971604, proletariat, conversation 1

Artwork by Alex Kinney.

State your name, please.
Forget about names, sweetheart. It’s not like it matters anymore.
[one breath of laughter]
I’m one of those lucre club millennials. At least, that’s what the Wikipedia hologram page says.
What can you tell us about your experience with how the world has changed, 1604?
It hasn’t changed much. It just…continued its devolution. I knew we’d keep spiraling until we were in this state of something out of a horror movie. But who am I to talk, right? I was just as complicit as everyone else. We were all so greedy.
[reaches across the table, takes two cheap plastic bottles of rum and stuffs them into coat. Opens another one and takes a swig.]
When I was twenty, the president decided to abandon those climate change initiatives, you know? You’re too young to know. Well, in any case, that’s what we did.
What became of it? What did you do?
Things didn’t change for a while. Things went on. I didn’t give a rat’s ass at the time, either. I was a fresh-faced piranha looking for a career in real estate. I just wanted to make a killing and live luxuriously.
Yes, the drive for avarice never changes, does it?
No, no it doesn’t.
[chuckles]
Years passed by. Obesity was still shooting through the roofs. At least pot was legalized in most states. And gas prices were insane, sweetheart, let me tell you. People started working from their homes, and online. Jobs were getting automated. It was a nightmare. Still is.
Yeah, I read somewhere that people used to spend hours in traffic driving themselves around!
Oh, yeah. You won’t see a driver anywhere these days.
What do you do for a living? Is your job about to be automated?
Darling, I hack human limbs and torsos up for a living. Of course, I’m due to be automated soon.
[groans purposefully]
But there’s an art to disarticulating the human body. How will machines read the infinite variety of bodies? There’s lanky ones, pimpled ones, big ones, bony ones, squishy ones. How will they be able to slice the best slabs of meat without hitting the viscera? How will they know without truly seeing and understanding a human body and having a body of their own? There’s an art to it, darling. There really is.
When did the mass production of human meat begin?
[cackles]
Oh, sweetheart, you mean to ask ‘when did cannibalism become mainstream?’
[relishes alcohol and pauses for a moment]
Well, you know there was an exponential growth in human population and the food resources just simply couldn’t keep up with its leisurely arithmetic pace. Malthus was right. The meat industry for poultry, fish and seafood, beef, pork, you name it, was at its apex. But it just couldn’t keep up with our growing appetites and demands. We had to turn to any meat source we could find. We laughed at all the clean, ethical eaters. We laughed at the vegans but God, if I could go back and change things, I would. They knew that the meat industry was destroying the environment.
How was it changing?
God, you’re young. Well, when I was a kid, there were four seasons. Four very distinct seasons. There was winter. That was very cold, and there was snow. There was summer. And then the environment and climate had to adapt to fossil fuel productions and everything was warmer than it had ever been. There were more extreme weather patterns. More hurricanes and floods. It was devastating.
So how did cannibalism come about?
Tell you what. Get me the biggest fish you can find and I’ll tell you the rest of my story.

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