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Rated: E · Fiction · Sci-fi · #1133815
This is a fun little fantasy/sci-fi tale. Enjoy!

Bottom of the Food Chain

Yeah, the biotech industry created this whole fiasco. “Better living through science.” After thousands of years, humans are somewhere I thought we’d never be, bottom of the food chain. I live in the community of preyed. The world is now run by predators. They have the weapons, vehicles, and computer systems. The entire infrastructure of earth is held in the hands of the aliens. When I say alien I mean different. These beings aren’t from another planet. Humans created millions of clones in the past five years. People all wanted created beings in their own images. Why no one thought about the consequences beats me. I’m not a smart man; I barely made it through high school. But I know that people want to be in control. Why would clones be any different? Now thanks to us, they have total control.

We spend our days hiding from armed predators. Night’s the only time we can be outside. The predators can’t see in the dark. Since cloning is a new technique, one little detail was neglected in DNA processing. No clone has night vision, even with night vision goggles. You’d think the bozos who invented this would’ve thought that through. Because of that oversight, there’s some time when we’re not hunted.

My home is this cave; now a haven for hundreds. The predators patrol this area but haven’t found us. We venture out at night; using the dark to travel and hunt for food. The days drag, with monotony our constant companion. I use my free time, which is plenty, trying to keep this rag-tag group alive.

I sit in my little area of ground, away from others. I’d rather be alone, but someone always messes things up.

“Hey, Mike. How’s it going?” Billy leaned against the dirt wall.

“Just fine, Billy. I’m busy in case you can’t tell.”

“Nah, you ain’t busy. You ain’t never busy. Some of us’ns are goin’ all the way to Butte tonight. Wanna come?” Billy crouched down, level with me.

“Butte you say? Why Butte?”

“We heared theys got some new women. Got there last week. Me and the boys are tired of these skanks. We goin’ to check ‘em out.”

“Well Billy, I think I’ll pass. You and your hormones have a good time.”

“My what? That mean ya ain’t comin’?”

“Yep, that’s what it means.”

Billy rose and scratched under the bill of his greasy ball cap. “Ya don’t know what you’s missin’.”

“I know, think I’ll take my chances here tonight.”

He walked away, shaking his head. Billy had exactly three friends in the world. The four of them had no more sense than God gave a rock. Somehow they kept out of the predators’ way. I guess no one had cloned the stupid people.

I surveyed the cave, wondering what had happened to make us so scared.Why had we ignored all the warning signs? No one had the ability to change the world once the predators took over. Last we heard, they had slowly eliminated over half the humans. With communication virtually eliminated, it’s hard to know what’s true. We’re back in the Stone Age. We’re back to Stone Age living but with Computer Age workers.

“Hey Mike!” Judy yelled across the cavernous space. “Come and join us!”

Judy and another woman sat near some boulders; a small fire lit their faces. They did look skanky. Judy has thin red hair and freckles. Every exposed body part covered in dirt so thick it almost covered her freckles. Her friend seemed cleaner; but her smile revealed rotten teeth. Not two women I usually cared to spend time with. But was that food I saw?

“OK, be right there.” I stood and folded my blanket. The blanket wasn’t much, but it kept the damp away. You didn’t want to sit on the bare ground.

“Mike, meet Angie, my old friend. We met up last night.”

“Hey Angie.” I spread my blanket beside Angie, careful to not touch her bedroll. “What you ladies eatin’ ?” Something smelled good.

“Just some apples we found yesterday. Want one?” Angie held out a wrinkled red apple with several worm holes.

“Sure.” I bit into the dried fruit; it tasted a little like apple but not juicy. The worms added some unexpected protein. Now I wanted a Big Mac. “Not bad. Where’d you find these?”

“Over near that corner house. Predator family lives there, but guess they don’t know that the tree in backyard is loaded.” She showed me a plastic basket full of wrinkled fruit.

“So Judy, any trouble last night? Anyone get taken?”

“Things were fine, we had to dodge a few predators. Most of the houses were dark, no lights on anywhere.”

“Seems like things are getting quieter. Every time someone comes in, they’ve got the same story. More houses that’re dark and quiet.” I suddenly had an idea. “Are you going out tonight?”

“Probably, Angie and me are tired of being inside. Why?”

“It’s my turn to guard the entrance so I can’t do this. I need for you to check for predators. Count the ones you see and how many houses with lights on. Can you do that?”

“How much you payin’ me to do this? It’s kinda dangerous. I don’t wanna get captured by those freaks.”

“I’ll think of a way to repay you.”

Judy crawled across the dirt; her dirty freckled face getting closer. “You’re a big handsome guy. I’m sure between the two of us we can figger it out.”

Jumping up, I shook out my blanket. “Wow, look out there, it’s almost dark. Time to go to my guard position.”

That was close. I thought for a moment she was going to kiss me. There is only one woman I’d ever kissed. Mary died a year ago when the predators gained power. No woman can ever take her place.

The night proved uneventful. People left, people returned, no problems. Judy reported seeing only two predators. None of the houses were lit. My mind raced, could it be? Could the predators be dying? That would be too good to be true. How could we find out for sure? I called for a meeting before sundown.

About thirty of the hundred people in the cave attended the meeting. We were all dirty, tired, and hungry. It took so little to upset us; I was reluctant to share my hunches.

“OK guys, you probably wonder why I called this meeting.”

Grumbles, murmurs, then a voice from the back yelled, “Hey Mike, what the hell is going on? I’m losing naptime here.”

“I have an idea and it’s just that, an idea. Reports are that predators aren’t as plentiful as in nights past, and all their houses are dark. We need to know what’s happening. I need someone to travel to another city and bring back a report. Any volunteers?” No one answered. Then a tall thin woman in the back stood. She was new.

“I volunteer. I’ll do that.”

“I’m afraid I don’t know your name.”

“Name is Betty, Betty Miller.” She had shiny blonde hair and clean clothes. How did she manage to be so clean?

“Well, Betty, thanks for volunteering. You from around here?”

“I just got in last night from Michigan.”

“You seem too clean to be a traveler.”

“I stopped at houses along the way. Got to take showers with soap, found clean clothes.”

The crowd was suddenly attentive, ears and eyes on this woman.

“There are entire cities that are deserted, houses empty and unlocked.
I even traveled during the day without trouble.”

“She’s lying!”

“She’s a predator! Kick her out!”

More grumbling, a rock hit Betty on the leg.

“Hey that’s enough! She isn’t a predator! Calm down.”

“How do you know? Can you be sure?” Judy was standing beside Betty, pinching her arm.

“I just have a feeling. Ever just have a feeling when somethin’s right? We have to trust her. Betty’ll be our scout. If what she says is true, maybe it’s better everywhere. Maybe we can finally go back our old lives.”

Betty left that night and came back two weeks later. She made it as far as Chicago. All the predators were gone. She didn’t see any during her trip. All the houses and businesses stood empty, almost like someone left on a long trip but forgot to lock up. We started venturing out, getting braver. We saw trucks and cars on the roads again. Some even started living in their old homes again. Life started getting back to normal, life as it was pre-predator.

We never did find out what happened. It was like one day predators were there, the next day they weren’t. The only story we heard was that aliens took them all one night. I guess the joke is on the aliens. They took the wrong humans! But since it was Billy’s story, I tend to think it a bad case of the flu that got ‘em.

W/C 1499

© Copyright 2006 QueenNormaJean BrrAgain+Snow (normajeantrent at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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