Overpopulation controlled by cannibalism.
Karen felt herself moving. She also felt cold, and she was shivering. She was lying on a cold metal surface that rumbled beneath her, as it carried her in the direction of a loud, continuous growling roar.
She opened her eyes. She was being moved along, with girders crisscrossing above her, beneath a massive dark ceiling. She looked at herself. She was naked but unwounded. She looked to her left, where another naked woman lay dead. A naked dead man was on her right.
She sat up and found herself in the midst of an endless pile of dead, naked men, women and children, lying on a massive conveyer belt, as wide as an avenue. The conveyor belt was carrying the bodies toward a massive, black aperture, like an unending giant tongue, bringing endless piles of food through a monstrously gigantic mouth.
From inside the aperture, she heard a continuous growling roar, and the scream of a woman being killed.
This is a meat packing plant! Karen thought. The growling machine is a meat grinder, and everyone here is about to be ground into sausages! Including me! In less than a minute!
Karen stood up, with her bare her feet against the cold metal of the conveyor belt, and the crisscrossing girders passing less than a foot above her head. She turned, with the approaching aperture to her right, and hurried toward the side of the conduit, through which the conveyer belt transported the unprocessed meat. She couldn't avoid stepping on some of the bodies.
She reached the side of the conduit, which had a waist high barrier. From here she saw long lines of tables, beneath florescent light fixtures, that hung on wires, suspended from the overhead girders.
People stood beside the tables, sorting mountainous piles of clothing. Shirts, pants, shoes, dresses, blouses, skirts, hosiery and undergarments, and children's clothing were all being sorted. Briefcases, personal computers, wallets, keys, eyeglasses, jewelry and other personal items were also being sorted.
Those personal belongings, Karen thought, were taken from all the dead people here and from me too.
I was killed again? I was in the gym. I was killed after that punch fight I had with Alyce. After that my neck was in pain where the noose had choked me to death. Then Louise Torelli punched me in the face, and knocked me to the floor. That's all I remember.
I was killed, a second time? By that nerd Louise Torelli? Over a boyfriend? Now I'm alive again? Again?
Or until I get dumped screaming into this giant meat grinder.
Karen was getting much too close to the aperture. She could now plainly hear the sounds of flesh being ripped off bones.
Karen sat upon the edge of the barrier, picked her feet up, swung her legs over to the other side, and leapt away from the conduit. She tried to slow her fall, by grabbing onto an overhead light fixture, knocking it sideways, causing shadows beneath to sway back and forth. Then she landed on a table, and rolled onto the floor. Everyone sorting at the table jumped back.
Karen stood up, with her bare feet against the solid, cold floor. Everyone around her had stopped sorting. They stood staring at the naked teenage girl, who had just fallen off the pile of moving dead bodies, and she was alive.
A woman called out, "Live one! Live one! Aisle 15! Got a live one who needs shooting! Aisle 15!"
She heard the sound of feet clanging against a catwalk, above the overhead lights, where she couldn't see.
A man shouted from above, "Yeah! I see her! Everybody step back!"
All the people around Karen moved a good distance away from her. Then she was completely alone and exposed.
Above her, she heard the loud buzz of a laser pistol, and the tabletop to her right splintered.
Karen jumped away and began running along the aisle, between two long lines of sorting tables, while laser shots cracked around her. She ducked down as she ran, stopping to pick up a pair of slacks, shoes and a halter-top. She carried them with her, as she continued to flee, until she came to the end of the rows of tables.
She heard the same woman say, "This happens every now and then, when somebody’s wounded but not killed. When they reach here, they jump off and try to run; but they all end up as packaged meat, just like this one's gonna be."
A door with a bright red EXIT sign stood about thirty steps away from where Karen crouched.
She gripped the items she'd grabbed, and ran for the door, trying to stay crouched. Now laser shots came at her from the right.
A man on her right shouted. "I'll get her!"
She reached the fire door, stood up, pushed the door open, and ran through the doorway, while a laser blast struck the spot where her heart had just been.
Karen ran across the landing of a dimly lit stairwell. She began running down the steps, with a gray wall to her right, and the banister to her left.
She had almost reached the first landing, when she heard a loud laser buzz, from the landing above and behind her. She felt a hard electric jolt slam into her back, and go through her entire body, knocking her forward. She also heard the sound of shattering glass to her right, and a powerful white light surrounded her.
Then she lay sprawled on her breasts, at the bottom of the steps, with her legs stretched out on the steps she'd just come down.
She heard a man on the landing above and behind her call out. "Welcome to Paradise!"
Then Karen heard the door shut.
She put the palms of her hands against the floor, and pushed down, raising herself up, while groaning in agony.
