Escape Pod 708: Into the Paddock


Into the Paddock

by Nathan Susnik

I.

“We need a shitload of Bunnies®. How fast can you get me a shitload of Bunnies®?” says Schneider, walking into my office.

Sort of.

Okay, fine. I don’t have an office, and Schneider is calling on ShareSpace™ over the ol’ intercerebral implant, so she’s not walking.

I’m in The Orchard scraping gum off of my shoe and watching a bunch of kids pluck ripe apples from plastic trees. A kid throws an apple at The Barn. It goes wide. I laugh. Another one hits the side (plunk), and then (ping) Schneider just sort of appears. She hovers in the air all ghostly for a while until I pinch her down on the Dirt Path and answer the call. That’s when she says the Bunnies® thing.

Schneider has three moods:

  1. Depressive
  2. Belligerent
  3. Depressive/belligerent

She’s belligerent ninety percent of the time, so I throw on VulgaBlock™.

“What happened to the Bunnies®?” I say.

She shrugs. “They died.”

“How?”

“Do I look like a [fornicating] veterinarian?”

“It’s Friday,” I say.

She shrugs again. “So?”

“I get off in an hour. De novo Bunnies® will take at least two.”

“So?”

“I have plans.”

Schneider laughs. “Good one,” she says. “Look, we need Bunnies®. If we don’t have Bunnies®, our billable animal count decreases for the whole weekend. If our billable animal count decreases, our ticket prices drop on VacationApp™, which means that we lose money on every visit, which means you lose money on your paycheck. Also, people write angry reviews, especially people whose children have been disappointed because we don’t have any Bunnies®. Angry reviews are bad for our stats, and you know how Rick feels about our stats.”

The kids walk up and tell me that the trees in The Orchard don’t have any more fruit. Inwardly, I sigh; outwardly I smile, put Schneider on hold, and tell them that more apples are on the way. It’ll be about twenty minutes. In the meantime, they can visit Carl’s Crazy Hayloft™, just follow the Dirt Path past Moo Moo Milk Barn™. I send Bashir a QuickPost™ to refill the trees. Then I take Schneider off of hold.

“That’s the way to do it, Vogelsang,” she says. “Customer orientation. Where were we?”

“Rick. Stats,” I say.

“Oh yeah.” She then proceeds to tell me again how Rick feels about our stats. Basically, if we don’t have new Bunnies® by Saturday, I’ll be hearing about it on my quarterly review. And if I hear about it on my quarterly review, there goes my yearly bonus. I picture taking off my uniform overalls, balling them up, throwing them on the ground, doing a little I quit dance in my underpants, and then sending said dance to Rick per QuickPost™ as my resignation.

But I don’t. I need Farmer Franks 20th Century Fun Park more than Farmer Franks 20th Century Fun Park needs me.

Mom’s health is not the best anymore, and Brenda’s not doing so well either. I’m basically the sole breadwinner of the family now, who—if I have to be honest—does not win very good bread. Farmer Frank’s pays like a half of a loaf of toast. I have hopes of earning whole-grain spelt or focaccia one day, if I work hard. But right now a half of a loaf toast has to cover the electricity, food, water, school loans, etc.

So I don’t quit.

“Just this once,” I say, which is somehow funny, because Schneider laughs again.

“Glad we’re clear,” she says. “Oh,” she adds, “Apropos printing animals: a new schematic was just released and Farmer Frank’s needs an experienced operator to run it tomorrow.”

“But…” I say.

Schneider gives me the ol’ eye roll. “You have plans?”

I sigh. “Fine. Just this once.”

#

The specs on the Bioprint™2590XE are way better than the old OrganoJet®3000.

  • Print speed: 900 Megacell/second
  • Enhanced extracellular matrix synthesis capabilities
  • Biorecycling of organic matter through the built-on hopper
  • Standard pathogen genetic modification
  • Automated gut flora enrichment

Each Bunny® prints in about 45 minutes, which is three hours in total, but still super-fast compared to the OrganoJet®’s 100 Megacell/s. Fresh out, the Bunnies® are blank, which means that they just sit there and drool. Lights on, nobody’s home. I call Bashir to help get them to the habitat.

“Load ‘em up,” says Bashir.

I stack the Bunnies® on the little metal flap of Bashir’s dolly and Bashir pushes them away, wheel squeaking.

We set the Bunnies® in the habitat, and I filter through their memories in AniCloud™. Rick negotiated about a million copies on the Bunny® license, so it’s cheaper to reprint than hire a vet. It keeps costs down, which Rick says is also good for the ol’ stats.

