|Alien Virus by Golubaja|
Leche stretched his legs and climbed out of the reclining wagon. He adjusted his black kerchief and pulled a lump of white fur from under his black leather collar. Damn shedding fur. He scratched the lump from his paw, stomped it into the sandy ground and tethered his horse Cocoa to the wooden post. Cocoa stomped her black hoof in the sand and tossed her black mane. Leche nodded to the young, grey greeter-bitch wearing a blue smock by the entrance way. He stood upright on his hind legs and entangled a caged cart from the unkempt pile. The rusted wheels stuttered and squealed as he pulled it behind him.
“Why do I always get the bum carts?” he growled.
He pushed the wooden doors open. Sunlight streamed through the store from the open-roof construction. Row after row of shelves filled with squawking birds, grunting piglets and sacks of dried meats teeming with chirping insects almost drowned the din of the other wolves out shopping on a Saturday morning. He walked towards the pen dragging the protesting cart.
He dropped back onto all-fours and motioned to the golden-brown blue-smocked attendant to get him a puller out of the pen. “I need some hands today, darling,” he said.
The golden-brown attendant bitch barked two gruff orders at a young male huddled with two females at the side of the pen. She swiped at him with one strong paw and the young male stood, cowered out of the pen, pulled the harness from Leche’s cart and strapped it onto his bare, brown-smeared back.
“He’s not very strong, Mr. Leche,” she barked. “He’s even stupider than the others. You should see the scars on his backside. After all these generations, the virus still comes through. In my opinion, we should get rid of these inferior ones.”
“If any of the files we read today are correct, then what these creatures were capable of was nothing short of barbarian. Better that they stay this way.”
“You want a whip, Mr. Leche?” She smiled at him the way most bitches did. Until he lost his winter fur. Then he had to go into hiding for a few weeks until it grew back out.
“No need, Amber,” he growled. “I only need a few things for the weekend. I’m having company tonight and I’ll need some hands to make a feast. Why don’t you come by later and bring these pullers?”
She winked in affirmation.
Leche smoothed his kerchief and snapped the harness. The puller yanked the cart forward.
“I need a few piglets, man,” he thought, barking twice aloud.
The puller hung his head and directed the caged cart towards the livestock. His toenails dragged along the sawdust-strewn floor. They were so long he almost tripped over them. His hair was thin, grey, and the virus had scarred his bald scalp with stripes like a shiny layer of melted wax.
In pack-school, the young wolf pups learned about the last Great War and what those humans had done. Having no cares or needs unmet, they turned to carelessly exterminating each other over doctrines, beliefs and mystical bla-blas. For thousands of years, they had played out this behavior. But it got out of control. That last blast brought a wind from the heavens. Even the men-in-charge got a surprise at that. They unleashed something they couldn’t understand.
The rains had come and saturated the earth, bringing a visible, electrically-charged molecule. Some called it the virus. The humans had tried to isolate it, but any exposure to the molecule softened their human minds, dissolved their intelligence, hardened their hearts. They suffered and became vulnerable. Many died.
Wolves, then, could feast. Undisturbed. The virus had no effect on their organism. On the contrary, it opened their minds. They multiplied. The eco-system slowly pulled itself together in just one generation. And those human minds that had survived were reduced to pitiful puddles of plasma.
Leche pointed to the shelf of dried meat. The puller maneuvered the cart underneath the shelf, pulled a sack down and dumped it with a thud down into the caged cart. Leche barked and the puller moved towards the piglets. Leche barked three times and the puller retrieved three piglets, dropped them into the cart and closed the top of the cage. Leche snapped the harness and the puller slumped forward, jerking the overloaded cart forward to the check-out.
A silky-black, blue-smocked beauty tallied up his goods and a caged human chalked up his purchase on a grey slate board hanging by the exit stall.
“When should I come by, Mr. Leche?” she purred.
“As soon as you’ve finished for the day,” he barked back.
The puller maneuvered Leche’s cart back towards a very impatient Cocoa, who pawed the sand with one very bored hoof. Another set of hands came and helped the puller load Leche’s reclining cart.
“You’d really let those hands prepare your meat?” the grey greeter-bitch said.
“They don’t eat meat. Look at how their eyes have wandered to the sides of their faces. They have no teeth to rip flesh. I’d read that it started generations ago. Humans felt they didn’t need to eat meat anymore. They degenerated.”
The grey greeter-bitch adjusted her blue smock and panted a broad smile.
The puller stroked Cocoa’s nostrils and smoothed his hand over her mane. The horse nudged him quietly and they seemed to exchange a few niceties. Leche watched them and shook his head in disapproval.
“The horse has more brains than you do, man,” he thought and barked an insulting laugh. He stuck a carrot in the horse’s mouth. The puller sat back on his behind and whimpered.
“One for you, too, man,” Leche thought, stuffed a carrot in his mouth and climbed back into the reclining wagon.
Cocoa looked back to the man as Leche leaned back and snapped her reigns. She needed no meat. The man either. She needed no wolves. The man either. Together they shared a brief moment of understanding.