Earth v. Humans

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

The fate of humanity hangs in the balance. Aliens from Planetary Welfare Services, headed by a race known as Bureaunians, appear one day to sue humans on behalf of Earth and its ecosystems. When the UN appoints Erdmann Barrister and his partner Bhumi Gupta, the pair are tasked with winning the case.

However, it quickly becomes apparent that the odds are stacked against them. Between a smug Bureaunian prosecutor that looks like an arachnophobe's nightmare stuffed into a can, the fact that evidence for planetary neglect is rampant, and testimony from an oddly elegant octopus, it seems unlikely that Erdmann has a chance to win.

But win he must, because failure means humanity loses custody of the planet...or worse.

As I mentally prepared my closing arguments, my co-counsel, Bhumi Gupta whispered, “We’re so screwed, Erdmann.”

I ran my fingers through my short, graying hair and sighed. “Your unwavering pessimism is deeply appreciated.”

“As is your sarcasm.” 

She seemed to wait for some quip from me, but I was done with her stupid game. After nearly eighty straight hours in court, with two half-hour cat naps, four meal/bathroom breaks afforded us, I couldn’t quite fault her pessimism. Nor was it unwarranted, as the judge clearly had it out for us. Plus, I assumed that being in a featureless thirty-meter cube of a room on a spaceship above the United Nations Headquarters unnerved her as much as it did me.

Twenty-eight years ago, I became a lawyer to defend the Earth. In my mind, that meant fighting industries and governments as they ravaged and polluted the land, sea, and air in the name of so-called progress. I’d wanted the name Erdmann Barrister to be synonymous with the man who helped saved the planet. 

Well, the UN gave me that chance three days ago as the lead counsel defending those very atrocities in a case brought by something called Planetary Welfare Services. Not quite what I’d imagined as a young man. If I failed, at best we’d lose custody of Earth. At worst… Best not to think about it.

“All shall attend!” the bailiff called out.

Bhumi and I stood, and I glanced at the bailiff. Amazing how quickly I’d become accustomed to these aliens’ appearance. When I’d first seen them, I thought I’d have nightmares for years. I wasn’t alone in that regard. 

When the Bureaunians’ box-like ship popped into the skies above New York with no warning, people worried, but cooler heads prevailed—for all of ten minutes. The moment the Planetary Welfare Services case worker came to the surface to serve our notice, the creature’s appearance sent the world into a panicked frenzy. 

It, like all Bureaunians, had looked like an arachnophobe’s nightmare stuffed into a seven-foot tall, metal cylinder. Dozens of thin, multi-fingered limbs, both biological and mechanical. Three pairs of crab-like legs. Oval head covered with black, unblinking eyes. The only thing Bureaunians needed to complete Primal-Terror Bingo were snake fangs. 

The UN hadn’t taken long to decide who to send to space court. It appointed two eminent environmental lawyers—myself and Bhumi—to defend humanity’s ecological destruction against the charges of planetary neglect and abuse. The irony shocked me about as much as the whole “aliens exist” thing. 

Bhumi, on the other hand, had quickly abandoned principle to save humanity, accepting her orders with fleeting reluctance. It was a shame, because I’d always respected her passion for environmental justice. Yet it was also a blessing, because she’d redirected that fiery intensity to the task at hand—fueled by her hatred of spiders. 

It took me longer to accept what felt like a betrayal of my core values.However, I believed in sacrificing for the greater good. Just in this case, that meant trying to excuse the very things I’d spent my life fighting. It was a small concern in the scheme of things. More important was the fact we needed a miracle to win. Without one, I had a better chance at winning a staring contest with the Mona Lisa

The whole trial, Bhumi and I had been on the back foot—barely any time to prepare; neither of us familiar with alien legal framework; only the two of us allowed on the case; sleep deprived for most of it. The evidence wasn’t in our favor, a fact made clear as the Bureaunian prosecutors threw thousands of our own reports back in our faces. It definitely hadn’t helped when they brought in animals like chimps and octopuses as surprisingly eloquent fact witnesses. 

All the while, eight billion humans had watched the hot mess of our attempts at excusing two centuries of environmental desecration. Now, they would watch as the end approached. 

The bailiff called out again. “Remain at attention for Their Honorable Judgeship, PWJ-10757, presiding Planetary Welfare Judge for Case 42270: Earth v. Humans.”

