A Dog Eat Dog World pt1.
The ashen planes were scant and barren. Sand, sand, fucking sand everywhere, what a dull lifeless hellscape. I remember when there were trees and plants and metal towers. It’s bizarre to think children are born in this world who’ll spend their entire life never witnessing a single tree, or gawking at zebras in the zoo. Now everything is composed of sand, dust and human remains, or whatever is left of them by the time the raptors slurp up their carcasses. It gets monotonous after a while, even when I dream all I see is sand. Sand in my goggles, sand in my rifle, sand in my veins, sand in my DNA. Technically, sand comes from cliffs that slowly chip away, crumbling into teeny little dust particles.
Typically I imagine the dust spawning from human corpses though, or decaying animals, probably both. Maybe it’s comforting to think that my childhood dog and my parents are still with me, scattered somewhere in this infinite sea of dunes. I likely swallowed their ashes and shat them out blissfully unaware. Ash is difficult to decipher from sand, ash becomes tiny specks of black dust when it’s carried by the ceaseless winds of the waste.
I still carry a teeny stuffed Zebra in my back pocket, a memento to remind myself of better times. A time where we slept in cushiony mattresses and guzzled warm stew for supper. Like a butterfly fluttering through the desert, disappearing in a flash. I clutched the zebra tightly as I patrolled the outer edges of the dunes, scanning the area for my prey. It may come across as juvenile, but that ragged little zebra was the only token separating myself from the remainder of savage beasts that scour the wastes looking for prey to hunt. Squinting in the blazing desert heat, I witness two dots clustered on the horizon, drifting towards me with considerate speed.
I hadn’t observed anything sprint like that in ages since oil was a rare commodity in the wastes. The duo was kicking up sand clouds as they traversed the expanse. I estimated them to be roughly fifteen yards away, flashing a mirror in my direction. It was an old fashioned method of communication that utilized an even more archaic language called Morse. Either these are some real naive motherfuckers, or they’re coordinating a trap to disguise their foul intentions. Either way, they're fucking with the wrong predator.
Two confirmed, one scouted was a rather plump fellow riding shotgun, probably a recent catch owned by a wealthy trader, or vice versa, the guy’s a roaming warlord who owns the wealthy trader. That dynamic seems more probable. It sounds so appealing, Almost hypnotic in its belligerence. The only thing packing on that much fat amounted to however, was a giant target on your back for wasteland predators like myself. Those are the rules around here, kill or be killed. If you’re one of the two percent of individuals who manage to stumble across an old hydroponics farm, consider yourself lucky.
The odds are even slimmer to come across a hydroponics farm that hasn’t been depleted of all its contents. If you come across one, there’s a good chance it’s already filled to the brim with desperate vegans who refuse to accept a good day’s meal when they have the opportunity to do so.
The cliffs surrounding my peripheral vision were steep and smelled like rotten pussy, back when pussy was in high demand on the meat trade. Speaking of which I remember my first time smelling a dead body, it filled me with all manner of horrendous nightmares and existential dread, couldn’t sleep at night, had to crawl in bed with my mother. But then I remembered… she ate my dad, and it seemed likely she’d devour me as well. I was a generously fed kid after all, just like this fatty hitching a ride on some hippie’s motorbike. Two shots was all it took. My mom didn’t have any real composure. The bullets rattled in my hand like loose change in a girl’s pocket. “Be good Jennifer, don’t steal, don’t be a bully, be a nice girl.”, my parents told me. What a crock of shit that was.
My dad bought me my first hunting rifle when I was 15, an auto targeting rifle that could murder an entire flock of geese in a matter of seconds. So satisfying, that thing ate through gas like a starving marauder, but god… could it shoot. Funny, it’s been a long time since I’ve said that word… God. Reminds me of the old times… when religion was still a thing… when I had that damned VR device and practically worshiped animals.. Like Gods...
“The Lioness stalks her prey as she roams the serengeti, prowling for her next meal.”
The narrator exclaimed in a prim English accent that exudes authority. Tinny speakers rattled as the lioness emitted a ferocious roar that made my skin crawl and nearly forced the internal audio device to combust in a tunnel of flames. Sure, I owned a defective model, yes there was a likely possibility that it could burn down our entire apartment complex, endangering our lives and those of our neighbors. But I mean, fuck it, it was worth the risk. The headset was such a thrilling novelty, a moving portrait of a world I could scarcely remember from my youth.
These sleek and stylized VR goggles themselves, were an astounding feat in progress. NatureArchive3.0, as they were called, was the latest virtual reality model from Apple INC, the only tech giant remaining firm on the stock market, if merely by a singular pinkie toe. The aging CEO was like a sagely wizard who delivered spectacular speeches that roused the crowd bused in from various nursery homes. Even then, it was a dying market seeing as the elderly were well… dying at a rapid pace that far exceeded the rate of newborn children. Investors viewed Apple as an aging dinosaur, just like its audience, a luxury brand that enthralled it’s viewers with precious nostalgic, appealing to the aforementioned elderly folks and upscale clients who could even miraculously afford the hefty price tag and keep their own head.
Speaking of the elite wealthy class, they were being massacred in waves, perhaps it was karma for the systematic greed and suffering they had inflicted on the earth, on the ecosystem, and on society. As malevolent as the intentions of the uppity bourgeoise may have been, reflected by their darkened attire and condescending scowls, their public execution were a difficult sit. Some civilians delighted in chaotic scenes of savage protesters raiding billion dollar estates, ransacking cathedral sized refrigeration units and swiping any available produce they could wrap their grubby paws around.
