The Guilt-free Cheeseburger

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The year is 2032, life is pretty much the same, except the fast-food industry dominates the economy thanks to an advancement in nanotechnology: the 'fat-fighter', capable of negating the effects of food to a desired - often socially required - amount. Just a simple injection after a meal, and the unwanted products from a cheeseburger are destroyed. This is the story of what happens when one man takes a disliking to this technological advancement, feeling it is ruining the food industry and making people take the pleasures of food for granted, which, in his profession, is a crime.

Submitted: August 31, 2015

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Submitted: August 31, 2015

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The Guilt-free Cheeseburger

 

George was the only overweight man in Hippo Heaven, and the only man displeased with the food. Though, to be fair, overweight was anywhere over ten stone these days.


“The burger is too fatty.”


“People like it that way, Sir,” the acne-less teen behind the counter said.


“There is too much salt on the fries.”


“To compliment the burger, Sir.”


The joint was packed and, with the amount of people infesting the place and the white walls and tables and floor, the place looked much like an A&E waiting room, with customers anxious to get their hands on the overpriced slop. George backed away from the counter and had to shove his way past a few people to get nearer the exit.


“This gets no stars from me. Your rating in the Delicacy will run this place into the ground,” he said, with an accusing finger at the boy that served him.


The boy looked at George with a smiley, nodding face, one that said he didn’t care what George had to say, had never heard of Delicacy, and wasn’t offended that George hated the food.


“Smile now, porcelain boy, but back in my day you’d have been a spotty, smelly man like everyone else.”


George made a show of dumping his once-bitten burger into the flap in the wall. Then he rummaged inside the brown paper bag and scooped out the syringe. After throwing the bag in the bin, he pulled the cap to expose the needle and pushed the plunger, letting the liquid spray onto the floor.


“You needed that,” a young, slender man shouted. It was the laughter from his girlfriend sitting next to him that rattled George.


“Ha, ha, make fun of the fat man. You lot, the gluttons of this world who eat and inject and eat once more. You’re addicts, eating to fill the emptiness of this ‘enlightened world’ until your purses are empty. You don’t eat for pleasure like I do. Where would you be without your nanotechnobullshit?”


His speech had the desired effect, for a moment, but the moment was shattered by a little girl slurping on her Strawberry Sublime milkshake.


“Whatever Dude,” the man said. “Why wouldn’t we use the technology if it’s there to use?”


“You’ve all become dependent on it, you just gobble up the –” George coughed and wheezed, smacking his stomach with a fist. The customers and the employees laughed together. The little girl paused from drinking her milkshake and offered him her fat-fighter, as they were called. He batted her hand away, knocking the syringe onto the floor. He paced to the exit. He wished he could slam the door, rip it from its hinges, but no doors were manual these days, especially those of a major fast-food restaurant; the leading corporations that dominated the economy.


Instead, he waited awkwardly for the doors to slide open and stared intently with his head twisted towards the guy who served him until the doors closed behind him.


It was the afternoon and, as such, the air outside smelled of burnt onions and freshly squeezed ketchup. Actually, the air always smelled that way.


Dozens of people created a ring around the fountain in the centre of the town square and sat on the tables around that accompanied it. There was no water or money in this fountain, but a landfill’s worth of empty wrappers and a couple pigeons scavenging on the scraps left inside them.


On this side of the square alone there were four fast-food restaurants, out of the nine buildings that accounted for the total strip. They ranged from burgers to tacos to pizza, but all were processed.


George was no scientist, but he had heard that nanotechnology could be used to destroy cancer cells, rebuild immune systems and cure disabilities, and yet instead they were used to allow people to shove as much food down their gobs as they liked; removing all the unwanted fat and calories and toxic chemicals that came with the food.


He entered another restaurant, and identical circumstances to the first enraged him: eating was more popular as a recreational activity than the cinema and sport combined, and people could sit and eat for hours at a time, but no one cared about the food; how it was made; how subtle flavours complimented one another and how well-presented the food was and how it tingled the taste buds with delight. He needed to help them understand; release their brainwashed minds from the shackles of consumerism and compliance.


