Friday, October 28, 2016

Terrible Minds: The Genetics of Revenge, Part 3

Wotta day, oh wotta day. I thought I could skip the Friday Market and post this in the morning. Lisiwayu insisted on taking Barnie-cat to market. Lisiwayu then failed to report to haul Barnie-cat to market. Barnie-cat has had food and water during the week, but I'd planned to load it into a clean cage and let the adopter be the one to provide food and water this morning. So I walked into town, spent the morning trying to place this wretched antisocial stray cat, failed to accomplish that, and am now officially late with the final chapter of the Terrible Minds Writing Challenge.

The trouble was that the Part 2 that inspired me was "The Dark Fairy," and although The Cross and the Switchblade had embedded a suitable Part 3 in my brain, it turned out everybody wanted to finish "The Dark Fairy." Nobody seems to want to finish either "Black Dog" or "Bubble" or "Grim Reaper." It's not faaair. The other Part 2's seemed to come from backgrounds that weren't familiar enough to inspire me.

Well...nobody else mentioned having written a Part 2 for Doug K Zeigler's story when I checked the Terrible Minds comments; Catastrophe Jones mentioned it in the comments on Part 1, but I didn't find her Part 2 at her site. Warning: this is the gory story that sets up a Part 2 dripping with obscene sexualized violence. It's "horror" for men. It's "cathartic feminist fantasy" for women. If you've been raped or molested or even called "honey" recently, you can probably enjoy a few moments just visualizing a possible Part 2, but as a woman you probably don't feel motivated to spend enough time with this thought to write 1000 words of blood and gore. As a man you probably find it too gruesome.

Very well. The story has now fallen into the hands of an aunt. Aunts don’t go in for bloodbaths. We are too old. We know the kind of thing that happens in a story about animals that have been bioengineered to attack humans. That story becomes interesting again at the point where most or all of the animals and humans who have been killing each other are dead.

What caught my attention is that what Doug K Zeigler's character is trying to achieve in Part 1 is what men have actually achieved, for themselves, many times in human history. The idea of most of the male population being killed by monsters with unnatural urges to torture their prey is horror fiction. The idea of most of the male population being killed by one another is...war. War is more horrible than any kind of fiction. And yet, after the wars humans have waged so far, the species has survived. If men were targeted and women were protected in a different kind of war, how different would the outcome really be?

So here we are in Part 3, when the story becomes either bland or really scary, depending on your gender:

As So Many Times Before (The Genetics of Revenge, Part 3)

The lamprey mouth stretched toward him as so many times before. Dan reached for his pistol, realized it was empty, fell backward over something, recognized his dead neighbor’s shotgun, and put such a neat hole through the frankencheetah that he might have hit it with a bullet. A fat bullet. As so many times before.

On the thought “as so many times before” he woke up and decided he was recovering. He was still dreaming about the frankencheetahs Dahlia Moses had engineered for the purpose of exterminating men. Maybe he always would. At least he wasn’t screaming any more.

Adult male humans were, of course, rare—as after every war. Being rare, they’d become a protected class. Women now did all the jobs. There was no question about a man being allowed to work outside the home, but the home had, Dan supposed, become a livelier place than it was for that woman Friedman or whatever her name was, who’d made all the racket about “the problem that had no name.” It had always needed a bit of male imagination and humor, especially after the word got round that Alice, Joan, Debby, Susan, Karen, Caitlyn, Jen, Mary, Crystal, and Megan had an actual man in their home, and every son’s mother in the neighborhood started dropping her son off “for the male bonding experience.” Frankly it was more of a challenge than construction work. He still did some of that, mostly at home. These days a fellow’s protectors begrudged every minute he wasn’t baby-sitting all the boys in the neighborhood.

There were, of course, trade-offs, like the young girls’ moonlight parades through the streets, wearing whatever the temperature indicated, which wasn’t much these days (maybe global warming was happening after all). A man might get a glimpse from a third-floor window, but no way could a man get out the door between sundown and sunup. Even in the daytime two or three protectors had to follow him everywhere. Also, whatever the temperature indicated for women, a man had to wear full body armor whenever he was outdoors. You no longer saw a frankencheetah every day, but you didn’t want to be exposed to an attack if you met one.

And it had turned out not really to be an oversight that men were still allowed to vote, if they had a preference about any of the female candidates and women’s issues under consideration. It was simply that six percent of the population weren’t likely to affect the outcome.

Nevertheless Dan, always a cheerful type, still liked to sing in the shower in the morning.

First there'd been only a few frankencheetahs, and it had taken a while to figure out whom they went after, and why, since some of the men had never been charged. Then the unnatural animals’ populations had increased, and they’d gone after all sorts of men, not only the ones who’d committed hatecrimes against women. Men, first the military and then every man, had gone after the frankencheetahs. So had some women; a few women were glad to see their men go, but more women missed them.

He’d heard all kinds of stories about what a couple of hundred widows had done to the  woman known as Dahlia Moses and wondered whether they really had taken turns killing her, or half-killing her, or desecrating her remains, in a couple of hundred different ways. Most of the troops who’d formed to exterminate the frankencheetahs were male, though not all; the TV news had broadcast women killing them too.

That was when there’d still been TV news. It turned out that although a few old women missed a few soap operas, by and large TV had always been a guy thing. Now there was no more TV and it was hard to find any kind of moving picture on the Internet.

War, of course, had also been a guy thing. By now world peace and unity might even have been achieved, in the sense that most of the men were gone, and many of the women, and the world’s population was spread so thin that nobody seemed to care where national borders were or who was trying to cross them.

School had apparently been a girl thing, except that boys did so much better with a man teacher that Dan had become an unofficial teacher in his own protectors’ home. He’d worked out a sort of routine: singing, some kind of prayer or poem to open the school day, math, reading, exercises, lunch, gardening.

Alice went to work in a store. Joan cooked, not just for the boys and Dan, although they ate too, but for the workers in the shoe factory; Debby and Crystal were two of them. Susan gave piano lessons but, on that day, she was in her room having cramps. Karen, Jen, and Caitlyn worked on the neighborhood farm. Mary, the writer, wrote as usual in the public library. Megan took in washing. Once, long ago, people had thought a woman President would make a difference to women. Now all the Presidents were women, but the women Dan knew were doing the same things every day that they’d done so many times before.

In another twenty years, he thought, things would be back to more or less normal. Young people would get married and have children, instead of groups of women, with or without one man among them, keeping their houses like forts in case the frankencheetahs turned against women. All the nations on Earth would be the way the war-torn nations used to be, with only a few young people blessed to have known their grandfathers. Women would go back to flattering and fussing over men, because they enjoyed doing it. Men would take the flattery, and themselves, seriously, because they weren’t noticeably more intelligent than they’d been. Some would be violent. The species would go on without one generation of men, as so many times before.

Except: anyone convicted of splicing genes would die.

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