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Save Us

Melinda Nilsson

When the polar bears started dying and our rivers filled with plastic, we argued that it wasn’t that bad, that the planet had gone through worse.

When the oceans rose to drown our coasts and our fields burned to ash, we believed in the power of the indomitable human spirit.

When water grew scarce and food scarcer, we looked to the world’s finest minds and most powerful leaders. Surely, facing humanity’s most dire situation yet, we’d finally come together and overcome.

When mass extinction became a reality and the human population declined by millions a day, we looked up – to God, to the universe, to whatever external force that could set things right. We prayed, begged, and bartered on every available frequency.

When our absolution came in the form of a space fleet, there were barely a million of us left. Malnourished and shellshocked from the near extinction of our species, the strangers nursed us back to health with their otherworldly machines and tasteless nutrition. We looked upon their black eyes and saw our saviours – our extraterrestrial Jesuses, Mohammeds, or whatever you believed in back then.

When the testing started, it was celebrated. Feeding times were adjusted and medicines were developed. We were given soft new clothes and bracelets that allowed us to roam freely on parts of the ships. A testament to human resilience, it did not take long for us to recover our strength. We were ready to return, to save our home. But by the time we were strong enough to ask questions, the words couldn’t form. Every attempt to speak started shocks along your wrist that would travel up your spine, leaving you shaking on the metal floor in a puddle of urine. Caught up in the miracle of being saved, we hadn’t asked why.

Confinement came shortly after, but it wasn’t until the first few executions that their reasons for saving us became clear. Although execution is the wrong word for something more akin to slaughter. We soon gathered that we had become cattle for a species that had destroyed their own home, not unlike our own predicament. Had we had more technological prowess, perhaps the roles would have been reversed. Now, only a small herd of us remain. We’re selected and bred for the best genes; body fat ratio, muscle size, fertility – it’s anyone’s guess what their flashing machines are tracking.

Trapped in our sterile white pens, stripped of our community, dignity, and privacy, I long for Earth. For the music we played, the food we cooked, the art we made. I miss holding my sister’s hand. Through it all, when our planet was crumbling beneath us, I had believed that humanity would prevail. Now, I cling to the shreds of what we were while I wait to be escorted to the abattoir.

I don’t believe in Gods anymore, but I know now that there are others out there. There must be. And so, I plead to them.

“Save us”.

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