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Butcher of Eden

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Chapter 1- Eden

21

The market buzzed with the usual din of commerce, but there was nothing ordinary about the wares being hawked. Stalls overflowed with rows of human flesh, artfully displayed like cuts of fine beef. The air was thick with the scent of freshly harvested meat, mingling with the hum of casual conversation.

 

This was Eden, a place of prosperity and dark indulgence.

 

"Fresh human meat! Get your prime cuts here! Freshly harvested, or if you prefer, live humans available for that extra freshness," a meat trader bellowed. He stood behind a glass case, proudly displaying his inventory. A blonde woman approached and his sales pitch shifted to a more personal tone.

 

"Can I help you find something, miss?" he asked.

 

The woman eyed the slabs of meat with a practiced detachment.

 

"How long since this one was slaughtered?" she inquired, pointing to a particularly red cut. "And how old was it?"

 

"This one’s fresh from the slaughterhouse," the trader replied with a toothy grin. "Prime age—just perfect for a hearty meal."

 

Her lips curved into a slight smile. "I'll take a kilo," she said.

 

The trader moved with the efficiency of someone who had performed this task a thousand times.

 

He selected a piece and laid it on the scale, his knife flashing as he trimmed it to the requested weight. The digital display blinked, showing a fraction over a kilo.

 

"I’ve given you a bit more, just to ensure you get your money’s worth," he said with a wink, wrapping the meat in butcher paper and handing it over.

 

The woman nodded, her expression unreadable, and handed over a crisp stack of bills. She tucked the package under her arm and melted back into the throng of shoppers.

 

Eden was a disturbing blend of the mundane and the macabre. Alongside the grotesque offerings of human flesh, stalls also featured luxury goods crafted from human remains, and the latest Aelorian technologies. Residents moved with an air of superiority, their lives untouched by the devastation they had wrought upon humanity.

 

As the woman wove through the crowd, the atmosphere abruptly shattered.

 

“Boom!”

 

A massive explosion rocked the market. The ground trembled, and a wave of debris and smoke surged through the air. The meat trader's stall was obliterated, chunks of flesh, broken glasses, and splintered wood scattering everywhere. Panic erupted as Aelorians, who prided themselves on control and composure, now fled in all directions, their faces twisted in fear and confusion.

 

In an instant, Eden's facade of tranquility was shattered, replaced by chaos and screams. This was a place where such things simply didn’t happen, and yet, it had.

 

In the chaos that followed the explosion, the woman from the market moved swiftly, her apparent panic matching that of the crowd. She ran alongside the fleeing masses, her expression mirroring their fear. But as soon as she found an opening, she slipped into a narrow, shadowed alleyway, away from the frantic turmoil of the market.

 

Once she reached a secluded spot, she glanced around to ensure she was alone. The fear on her face melted away, replaced by a mischievous grin. She covered her mouth with her hands, stifling a burst of laughter. Then, with a quick motion, she pulled off her blonde wig, revealing not a woman, but a man.

 

It was Calder.

 

Calder's eyes sparkled with a mix of satisfaction and anticipation. He quickly shed his outfit, exchanging the market clothes for a nondescript set he had stashed in a nearby hidden cache. Every move was precise and practiced.

 

He gathered the discarded clothes and the blonde wig, stuffing them into a large metallic drum he had prepared earlier. With swift, deliberate movements, he retrieved a bottle of gasoline and poured it into the drum, soaking the evidence along with the package of human meat he had bought. Striking a match, he dropped it into the drum and watched as the flames roarer, consuming everything.

 

The heat and light from the fire reflected off Calder’s face as he stood there for a moment, ensuring the blaze took care of any trace. Once he was satisfied, he casually dusted off his hands and walked away from the alley, blending back into the city’s normalcy.

 

….

 

Calder worked in a place that could only exist in the twisted reality of Eden—a human canning factory. As a regular employee in the Quality Assurance department, his job was to inspect the endless supply of human meat flowing through the production lines. Years of experience had honed his senses to the point where he could tell at a glance if a piece of flesh was fresh or stale.

 

The factory was a cold, clinical environment, its walls lined with stainless steel and humming machinery. Rows of human carcasses hung from meat hooks, swaying gently as they traveled along the rails in the refrigerated room.

 

Calder moved among them, checking each one with precision. His task was to ensure that every batch met the exacting standards before they were sent off to the decapitation machine.

 

Heads were severed cleanly and sent to another section where the brains would be harvested, destined for canning in another facility.

 

This factory specialized in processing the rest of the human body. The meat was chopped, seasoned, and mixed with special sauces, ready to be canned and shipped out.