My focus shifted past the dais at the front, the room’s sole feature, save the table and two chairs we humans had been generously granted. The off-beige interior and unseen illumination gave the impression of being inside a large, well-lit filing box. 

Part of the wall behind the foot-high ring slid open and a larger Bureaunian entered, a black, zig-zag band ringing the top of its shell—its judge marking, I assumed. PWJ-10757, whom I had not-so-affectionally dubbed Pweej, crept to the center of the dais and retracted its legs into its casing. With a multi-armed flourish, it addressed the bailiff. “Thank you, CSO-3141879.” Its monotonous, synthetic rasp filled the chamber as it waved at us. “The defense may resume their squat-rest positions.”

“Sit. Just call it sit,” Bhumi muttered under her breath as we took our seats.

Pweej pulled a metal gavel from a compartment in its shell and banged it against the floor. “The prosecution will now present closing arguments.”

The pair of Bureaunians to our left took a few steps forward and tipped toward the judge. Insofar as I could tell, most Bureaunians had all the personality of a daily office presentation, but Sentient Species Prosecutor-71415 and its junior partner, JSSP-8252012—Sip and Jisp as I called them—had shown an unusual amount of satisfaction in their takedown of humanity. Sip in particular had been a pompous blowhard. 

“Thank you, Your Judgeship,” Sip said. It trilled at its partner, and Jisp projected a 3-D image of Earth in the center of the room. The aliens appeared to have every conceivable device embedded in their metal shells. Projectors, recorders, translators, even a printer—which spat out reusable paper-like squares. 

Sip gestured at the hologram. “Of the hundreds of planetary custody cases I have tried, this is one of the most obvious instances of why Planetary Welfare Services was created in the first place. The humans’ crimes against the Earth rank Category Nine on the Planetary-Ecological Health Deterioration scale—astonishing, considering their primitive technologies. With these technologies, they have neglected and abused their planet and its ecosystems with little regard for their fellow inhabitants. JSSP-8252012, play back the testimony.”

The image of the Earth disappeared. In its place, Jisp projected a recording of a scene I’d witnessed two days prior with jaw-dropped astonishment. In the video, a large glob of water floated in the air, a bright purple, medium-sized octopus at its center. Facing the animal was another Bureaunian with the moniker Non-Technological Species Advocate-110934. NTSA could best be described as a member of Space PETA—a lover of animals who harbored even deeper contempt for humans than Sip.

“Now, Turquoise-Indigo-Magenta Who Undulates the Tentacles of Females to Their Great Delight,” NTSA said to the octopus, “explain your habitat change over the last half-arms mating cycles.”

The octopus, whom I thought of as TIM, twisted his tentacles, flashed colors, and changed the texture of his skin. A robotic voice then translated. “When first I hatched, my territory was clear and water flowed freely through my gills. My beak sliced through prey with ease. But in recent cycles, the water has started to become opaque, as though fine grains of pale sand drift in the currents. The flesh of my prey feels coarser, like my beak is grating on tiny rocks. My garden does not flourish as it once did. And my hearts must pump harder for me to feel strong.”

Even though it was a recording, guilt still wrenched my gut. Hearing about our ecological impact from scientists was one thing. Listening to this creature’s pain first-hand brought the horror of our actions into even sharper focus. 

NTSA dipped its head to the cephalopod. “My deepest apologies, Turquoise-Indigo-Magenta Who Undulates the Tentacles of Females to Their Great Delight. If I were to ask you why such things occurred, could you tell me?”

“If I were to guess,” he began, “the anomalies are due to the mono-colored, deformed-tentacled, small-headed creatures.”

“The humans?” NTSA asked. 

The octopus flashed deep red, followed by a spectrum of colors and violent contortions. “Yes, the…humans.” The translator spat the name. “Such curious phenomena are unheard of amongst the lore of my ancestors. The humans have only been noticed within the last few generations. Therefore, I posit a correlation, if not outright causation.”

Even hearing the testimony for a second time, I was astounded at TIM’s eloquence—I’d never realized how smart octopuses were. And to think, people ate these intelligent creatures alive. Bile rose in my throat. Maybe the Bureaunians weren’t too far off the mark about us. 

The recording continued with NTSA saying to TIM, “What you, and indeed nearly all of Earth’s marine life, have experienced is an increase of human-created pollutants, including non-biodegradable particulates they call microplastics. These result in a slew of toxic effects for sea life, inflicting great harm and pain to all aquatic life. Even though the humans know about it, for generations they did little to stop it.”

