“I think it speaks, Betsy!” the blunt-horned space-cow mooed. The inter-dimensional space traveler turned its black-marbled eyes towards its colleague then back to the skinned ape shrinking in its cage.
“I thought it only uttered a sound when we prodded it with our electric sticks, Clarabelle,” Betsy replied. The elephant-sized bovine lowered her head towards the plump human in his cage. “Yes. It speaks primitive words but they are easily figured out. How curious.”
“It says something over and over again. Let’s take a closer listen,” Clarabelle petitioned. She leaned an orange-haired ear towards their captive.
“Is it…is it saying ‘You can’t eat me’?” Betsy looked to Clarabelle for confirmation.
“Why yes it is! Curiouser and curiouser. I know it’s taboo to abase ourselves by speaking such a primitive language, but I just have to ask it.” Clarabelle looked back at Betsy for some unspoken permission. Betsy grimaced out the side of her mouth then nodded.
Clarabelle’s hooves stepped towards the ape-thing’s cage. The animal was much smaller than herself and of course, very stupid, so she wasn’t afraid to approach it.
“Why do you speak, tall monkey? Why do you say we cannot eat you?” Clarabelle cocked her head.
“Because you can’t! I won’t taste good. I eat junk food. I don’t exercise. And it’d just be wrong. You see, I’m a human and I’m an intelligent animal. You can’t go around eating other intelligent animals,” it said. Clarabelle and Betsy laughed at that last bit. They laughed well.
“Betsy, did it just say it was an intelligent animal?” Betsy was still laughing so hard she couldn’t answer through her tears.
“Forgive us, hairless ape-something, but does your species travel between dimensions? Has your species ever been further than your moon? Your species hasn’t even reconciled quantum mechanics and gravity yet!” Clarabelle chuckled. “Why would we eat you anyway?”
“Oh. Oh, I thought this was some kind of revenge thing,” the self-described human answered timidly. “You know, we eat your kind so you show up from outer space and eat us to teach us a lesson.” Clarabelle and Betsy looked at each other, paused, then gasped.
“What do you mean ‘we eat your kind’? Are there others like us on this planet?” the elephantine bovine growled.
“We…we, uh, have animals on this planet that look a lot like you, ‘cept they’re smaller and they’re usually white and black, or brown. We call them ‘cows.’”
“And you eat them?” Clarabelle was incredulous. “WHY?”
“I…I don’t know,” the man said stepping back. “We’ve always eaten them, I guess. They taste good and…and we need the protein.” The man could back up no further.
Clarabelle squinted. “You said you do not exercise so what do you need the protein for?”
“I dunno,” the primitive hurried. “That’s what they tell us.”
“And who are ‘they’?” the space-cow wanted to know.
“I don’t know. The meat industry, I suppose.” The man wrung his fingers. “They’re a very powerful lobby!”
“Let me get this straight,” Betsy began as she too approached the cage. “You have animals on this planet that look like us and you eat them for pleasure and this is a regular thing?”
“And we eat them for the protein! Don’t forget the protein!” The human was close to sobbing.
Clarabelle brought a hoof to her head and squeezed her eyes shut. “Hold on, hold on. So…a minute ago you said you were afraid we were going to eat you? If we were going to eat you, what exactly would be wrong with that?”
“Like I said,” the man quivered, “We’re intelligent! It’s wrong for intelligent animals to eat each other.”
“Your species is far from intelligent, biped,” Betsy piped. “Your failure to account for the multitude of intelligences that exist among living things is confirmation of your breathtaking stupidity. Honestly now.” Betsy shook her head towards Clarabelle who looked like she was experiencing a migraine.
“Are you okay, Clarabelle?” she asked.
“I was just scanning the few neurons this thing has.” Clarabelle opened her eyes and stomped her hoof on the ground. “They call themselves ‘humans’ and they have a long history of, of, of harvesting other animals and slaughtering them for food, if you can believe that! And, sometimes they even kill each other but they don’t eat those people. So inefficient…”
The man had crept forward in his pen and with trepidation asked, “So you weren’t planning to eat me?”
“Well I think we will now,” Clarabelle snarled. “It seems you would qualify as Kobe meat to us? You’re your appearance indicates you will be very tender. You will melt in our mouths!”
“But intelligence…” the man drew back as Clarabelle bumped the cage with her nose.
“In scanning your memories, there is the headline you read about all the animals your scientists think are as intelligent as a four year old human. Do you raises four year old children of your kind for the purpose of eating them? No? Why not; you are more intelligent than they are. Using intelligence as a defense is not intelligent at all, it is completely arbitrary! But eating solely for pleasure, we hadn’t thought of doing that, probably because we are not stupid!” Clarabelle was rocking the cage with her horns now.
“Clarabelle, we mustn’t stoop to their low level,” Betsy protested in the human language. “Let this thing go like we always do. We had just caught it for fun, remember?”
“See! See, you guys like to have fun, too!” The man thought he had just secured victory.
Clarabelle grinned. “We do, human. But we do not kill other animals for the sake of that pleasure.”
“We just catch and release,” Betsy confirmed. “A small tase at first, sure, but no lasting harm done.”
The man threw himself at Clarabelle’s face and gripped the cage bars. “Oh thank god! That’s so kind of you. Yes, release me and I will tell my people to stop eating cows, that it’s not a smart thing to do.”
“The history of your kind, such as you know it, means you know your words will fall on deaf ears, human,” Clarabelle said. She looked back at Betsy. “You do realize that if we don’t punish this thing they will continue their ways. It seems they are not very good from learning from mistakes but they do change their behavior when their lives are at risk. On occasion, anyway.”
“We cannot kill other living things, Clara!” Betsy gulped.
“Nothing like that, Betsy, we are far above that. But we will get revenge for our distant cousins I think. You see, this monkey-brain also saw a headline about an insect whose bite causes humans to become allergic to meat. We’ll investigate this further. If such a thing exists, human,” Clarabelle snorted into the cage, “We are going to make sure you all get bitten by it.”
The man simply frowned. “Well that’s not fair.”
“The universe cares not, you bald ape!” Clarabelle declared. “If you don’t care about other living things, why should the universe care about you?”
“This isn’t fun anymore,” Betsy said. “Can we go now?”
“Yes, Bets. We’ll leave this dumb thing here for his brethren to find. They won’t believe what he’s seen while we go find this insect.” Clarabelle turned and bumped the cage with her hind quarters. “GOT MILK?” she laughed.
The caged animal took a wallet out of his back pocket, slipped out a McDonald’s gift card and stared at it before weeping like a baby for hours.
All Rights Reserved © July 2018 John J Vinacci