The first restaurant, Hippo Heaven, didn’t shut till midnight. He would go home and prepare, and then return.

 

~ ~ ~

 

The boy muffled a cry when George wrapped his hand around his mouth. The hippo cap fell into a puddle on the concrete of the parking lot. He kicked at George’s shins and tried to shake loose from his grip, but the kid weighed three times less than George and didn’t stand a chance.


“Stop struggling kid, I’m trying to help you.”


George dragged him into his van. There were three others, chained to the handicap bars on either side of the back of the van with their mouths tapped. Their faces were filled with dread. He sympathised, but the only way he could show them he was here to help was to go ahead and do it. George shoved the boy beside an older lady, who despite her dishevelled hair and clothes looked upper-class. He snatched the boy’s wrists easily with one hand and secured him to the cuffs that hung already attached to the bar. He released his hand from the boy’s mouth and quickly tapped it shut with the roll of duct tape that lay on a petrol-tainted rug.


He closed the door, furtively checking for witnesses, got in the driver’s seat and drove them to his house.


He tied each of them to a chair in the dining room. Then he piled the hundred bags of food he had collected onto the table in the centre of the encircled chairs. He went through each one, tossing the packaged food onto the muddy carpet until he was left with all the syringes from each bag resting on the table.


“These are bad for you. You have no idea what’s in them. Machines mutated from just a few atoms, injected into your body by the hundreds of thousands via glucose, invading your body and recreating your body’s composition.”


He grabbed a syringe and rolled up one of the four’s sleeve; the man wore a white shirt and tie and George had tied him next to his girlfriend who wore a green floral dress; George hardly recognised them from when he had been harassed by the boyfriend in Hippo Heaven; when they had been wearing their ‘eating attire’. George watched as the syringe poked through his skin, and how once he pulled it out the hole sealed itself up. He tossed the empty syringe onto the heap of food, and grabbed another. He pushed a total of eight syringes into the man before moving to his girlfriend and repeating. Then he did the Hippo Heaven employee and the older woman. 


They shook, rocked so hard on their chairs that the legs banged against the floor like a marching band. At first, George thought they were trying to fight against the ropes, but then he saw little undetectable lumps inside their skin cluster together into clumps that were visible, moving, vibrating rapidly throughout their bodies, reaching their extremities and then turning back. Each of the four turned rapidly pale, then they began to shrivel, just wrinkles at first, noticeable on their foreheads and arms, but then they became human-sized prunes, skin curling inward as their insides were eaten by just under a million tiny machines until their organs could be seen through their diaphanous skin and their suffocating hearts could be observed to slowly beat to a stop.


The giant prunes slumped dead on their chairs.


George gasped, sweating profusely. He was shocked at what had happened; strangely not expecting the machines to kill them, only show them nanotechnology was bad. He suddenly felt disgusted with having the needles in his house and rushed away frightened into his basement.


He sat at his desk for a while, staring at his typewriter. Dozens of editions of Delicacy sat beside it. He took a sheet of paper and fitted it into the type writer.


“Edition 56, Delicacy. 15th February, 2032.
‘Nanotechnology Claims Four Victims.’
At 1:24am, 15th February, four unsuspecting victims, including a young couple, an elderly woman and teen, were seen at Hippo Heaven. These four victims were enjoying their day, when after their meal they took their fat-fighter injection, as everyone does, expecting the food they had eaten to be safely checked and any unwanted items ingested to be removed by the technology many people trust, only to be eaten alive by the machines they assumed were helping them. The bodies were taken from the restaurant and immediately disposed of. This is what your country is hiding from you. This is what they don’t want you to know. Our economy is ruled by fast-food corporations up and down the country, and they have omitted the need for exercise and have found a way to allow people to eat as much as they like without gaining a single pound, but would you accept the syringes if you knew they were at the cost of your lives?
…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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