More Meat to Eat
In a fatally overpopulated future Earth, where the people have turned to cannibalism, a High School Girl discovers that there has always been an alternative.
More Meat to Eat
At 7:37 AM, on the 1378th Level of the City of Manhattan Building, thousands of people moved along the West 55th Street Corridor, going east from the 9th Avenue to the 8th Avenue corridor. Many teenage students walked among them, heading toward their local high school; HS L-1378-55; which stood on the uptown side of West 55th Street, between 8th and 7th Avenues.
As they moved along, the flooring beneath their feet split open in a straight line, down the center of the street. Then both sides of the flooring crashed down into vertical positions, dropping the screaming pedestrians into the gap below. Giant electrodes at each end of the gap shot out dazzling blue thundering bolts of lightning, killing every man woman and child who had been dropped into the gap.
Then a loudspeaker in the wall, beside the electrodes, blared out the recorded words, "Welcome to Paradise!"
The thousands lay dead on a conveyer belt, which began to move, carrying the bodies toward the nearest meat packing plant.
Then both sides of the street rose back up to their normal vertical position. They relocked, and in less than a minute, the corridor was again crowded with thousands of pedestrians. More HS L-1378-55 Students hurried along, not wanting to be late for the bell.
17 year old Karen Bennet moved with the crowd. She was dressed in a light weight, dark green jacket, with the words "HS L-1378-55", printed in yellow on the back. She also wore a light blue skirt, hanging to her knees. Like all the other students in the crowd, the hungry, blonde Karen also carried her edu-computer.
She was about halfway down the block when a guy came up beside her.
Her steady boyfriend David Krendell had come up beside her. Like most of the people in the City of Manhattan Building, he was gaunt and had little energy. She was also thin and weak. A daily ration of sausages or meat patties was allocated for each citizen, but there was never enough for everyone. Famine, starvation and disease were perpetual threats.
Karen said, "Hi Dave."
He said, "I hear you're planning to try out for cheerleader?"
"All cheerleaders receive triple rations for the entire season. Why not?"
"You might be the cheerleader who gets hanged, after we lose a game."
"The extra rations," she told him, "will improve the health of me and my whole family, for the entire season. Isn't that worth the risk?"
"The extra rations," he told her, "are intended to make the cheerleaders fill out, so they'll look sexy, instead of unhealthy."
She laughed, "You've got a complaint about that?"
Dave said, "The girls on the cheerleading squad are expected to have sex with every guy on the Warrior Team. I'm the Team's equipment handler, so I know everything that goes on. I want you to be my girlfriend alone. Not the entire Team's."
"I know," she said, "what'll be expected of me, and I don't see the point of me being a well fed, sexy cheerleader, if I'm not a team girlfriend. They're the girls who have all the fun."
"What about me?"
"You're not all that much fun."
Karen stepped away from Dave.
Half a block behind them, Louise Torelli, a dark haired senior who wore glasses, walked beside tall, blonde, Alyce Vanderland. Like all their classmates, both girls carried their personal edu-computers. They also wore the lightweight school jackets, and knee length skirts.
Louise said, "I'm not sure if I want to join the Warrior Girls Squad this year. Now that I've got that college scholarship, I've got something more to look forward to, than being packaged meat."
Alyce asked, "Then why don't you try out for cheerleader with me?"
"Me?" Louise laughed. "A cheerleader?"
"Much less risk of getting killed. They only hang one cheerleader a game, and that's only from the losing team. Besides, it's a great way to meet guys."
"Forget it Alyce. I had enough of being a team's girlfriend, when I was a warrior girl. The next time for me'll be with a guy who thinks I'm special."
"But if you're not on either the warrior squad, or the cheerleaders, you and your family'll won't get those extra rations."
"Me and my family have decided that my getting into college, is worth the sacrifice. I won't look as sexy, or get as many dates, but no one in my family will starve."
Two months later, a population trimming and meat harvest combat game, was being held in the gymnasium of High School L-1378-55. The warrior guys and girls on the H.S. L-1378-55 team, fought to the death, against the guys and girls on the Warrior Team from the L-879-27 Aztec Religious Academy. Both teams were armed with swords or spears, and circular shields. Blood dripped from their blades and from their shields.