“But…” TIM’s voice sounded choked, his colors muted as he made himself into a ball. “Why would they do such a thing to us?” 

The recording winked out. Sip purred and gestured at us. “This is but one abuse amongst many. It would be one thing if humans were ignorant to their deleterious environmental impact, but they are not. It is acknowledged in their reports, research, news, their leaders, influencers…”

For the next half hour, Sip reemphasized the same points—that humans knew about climate change and pollution and did next to nothing. That we couldn’t be trusted to do what was in our own self-interest. Overgeneralization aside, it wasn’t really anything I hadn’t said in my thirty-odd years of environmental justice. 

Finally, Sip began to wind down. “The prosecution thus concludes that Earth be removed from human custody and that other intelligent species be given full control of the planet and its inhabitants. In order to accommodate this change, the current human population ought to be downsized by at least fifty percent, if not more.”

My chair clattered back as I leapt up. “Objection!”

Sip swiveled toward me with a rasping click, while Pweej waved in my direction. “To what does the defense object?” the judge asked.

“The sentence of ‘downsizing,’ Your Judgeship.” I swallowed the knotted mass of anxiety my throat. “The prosecution cannot seriously consider genocide as a legitimate sentence. It’s…it’s inhuman.” I paused, realized the mistake. “What I mean is… You can’t just recommend slaughtering billions of people.”

“It is far kinder than letting them rot in their own filth,” Sip bristled. “Counselor, your species had ample time to course correct and did essentially nothing. At this point, humans are little more than pests for the other species on your Earth.”

“Even so, it’s a complete overreaction to–”

“Objection overruled.” The judge banged its gavel. “The prosecution may continue.”

I picked up my seat and plopped down in it. “This is damn ludicrous,” I hissed to Bhumi. “Eight billion people just crapped themselves.”

“Militaries are probably arming nukes,” she whispered. 

That sounded about right. Save the planet from partial extermination by irradiating the whole thing. Only humans. 

“The humans,” Sip continued, sounding more smug than ever, “are not fit to run their planet. Even after a quarter of a million cycles, they have failed to develop the responsibility necessary to be deserving stewards of their home world. Such is their stubbornness to learn from their erroneous ways. Other species would have a greater appreciation of their planet. We can provide a list of creatures, should Your Judgeship decide to grant one or more of them custody of Earth. Those that testified have already been given technology to survive in multiple environments and to speak with humans. The remainder of their populations remain waiting to be similarly uplifted at Your Judgeship’s discretion.” Sip tilted its head toward us. “Any sentence is fair, so long as Earth is not left to these self-destructive ecological parasites. The prosecution rests.”

It shuffled back and swept its arm in a grand, almost certainly sarcastic gesture. 

“Huh. ‘Parasites,’” Bhumi sniffed. “Rich coming from a thing that looks like a tick knocked up a spider.” 

I stood, straightened my tie, smoothed down my jacket. Tough act to follow, tougher jury to convince. But I couldn’t give up, no matter how futile our efforts seemed. Engage the innate human stubbornness that Sip condemned. 

I took a breath, smiled at Bhumi. She nodded her encouragement. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I felt optimistic.

“The defense may begin its closing arguments,” Pweej said. 

“Thank you, Your Judgeship.” I strode to the area before the dais, one hand in my pocket, nails biting into my palm. Focus. Steady. “Perhaps the prosecution is right. We have not been the best stewards of Earth. We have our faults—as I’m sure every intelligent species does.”

Something approaching a snicker came from Sip’s direction. 

“However,” I continued, “it should be very clear that we understand the severity of our environmental impact. That is why, in the past few years, policies have been implemented to mitigate, even halt the damage we’ve caused.

“Your species’ arrival has been a wakeup call. I have little doubt that after this everyone will feel compelled to play their part to lessen this destruction. It may take time, but there is a way for us to preserve our environment and save countless creatures.

“I have little that that you have technology that could easily solve our current problems. Maybe devices to lower our greenhouse gas levels or provide near-infinite supplies of clean energy. If we were given access to these technologies, the good we could do not just on our planet, but on all future planets we might colonize, is immeasurable.”

I waved in Sip’s direction. “The prosecution recommends large numbers of our people be exterminated like some common pest. But even if that were true, that’s no excuse for genocide. The blame is not equally distributed among our species. There are countless innocents—children who have no control over their family’s waste, impoverished who lack clean alternatives. How is it right or just to condemn billions because of the pollutive excesses perpetuated by a handful of industrial elites?” 

