One Small Step for Salad

Reads: 270  | Likes: 2  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
No salad is safe, once humankind tampers with the genetics of the humble lettuce....

Submitted: April 17, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 17, 2017

A A A

A A A


One Small Step for Salad


Concerns over genetic engineering had been around for a long time. Apart from
the ethics of tampering with nature, there had always been the more pragmatic
concerns that there would be unintended consequences from something
purporting to be beneficial and otherwise harmless. One of the first real instances
of such was the traffic light sheep. Initially developed just as a means of
producing fluorescent wool, it turned out that the wool changed colour in
response to the sheep’s mood swings. Not only that but the wool glowed out its
colours, even in total darkness. Sleeping sheep would be red, and they would
make their way through amber and green as they woke up and became active.
Traffic would often be stopped waiting for a ‘light’ to change, when in fact the
drivers had just been fooled by a sleeping sheep near the road. Apart from this
though, it did not seem that genetics had caused much harm.


Things were a bit more serious however with the advent of the walking lettuce.
As gardeners and farmers alike testified, lettuces were very sensitive to the
amount of water they receive. Too little and they withered; too much and again
there was a problem. So it seemed like an ideal solution to give the lettuce the
means of finding water when needed and also avoiding excess.


The legs were tiny, almost invisible, and at first all seemed to be well. A small
fence was all that was needed to keep the lettuces within a farmer’s field where
they could roam safely and find just the right amount of moisture. But Mother
Nature, given this unbelievable ace card of the first truly mobile plant, sent
evolution into overdrive. Within a few years, lettuces were able to move with
astonishing speed. Walls and fences were useless at containing them and farmers
gave up all hope of keeping them within their fields. Packs of feral lettuces
roamed the countryside. Sometimes they would descend on a river in huge
numbers and drain it of all water within a few hours. They were just a green blur
on the landscape - as if they were moving just for the fun of it, for the
exhilaration of something denied to them for millennia.


The public response was mixed. Vegetarians came to regard the new lettuce as
an animal, so would not eat them. But then, trying to eat a lettuce now meant
trying to catch it first! The other public response was the new sport of lettuce
stalking. This was done using birds of prey - usually falcons, the only creature
really able to match the pace of a lettuce running at full speed. Before long
though, something very strange began to occur. At first it seemed that lettuces
were killing the birds that humans sent to stalk them. But the truth was even
more bizarre. The birds were not being killed, they were being altered. A bird
captured by lettuces would eventually be found apparently unharmed, but having
entirely lost the ability to hunt.


Years passed. Humans learnt to live with the now wild lettuce and it was no more
than a mild inconvenience. But nature was not finished. Sixty years after the
first walking lettuce, the first flying lettuce was spotted. No-one knew - and still
no-one knows - how it managed to fly. They looked like big insects. I remember
them hovering like giant green bumble bees over rivers and lakes. Thirty years
beyond and the first space-faring lettuce appeared. The moon turned green a few
years later and some years after that Mars turned green. And so on, out and out,
eventually outstripping humans' ability to detect them. Meanwhile all earthbound
lettuces simply ceased to be. No-one really knows how or why. One theory goes
that whilst lettuces had some success at taming falcons, they found humans just
too big a challenge. It was better just to leave.

So, as it turned out, earthlings really have conquered the universe - just not the
sort of earthlings we had been expecting. And if you’re eating a salad on Earth
today, well first of all, it’s a salad without lettuce. Secondly, perhaps we should
stop and think about who is really at the top of the food chain. Perhaps one day,
lettuces will come back to bite!


© Copyright 2018 Tom Wallace. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments