm!”
He blabbed on about how the farmer had come from Holland to raise these special old-fashioned animals. Apparently it was all very fascinatingâbut I wasn't listening.
All I could think was, I knew it.
Why did I even hope the trip would be cancelled? Something that good would never happen to me. I'm just not a lucky person.
Whenever I'd say that to my mother she'd go, “Oh! That's nonsense! Of course you're lucky. You're young. You're healthy. You have a roof over your head and food to eat.” As if that was going to make me feel better. It just made me feel pathetic.
Basically, she was saying I'm lucky because I'm not dead.
I looked around the class. Why couldn't I be lucky the way these other kids are lucky? They're young and healthy tooâbut they also get to be tall and good-looking and funny and rich and athletic and popular, and all the other things I have no hope of ever being.
If I ever said that to my mother, she'd just shake her head and tell me how much worse off I could be. I'm a scrawny buck toothed nerd named Hogg. “Imagine,” she'd say, “how much worse it is to be an overweight Hogg like your cousin Andy. Imagine what he has to go through.”
Right. I could just picture it. Next time that idiot Shane bugged me about my name I'd say, “Well, at least, I'm not a fat Hogg.”
And next time he mentioned my buckteeth, I'd point out that at least I have teeth.
And if he ever brought up the fact again that I could start fires with my coke-bottle glasses, I'd explain how handy that would be if we wanted to have a wienie roast one day.
I almost laughed when I thought of that, but I could feel Shane looking at me. Only losers laugh to themselves.
The principal was still yakking away about traditional hog farming. Shane was still whispering stupid jokes to his friends and cracking up. How could my mother think I was lucky?
I wasn't even lucky enough to get the flu when I needed it.
People were pushing and shoving for a good spot, but I managed to get a seat by myself in the back of the bus.
I always got a seat by myself. The boys thought I was weird. The girls didn't think about me at all. No one ever wanted to sit with me. I didn't care. I was used to it.
The bus driver said it would take about an hour to get to the farm. That was okay.
I could sleep. I was tired after being up the night before. I was going to need all my strength to make it through the rest of the day. It takes a lot of energy to act like those idiots don't bother me.
Ms. Creaser was talking to some girls up front. They were having quite a little conversation. Something about her jacket. I guess they liked it, the way they were squealing about it. Ms. Creaser was pretty young and dressed like a VJâother than the rubber boots, that is. She reminded me of my half sister and her college friends. You know, the clothes, the earrings, the big laugh.
I didn't want to act like a weirdo, so I stopped watching them and just looked out the window. There wasn't much else to do.
For a while there were houses and, every so often, someone out walking a dog. Once we got on the highway, though, there were just 18-wheelers and gas stations. It was even worse after we turned
on to a country road. We passed this dead little village, a couple of farmsâand then there was nothing.
No houses. No fields. Not even any signs. Just miles and miles of the worst dirt road you ever saw.
Every time we went over a bump I thought, I'm going to be sick. That was all I needed. If I threw up on the bus, my life would be worthless. They'd never let me forget it. Seriously. Never.
My mother told me to take a carsickness pill before I left. She kept saying I'd be sorry. I hate it when she treats me like a kid. I didn't take one. I hoped it wasn't too late to take one now.
I rooted around in my backpack. I found allergy pills, Kleenex, duct tapeâall the stuff you'd expect a nerd like me to haveâbut nothing for carsickness.
We went over another bump, and it was all I could do not to heave. I closed my eyes and told myself not to think about it.
That was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be.
A second later, my face was smashed up against the bus window. I heard the arm to my glasses snap off and that stupid laugh of his. On the plus side, I completely forgot about throwing up.
Shane Coolen gave me a big yellow smile and said, “Mind if I join you, Pigboy?”
Mr. Benvie bugged me, but I had to say this for him: Whenever we went on a field trip, he always sat at the back of the bus. There was no way he'd ever let Shane and Tyler out of his sight.
I should have thought about that before I chose my seat. I should have found a place up front near Ms. Creaser. I would have looked like a chicken, but at least I wouldn't have had two hundred pounds
of Shane Coolen slamming me into the side of the bus.
“Scooch over!” he said in this fake girly voice. “A little more...A little more... Attaboy. I'm not squishing you now, am I?”
What was I supposed to say?
If I said yes, he'd pound me for being a wuss. If I said no, he'd crush me until I said yesâthen he'd pound me.
I couldn't win. I just kept my mouth shut and hoped that the lenses of my glasses wouldn't break. I'd be blind without them. I could probably have lived with thatâbut what would I tell my mother? I didn't need her finding out about this. If Shane thought I was running home to my mama like some little wimp, he'd really torture me.
Shane had his feet pushed up against the arm of the seat and was leaning against my back like I was a beanbag chair. Every time he moved, that little metal rim around the window dug deeper into my face. I could taste the blood
from my nose dripping into my mouth. I wondered how much longer my teeth would last.
Shane took my arm and bent it back at the elbow. He started going, “This little piggy went to market. This little piggy went home...” Tyler and his buddies were cracking up. I could hear them snorting.
I was worried about what Shane had in store for the last little piggyâwhen everyone suddenly stopped laughing. Shane hopped up and moved over to his side of the seat.
Ms. Creaser was heading to the back of the bus.