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Evolving Man

Raj put his hands on the ceiling of his cell and pushed to stretch out his muscles. He’d put in a long day pulling out dead cells and loading them on lifts for transport, and installing new cells. He rolled over on his side and spit up his cud and began to chew. He could feel a difference in the texture of his cud because he had splurged on a cup of sweet-feed earlier. He watched the sunset through the clear wall of his cell. The view of the city was forest-like. Thousands of towers of cells with solar collectors attached like branches and leaves swayed in the wind.

A few months ago he would have spent the evening cuddling with Yennie. He missed her.

Raj slid his cud over to one side of his mouth and said “News.” The computer didn’t respond so he swallowed his cud and said “News.” The cell wall became a monitor.

“The last living omnivore died today at 76 years old. Helen Rockefeller, the daughter of a multizillionaire, died today, marking the end of an era.” Raj’s face crumpled with emotion.

“Pictures….Family.” His great-grandparents showed in smiling albums. They had been omnivores. They had sacrificed their savings to have their reproductive genetic material reengineered, replacing their children’s human digestive system with a deer’s. Raj was glad they had. Omnivore food became so scarce that they all starved. A picture of his grandparents faded in. His grandpa was modified, his grandma wasn’t, but all of their children were ruminators. All the children in my generation were normal.

He slammed his fist into the floor-pad. “Why did MY son have to be a throwback?”

After they had their son euthanized, Yennie wouldn’t touch him. If they were wealthier they could have had a deer’s stomach-set grown in a lab and surgically installed. He was just a mortuary worker, and Yennie repaired shower-heads. They couldn’t afford a procedure like that, and they couldn’t bear to watch their son starve to death.

There was a procedure he could afford.

“Search, surgery, vasectomy.” The computer showed a list of appointment times, he touched one with his finger. “Schedule.”

“Personal Schedule.” The computer showed his calendar. He saw the red spot where his surgery and his work schedule conflicted. He touched his work appointment and slid it over to a blank spot. “Confirm.” The work appointment popped back into its original place. “Unable to confirm.”

“Damn.” He slid it over to a spot that was scheduled for grazing. “Confirm.” He touched the red grazing appointment and said “Cancel.”

He enjoyed the freedom and luxury of being able to go for a walk in the woods and eat tree leaves and handfuls of fresh grass, it was a wonderful experience, but expensive, and impossible to schedule on Valentine’s Day. He could use the extra cash to pay for the surgery.

“Dark, Music, Soft… ‘Euclidian Sorrow’.” His cell-wall turned solid and sad soft music sang him to sleep.

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