The most harrowing spectacle however was witnessing, men, women even children strung about their necks, hanging against ostentatious balconies, manipulated with strings like some deranged puppet show from hell.
After the exploding popularity of these grotesque public performances, the eyes of broadcast company CEO sparkled with the glow of elevated profit margins. Studios began constructing sets with the specific intention of filming these shows, writing elaborate melodramas set in fantastical worlds. It was difficult to scan through TV stations without skipping over at least one of these garish programming blocks. Sometimes the puppeteers would encounter technical difficulties after the head of a puppet plummeted from its neck. Normally the camera would cut before the accident could be seen by vulnerable children, but occasionally studios would purposely neglect to do so, marketing the broadcast as an early Halloween special or a similar excuse. These shows were like the fruit of temptation, minus the snakes… because most snake species were extinct.
I preferred watching my lions, my tigers my mongooses and everything in between. All the creatures humanity had senselessly exterminated. They held an aura, their souls were pure and unfiltered a premise that was non existent in the contaminated and filthy hearts of humanity. Animals were simple creatures, they lived off the land, never bit more than they could chew and their values weren’t subject to bigotry or superstition.
My VR goggles were precious to me, the pair of which were purchased by my parents after several years worth of preserving any remainder of money in an airtight vent customized with locks to prevent theft from any intruder. It was only a symptom of my parent’s paranoia though, money was becoming as valuable as dirt in the survival economy.
The National Geographic special blared throughout our tiny apartment. I was staring directly into a time capsule. The animals were dying, as hunters poached any remainder of life present on earth, stripping them for fruitless monetary gain and devouring any edible portion of their meat. Species were climbing into extinction at a rapid pace, faster than a drunk driver at a crosswalk. It began with the exotic animals, Jungle dwelling creatures, certain fish populations, and then the endangered species list grew to include deer, skunks, possums, raccoons… and eventually humans.
A team of the world’s leading scientists, now looked upon as mystical prophets for their efforts in attempting to convince the international community that the human race was locked into a kamikaze spiral, scrambled to keep pace with the rapid decline of animal populations. They also attempted to preserve any remaining species of vegetation, which had also been declining at a rapid pace alongside other carbon based lifeforms.
The Earth was dying, and as humanity encroached upon a new harsh landscape, wrought with fierce competition and brutal conflict, some desperate, primarily isolated individuals began resorting to… what was then considered a taboo method of maintaining sustenance. When the animals had all but vanished, with the exception of minor grubs, insects, arachnids and such… there was only one animal left. And the crumbling remnants of civilization merely developed a tolerance for the taste of that forbidden delicacy… no longer regarded as a delicacy… but a primary food source.
Twenty years later, life is a constant struggle. The predators devour the prey, and in turn I have become a lioness, eternally prowling for my next meal through the desert wastes.
I never really contemplated the purpose of my existence. All that existentialism seemed like inane bullshit to me. Even when humanity had the leisure to conjure philosophies and discuss moral quandaries, it was all futile. What good are morals in a world where the strong devour the weak like spiders entrapping flies. Humanity had a penchant for developing new and powerful weapons, each iteration more devastating than the next. A peace concord between all major powers drafted by some stupid ass twigs in tailored suits sought to alter that dynamic. The council promised an end to any future conflicts, imprisoning those who contradict the new age doctrine. It was all in the name of some archaic philosophical tenant called world peace. This was an idea associated with a time period that my highschool teacher called the “peace and love era”, where dope fiends consumed a cacophony of mind altering substances, whined about a war in Vietnam, and smelled like rotten potatoes. Come to think of it, I likely smelled fairly similar to a hippie.
After all I can’t remember the last time I bathed, I can’t even remember the last time I found a watering hole large enough to submerge my whole body into. Most are guarded by fellow predators referred to as “crocodiles”. Back when animals stomped across the earth, there was a creature by that very same title. The creature would pretend to be a floating log and snap its mouth onto any poor sucker who wandered in its general direction. The tactic was adopted in a similar fashion by the crocodiles, and their uncanny patience garnered them notoriety in the wastes.
With apologies regarding that tangent, the world rejoiced at first glance. No longer would humanity pledge servitude to a world where a mother and a father, or a father and a father, or a mother and a… you get the picture, would be dealt a dreadful hand after military servicemen appeared on their caller ID. No longer would warlords desecrate villages rape their women and kidnap children to serve as new recruits. No longer would overzealous fanatics fly passenger planes into skyscrapers and spur two devastating wars in their wake. However, as the doctrine was debated among pseudo intellectuals, a growing consensus drew enormous scepticism from the treaty. Most deemed it was utterly naive, nearly all companies from talking head on CNN, to Jim from the office down the hall completely scoffed over the U.N.’s ability to maintain such an ambitious proposal.
The world was a violent place, stocked with varying ideologies, hostile governments, and a general fixation with violence that seems second nature to humanity. And… well it continued to be like that… only with a global police force encouraging individuals to massacre animals instead of their fellow human beings.
And here we are now, the world ran out of animals to butcher, so now we’re butchering ourselves instead. Everything came full circle, just like the circle of life. I guess since the ecosystem was dismantled by humanity, humanity was forced to take up its reigns.
Written by Madbuttonhatter
(Ryan R Morgan)
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