 

Their products were especially popular among Aelorian teenagers and busy young professionals who preferred quick, convenient meals. The factory prided itself on not using preservatives, relying instead on advanced techniques to keep the meat fresh and flavorful.

 

Calder stood by the conveyor belt, pushing another batch towards the decapitation unit. "This is the thirteenth batch today," he muttered to himself. "Seriously, this is so tiring."

 

Beside him, a co-worker, an older man named Valerio, looked up from his station. "Hey, Calder, have you heard the latest? Our company is planning to release a new product line," he said, his voice tinged with a mix of excitement and weariness.

 

Calder raised an eyebrow. "Oh? What's the new product?"

 

Valerio leaned in slightly. "They're going to start a line that only uses meat from humans aged thirteen and under. It's the newest trend. They say the younger meat has fewer toxins and a better texture."

 

Calder nodded thoughtfully. "Makes sense. The younger the meat, the juicier it tends to be, though it does come with that distinctive smell. Hopefully, they figure out how to deal with that."

 

Valerio grinned. "Try marinating it with citrus, ginger, and garlic. That usually cuts the smell pretty well."

 

"I'll keep that in mind," Calder replied.

 

Their conversation was interrupted by the sound of hurried footsteps. Silas, another co-worker, burst into the room, his face flushed with urgency.

 

"Hey, have you guys heard the news?" he asked, breathless.

 

Valerio chuckled, rolling his eyes. "Not another one of your wild stories, Silas. We've had enough of those."

 

Silas shook his head. "No, seriously! This one's real. There was an explosion at Ambrosia. They’re saying it wasn’t an accident."

 

Calder continued his work, but his ears perked up, listening closely.

 

Valerio's smile faded. "An explosion? Not an accident? Are you saying someone planted a bomb in Ambrosia? Who would do that?"

 

Silas noddedr. "That's what they're saying. The investigators think it was deliberate. No one knows who did it or why."

 

Calder kept his face neutral, but inside, a flicker of satisfaction sparked. He knew more than he let on.

 

Silas’s eyes darted around. "Maybe it was humans? Perhaps some are still resisting?"

 

Calder let out a derisive chuckle, shaking his head.

 

"Humans? Resist? That’s laughable. You know how they are—they only show courage when they think they can win. They're loyal only to those who feed them. Just look at the humans in the cattle fields. As long as we keep them fed, they couldn’t care less that they’re destined for slaughter."

 

Valerio, who had been listening with a thoughtful expression, chimed in. "Calder, you weren’t around during the Apocalipsis, were you? I was barely a kid back then. Sure, the humans didn’t stand a chance against us, but they still fought. Even when it was hopeless, they resisted. But now, they’re too weak, too hungry to think about rebellion. They can barely fight their own hunger, let alone us."

 

Calder shrugged, his face indifferent. "I’ve read about it in history class. Those books are full of their conflicts. They like to think of themselves as one united race, but all they did was fight among themselves. Each country thinks it’s better than the others."

 

Silas nodded. "They’re nothing like us. Aelorians are the chosen ones. When our leaders established Eden, humans begged for their lives. We offered them salvation, but on our terms—they exist solely for our consumption. They’re not treated any better than livestock. When Eden was built, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of the remaining humans lined up, desperate to be part of this 'promised land.' They were like grains of sand, hoping to be chosen as our food."

 

"And they saw it as an honor," Calder interjected. "Imagine that—a species that considers it a privilege to be eaten by the chosen people. That’s why I take my job seriously. I make sure none of their meat goes to waste."

 

Silas, snapping back to the present, leaned closer. "But back to the explosion—who do you think did it?"

 

Calder leaned against the cold, steel table, thinking. "If it was a human, it won’t take long to find out. They emit a distinct pheromone we can easily detect. They can’t hide from us."

 

Valerio nodded in agreement. "Exactly. The authorities will track them down in no time if it’s a human. They can’t cover their scent."

 

 

Back home in Eden, Calder relished the comfort provided by the Dominion's residential facilities. The Dominion, the ruling body of Aelorians, ensured that every citizen here lived in utmost luxury.

 

According to history books, human life was a stark contrast.

 

Wealth distribution seemed chaotic, with people paid exorbitant sums just to smile on TV, while hard-working laborers earned mere pennies. Their method of choosing council members was equally bizarre. Electing comedians, bodybuilders, or even someone on their deathbed was not uncommon.

 

And then they'd complain about it later. Calder stifled a laughter on the thought of it.

 

"Humans are such funny creatures. Imagine if Aelorians had their personality; this place wouldn't be so dull," Calder mused.

 

His innocent smile slowly morphed into something more mischievous.

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