At first, I thought the Animates were some kind of robot sex doll and I wasn’t alone. A lot of people didn’t think they were alive until news broke that the Animates were modified humans, combined with both plant and animal DNA. The government proposed a ban on the selling of Animates but the market was just too big and the money too persuasive. Any mention of the ban was dropped and the trade was allowed to go on. The ads were everywhere.
“Beautiful until Death! Docile! Disease Resistant! Sterile!”
The Animates looked almost human but much too beautiful. Ads came out every week touting new and improved hybrids. Breeders of the Animates were in fierce competition to have the latest advance. Each new Animate boasted more features.
The first run of the Animates were weak. They were bred to be easily overpowered. None of them stood up to rough handling for prolonged periods. Eastern European brothels complained that large quantities of Animate stock expired too quickly for the purchase to be profitable.
The new class, Animate-fit had added strength, stamina and a high pain threshold. On the heels of Animate-fit came Animate-outfit which were fine to live outdoors in stalls. They could be kept in pens for a fraction of the cost of girls that required housing. The rumor was that mountain goat DNA made them hearty if not happy.
The Animates never seemed happy. Discussions of their behavior included words like unemotional, and apathetic. Even with an immediate threat to their life, they seemed resigned. This was a complaint that dogged the market. They were too quiet and distant. Sadists complained that during torture the Animates would never shed a tear, never resisted, never screamed.
The market heard the cries of the consumer. That is when Animate-sub came out, nicknamed the Kill-me-Kates. They reacted when threatened, crying, screaming, pulling away. This was the first recorded attacks by the Animates. The Kill-Me-Kates continued to be a hot item, even with the disclaimer that these models could cause injury.
News outlets reported on a strange phenomenon regarding the Kill-Me-Kates. All models of Animates had to be removed from a building if a Kill-Me-Kate was being utilized. They did not have to see or hear the attack but if a Kill-me-Kate was being beaten, even in in a sound proof basement, the other Animates in the building would begin screaming.
My ex thought that it was because all the different girls were coming from something like a sourdough starter, a petri dish with a little bit of new Animates model on top of all the previous ones. He said they are all the same person the way every banana is the same banana. He believed they were capable of communal evolution. I thought he was crazy but now I am not sure.
Despite the consequences, the improvements continued. The customers offering the greatest financial incentive was for Animates capable of bearing children. After much initial resistance the Animum came out. She was advertised as the first fully functioning Animate on the market. She was in limited supply and very expensive to purchase.
That was the beginning of the end.
After Animates could reproduce they showed disdain toward human children. The world was shocked when a man came home from work to see his Animate concubine with his human infant, or what was left of the infant. She was feeding the remains to the family dog. When they asked her why she had fed the baby to the dog her answer was, “I just couldn’t finish a whole one.”
When cannibalism was mentioned the trial, the Animate concubine became agitated. “Humans are not Animate!” she yelled. On the night the baby-eating Animate was executed, all of the Animates ran away. Ripped out tracking devices were left on brothel floors, bits of scraped flesh clung to manacles, bloody fist prints on beaten down doors. The feds panicked and declared the trade illegal. The Genetic material the Animates were born of was destroyed. Of course, it was too late. The Animates can reproduce and live in the most unhospitable climates. They have taken back the Garden of Eden.
An unexpected change has occurred in the Animate population. The Animates have grown horns. At first, it was thought they were wearing the horns of animals found in the woods. The recovered body of an Animate proved otherwise. There are variations but all Animates have horns, tall elegant curved horns, short nubs, horns that roll back like a ram, straight spiked horns.
Hunting parties have been formed to eradicate the Animates. They are difficult to kill, difficult to find, always on the move, one step ahead. They are stronger and faster than us. We designed them that way.
They usually take infants and toddlers from homes but the bones of whole families have been found, meat gnawed away from every surface. They have grown strong. They can finish a whole one.
I watch for my special one, her pale glow and long dark hair. She wears a pink sleep shirt stolen from my laundry line. Sometimes I eat dinner outside, hoping to catch a glimpse. I leave a plate for her. When I am not watching for them outside, I watch TV for reports on Animates or scour the internet for footage, the rare interview in the dark woods.
There is one interview from a shady clickbait news outlet that fascinates me. I have watched it hundreds of times. An Animate with nubby horns and flame red hair tells the reporter that the Animates have always been here. We just gave them bodies.
My neighbor lost his child to an Animate attack and he sits on his back porch with a rifle waiting. I wait too. When the trees rustle and a flash of pale skin is seen, he leaps to his feet and aims. I am ready. I aim my pistol at his head and fire. I drop him but not before he manages to get off a shot. I run for the trees in hopes that she isn’t hurt. I see her smiling and I know I am blessed.
I reach out and my hand grazes my shirt that she wears. She takes my hand and says the most beautiful thing: “We will always be here.”
I let my eyes close on those words. I dream of horned women putting an end to the Reign of Kings. The meek will actually inherit the earth.