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 His lanugo hair is gone and has been replaced by a smattering of a dark beard.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.

h.e.l. // limper, new pet

Unpurified spring water gurgles down his throat. His eyes are glassy and bloodshot. Every blink squeaks loudly, and we cringe because we can only imagine the pain. Our heads, poke together, like a flower, block the bright sleep-inducing sun. Index fingers jab into the attachment of his shoulder and body, torso, and lanugo cheeks.

He tries to keep his eyes wide, fearful, but he is so exhausted that his eyelids insist on rolling down. We all silently agree to let him drift into whatever oblivion he is teetering towards. Then we drag him into the cave, arms above his head, leaving a snaking trail in the sand.

We lay our softest buffalo hide on the floor and cover him with wool. Then we remember that humans need to sustain themselves on around 3000 calories nowadays; the lot of them are bursting like sausages. But Limper is gaunt and bony, like he had started out at a smaller size than most humans now. He is about 5’8 and 110 pounds now. Perhaps he once was seventy pounds heavier. We feed him as best we can: a ground up paste of everything he needed. Nothing indulgent and nothing disgusting. Simply insipid.

At nightfall, the incandescent orange flames catch delicate loops of light on Limper’s lanugo. His mouth creaks open, fire hopping in his dark, oily eyes. He groans and tears squeeze out of his eyes. Soft whimpering. His eyes acknowledge ours, and they don’t fill with panic, but with a primal look of gratitude and indebtedness. He scrunches the hide as he attempts to hold his weight on his elbows. He knows immediately that, though we look like them, we are not human, but he doesn’t panic.

Limper begins to utter something, croaking like a toad. “W-what are you?”

We tilt our heads, almost surprised at the fullness of his voice. He was nearly dead yesterday.

He beckons us with his grinding jaw, curious as ever. “Where am I?”

We are the human extinction league. We are transhumans. We found you yesterday, starving over here in the mountains. You’re in our house now.

Limper notices that he is in the cave, as he peers up at the ceiling, pushing up at the sky. Twisting his legs, he realizes that he has broken his ankle and some of the surrounding wounds are festering. The smell alone is wilting the little weeds, growing from the cave walls. “I came from the city. Walked twenty goddamn miles.”

What were you running from?

He decides to overlook the fact that we are communicating to his mind, acknowledging our superiority over humans. He says, “I wasn’t running from anything, per se. I was running to find a human doctor.”

A human doctor?

“Yes, a human doctor,” said Limper, reaching for a spoonful of grey paste we’d set out for him, “a human doctor. They’re so hard to find now. They’re all for the rich. Th-the hospital is automated, you know?”

Several of us sit down, and gather in a semi-circle around him. It suddenly feels like campfire story night. Limper continues, “It’s all just a jumble of goddamn machines, now. They just check your pulse, scan your eyeballs, and shoot light through your ears, and then you’re off. Didn’t take long for me to notice that my hair was falling out in clumps and I was sick.”

You had choice but to run.

“I had no choice.” He scowls and clenches his jaw, as if he is about to burst with a deluge of confessions. “So I ran twenty miles, stuck out here in the mountains, delirious and out of my mind. It was too dangerous back in the city. Everything is automated. Every goddamn thing is automated. We let any old money-grubbing bastard crawl into the government and we just sit on our asses and watch our screens. We let them automate our bodies, our minds, our lives.”

Limper drops into a bit of a catatonic state, with glazed expression hanging on his face. Human are much too theatrical, we think. They swirl in emotional states too much and it makes them unpredictable. Dangerous, even.

We let him rest, tonight. But he is a sponge, meant to be wrung and strangled for information. He knows what his kind has done to the planet. He knows.

bacon.

Artwork by Helen Chadwick

we just want our food,
doesn’t matter if it’s melted down cattle or chicken lard
slopping into the waters,
exhaust poisoning the air,
forget about animal waste biofuel,
coursing electricity, goddamn it,
we just want our bacon.

we raise our proteins up,
graze the prison cell “habitat,”
slaughter them for brunch,
smoke earth like a cigarette,

but whatever works,
whatever gets the food here faster.

late revelations, useless, apathetic humans.

the ever-warming airs and such are a hoax, aren’t they?
coral reefs disintegrate and shit, you know.
winters are hot and the coldest it gets is when you go outside and shiver and your hands are stiff,
but no, there’s no goddamn snow on the ground and there aren’t any snow days.
pretty soon you clog your lungs on whatever it is floating around in the atmosphere,
maybe live a little less, cough more.
if you’re an apathetic one, you don’t really care,
you cringe at the celebrity-endorsed environmental campaigns,
those ethnic children told to beam and there to make yourself feel better about your morals
by donating to a wildlife nonprofit,
you know
you’re just here for the money and denying truths ‘til the end of your time,
because you know you ain’t gonna be here
for the day, the decade, the century, the next lifetime:

carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, whatever else poison is out there,
imagine your perverted fantasy,
heat. sweat. puddle of greasy human.
arms reaching up, skin and fat melting off in the oven of Earth,
someone could just slurp you up through a straw,
chunks, stew, thick, oily, pimply, shitty,

what a great life you’ve lived, eh?