What the hell is going on? She wondered, I can't stay dead? Every other slutty, sexy cheerleader, who got hanged on Saturday, is now a pile of sausages or meat patties that are being cooked and eaten by some of our fellow citizens. That's what should be happening to them. That's what should be happening to me.
Instead of that, I'm alive. That is not only wrong, it's...
"Irresponsible, immoral, unnatural, and antisocial!"
And my family still won't be getting the extra rations.
She rose up to a squatting position. The garments she'd grabbed, while rushing past the sorting tables lay on the landing beside her. She slipped into the slacks, which were a little tight. The shoes were also a tight fit, but she'd be able to walk in them. The halter was just too small to wear.
She thought, I'll just have to walk along the corridor streets topless. It'll be like I was wearing my gym uniform. Lots of women go topless in public, including me now and then. That's how a lot of the girls were dressed at the Homecoming Dance, including Homecoming Queen Alyce herself.
She also thought, There are just too many things that I've got no idea how to handle! I have no idea where I am! I have no idea where my home is, or if I'll be able to get there from here! Then when I do get there, I no longer have my key. Now I'm getting hungry, and I'm thirsty; but now my money's gone!
Of all the cheerleaders and warrior girls who got killed, in all the combat games that took place on Saturday afternoon, on every level of the City Building, why did the one who came back, have to be me?
There was also something else mysterious going on. When she'd first rushed through the doorway, the stairwell had been dimly lit. Now it was fully illuminated by a strong but soft white light. It came through a foot wide hole in the gray wall, which was actually painted over glass.
The glass had been shattered by the laser blast that had nailed her.
Karen wondered what kind of light could be so powerful, but remain so soft?
She climbed halfway up the flight of stairs, being careful not to step on any shards of broken glass. She came over to the spot that had been blasted away, and looked through the opening.
Karen found herself looking out through a window that was three inches thick. Through the window she saw a vast green plain, stretching all the way to a range of rolling blue mountains, beneath a glaring blue sky, in which fluffy white clouds drifted. She also saw the ruins of small ancient structures, scattered around the plain, rising as much as twenty levels, above the surrounding woodlands.
She also saw a broad river, flowing between the City Building and the plain, flowing from right to left, as far as her eye could see. Far below her, to her right, a suspension bridge crossed the river, from the greenery of the plain, to someplace beyond her view, along the City Building’s side.
There was also a flock of birds, much nearer the window, flying in a V formation.
They're outside, Karen thought. I'm looking at what's outside the City Building. There are living things outside. That means that the world outside the City Building is no longer polluted. That means that we can live outside.
On the landing above her, Karen heard the fire door open. She jumped up and ran down the steps to the first landing, turned left, ran down the next flight of steps, and the next flight. She ran down three more flights. Then she stopped running.
She was on a landing, beside a door to a City Building’s corridor street. She had no idea what Level she was on, or how far she was from home.
Karen opened the door, and stepped out into whatever would be there.
“I Want to Celebrate!”
Dave Krendell had left the school that morning, carrying his edu-computer along the thickly packed corridor streets. At 3:30 in the afternoon, he was alone in his family's tightly cramped apartment cubicle. He'd turned on the TV that was embedded in the wall but Dave couldn't concentrate on the movie. He wondered what he was going to tell his parents about his suspension.
How can I be a religious fanatic? He thought, All this season, I've been carrying out the rope to hang our own cheerleaders on.
The doorbell rang. Dave got up from the sofa, came over to the door and slid it open sideways.
Louise Torelli stood in the doorway, carrying her edu-computer. She had a smile on her lips and a twinkle in her eye.
"Hi Dave. Can I come in?"
"Oh yes. Please come in. I'm glad to have some company."
Louise entered the apartment. Dave shut the door behind her.
She looked at the TV screen.
Louise asked, "So what are you watching?"
"It's an old movie. It's called 'Soylent Green'. It was produced before the City building was constructed. It predicted that the world would become so overpopulated, that people would start eating each other."
She spoke in a light tone. "It turned out they were right, huh?"
"Only the idea about eating people." He told her. "They got everything else wrong. The people in this movie are uncivilized. It's a totally chaotic world in the movie. Everything is out of control. People are acting like savages. Somehow, the fact that people are being killed and eaten is kept as a deep, dark Government secret; and people who find out about it go mad."
Louis asked, "Why would they? We know what we're eating, and sometimes we know who, and none of us go crazy."
"Some of us do go crazy, if we don't kill and eat each other." He said, "Mr. Avery went absolutely insane, 'cause one dead cheerleader, not only didn't get eaten, but she came back to life. Then he started exaggerating, beyond all good sense and reason; and somebody who'd done nothing wrong, got suspended for a week."
Louise picked up the remote control, and switched the TV off.
"You'll never guess what." She said, "I've got you reinstated."
