Friday, April 27, 2007

"Slaughter Me Gently"

Here's the third week's installment of an essay or short story. Titled "Slaugther Me Gently", this short story first appeared within the webpages of If - E - Zine(tm)'s 4th issue in June, 2004. Enjoy.


"Slaughter Me Gently"

by Charles Shaver
(c) 2004 by Charles Shaver. All Rights Reserved.


The air conditioning hummed softly. It hummed and filled the ears of Joseph Anatole until it was dead and unnoticed. The hum made him nervous without being sure as to what was making him nervous. His arm twitched. He grabbed a hold of it with his opposite hand, hoping to settle it. A gentle puff of life silently coughed from the A/C’s vent, lifting the flimsy gown that he was wearing.

“God, I hate these,” Joseph quietly cursed. He straightened his gown, bedecked with the hospital’s insignia, and added, “At least it’ll be the last time I’ll have to wear one.”

He sighed, pushing the edges of the gown down onto his knees with both hands, and looked about the room. It looked like a million other rooms in a million other hospitals in a million other parts of the world. He sighed again with boredom and nerves. Another random quiet blast of cooled vapor trailed up his gown and reminded him of his nakedness. He became more nervous. He fondled his thick mustache and matted black hair.

He sat. And sat. And sat. His butt cheek tingled. He rocked his hefty body from side to side and thought about getting up off the table and walking around a bit.

The door opened.

“Mr. Anatole?” A male nurse walked in. His outfit was made of the same flimsy material as Joseph’s gown, but it covered his whole body like a jumpsuit. Joseph wondered why. Both served the same purpose, more or less, but the nurse’s was like a modern suit of armor whereas his gown was like a limp rag.

“That’s me,” Joseph answered.

“Follow me.”

The nurse wasn’t very personable. Joseph was used to nurses being personable, being nice. But then, Joseph hadn’t really ever seen a lot of nurses. He hadn’t ever had the time for such things. And this wasn’t a normal hospital. It was a corporate hospital.

Joseph Anatole was lead into a slightly larger room where another man in a similar sterile jumpsuit and a lab coat awaited. A plethora of testing equipment, and some odd things whose purpose Joseph wasn’t sure of, dotted the room’s walls and corners.

“Mr. Anatole?” said the new man in the lab coat.

“Yes,” Joseph nodded.

“I’m Dr. Stargen.”

Joseph took his hand.

“This will be simple enough,” Dr. Stargen said. “Let’s start by stepping up on the scales.” The doctor lead Joseph over to a device to weigh him. Joseph stepped up onto it.

“Let’s see,” the doctor fiddled with machine. “That’ll be 137 kilos and... just about a quarter kilo over.” The doctor looked beyond Joseph.

Joseph turned and saw the nurse had procured a datapad from somewhere and was recording the number.

“Well, Mr. Anatole,” Joseph turned his head back to the doctor as he spoke, “At $402.46 a kilo, that should bring in quite a bit of money.”

“Wait, doctor,” the nurse said. “We still have to get his fat content ratio.”

“Oh that’s right. I’m sorry.”

The nurse stepped up beside Joseph. The datapad was now under his arm and a new instrument had appeared in his hands. He lifted Joseph arm, poking and prodding at the folds of his flesh.

“That’s fifteen percent,” the nurse finally said, trading the new instrument for the datapad. He recorded the new number.

“Oh,” Dr. Stargen said. “I’m afraid that’ll only bring you $363.34 per kilo, Mr. Anatole. I’m sorry”

“What?” Joseph gasped.


The human race has dominated the Earth for over two hundred millennia. Their biology has remained the same all that time. It has never adapted. A creature need not adapt unless it is necessary and humanity has caused nature to adapt to them, so no need ever arose to evolve.

Mistakes were made. Catastrophes struck. Some things aid the price. Others died. But all things became virtually inedible as they grew and evolved outside the human range of needs.

Most food was now processed, synthesized. Meat nurtured in vats in sterile environments. Prices for foodstuffs raised. Real foods, food rose naturally and traditionally, were all done in sterile labs. Cows and chickens and lambs and such were grown in sterile labs. These garnered the highest prices.

Surviving off the land, eating food naturally grown outside the lab, was still possible. People survived this way. Mostly and for a short time. The lifespan of a Dirt Eater, for that is what they were called, was something along the lines of a mere forty years. The environment had changed too much, and what grew naturally simply no longer met the needs of human biology for humans, as I have said, never really evolved along with the rest of nature.

The rich, however, those who could afford the best pure, unspoiled, genetically created food that met all their nutritional needs and then some, grew ever older. They lived to be 120 to 150 years old, and in fact the eldest record to date was just over 200 years old.

Grain and vegetables remained a common stock while meat became a prized thing. And the most prized meat of all, the most expensive, most exotic was youltan: human meat.

As old religions died away and old taboos faded, cannibalism became an accepted thing. Not entirely accepted. There were many who did not, would not, eat the meat of a fellow human. There were even those who banded together, forming factions or orders that defied the new palette of humanity. The largest and noisiest of all the groups was the Human Rights Movement.

While no country or corporation claimed to participate in hunting human game, the HRM said they did. Studies were done and showed that all humans who were put to the slaughter had openly, willing given themselves over to be made into youltan. Not everyone believed this, but this was the world that humanity had reigned over for 200 millennia.


“I’m sorry, Mr. Anatole. While some fat is desirable in youltan, too much fat isn’t. Fatty youltan sells cheaper.” Dr. Stargen went about analyzing Joseph, who sighed with regret. For the last few months he had been eating as much as he could in an attempt to plump up. He had no clue that a higher fat content would mean lower prices. but he was here, ready to do what he had to do for the sake of his family.

“Drugs analysis?” Dr. Stargen asked the nurse.


“Good, we won’t have to lower the price any more.”

Joseph nodded in relief. “How much will I get?”

The doctor reached for the nurse’s datapad. He looked at the thing. “It comes to $49,777.58. And it looks like everything’s in order for your family to receive the money.”

“Good,” said Joseph. “That’ll feed my family for a few more months.”

“All set. Are you ready?”

“Yeah,” Joseph answered. He followed Dr. Stargen into another rather sterile room. Unlike the last room, however, this room was bare with the exception of a single chair with a ton of metallic gadgets attached underneath it in the center of the room.

“Please have a seat,” Dr. Stargen steered Joseph towards the chair. Joseph sat. The chair reclined automatically. Joseph knew what was to come. Some sort of gas. It would be a painless death.

Dr. Stargen appeared standing over Joseph with a gas-mask in his hand. “Anything more before we get started?” he asked.

Joseph nodded. “Yeah. Please be gentle with me,” he said, then added, “It’s my first time.”

Dr. Stargen smiled.

The mask was wrapped about Joseph’s head. A cool air flowed into his lungs, feeling like liquid pleasure. Joseph smiled, knowing that his family would be okay.

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