I delete the suffering/dying parts of the Bunnies’® memories, and upload them into the bodies. We finish at 9:30 and Bashir asks if I can clean the Bioprint™2590XE on my own. He has plans tonight.

“Fine,” I say. “Did you at least remember to fill the apples in The Orchard?”

“[Feces],” he says. “Can you cover for me?”

I sigh, inwardly. “No problem.” I give him a stupid smile. Bashir leaves, and I’m there another hour and a half.

#

“Where’s mom?” I say. Brenda sits in her Dialymatic®XE recliner smoking a cigarette, watching Rate my Parenting!.

“Bring me a Kidney®?” she asks.

“Not today. Still can’t afford one?”

“Who can?”

“Him?” I point to the Rate my Parenting! celebrity expert.

“…rather by a pack of wolves than you,” says the expert to a stunned-looking contestant. “Two-and-a-half out of ten. Your kid was terrible. Absolutely terrible. I mean, Tarzan had more manners. Tarzan!

The woman cries.

“That’s mean,” I say. Brenda laughs, which turns into a laugh-cough, which turns into a cough.

“But it’s true,” she says when she gets her wind back. “How old do you think he is anyway?”

“The kid?”

“No, dummy.” She points to the celebrity expert.

“261, according to WikiStar App,” I say.

“No wrinkles. Not one at all. Doesn’t look a day over forty,” says Brenda. “I want to know where he got that skin.”

“Don’t know, but he’s on Liver® number six,” I say.

Brenda whistles. She looks behind her, wiggles an index finger, and lowers her head. When I lean in, she grabs my wrist and yanks me toward her. “Your mom went to Doc van Gestel yesterday. He says she needs a new ticker. Don’t tell her I told you,” she yell-whispers in her raspy voice.

“What? Didn’t she get one like ten years ago?” I say. “Shouldn’t it still be under warranty?”

“Just keep it down. She told me not to tell you. She’ll freak if she finds out I told you.“

“Where is she, anyway?” I say. Brenda motions toward the kitchen.

“Learn how to whisper, Brenda. I can hear everything you’re saying,” says mom from the kitchen. “It’s not true, honey. Don’t listen to her. My ticker’s fine.”

 

II.

“What the [fornication] are these?” says Schneider. “Weird chickens?”

“Velociraptors™,” I say.

Knee-high feathered things huddle in the corner of the reserve chicken coop, shivering. Schneider sighs.

“Is this what they’re supposed to look like? Did you [fornicate] them up, Vogelsang?” I pull the Bioprint™2590XE display in front of her. Schneider scratches her head. “They look nothing like in the movies,” she says.

“They’re historically accurate” I say.

“Meaning?”

“This is what they really looked like.”

“Like weird chickens?” says Schneider. I nod. “[Fornicate] no wonder they went extinct.” Schneider shakes her head. “Jesus, God. Do you know how much Rick paid for licensing on these things? Can you do anything?”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Make them bigger, scarier. Take away the crappy plumage.”

“Copyright,” I say. “I’m not authorized to change schematics without expressed written consent.”

“[Feces]. You’re so by the book,” says Schneider. “Take a risk, won’t you?”

“I could lose my license,” I say. Which really wouldn’t be cool, considering that I am still paying off twenty years worth of the ol’ school loans. Messing around with bioprint copyrights is a dangerous game; unlicensed printing of animals could get me thrown in jail. Unlicensed printing of human cells/organs could get me a prison sentence of up to twenty years, plus a lifetime ban on transplants.

We stare at the Velociraptors™ for a while. They keep biting each other’s tails. There is already missing plumage and bloody red spots on most of their backs. They really do look like weird chickens.

“What do Velociraptors™ have to do with this place anyway?” I say. Schneider squints at them as I continue. “They’re neither farm animals nor did they exist in the 20th century. Don’t we accept educational grants?”

Schneider shrugs. “Kids in the twentieth century liked dinosaurs. Also,” she adds, “those WishIt kids are always asking to see dinosaurs, and WishIt kids do wonders for our stats. And you know how Rick feels about stats?”

“Sure,” I say.

It’s not as though we don’t currently have any WishIt kids. WishIt kids visit almost every quarter. For marketing purposes, we keep records of all of the kids’ names, addresses, favorite types of foods, terminal illness, etc. We give the kids the Hayloft Suite, whatever they want to order at the Moo Moo Milk Barn™—even if it isn’t on the menu—use of the GoldStar Customer lines all over the park, and pay for whatever medical devices they need, at our own costs. This is probably because WishIt kid visit adds a bonus to our ‘desirability’ factor, which acts as a multiplier to our ‘popularity’ score. Our overall ‘popularity’ score determines the ticket price, which is probably why Rick will do anything for the stats.

