|(Caution: this story will be disturbing to some readers.)
Initially, the government authorities were in on it, and it just involved kidnapping homeless kids in the slums of selected Latin American cities, killing them under a doctor’s supervision, and harvesting the organs.
Vlad’s idea was to turn organ harvesting into a form of agriculture. Rather than incurring the risk and cost of kidnapping street kids for each new organ needed, it was his idea to breed organ donors. The Russians had studied the idea of doing this with pigs — breeding a special group of disease-resistant pigs and then cloning human organs onto them. So you’d have a pig covered with human ears, or lungs, and not only could you harvest multiple organs from one animal, you could breed the pig and repeat the whole process with the babies. It was a licence to print money, Vlad said.
But he pigs rejected the organs, and so did the subsequent human recipients. Unfazed, Vlad brought in a consultant, a CIA-trained biotech expert known as “The Doctor” who said the same homeless kids they’d already been kidnapping were, with a little preparation, the ideal stock both for breeding and for harvesting organs. The Doctor prescribed the needed “preparation” — amputate and sell their limbs so they couldn’t fight or run away, and so they’d take up less space, cauterize their vocal chords so they couldn’t make noise, and lobotomize them so they wouldn’t really know what was happening to them. They called them “The Drones”, and bred them over and over, even bringing in extra money selling the valuable hormones produced by the pregnant females. The business was dubbed Eternal Spring Harvest — ESH.
Vlad and The Doctor debated whether to allow The Drones to have sex, or to artificially inseminate them. Vlad said they should be allowed to breed naturally, but The Doctor said it was too inefficient. Besides, there was danger of damaging some of the dozens of exposed organs growing on each Drone during the act.
Initially the market was the US, where there were already well-established underground processes for transacting in human organs, no questions asked. But heavy new demand came from some Mid-Eastern and Asian countries, which drove up prices and allowed Vlad to open dozens of new ‘plants’ nearer the new markets, where money bought even more privacy than it did in Latin America, and local ‘plant managers’ were easy to find. The only real competition was from Beijing, where organs of executed political dissidents were regularly harvested. The transactions had one-way transparency — ESH knew who the end-customer was (often politicians, business leaders, celebrities, even royalty), but the end-customer neither knew, nor wanted to know, who the supplier was. That meant almost every transaction bought absolute silence and secrecy for ESH. Even the most diligent human rights agencies concluded that “the alleged existence of such operations was probably a myth.”
You ask, dear reader. How do I know all this? Am I perhaps a Drone myself, rehabilitated somehow, or one of the ‘plant managers’, or even one of the higher-ups? For who else could be telling you this terrible truth, that a world that puts such little value in life, and so much in money, and cares so little about suffering, could produce a business so monstrous?
But I am merely an observer. My given name is Myron and I am in fact Sus Domesticus, a common pig, one of the failed experiments of the early days of ESH. And these are not my words so much as they are the interpretation of a Mr. Dawod, a gentle weaver who found me after I escaped from one of the ESH plants. Mr. Dawod, remarking at the strange and useless appendages that covered my skin, and being an educated man who knew we pigs are not stupid, and are endowed of excellent memory and great olfactory sense even over substantial distance and time, asked me to lead him, and the local lawmaker, to the place where these hideous crimes were perpetrated. I did so, and soon the place was crawling with all sorts of investigators, who, using the special types of interrogation used only by humans, cracked the entire ESH operation, in thirty countries. The raids all occurred at night, the ‘plant’ managers and staff and Drones disappeared, and all traces of the operations were eradicated without media attention. And sweet and caring Mr. Dawod paid for his terrible and dangerous knowledge with his life, leaving behind only this record, which I guard in the strange little hand-made pig-house he built for me.
I think the closure of ESH, no matter how surreptitious the means, is good news for humans. As for us pigs, living our lives as objects of human economic activity is something we just accept, it just is. We’re not much for rationalizing or moralizing like humans. My main preoccupation when I was prodded and injected and imprisoned by the businesspeople of ESH, was not retribution or justice or liberation or peaceful death. It was, and still is, Where is home, and How do I get there?
Because you live in such an artificial world, a world of your own making, where you are told so forcefully what is and what is right, you have lost your imagination. While I get great joy from imagining what it would be like to be a crow, soaring up in the clouds and spying my own dinner, earning it myself, or to be a firefly, you humans have lost that imagination, you have forgotten what it is to be in the real world. If you could only imagine, really imagine, what it is to be a crow, or a firefly, or a pig, you would not live the way you do. You could not.
I am grateful that somehow Mr. Dawod had not lost that imagination, and understood what I was telling him, in my own way, so he could stop ESH and at least some were spared suffering. But it is such a small step. You have lost so much, and you don’t seem to be able to get it back, or even to imagine what your life and your world could be if you could get it back. You live lives of what is to us inconceivable imaginative poverty. You are very much like those poor souls in the ESH plants, who lost their limbs and ability to make sound and ability to feel, when they were so young, and never knew what they had lost, what enormous potential they had to be.
Even now another man, unable to imagine, is thinking about the opportunity for another ESH, but this time even more secure, more hidden away from reality.
When you can’t imagine, you can do anything.
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