On the sidelines, the H.S. L-1378-55 Band played the ancient melody, of the Notre Dame fight song, while members of the alumni tried to remember the words, to their Alma Mater's version.
"Fight! Fight-for Fifty-five High!
Karen Bennett was among the H. S. L-1378-55 cheerleaders, who wore tight, green and yellow tee shirts, and very short skirts. They leapt high while whirling about, waving their green and yellow pompoms, and chanting.
"Jimmy Haskins--He's our man!
If he can't do it--Landis can!
Larry Landis--He's our man!
If he can't do it--Patterson can!
Mike Patterson--He's our man!
If he can't do it--Denski can!
Sarah Denski--She's our gal!
If she can't do..."
The seats were filled with cheering students and faculty from both schools. Whenever an H.S. L-1378-55 team blade cut deep, through an Aztec Academy Warrior, the fans in the home team bleachers cheered. The Aztec fans cheered, whenever one of their blades impaled an H.S. L-1378-55 guy or girl.
Whenever a Warrior Guy or Girl was killed, the one who killed him or her shouted, "Welcome to Paradise!"
Warrior guys and girls from both teams lay dead or wounded on the gym floor.
Dave Krendell sat in the gymnasium's home team seats, with Louise Torelli beside him. Dave would be taking her to the Homecoming Dance that night. This afternoon, Dave's attention was not on the home team in their dark green and yellow uniforms, or the visitors in the red and blue. Dave Krendell's attention was on Karen Bennett.
Louise sat beside him thinking. He still wants to do it with his ex-girlfriend. He doesn't look at me that way; so you can forget about doing it with me tonight Davey.
The Scoreboard displayed that the Visitors had so far scored 17 Kills, 28 Wounds, and 3 goals. While the Home Team had scored 12 kills, 31 Wounds, and had tied the score at 3 Goals.
Whenever any team member fell dead or wounded, the number on the scoreboard, under 'Kills" or "Wounds", increased by 1.
On the opposite side of the gym, the Aztec Academy Cheerleaders waved their black and red pompoms and chanted.
But we're not thrilled!
See that score!
We want more!
Each goal consisted of a pair of fifteen-foot high vertical posts, standing five feet apart, connected by a horizontal bar across the top.
Mike Patterson and Sarah Denski stood together, blocking the H.S. L-1378-55 goal post. They both were armed with swords and shields. Mike fought a warrior guy, who was equally armed. Sarah fought a warrior girl, who also fought with a sword and shield.
Sarah got her sword around the girl's shield, plunging it deep through her left breast.
The girl cried out.
Then she laughed. "You're still not gonna win!"
Sarah told her, "Welcome to Paradise!"
The Aztec Academy girl fell dead and the home team's kill score rose to 18.
In the seats, the home team fans cheered.
Mike Patterson's opponent stabbed his sword through Mike's ribs.
His opponent shouted, "Welcome to Paradise!"
Then Mike Patterson fell dead, and his opponent ran through the home team's goal post.
On the scoreboard, the visitors' Kill number rose to 18. The Goal score was now,
A loud groan rose from the home team's fans.
In the cheerleading squad, Alyce Vanderland stood beside Karen.
She said, "Oh shove it! Mike Patterson's just been killed. Now I don't have a date for tonight. I can't show up alone."
There was less than one minute left to play and the coach had decided to let the clock run out.
On the opposite side of the gym, a loud victorious cheer rose from the fans, in the Aztec Team's seats.
The visiting cheerleaders' voices echoed the victory chant.
"Now we've won the game!
More meat to eat!
Bet they're sorry we came!
More meat to eat!
Now they'll hang their bitch!
More meat to eat!
'til the whore can't twitch!
More meat to eat!"
Karen Bennett called out to the other cheerleaders. "Forget the Game! One of us'll still be crowned, as Homecoming Queen tonight!"
Alyce told her, "That's easy for you to say Karen. Your date hasn't just had a kill scored off him, just six hours before the Dance. Now I'm not gonna have anyone to bring me to the Dance, or do it with me afterward."
"It's all part of being a cheerleader Alyce."
Now the time had come for one of the losing team's cheerleaders to be hanged. Mrs. Ramierez, the cheerleaders' faculty advisor, now approached the squad. The firmly built, full figured woman wore a tight tee shirt and shorts. She carried a closed carton box, with strings hanging over the edge. The girls quieted down, and began trembling.