The judge shifted its bulk from side to side, but remained silent. Was it impatient? Moved by my words? Had to use the restroom? Did Bureaunians use restrooms? That last thought conjured images I prayed would be forgotten. 

“Um…” Damn, lost my train of thought. I paced, cleared my throat as I sought to resume my closing arguments. Suddenly, everything in my head rang false. The echoes of words that moments before I’d been proud to utter grew bitter in my mouth. The part of me I’d repressed for the “greater good” clawed its way to the surface. 

I’d come into this trial seeking reprieve for humanity. But I no longer felt we deserved one. As far as we’d come over the last few years, there was no way we could reverse the damage done to our environment on our own anytime soon. Sip was right, we were self-destructive ecological parasites. 

Still, that didn’t mean we shouldn’t be given a chance. I took a breath, set my jaw, and stared at Pweej. “Your Judgeship, I offer my own sentence.”

Bhumi groaned. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sip lean in. Even the judge reacted, its fingers playing along the handle of its gavel. 

 “Your Judgeship,” I said, “I’m not sure if this is permitted within your legal structure, but I seek a one-year grace period. Give us access to your technologies for a year, and if we still have not learned our lesson, then…perhaps we deserve to lose custody of our planet.”

“Erdmann,” Bhumi hissed, “what the hell are you doing?”

 “Objection, Your Judgeship.” For the first time, Sip sounded irritated.“The defense cannot recommend sentences for itself without pleading guilty.”

Pweej tilted itself in my direction, its grip on the gavel tightening. “So then, Counselor, does humanity plead guilty?”

I’d been hoping to avoid that. “If we do, will our sentence recommendation be considered?”

“It shall.”

I nodded, bowed my head. “Then we plead guilty.”

 “Objection!” I turned to see Bhumi glaring daggers at me. Part of me was kind of impressed that I’d managed to raise an objection from my own side. “The defense needs a moment to confer, Your Judgeship.”

“It does not,” I shot back. “As lead counselor with fully authority to speak for my species, I enter a plea of guilty.”

“Erdmann, get your ass over here!” 

I waved her off, and the judge banged its gavel. “Very well, Counselor. The court accepts the plea of guilty.” Pweej’s legs extended, as did the bailiff’s. “The court will recess while a sentence is considered.”

The judge lurched through the sliding door in the wall. I hesitantly returned to my table and took my seat. Pain lit up the back of my head as Bhumi smacked me.

“You idiot!” She tried to land another blow, but I grabbed her arm and forced it down. She wrenched away and glowered at me. “What the hell were you thinking?”

I rubbed the back of my head, then smoothed down my thinning hair. “Has Pweej shown even the slightest inclination of bias-free judgement?”

“No, but–”

“You said so yourself, we were screwed. Why fight the tsunami when you can ride it?”

She pursed her lips. “Give me a single instance of someone riding a tsunami and surviving.”

“Well…” Damn. Maybe I should’ve thought that metaphor through. It sounded so much better in my head. “Fine, scrap that. A guilty plea gives us a better shot at receiving a lighter sentence, right?”

She put her hands on her hip, but her expression flickered. “Maybe. Regardless, when the Secretary-General gave us this case, we agreed to fight, not give in. Even if Pweej agrees, you’ll still be the most hated man since Hitler.”

“If the judge agrees, we might save the planet.”

Bhumi sighed and shook her head. The faintest trace of a smile touched her lips. “Good thing martyrdom suits you, Erdmann.”

The bailiff called out. “Remain at attention for their Honorable Judgeship, PWJ-10757, presiding Planetary Welfare Judge for Case 42270: Earth v. Humans.”

Bhumi jerked her head back in surprise. “That was fast. Doesn’t bode well.”

“We’ll see how it bodes, I suppose.” I stood, fingers crossed in my pockets.

Pweej reentered and took its place on the dais. “This court has been presented with unequivocal evidence of humanity’s crimes against the Earth. Their guilt is unquestionable—their irresponsibility even more so.”

To our left, Sip let out a little purr.

The judge swiveled in our direction. “I must say, this is the first time I’ve seen the defense agree so readily with the prosecution. I am not taken to surprise, Counselor. Nor am I inclined to unwarranted generosity.”

