971604, proletariat, conversation 2

Artwork by Alex Kinney

[digs into a glazed piece of salmon]
The last time I had salmon like this was when I was ten or so. That was a long time ago. You know how old I am.
Yes. I’ve had fresh fish here and there, but mostly I have only had protein powders flavored like fish. This tastes much better than the stuff I’ve had.
Yeah, relish it, sweetheart. You won’t have any fish for a long, long time. Good thing it comes outta your boss’s budget. This shit is expensive.
[a few moments. Food is cleared off the table. Takes a mint from breast pocket.]
Where were we? Cannibalism?
Yes, the cannibalism.
Well, as you know, the meat industry was a complete disaster for the planet. Even the organic farming industries, you know. That whole movement became some kind of trend for the upper middle class. There was no actual proof as to if it was more carbon efficient. Sometimes it was just as bad, and it used more land than conventional farming. . .
[trails off for a moment, in old lady fashion.]
The farming was offsetting the climate, no?
Yeah, like I said. There were more extreme weather patterns than ever before and every day was hotter than the next. There were more hurricanes and extreme storms. The carbon impact of the meat industry became so severe and soon enough all the chicken, pork, beef, whatever, all that became a luxury. It became expensive because of its processing.
Yes, it’s on special occasions that we get to eat that stuff.
Exactly. So, rather than let human meat go to waste, we take the offal, or put car crash victims out of their misery, and we cut them into nice little pieces. And then you buy ‘em from the grocery store and you make a nice sautéed dish with garlic. It’s affordable for the lower zoo. Myself included.
So, our normal meat sources became too expensive and we turned to human meat instead?
Precisely, yes. We were just pumping the dead ones full of formaldehyde and other shit, and burying them. It was terrible for the environment. All kinds of nutrient depletion in the soil and all. There was really no need for all those chemicals, you know.
What do you mean?
[chomps down on mint aggressively.]
Jesus, sweetheart. Human burial should be left at that. All the chemicals are such a waste. Bodies should be free to decompose and maggots should be free to burrow into the entrails and cycle through the ecosystem, you know? Maybe we could make something of all the waste.
Perhaps cremation is better?
[coughs and gathers belongings]
No, not necessarily. Cremation still uses fuel. And it’s not exactly environmentally friendly.
Well, then, how do you suggest we dispose of the bodies if they are not eligible or if they are not used for our diet?
Between you and me, I have a neighbor who froze his grandma and dipped her in liquid nitrogen. And then he flung her against the wall and she shattered.
She shattered?
She shattered. His grandma literally shattered into a million bits. All over the sidewalk. In the grass. In the bushes. Speaking of which, really started to flourish after that.
That’s interesting.
[cracks knuckles and shifts restlessly]
I think it’s a better alternative to traditional burial. I mean, the old lady had one of those medical devices inside of her, so maybe we could filter that stuff out. What’s left over is compost for your precious kale and quinoa.
[silence]
I suppose it’s cost effective.
Oh, it is more than cost effective, darling. People spend too much money on burial. If you must have a coffin, make one out of cardboard. It’s biodegradable that way. But I have to say, liquid nitrogen is a shit show. It ain’t cost effective in that way.
What about people with certain spiritual beliefs?
[stands up]
Everyone can do whatever they goddamn want. If there’s no reason to waste, then we shouldn’t. Just look at where we are now.
[shakes interviewer’s hand]
This has been a great talk, really. I must get back to the butcher shop. They have a big crisis with some kind of airborne virus. Some kind of plague. Maybe it’s the end of the human reign.

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.

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.

CFC Delusions

BACK BACK
FORTH

signthisgoddamncontractandthrowthisoneout, mister president

yes, just sign here at the x’s. initial here, here.

chlorofluorocarbons, GHG atmosphere absorb/emit radiation thermal infrared range,
can consist of oxygen nitrous oxide carbon dioxide that is certainly not all
there’s water vapor tetrafluoromethane CFC-12 all the bullshit, keep your eyes on the contract, potus,
you know what you are doing, we’re sure, you’ve heard it all before, right?

debrief GHG spans 20 yr 50 yr hell even the 500 yr mark they permeate the atmosphere for eternity
exceed your footprint gross abuse Cap and Trade as if it’s a well-oiled machine,
goddamn it, just sign it, sign the goddamn contract

Telescope Push Record

Artwork by Nader Shenouda.

Telescope pokes its eye through the gaudy pastel watermelon blue sunset,
And searches desperately—frantically,
Through stars, suns, galaxies, and otherworldly things, unknown things,
For something humans can inhabit, torture, and annihilate,
Oh, torture for millions of years,
And Telescope lunges forward,
Reaching out to any aliens it sees, swirling in the lens,
On another planet: efficient, tranquil, slick, brand new,
The novelty won’t wear off until the humans travel in little metal pods,
Hurdle towards their new home, with laser guns, a-blasting,
Conquer it like Rome,
Slaughter ensues, bathe like Elizabeth did of virgin’s blood,

And so it begins again.