Then the girls gathered around Mrs. Ramierez. One at a time, each girl took hold of one string, and drew it out of the box. Each string had an empty noose tied on the opposite end.
Karen took hold of one string, and drew out a cheerleader doll, with the noose around its neck.
Karen began to tremble. The other girls all looked relieved.
The H.S. L-1378.55 warrior team had come to the sideline. They now approached Karen, with blood dripping from their swords, spears and shields. She stood still, fearlessly waiting for them.
Two warriors, Jimmy Haskins and Larry Landis, picked Karen up by the arms, and carried her across the gym floor, stepping around the bodies of dead warrior guys and girls from both teams. They brought her to the home team goal post, where a rope with a noose had been tossed over the horizontal bar, and was dangling at shoulder height.
Larry and Jimmy stood Karen inside the goal post. She faced out across the gym floor, while every warrior on the H.S. L-1378-55 team, every visiting team member, both cheerleading squads, faculty advisors, and officials from both schools, all gathered around the goal post.
Jimmy Haskins stood behind her.
She felt Jimmy's hands grab her wrists, and pull them behind her back. Then she felt the cold metal handcuffs, snap shut around her wrists.
The shivering Karen said, "You'd better hang me quick. I don't want to be late for the Homecoming Dance tonight."
Jimmy, Larry, and the others who heard her laughed. Karen also laughed, as Jimmy put the noose around her neck.
She felt the noose tighten, and she was yanked straight up off the floor.
She began gagging and squirming, as she was lifted above the heads of everyone surrounding her. Some of them had to duck away from her thrashing legs. She was lifted higher, so her kicking feet passed safely above everybody's head. She could see team members and the cheerleaders below her and everyone in the seats. They were all cheering her moment of glory.
She hung there, feeling her throat being crushed, while everyone standing around her and in the stands shouted.
"Welcome to Paradise!"
In the stands, Louise also cheered heartily, at the death of Dave's ex-girlfriend.
Dave prayed silently. "Lord Jesus. Please keep Karen alive. I love her."
Karen's throat was crushed shut. She could get no more breath. She continued squirming. Her awareness of everything was quickly vanishing. She was barely aware of the gym, the guys and the girls on the team, the cheerleading squad, and the people in the seats.
She no longer heard or saw anything. The pain was gone. She no longer felt cold. She was aware of nothing.
Karen came out of her body.
The gym was dark and empty, except for the bodies of the slain members of both teams; who'd remain where they'd fallen, until they were collected by the men from the West Side Meat Company.
She saw herself dangling ten feet above the gym floor, with her neck crushed tight, at the end of a stiff rope, her wrists handcuffed behind her back, her breasts thrust forward inside her tight tee shirt, and her bare legs had no more kick left in them.
I was a good hang, she thought. Didn't whimper, hold back, struggle, cringe, or act pathetic. Good looking hang too.
Inside her mind, Karen heard the voice of David Krendell.
"Lord Jesus. Please keep Karen alive. I love her."
Then Karen was back inside her body hanging by her neck, at the end of the rope, ten feet above the gym floor. Her throat was no longer crushed. The noose was no tighter than it had been when Jimmy first put the loop around her neck.
The lights were back on in the gym. Men from the West Side Meat Company were collecting the bodies; tossing them onto wheeled skids, which they pushed around the floor with jacks. None of them looked up at her. She was shivering in the cold, and nobody paid her any attention.
She heard one man say, "Hey. The hanged girl."
He was told, "We'll take her down last."
"No. I just saw her move."
"Just muscular contractions. Dead people do that all the time."
The men continued their work, methodically collecting every member of the both teams, who'd been killed in that afternoon's game.
They all look very comfortably dead, Karen thought, as she hung there gagging, cold and shivering, unnoticed by the workmen for more than a half-hour. It felt like a hundred years.
Then someone finally came over to the goal post and undid the knot, where the other end of the rope was tied around the post.
Karen came down fast. When she hit the floor, she made a loud groan.
The workmen came running over to Karen, and removed the noose.
"Look. Her neck's undamaged."
"The she can attend her Homecoming Dance tonight."