Bhumi kicked me my shin. I flinched, but kept my attention front.

“That said,” Pweej continued, “I am not inclined to unwarranted cruelty, either.”

I elbowed Bhumi back as Sip stiffened and clicked at Jisp, who growled faintly.

“This court accepts the guilty plea, and grants humanity a one-revolution trial period with our technology.”

I blew a sigh of relief. Thank God. 

“However…”

Oh crap. Bhumi kicked me hard enough to bring tears to my eyes.

“The prosecution rightly noted the humans’ propensity for self-destructive behavior.” The judge raised its gavel. “Effective immediately, they will hereby share stewardship of Earth with the following species—chimpanzees, gorillas, parrots, crows, dolphins, and octopuses.”

“Seriously?” Bhumi scoffed. “We have to share Earth with calamari?”

The judge paused, but if it heard my co-counsel, it gave no indication. “If, after the one-revolution period, humanity has shown continued lack of understanding or acceptance of its flaws, and demonstrates no effort to remedy its destructive behaviors, then the aforementioned species will gain complete control of the planet, and the humans will lose all custodial rights and have their population reduced to one-tenth. Either way, the planet’s inhabitants will be allowed to keep our technologies. It is thus decreed. Court adjourned.” 

As the judge banged its gavel, I collapsed in my seat. I wanted to puke. No, I wanted to crawl into a dark hole and disappear. I’d wished to light a fire under humanity’s collective backside, not raise a guillotine above ninety percent of our heads. 

Bhumi said nothing, but I could feel her rage simmering beneath her silence. Honestly, I couldn’t really blame her. Stupid, stupid Erdmann. 

Someone tapped me on the shoulder, and I turned to stare Sip in the casing. I stood, but the prosecutor still loomed another foot over me. “Your kind will be displeased with your decision,” it said.

“You have no idea,” Bhumi grunted.

“Still, I admire your self-awareness. It’s a rare quality amongst your people.” Sip placed its arms behind its back and tipped forward. “Perhaps you will have shown them the way.”

I smiled bitterly. “I hope so.” 

“As do I.” The prosecutor straightened, clicked and purred softly. “If your people will not have you, I offer the opportunity to join the Sentient Species Prosecution’s office. JSSP-8252012 and I agreed you would make a worthy prosecutor of negligent species.”

Jisp sidled up alongside its partner. “SSP-71415 is correct, Counselor. Although, perhaps one of the newly uplifted species will take you in. I heard Turquoise-Indigo-Magenta Who Undulates the Tentacles of Females to Their Great Delight in particular seemed to view your plea favorably.”

“Oh, well as long as TIM thought it was good.” I chuckled, offering the best smile I could manage. “I appreciate the offer. I think I’ll stay here, though. It’s my home planet, and I’d like to help make it better. And who knows? Maybe people will understand my reasoning. Hell, they might even forgive me.”

“Alert, alert,” the universe’s least concerned voice called out. “Human fission weapons launched at vessel.”

Bhumi’s eyes widened. “Or not!” 

I looked at the two Bureaunians, neither of who appeared to panic. Jisp’s frame heaved in what seemed to be a sigh, and it handed a small silver stick to Sip. 

The senior prosecutor took the object and said to its partner, “I warned you, never bet on the primitives. They can’t help themselves.” 

I gawped at the two. “Why aren’t you freaking out? Aren’t you going to do something about it?”

Sip swiveled in my direction. “No.”

“What?! You’ll just let them nuke you?”

 “I have no power in this matter. However, the vessel’s defense system will eradicate the projectiles and we shall safely disperse the fallout. You’re lucky PWJ-10757 is the captain, they usually forgive the first offensive.”

The room vibrated for a moment, then went still. The voice said, “All missiles dispatched. Radioactive material collected and contained.”

“When you return to your planet,” Sip told me, “remind them of Their Honorable Judgeship’s mercy. Perhaps your species will truly understand how tenuous and insignificant your power is.” 

I nodded, still paralyzed by terror and awestruck by the technological superiority of the Bureaunians.

Jisp crept forward. “You should also let your leadership know that once the species assuming joint custody of Earth have been uplifted they will be given superior offensive technologies, should your kind try to wrest back sole control of the planet.”

I nodded again. 

“Excellent.” Sip stepped aside and gestured at the bailiff. “CSO-3141879 will escort you back to the shuttle, and you will be deposited at your United Nations Headquarters.” 