#

I’m still at the reserve chicken coops, trying to figure out what the Velociraptors™ will eat, when (ping) Brenda appears. She’s sitting in the Dialymatic®XE, smoking a cigarette, paler than usual. ShareSpace™ is still on automute. I mouth, “I’m at work.” But she frantically waves both hands. I pinch her down to minimum, slide her over to an open space on the concrete, and unmute her.

“I’m at work. What is it?”

“I wasn’t making things up,” says mini-Brenda. She points to pink-uniformed people in the background. Mom’s laying on the sofa. “It’s her Heart®. They’re taking her to Vecticom® Inc Memorial Hospital.”

Then there are fingers snapping in my face.

“Earth to Vogelsang,” says Schneider. “We can monitor your activity when you’re on Farmer Frank’s network. No ShareSpacing at work.”

“Sorry,” I say and hang up.

 

III.

The floors and walls at Vecticom® Inc Memorial are white and shiny, painted with softly glowing pastel lines, each with a various shape presented in a various hue. Greens, blues, oranges, and red circles, triangles, squares, and pentagons, all point the ways to different departments. I follow the periwinkle triangle to cardiology. Mom’s in a four-bed room. Screens are on, nurses walk by, orderlies push carts and beds with squeaky wheels, everyone coughs everywhere. Mom’s pale and barely moving. Her girth takes up most of the single bed. Funny, until now, I’ve never noticed how large she is. Her voice is barely a whisper.

“Hi.”

“Mom,” I say.

She points to her chest. “Still paying off the last one,” she says.

A man appears at the door looking uncomfortable, looking somehow as if his gray suit and thick-rimmed glasses are wearing him.

“Gary,” he says holding out hand, crossing the room.

“Hi Gary,” whispers Mom.

“Who’s this?” I say to Mom.

“He’s Gary,” says Mom.

“Yeah, I know. But what does he want?”

Mom shrugs, her shoulders barely moving. “Ask him.” We both look at Gary.

“I represent OrangoPharm® Financial,” says Gary.

“Okay,” I say.

“My office is right down the hall.”

“Okay,” I say.

“You have healthcare power of attorney for you mother. Come see me whenever you’re ready,” he says and leaves.

 

IV.

Gary’s office is a five-by-five-by-two-meter cube. The WindowPanes® display calming images: beaches, waves, tropical birds, etc.

“Please, take a seat,” says Gary, motioning to a beanbag. “Can I get you anything? Coffee, tea, water?”

“No thanks,” I say and sink in.

“Let me start by saying that we, from OrangoPharm® Financial, are devoted to ensuring optimal outcome for all stakeholders involved in the healthcare process, from the corporation to the shareholders to the patient,” says Gary.

“That’s nice,” I say.

“That means that we are dedicated to find the optimal solutions that suit each and every patients’ individualized needs.” He claps his hands. A file pops up between us. “Let’s see… Female… 106 years old… married… multiple comorbidities…”

“Multiple what?” I say, but Gary ignores me.

“…diagnosis: acute cardiac facsigraft failure. It looks as if the dysfunctional cardiac facsigraft also caused prerenal kidney injury.”

“Will she be okay?” I ask.

“Let’s see here…” says Gary scrolling down. “We ran your mother’s data through CliniWiz, and it recommends a new Heart®. Also, it looks like your mother is still on her biological kidneys, which is quite impressive for a woman of her age and… stature. CliniWiz also recommends preemptive replacement of one or both kidneys. She’s in pretty bad condition, and probably unable to make her own logical decision. Which is why I am meeting with you.”

My stomach sinks. “Didn’t mom just get a new Heart®?”

Gary breaths in through his teeth. “I’ll just check…”

He pokes the air, clicks his tongue a couple of times and wrinkles his forehead. Then he frowns. “She purchased a Heart® Gen 4 thirteen years ago, which does come with a twenty-year guarantee, but according to the terms and conditions, the guarantee only covers wear and tear caused by normal nutritional habits.”

“And?” I say. “Mom’s pretty normal.”

“Not according to her congo.com weekly grocery list. I’m afraid the warranty is void.”

“You can access that?”

