Swine flu has killed thousands abroad and now threatens the lives of many in the United States. As the virus nears pandemic proportions, many Americans have begun to panic. But for one Illinois couple, the disease brings glitz and glamour rather than gloom and doom.
Early on the morning of April 29th, 16-year old Caitlin Stocking noticed that her once normal, healthy hands hand transformed into cloven hooves. Upon examining herself in the mirror, Stocking was shocked by the presence of a large, wet upturned snout where her petite nose had been.
“I knew then,” lamented the teenager in one of her few successful attempts to speak English, “that I had swine flu.”
Stocking and her family had heard about swine flu on the news, but never dreamed it would hit their small farming community.
“I’ve been living in Mendota for 57 years,” said Bruce Stocking, Caitlin’s father and a respected area farmer “and I ain’t never seen no doctor for nothin’.”
The Stockings are largely self-sufficient. Located about 30 miles from the town’s general store and 7 miles from any other homes, the Stocking’s farm has provided the majority of the family’s sustenance for the past 20 years.
“I knew somethin’ was wrong when the other pigs started losin’ weight,” recalled Caitlin’s mother, Jennifer Stocking.
Jennifer began to notice that her daughter would, nightly, asked to be excused from the dinner table only to return claiming she was no longer hungry. Jennifer, deciding finally to shadow her daughter on one such occasion, realized that Caitlin had been sneaking off to feast on the slop intended for the Stocking’s pigs, leaving the trough spotless each night.
But by then it was too late. Soon after, the physical transformation took place, leaving portions of Caitlin’s body permanently piggy.
“I wanted to enter her in the Tri-County Fair,” said 9-year old Earl Stocking of his big sister. “I wanted to win me a blue ribbon!”
A conservative family, the Stockings initially decided it would be best if Caitlin saw as few people as possible. Exposing their young daughter to fame, they thought, might spoil her for life.
“I figured, once the novelty wore off, no one’d give a damn ‘bout a pig girl,” remembered Jennifer Stocking.
The family was pleased with their daughter’s new form, relishing in her decreased moodiness and decreased use of the family car. Her parents also appreciated how low maintenance Caitlin had become.
“She just go roll out in the mud, you know,” said Bruce Stocking affectionately.
“Saves us a fortune on shampoo,” added his wife Jennifer.
Bruce Stocking makes a modest living as a farmer and the Stockings lived a life without excess until one afternoon when Jennifer Stocking made a life-changing discovery.
“I was bringing her afternoon slop and I saw this pile,” Caitlin’s mother recounted. “I didn’t know what it was a pile of.”
Traditionally, farmers ensure that nothing they produce goes to waste, so Jennifer smelled, prodded, and ultimately tasted the strange objects her daughter had mysteriously collected.
“They was delicious,” she said.
The mother began to include pieces of the lumpy, mushroom like matter in several dishes including pancakes, stews, and pies. Taken aback by the amazing flavor of the unknown substance, Earl and Bruce encouraged Jennifer to enter her cooking in a local bake-off.
Easily taking the blue ribbon locally, Jennifer began to submit her dishes to more and more renowned contests all the while using the never-ending stream of enigmatic supplies provided by her daughter as the secret ingredient.
Things were going well until she reached the famous Pillsbury Bake-Off in Dallas, Texas.
“We had to disqualify her,” said Pete Osmond, bake-off judge, “It just isn’t fair to the rest of the contestants if one person’s got truffles in their dish.”
Truffles. The gourmet fungi treasured in European cuisine. The Stockings had never heard of such a thing, but Caitlin’s revised physical form had made the delicacy easy to locate. The family was soon approached by Jacques Darveau, a famous French chef.
“Usually,” explained 36-year old Darveau, “we train pigs to hunt the truffles.”
The problem, Darveau continued, is that the swine often consume the truffles themselves before they can be harvested by a chef. Thus, Caitlin, exhibiting no appetite for the fungi was the perfect truffle seeker.
“She never did like no mushrooms,” said Jennifer Stocking.
Caitlin’s talent has brought the Stocking family much fortune in the past weeks. Caitlin’s new gig earns the Illinoisans twice as much as the family farm, so they’ve relocated to Paris, France where their daughter’s skill can be most effectively utilized.
“She is, how you say… magnefique,” said Darveau of his newest employee.
The Stockings enjoy their life in Europe and are swiftly adjusting to a fast-paced urban lifestyle. Mother, Jennifer, has fallen in love with Paris’s rich shopping district while her son Earl has developed a penchant for the theater. Earl intends to invest in a number of up and coming Parisian artists.
“We’ve never been happier,” raved Jennifer.
Although swine flu granted the Stocking family wealth and fame, the CDC does urge U.S. citizens to visit their doctors should they experience any symptoms of the disease.