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Under the Bridge

I can’t tell the exact moment it started, but I remember clearly the moment I knew there was no turning back.

Maybe it all started when they first were spotted in the city center, forced to leave the woods outside because of the wildfires. Or maybe when they established themselves on the river banks and nobody tried to send them away.

What I know for sure is that I wasn’t ready to find them blocking my way on that warm July evening, as I was working as a pizza deliverer on my scooter. I was headed to a small house just outside the city center, and suddenly a huge boar and its cub had appeared in front of me. They didn’t seem intentioned to move, so I decided to turn back and take a slightly longer path. As soon as I made the u-turn, another couple of boars blocked my retreat.

The biggest one started to talk. I mean, it wasn’t moving its lips, but I could clearly hear its voice talking to me. It was telling me I had something for them.

“No,” I replied out loud. “I just have a few pizzas for a customer who placed an order.”

“Pizza!” the small piglet giggled as soon as he heard the word.

“That pizzas will do, thanks”. The huge one talked again. I tried to protest, to tell them the customer was waiting for a delivery they had already paid for, but all that the boar said was that I should thank the customer on their behalf, then.

“No way!” I said, trying to scare them away with the sound of my scooter, but to no avail. They got closer and threw the bag holding the pizzas on the ground. They opened the straps and served themselves, disappearing in a small alley with the pizza boxes firmly in their mouth.

Shocked as I was, I still managed to call my bosses to tell them what had just happened, well aware there was no way they were ever going to believe me. As I returned there with a new set of pizzas, I could still feel the boars’ eyes on me, and a cold shiver went through my spine.

On the following morning, I turned on the local news, and I saw I wasn’t the only one who had such an experience the night before. A lot of delivery guys had been harassed by hungry boars and had to surrender them the food. At first, it felt good to know I wasn’t alone, and that I was going to get an apology from my bosses for not believing me. On the other hand, though, I was worried about the possibility that it became the norm. What was going to happen on my next delivery gig?

The situation quickly got out of our hands, and the mayor himself had to intervene. A historical meeting was organized and broadcasted on national TV. The mayor and a few representatives of the boars met on the riverbank, and the boars’ proposal was quite shocking to hear: we owned the city during the day, and during the night it belonged to them. The ones of us who worked at nighttime was still allowed to be around if they paid a small tribute in food.

Many people thought we shouldn’t have accepted the deal, fighting the boars as hard as we could, but the animals’ rights activists held the loudest protests in town, and since the mayoral elections were quite close the mayor had to listen to them. He accepted the deal.

It worked for a while, but it didn’t last long. Soon enough the boars got unsatisfied with what they obtained in the bargain and asked for more. A fellow delivery guy was ambushed in a dark alley and robbed because the boars thought they were given the crappest food on purpose.

A doctor going home after her shift was forced to surrender her falafel wrap if she wanted to get to her door on her own legs. The mayor had to set up another meeting, and this time the boars went straight for the big prize: they wanted to take full control of the city. At first, the mayor refused, but on the following morning, many people found their car or their shop devastated. We held on as much as we could, but in the end, we had to give in.

We were forced out of our homes, and it was our turn to go living on the riverbank. At that point, somebody was still convinced that we shouldn’t harm the boars, because what we were witnessing was nature taking back what belonged to her. After the few rainstorms, though, we all were sick of it. We might have been nomadic hunters once, but those times were long gone: without a roof over our heads and four walls around us, we were lost.

One day a guy I had seen countless times as he juggled close to the train station climbed over a rock and began to talk, telling us that if we all united to take back our spaces, there was no way the boars could stop us. Someone objected that it wasn’t going to be a fair fight, but the guy quickly objected that neither intimidating us by breaking our stuff was.

“Do we have to walk on four legs for it to be a fair fight?”

We all agreed with the juggler: a new resistance was born. We planned and carried out many sabotage plans, such as blocking their way with our cars, hiding all the food supplies, and locking all the trash cans so that they could not feed. A fatal blow was delivered when a few of us snuck over them one day and kidnapped all of their cubs. The adults freaked out, and we observed them as they roamed the street, desperate, calling their cubs. They held on for two full days before giving in.

On the morning of the third day, their boss and second in chief climbed down the path to the riverbank, demanding to speak with our representatives. The mayor slowly walked towards them, together with the juggler, who had quickly escalated the ladder and had become a key figure of our new society.

“I think we all agree that all this is ridiculous.” said the boss boar.

“Indeed it is” the mayor was quick to speak to prevent the way more colorful version the juggler was about to pronounce “What I can tell you is that your kids are safe and well-fed. But it’s time to settle it once and for all.”

“What do you want in exchange for them?”

“Our town, of course.”

The boss boar and the mayor stared at each other for a very long time. Finally, the boar lowered its eyes.

“Ok,” it said “ Your life is not all that fun, after all. Your stuff breaks way too easily. It’s been funny at first, but your lifestyle is not for us. We accept the deal, but we have a request.”

“What is that?”

“Don’t fine the people feeding us their leftovers.”

The mayor and the juggler looked at each other and accepted. They could have obtained even more if they tried, but at this point, the most important thing was to regain possession of what we had lost.

“But it’s not enough!” I tried to protest, but I hadn’t climbed the social ladder enough to have a say on that. The juggler turned around and frowned, signaling me to not cause any trouble.

“We just want our homes back.” Said an old man on my right-hand side. I shrugged and let it go, ready to take back what was mine.

As I climbed up the riverbank, I saw a young boar who kept staring at me. I got closer, and I saw it was the grown-up version of the little cub who stole my delivery on the first night.

“You know why you won?” He asked me. I didn’t really care, but I decided to listen to the young boar.

“You’re dying to tell me.”

“Because you had nothing left to lose. We did.”

“So what?”

“Nothing,” I’m sure I saw it shrugging and grinning. “Just wanted you to keep that in mind.”

“Asshole,” I thought as it walked away. Then I turned around and went back to my life.

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