Gary nods. He explains that they can access personal data if it concerns OrganoPharm® products, insurance, or liability, or if it will generally help improve product performance, or for research purposes, or “really, for any reason.” He laughs. Then he introduces the 8.1 CRX—the Heart® that provides the best longevity outcomes for ‘robust users.’ “If you bundle it with any Kidney® it’s fifteen percent off the MSRP, 30% if you get two Kidneys®.” He shows me a number that we can’t afford. “I know it’s expensive, but you really can’t put a price tag on the health of your loved ones. Sign here and we’ll get the credit approval underway.”

I sign.

 

V.

At work the next morning, Schneider is up to her knees in dead mice.

Sort of.

All right, she’s not really up to her knees and the mice aren’t really dead. They’re just sort of laying all over the reserve chicken coops without a consciousnesses.

Schneider motions to the mice, and then to the Velociraptors™ with a look on her face that says, these [fornicators] still won’t eat.

I shrug. “Did you try chicks?”

“Jesus, Vogelsang. I’m not an idiot.”

“Okay,” I say and head over to the Bioprint™2590XE. Schneider throws the mice into the biorecycle hopper and I make steak.

The raptors don’t touch it. We recycle the steak.

Pork = No

Liver = No

Fish = No

Hamsters = No

Tofu = Double no

“[Fornicating] weird chickens,” says Schneider. “Live prey?”

“No,” I say. ”That’s cruel”

“Do you know what’s cruel, Vogelsang? Resurrecting animals millions of years after they have been extinct and then letting them starve to death. That’s [fornicating] cruel.”

“Okay, okay. I got it.”

“Also,” adds Schneider, “Rick blew our yearly budget for exclusive Velociraptors™ licensing rights for the tristate area. We only have six copies, which means that if they die, we can kiss Farmer Frank’s goodbye.”

I sigh. I didn’t sign up for murdering live animals, but if I lose my job, I’ll never get the credit for mom’s new Heart®. So, I print out a mouse and pull up a file on AniCloud™ labeled MUS MUSCULUS BACK-UP MEMORIES. Then, I upload the file into a mouse, pick it up by the tail and put it in the reserve chicken coops. When the mouse scurries into the habitat, the Velociraptors™ immediately pounce on it.

#

When I get to the hospital after work, Mom’s sleeping. I shake her, but she doesn’t wake. Even though she’s unconscious, she still somehow manages to look tired. Gary appears in the doorway and beckons to me. I go to his office.

He frowns and then coughs. Then he clears his throat and coughs again and I get the feeling that he’s stalling.

“Well?” I say. He explains that due to the financial circumstance, i.e. my mother still owing money on her last Heart® and me still having the ol’ student loans and due to my current earning status and due to Brenda’s health and current lack of income and due to about a thousand other things, we did not qualify for credit on a new Heart®, not even one of the old models.

“Okay.” I say. “What are our options?”

He says that he’s very sorry. He really wishes that there is something he could do, but alas there are no options. Then he hands me a pamphlet for BudgiFuneral®, a subsidiary of OrganoPharm®, and lightly pushes me out of his office.

#

Mom is still unconscious when I get back to her bedside. The doctor tells me not to worry. She’s in a coma and won’t feel a thing. Then she explains that if we keep her on the Organopharm® External Heart, mom will never recover. She’ll slowly get worse until she drifts away. And it’ll cost us loads of money. Like, the kind of money that Brenda and I can’t afford. I barely have time to ShareSpace Brenda and explain the situation before the technicians begin the shutdown procedure. It only takes a couple of minutes before mom stops breathing. I hold her hand as she goes.

“Goodbye, Mom.”

#

In the fast-paced world of amusement park fun, there’s no time for grief. I get a QuickPostÔ asking if I will be in the next day to take care of the Velociraptors™. Schneider is sick, and Bashir hasn’t turned up the last couple of days. So, the next day, I go to work. It’s either that or risk being fired. When Rick hears about Mom, he sends me a personal QuickPostÔ with his sympathies and tell me that due to a sudden influx of new visitors, it will not be possible to give me Saturday or Sunday off, but I’m such a devoted employee that it would be fine by him if I took Monday off to put my mother to rest.

Thank you for your understanding, Rick, I send back.

 

VI.

