h.e.l. // put them all down

It’s been about two weeks since we found Limper near death at the front door of our home. Our specially made diet works like an elixir on him. His lanugo hair is gone and has been replaced by a smattering of a dark beard. The ligaments and bones in his ankle are better, but he still won’t be able to sprint for a while. He’s been up and about with us, though. We sit around the fire every night and he tells us about the humans. We have a bit of a rapport with Limper, now. But it won’t last long, because inevitably, he will try to tell his kind about us. He’ll tell them of transhuman existence and all hell would break loose. We would have to—take care of him—discreetly.

“A lot of the money is in oil and coal. And in all the clean water,” said Limper, growing fond of drinking his meals now.

What do you mean clean water? There’s no clean water for everyone?

He frowned, and scoffed. “No, there’s no clean water for everyone. What do you think this is? Shangri-La?”

So who has the clean water?

“Big corporations. Old money, whatever.” He holds his hands out to the fire for warmth, and inhales his human scent off his forearm hairs. “The really rich people get to drink clean water. The rest of us, well, I don’t really know what the hell we’re drinking. Sometimes the water is yellow or brownish. I put it through a filter and throw some iodine in there. Drink up all the bugs in there and everything.”

What if the water is unsafe to drink?

“Not ‘if’ it’s unsafe to drink. That water is definitely not safe to drink. But hey, it’s natural selection, isn’t it? There’s already too many people to care for on this planet.” He finishes his meal and hugs his knees to his face. “Sometimes they stop the water.”

So how do you survive?

“A lot just die of dehydration. We’ve just become hostages to the corporations. Or whoever has the water. Or they get massively obese.” Limper chuckles wryly. “All the food available to the majority of us is just this greasy shit.”

Like what? Humans eat a lot of French fries, don’t they? Something like that?

“Yeah, something like that,” said Limper, standing up, “it’s a lot of hamburgers. Only, it’s not meat. It’s like eating goddamn cardboard.” He yawns and disappears into the cave.

Limper has been an invaluable fountain of information, especially when he goes off on his rants and blithers on. He really has been a great help. Now we knew much of the extent to which humans have destroyed the planet. And to what extent they are suffering for it. Perhaps the league has to make its debut earlier.

Some of us made our way through the dark to the back of the cave, where Limper usually slumbers. It would be painless, for him, because of how helpful he has been. Syringe in hand, we kneeled down next to the cot he usually takes.

Humans are easy to put down. Even easier to murder. But we won’t murder him; we will kill him gently, like catching a feather and setting it down. He would not be the first human we had to put down. Most of them we had to kill quite early because of their incessant threats and screaming. They would always try to contact someone about our existence. So, we put them all down.

We lift the wool blanket, and the cot is empty. Still dented with the faint outline of his body. Deeper into the cave, into the pitch black, unlit by anything, we hear a barely audible buzzing and whirring. The end is lit by a white blue light, blinking erratically.

By then we know what that means. A pitter patter of our footsteps bounces off the walls. One of our own lies on the ground, neck distended and bruised. The flashing light emits an electronic sound from the socket of its arm, which has been ripped off its body. The little twerp has escaped.

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