She said, "You'll be allowed back in class tomorrow."
"That's right." She kept smiling. "Your suspension is ended. You'll be graduating in cap and gown with the rest of us."
"How is that possible?"
Louise put her edu-computer down on the coffee table in front of the sofa, and drawled pleasantly.
"Well, today I personally eliminated the source of your problems."
"Yes." Now Louise grinned broadly. "This nerdy teacher's pet, personally eliminated Karen Bennet from the land of the living, where she didn't belong any longer."
"What? You killed Karen?"
"Right." She nodded with a laugh. "And I got an A plus and four gold stars for it. It was a gym class punch fight. I punched her right in the jaw, and knocked her flat. When her head hit the floor, it broke her neck. Instant death at my hands.
"The vertebrae in her neck were probably weakened by the noose, but I'm the one who finished the job."
"'We hanged our bitch.
More meat to eat.
Now the whore can't twitch.
More meat to eat.'
"That's just the way thing should be. Now Mr. Avery won't have to explain anything to the School Board."
Dave repeated, "Karen's dead?"
"Imagine that." Louise spoke proudly. "She was my very first kill ever, and I did it with just one punch. I can't tell you how great I feel."
Louise stepped up to Dave. She put her arms around him, pressed her body up against his, and kissed him on the mouth, sticking her tongue between his lips. Then she grabbed him between the legs.
Then she said, "Shove that inside me now Dave. I want to celebrate."
He took a step back.
He said, "You're raping me?"
Louise laughed, and took a step back.
Then she went on. "Just before I killed her, I knocked Sarah Denski out cold. I got another A plus for that; but she didn't die, so there were no gold stars.
"Then after I killed Karen, Mrs. Ramierez paired me with Carlotta Obregon;" Louise giggled. "But Carlotta was afraid to fight me. Mrs. Ramierez had to threaten her with an automatic F, if she didn't. I did want to see if I could kill Carlotta too, just 'cause it felt so good; but she really beat the hell out of me, and knocked me senseless, for about a minute. That got her an A plus too.
"Mrs. Ramierez said it was the best class she's ever taught."
Dave again said, "You killed Karen?"
"Yeah. It's gonna help bring up my grade average, and it'll look good on my college resumes."
Dave said, "But I said that I loved Karen. I prayed for her."
Louise stopped smiling. "How did she feel about you?"
"Then guess who really loves you Davey. I got an A plus and four gold stars to prove it.
"Now listen. Mrs. Ramierez wants me to join the girl's warrior squad again. This time I'll stay on for the entire season, or as long as I last, so no one'll accuse me of shirking. That means I'll get extra rations again." She smiled sweetly. "Then I'll fill out nice and sexy. Then, since I've already got my implant, I'll let you fk me. Just you and me. No one else."
Dave repeated, "You'll let me?"
She said, "What's the point of me having a permanent implant, when I never have any need for it? You won't have to go anywhere else for it."
Dave shook his head. "I really don't know what to say."
"Well you can say 'Thank you for killing her', like any gentleman would."
"Well I certainly am grateful, to be able to graduate with the rest of you, and to be able to get a good job in the future;
"But I prayed for Karen and she came back. That means that God had some very special plans for her future."
"Well she didn't come back any more virtuous than she was before. Maybe God saw that He was wasting His time with her."
"I don't know Louise. That sounds like heresy. Like you're saying that God is less than omniscient."
"Tell me Dave. Was I wasting my time over you, when I killed her? Am I gonna be wasting my time, when I'm doing it with you?"
"No! I'm very glad that you killed Karen Bennet, and there's no one who I want to do it with more than you."
"Why thank you Dave."
He said, "I've also decided that it would be good for me to join the warrior team myself. It'll get me the extra rations too. Then I'll fill out strong and healthy, and I'll give to you the best fking you've ever had."
Louise smiled and sighed. "You know, that's the nicest thing that any guy's ever said to me. What a terrific day I'm having!"
She and Dave went into each other's arms and kissed warmly.
The doorbell rang.
Dave said, "Wouldn't you know?"
She asked, "Your parents?"
"No. They wouldn't ring. They’d walk right in and catch us in flagrant whatever."
Dave went over to the door and slid it open sideways.
Karen Bennet stood in the doorway, dressed in only tight slacks and sneakers. Her hair was disheveled.
She said, "I didn't hear anyone pray this time."
Dave looked back at Louise, who began to tremble.
Karen entered the apartment and said, "This time I heard the voice of God Himself.
"And I've decided to stop being a slut."
She looked at Louise and asked, "You don't waste time, do you?"
Louise shouted, "I think that's what I've just been doing!"
Then she picked up her edu-computer from the coffee table, and ran out the door.
Continued. Go to