The Velociraptors™ are a hit. Every day, I release twenty printed mice into the Raptor Paddock (formerly the reserve chicken coop) at 3:15 PM. I upload the same MUS MUSCULUS BACK-UP MEMORIES file into all twenty mice. Unbeknownst to this mouse, it runs into the Raptor Paddock and is eaten twenty times every day, serving the sole purpose of making Farmer Frank’s 20th Century Experience very profitable. Within the next two months, the average daily visitor count increases by 4.5 fold. This is despite a VacationAppÔ ticket price increase of 3.9 fold due to our popularity score. People line up by the hundreds, sometimes waiting the whole day to watch the raptors during feeding time. Bashir installs four front-row seats for WishIt kids. They are filled nearly every day.

Our stats are amazing.

#

I’m in The Orchard scraping gum off of my shoe (again) when (ping), I get a QuickPostÔ from Rick.

“Vogelsang,” it says, “my office. Quarterly review time.”

Normally, Rick sits behind an oaken desk, black hair slicked back, smiling, a hand rubbing the stubble on his chin, a very handsome 44-140 years. Who really knows. He has the money to turn three hundred and look the same. But today, he’s a bit hunched-over, a bit unkempt, his complexion a bit yellowish.

“Vogelsang,” he laughs. “Exactly the person that I wanted to see.” He pulls up a bunch of numbers—all bright green. “Look at these stats. Amazing. Simply amazing. We’re killing WWII World® and Victorian-land®. I just got a call from the CEO of… look, I can’t tell you who exactly it was from, confidentiality and all…” He puts his hands behind his head forming ears. “Do you know what she wanted to talk about?”

I shake my head.

“Stats. In particular, our stats. In particular, our amazing stat. And who do I blame for those? You, Vogelsang. Feeding raptors live mice.” He laughs again. “As soon as that went viral, the controversy, the publicity. A modern-day Colosseum. Genius, Vogelsang, Genius. We’re overrun with WishIt kids. Absolutely overrun. The whole tristate area wants to see Velociraptors™.”

“I…” I say, but Rick cuts me off.

“Do we get ahead in life by staying still? No, we do not. Do we get ahead in life by moving backward? No, that would just be silly. Risks, Vogelsang, risks, that’s how we get ahead in this life. And that’s why I like you. I am glad to see that we have such a risk-taker onboard. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about today, about moving forward in your career, about taking risks, about getting ahead, about scratching backs. In particular, mine and yours. We take risks together; we get ahead together. Do you understand, Vogelsang?”

“Sure,” I say, although I’m not sure where he’s going with this.

“Do we understand, for your good and mine, that nothing we say gets out of this room?”

“Sure,” I say.

“Good. I’m glad. Because if anything we say did get outside of this room, that could be very bad indeed for particular parties inside of this room. Me, not so much. I have the money to deal with such things. But that’s beside the point.” He smiles. “Now, Vogelsang, I have a little hypothetical for you. Say someone you knew needed a Liver®, someone very dear to you. Say, someone you knew was a talented surgeon. Say, someone you knew was a programmer by a company like OrganoPharm®. And say someone you knew was a printer, a particularly talented, risk-taking printer, who had access to a top-of-the-line machine. And say, that you had lots of money, money that you could be using in ways other than purchasing extremely over-priced organs. Organs that are only priced so high because of a fabricated monopoly, unjust copyright laws, and a wonky healthcare system, which I believe that you have just experienced. If that were the case, these unjust copyright laws and wonky healthcare system would be stopping you from spending money in much more productive ways, like investing in growth or giving particular much-deserving employees promotions and very large bonuses. You’re smart Vogelsang. That idea you had with feeding live mice to the raptors, genius and ruthless. It’s because of your ability to take what you want, your genius and your ruthlessness that I decided to present you with this hypothetical situation today:

“Say, that tonight you will be working third shift, and say that I might be dropping by to pick something up. Say that tonight, you make the right decision. It could be very good for your future. That will be all.” Rick looks down at his desk and starts writing something very intently.

“Uh,” I say, then, “um,” and then, “well…”

Rick looks up, and I don’t feel as if I’m explaining the full moral, ethical, and judicial complexity of the situation very well. Am I a risk taker? No. Do I want be involved in copyright infringement and other illegal activities? No. If I go to the police, will Rick cover everything up and fire me, which would be detrimental to my chances of getting Brenda a Kidney® or Lungs® when she needs them? Most likely. So, do I really have a choice in this situation? No.

“All right then,” says Rick. “See you tonight.”

 

VII.

I get to work at 10:00 pm, and Julia, the girl at front desk in the Farm House, give me a funny look. Normally only security and service desk work third shift.

“Rick asked me to print out some extra kittens.” Julia squints. I shrug. “Request from a WishIt kid.”

