It was a misty evening in the sepia-hued forest, where two young hogs lay on their forest floor, rolling around in the soft, mossy, mud. They contently snorted to one another as they smugly snaffled at the pile of acorns that they had found buried in the dirt, that they suspected had originally belonged to a squirrel preparing for its winter hibernation that was beckoning imminently.

“What a good find! Lets eat them all before the squirrel comes back” said one greedy hog to the other in his raucous voice.

“Pah! We’ll eat them all, and if the squirrel turns up, we’ll eat it too!" said the other as he chuckled in his gruff way.

“And we could eat the extra acorns it brings with it!” the first hog added as he cackled mischievously to himself.

The hogs continued to eat up all of the acorns and after eating quite the hoard, they fell fast asleep surrounded by their discarded acorn shells, snoring loudly from their mossy beds.

Once the air had cooled and the ground had hardened, the hogs began to stir and awoke to a dark figure looming over them. One of the hogs squealed as he launched himself backwards into his chum. Just as they had scrambled up and were about to run away from the sinister shadow, a low, deep voice broke the night silence.

“So, you found MY acorns did you…?” the dark figure boomed.

“Y..y..your acorns?” stammered one of the hogs.

“We thought they belonged to a squirrel!?” protested the other innocently.

“Do I look like a squirrel to you?!” the voice hollered, as the dark figure stepped into the moonlight to reveal itself as a huge, hairy, beast of a hog. He was as big as a bear, and looked more fierce than any creature they had ever come across, with his menacing red eyes and jet black coat that looked like it was made of sharp spines compared to their soft down.

The surprised hogs took a few steps back from the beast as they huddled close together. 

“ You look like us..b..but bigger..much bigger!” stammered one of the hogs.

“That’s right..” the beast replied in a more charming yet sinister tone.

“I’m one of you.. brothers..” the giant hog added in his smarmy way.

“Why do you bury your acorns?” asked the other small hog.

“I bury them because I have too many to eat in one go. Far too many..” the beast smugly explained with a dry laugh.

“How many?” asked the greedy little hog.

“Yes, how many do you have?” asked the other.

The beast chuckled to himself as he grinned at the young hoglets.

“I have too many to count! That’s why I bury them. Would you like some?” he offered with a sly smile.

“Yes!” one of the hog’s blurted out.

“Yes please” the other added as he gave his pal a sideways glance of disapproval. It was much better to be polite and not upset the beast, especially as he was willing to share his stash of acorns.

The beast laughed to himself again before saying “I will give you young hogs acorns, more acorns than you could ever imagine! If you do something for me…”

“What is it?” one asked. 

“Yes, what is it? said the other.

“I want you to bring me every animal you can find. Bring them to me and I will give you the acorns” the beast declared.

The hogs looked at each other in confusion and then one turned back to the beast to ask “Which animals? I mean, what kind?”

“All kinds! Every kind you can find! Birds, squirrels, deer, other hogs, all forest animals are welcome to join me”

“Join you where?” the small hog replied.

“And how will we get them to go?” added the other.

“Bring them to my den, I will show you where it is. And if you want acorns, you will find a way to bring them” replied the beast solemnly.

The huge beast then turned around and walked away into the darkness. The two small hogs looked at each other for a few seconds, unsure of what to say, until one of them said “We better follow before we lose him”.

“Wait, what?!” replied the other anxiously as his friend dashed off into the forest. 

“Come on! You want more acorns don’t you?!” the young hog called back.

The little hog ran to catch up with his friend, until they eventually caught up with the monster by slamming into his dark behind that was so jet black that they didn’t see him standing in the darkness.

The young hogs shrieked as they steadied themselves and backed up, apologising profusely, their eyes quickly adjusting to the black. They stood there facing the beast, and looked up in awe at the dark silhouette of the giant, gnarled tree that towered over them all.

One of young hogs gulped as he looked up and uttered “Is this..your den?”

“Bring them to me, I will pay you only then” the beast replied before turning to face his tree and slinked into the large crevice in the front of the trunk.

The two hogs, disappointed and uncertain, skulked back to their part of the woods and endured an unsettled and disturbed sleep. Every sound and rustle made them jump out of their skin as they both visited their own dark nightmares.

The next morning, the young hogs ambushed every animal they came into contact with. Most smaller creatures did as they were told, in fear of being eaten up by the seemingly vicious hogs. The hogs frog-marched any unruly parties that tried to run away and ended up chasing the faster animals towards the monster’s den, straight into his dark tree. 

That evening, after their hard days work, they walked to the den and before they had a chance to call out, the huge hog appeared from inside the tree to greet them. 

“You’ve done well young hoglets, very well! You may rest until tomorrow..” he said.

“Tomorrow? But what about our acorns?” asked one agitated hog.

“Your work is not yet done! You will get acorns when you have finished.” The beast declared.

“But..when will we be finished..?” whimpered the other little hog.

“When I have all the creatures!” said the beast as he disappeared back into the tree without another word.

The young hogs breathed their defeated sighs and walked off to get some rest. 

“Maybe we should just find our own acorns? It could take months before we can catch every animal..” said one to the other.

“But he already has so many acorns! If we do as he says, he will give us all we want! We should just keep going..”replied the other.

The next week, and the next month, and the month after that, was spent rounding up as many animals as the hogs could find. The hungrier the hogs became, the more vicious and angry they were towards the other animals. They were surviving off next to nothing as the winter took hold, and they didn't dare dig for more acorns as they never knew where the beast would be lurking. They continued to roam the forest and offered all creatures they found to the beast. The beast eventually agreed to give the hogs their acorns, and emerged from his tree with a small pile for them each.

The hogs hungrily snaffled up the acorns within minutes, as the huge beast looked on with a smirk. As soon as they had finished, one of the young hogs asked “Can we have more now?”

The beast laughed mockingly and turned his back to return to his tree. 

“Hey!” the other hog shouted. “Come back! You owe us more!!” he shrieked. 

“WE WANT MORE!” the other one cried out angrily, as he stormed the tree and disappeared into the dark crevice. 

After a few moments of endless silence, the other little hog gingerly took a few steps towards the tree and attempted to peer inside for his friend. The black hole was eerily quiet and too dark to see anything. He leant in a bit closer to suddenly feel a powerful gust of wind hit him hard in the face followed by a loud, deep growl that echoed right through the the little hogs body. The frightened little hog squealed in terror as he scrambled backwards and ran as fast as he could towards the back of the tree. 

As he ran, he lost his footing and tripped over to fall sideways onto the ground. The little hog had tripped on something that was now raining down on top of him, pelting him as his wild eyes adjusted to the new upside down world. As he lay there stunned, he realised that it was acorns that surrounded him, dozens and dozens of acorns that he had worked so hard to get. At that moment, the hog felt like he never wanted to see another acorn again, and kicked his legs hard to try and flip himself upright. He writhed and wriggled and swayed with all his might as he struggled to get up. He then panicked and look towards the tree for the beast, to then spot a pile of miscellaneous bones that spilled from another deep crevice in the trunk. The little hog rocked his body frantically until he flipped upright, and dashed into the dark, lonely forest.