Bhumi slowly walked past me, a faint whine issuing from the back of her throat.

As I moved to follow, Sip placed a hand on my chest. “When our kind returns to evaluate, you will be given another opportunity to join us. Assuming, of course, that you have not been executed.” It bowed and backed away. “Good health to you, Erdmann Barrister.”

Neither I nor Bhumi spoke during the short shuttle ride down to Earth, both of us in shock. When the craft landed, we disembarked and then watched it dart back into the sky. A moment later, the mothership vanished, a boom thundering in the sky as air rushed to fill the gap the spaceship left. 

“Well,” I said, “I guess that’s that.”

Something slammed into my back and sent me tumbling to the ground. I grunted and rolled over to see several soldiers leveling rifles at me. 

“You damn traitor,” one snarled. 

“Bring him to the Secretary-General,” another, a captain, said. “He’s to be tried for aiding and abetting genocide.”

“That’s not a thing,” I protested.

As I was hauled to my feet, I looked to Bhumi for help. She shrugged. “Sorry, Erdmann, but you can’t be surprised.”

Sadly, I wasn’t. 

“Halt!” a crisp, mechanical voice called out. 

I twisted my head, and gawped at a casing similar in design to those the Bureaunians used. However, inside the shell—more of a transparent, hovering bowl with arms—suspended in water, was a bright-purple, medium-sized octopus.

“Where the hell did that come from?” a soldier asked.

“Teleportation,” TIM replied. “Very tingly.” He jabbed a mechanical arm in my direction. “Now, release the human known as Erdmann Barrister Who Chooses Wisely for the Planet. I am taking him into the custody of the Octopodian Conclave. We petitioned Their Judgeship PWJ-10757 to have the counselor remanded to our custody should he be punished, and Their Judgeship so decreed.”

Nobody said a word. The man holding me relaxed his grip, and I wrested away and walked toward the octopus.

“Screw that.” The captain pulled a pistol from his holster and leveled it at us. “Ain’t no damn fish gonna stop Lady Justice.”

TIM contorted, then flashed several bright colors. Something approximating a laugh burst from the casing’s translator. “Oh, the human is mistaken. ‘Fish.’ Those silly vertebrates? No, my kind are cephalopods. We have tentacles, not fins.” The octopus waved his appendages as if to demonstrate. “Now, I must insist that you allow Erdmann Barrister Who Choses Wisely for the Planet to come with me.”

The man squinted, then slipped his finger into the trigger guard. “The hell I will.”

A bright light burst from the TIM’s casing. The pistol disintegrated in a flash of molten metal. The captain screamed as he tried to shake the liquid remains of his weapon from his hands.

“Any other objections?” the octopus asked.

The other soldiers shook their heads.

TIM flushed a brilliant blue. “Excellent. Come, Erdmann Barrister Who Chooses Wisely for the Planet, the Conclave wishes to present you an award and honorary membership.”

“Okay,” I said faintly. As I began to walk beside the creature, I said, “So, Turquoise-Indigo-Magenta Who… Um, would you mind if I called you TIM?”

The octopus’s bowl stopped. His skin ridged, then smoothed several times. Finally, his texture settled on smooth. “That is acceptable. You may call me…TIM.”

“Oh, good.” I smiled. Hopefully TIM’s translator understood my flashing of teeth indicated I was pleased, and not planning to eat him. “And you may call me Erdmann.”

His tentacles twisted into a knot, and a green dot appeared between his eyes. “Erdmann. Yes, I think that may be simpler.” One of the mechanical arms settled around my shoulders as we headed east toward the ocean. “Would you like to stop for nourishment first? I hear this ‘calamari’ is quite a delicacy.”

My mouth flapped as I struggled with how to explain the dish’s contents. Then, he flickered yellow repeatedly and a long laugh issued from its casing. “Oh Erdmann, does your kind not have humor?”

“Hysterical, TIM. Friggin’ hysterical.”

As we continued onward, I realized just how uncertain the next year would be. Not only for humanity, but the whole planet. It would take time for humans and animals alike to adjust, especially given the speed with which the world changed—assuming we modified our behavior so genocide wasn’t in the cards. Personally, I hadn’t had time to process everything. In the next week or two, I’d probably be able to reflect and have a long-overdue panic attack. 

Despite all that uncertainty, all the variables and unknowns, there was one thing I knew for sure.

I was definitely a vegetarian now. 


Submitted: April 21, 2020

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