Julia furrows her brow, scrolling through the guest list. “I don’t see any requests.”

“Funny,” I say. “Rick specifically mentioned it. Maybe you can send me the list?”

“Sure,” she says.

“Thanks,” I say and walk past.

The Bioprint™2590XE stands cold in the middle of the room. There’s a MemStick and two kilograms of ground beef sitting on the operator’s table. I switch the printer on, and let it heat to 37ºC. I wave the MemStick, and a schematic pops-up—OrganoPharm Liver® Gen6s. The schematic is basically cracked, so I can print as many as I want.

I stare at the ground beef and think of Mom. Then I think of Brenda. How many years before her biological lungs give out? One? Two? Is Rick planning on giving me a bonus large enough to pay or Lungs®? No. Would a promotion help me qualify for a loan? Maybe, who knows? Maybe Rick will make me a partner or something, give me stock in the company. Maybe a magic organ fairy will come along and give us organs whenever we need them. Maybe.

On the other hand, maybe it won’t. Maybe, I’ll get caught with this MemStick and convicted of dealing contraband organ. Goodbye freedom. God, I wish I had a choice. I come in every day. I work overtime. I do everything Rick and Schneider want. Was it enough to save Mom? No. Now, I am breaking the law. Will it be enough to save Brenda? No, probably not. I want to scream. I now understand what the mouse feels—the one that I print every day and release into the Raptor Paddock only to be eaten and printed again the next day. But it doesn’t remember what happened the previous day. And I do. Or I think I do. Am I just realizing what my life is just now?

I scream.

The sound bounces off the walls, drowning out the humming of the Bioprint™2590XE. I drop into the operator’s chair and bury my head in my hands. (Ping) a QuickPost™ from front-desk Julia—the list of WishIt kids. Cripes, the WishIt kids, the only people worse off than me.

I get up and load the ground beef in the biorecyling hopper. Forty-five minutes later there’s a shiny, red Liver® Gen6s in the printer. I move it to the cold storage chamber, plump back down into the operator’s chair, and open the list of WishIt kids. The first one is Aziz Johnson staying in HayLoft Suite 103a tomorrow. He lives with his parents in one of the not-so-good areas of town. Cirrhosis. He has cirrhosis, other problems too, but most acute amongst them is the cirrhosis.

How long would a shiny new Gen6s here buy him? A year, maybe two, five, ten, who knows? Will his parents even speak with me? Will they thank me if I help extend the inevitable? Will Rick’s doctor agree to a second operation? I don’t know.

Risks, Vogelsang, risks, that’s how we get ahead in this life.

I print a mouse, and upload the file marked MUS MUSCULUS BACK-UP MEMORIES. Then delete it from AniCloud™. I go out amongst the plastic trees of The Orchard and release the mouse. It may get stepped on or caught by a cat or die a million other ways. But, then again, it may make it. It may breed and have thousands of little mouse grandchildren. Who knows?

I stand next to Bioprint™2590XE, thinking about what I could recycle if I were to make a second Liver®. I used all of the ground beef on the first. There’s nothing else left. I can’t use dirt or apples, have the wrong types of molecule. I need meat, something animal, smallish but not too small — about the size of a large chicken — the perfect size for a second Liver®. I think of Mom and Brenda and all of the WishIt kids. Then I think of the celebrity on Rate my Parenting! and Rick and all of the billionaires. What makes them so deserving? What makes them worthier than those kids or the women that raised me?

I fall to my knees and cry, snot running from my nose. Red-eyed, I stand up. Enough. I’ve had enough.

As I enter the paddock, the Velociraptors™ huddle in the corner.

About the Author

Nathan Susnik

Nathan Susnick

Nathan Susnik is a medical writer who lives near Hanover, Germany. His fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming from markets such as PodCastle, Cast of Wonders and Shoreline of Infinity. You can find out more about him and his fiction by visiting his website, or by following him on Twitter.

Find more by Nathan Susnik

Nathan Susnick
Elsewhere

About the Narrator

Trendane Sparks

narrator Trendane Sparks

Originally born in Texas, Trendane Sparks eventually escaped and wound his way through a mystical series of jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area where he has worked as a software QA Tester for both graphics drivers and video games, a freelance mascot performer, and several jobs on a PBS kids’ show. For most of his life, people have told him that his voice is a pleasure to listen to. But since being a werewolf phone sex operator can get boring, he decided to use his powers to entertain a broader audience.

Find more by Trendane Sparks

narrator Trendane Sparks
Elsewhere