The land of the elves

Frank Deerhound looked down at his forest pasture. The large oak trees rustled under the bright morning sun. He watched a cool, clear river quietly run down the hill and around the forest. The water was specially treated at a plant upstream; it is supplemented with various vitamins and minerals to help the forest, and carcinogens to keep the live stock in. The poisons were completely non fatal to plants, but any animal would quickly dissolve in it; the water is treated again downstream to make it safe once more. The river only circled about half of forest; the other had a high electrified barbed wire fence and gate. On the other side of the gate are the main farming and processing facilities, as well as Frank’s office and home. It was a rather idyllic location, verdant fields, snow capped mountains and fresh summer wind that lasted all year.

Franks nephew, Jonathan, was visiting. Jonathan was a quiet, sensitive boy, he was not too happy to learn that the burden and responsibility of the farm would be his one day. He was deathly afraid of animals and hadn’t the slightest clue of what farming was like or even what his uncle farmed. “You see my boy, one day this will all be yours” Frank told the young man as they began to stroll down the hill. “I built my business from the ground up off an acre of mud and a pair of sprites”. John wondered what kind of animal a sprite was as they headed for the main gate. “You see that large tree in the center? That is the main hive.” John saw a single tree poking from the top of all the others, it seemed livelier and greener than the rest.

Frank showed some papers to an armed guard attending the gate and a small door in the fence opened up. Although it was an open air chain link fence separating the two, John immediately felt the difference; it was like he stepped into another world. There was a peculiar musky smell wafting about and he swore he could hear music being played softly. “Let’s meet the herd” Frank said, then he pulled out a small pipe looking object and blew on it 3 times. John didn’t hear the sound it made and the forest went dead silent. Before he knew he was surrounded by small, naked children, the tallest barely coming up to his chest. They all had blond hair, although various shades of it, and silver or blue eyes.

“Papa! Papa! Papa!” They shouted as they clamored about the two. John was shocked and confused; Frank was smiling and rubbing their heads. “Oh my God! Are you using child labor to run your farm!?” John asked suddenly. The children seemed shocked at the outburst and huddled behind the older man. Frank laughed “Child labor? No no no, these girls pretty much look after themselves, I don’t really need much outside help, aside from a few guards to make sure they don’t escape during the night.” John still didn’t understand, “What do they even do here then?” “Well, for the most part, eat, sleep, reproduce and smoke that concoction of herbs and mushrooms all day, they also like to make that infernal racket they call music, I try to confiscate their instruments but they keep making new ones.” John’s head was spinning by this point. “Smoke? Reproduce? They’re just kids!” Frank burst into laughter again. “My boy, you’ve never seen an elf in your life, have you? These girls are adults; most of them won’t grow any more. I say ‘girls’ colloquially, they’re asexual, and they reproduce like rabbits. And trust me, you don’t want to be around them when they haven’t had their mulch.” “Mulch?” “Yeah, the herbs and mushrooms they smoke, I don’t really know what’s in it, but it calms them down and evens them out, they tend to get…mischievous…without it. They can be downright scary if they’re suffering from withdrawal.” John looked down at the children, whose attention had been diverted in various directions. Some had left, seeing nothing of relevance, others were milling about, a few were chasing each other around Frank and John.

“So…they…help with the livestock?” Frank could not control his laughter this time, he was doubled over, tears streaming down his face. Even the children were grinning and giggling this time, although trying their hardest to hide it. ?My boy, you are one heck of a city slicker?I didn?t even know they made rocks that big to live under. “We eat them.” John wasn’t sure if he had heard him correctly. “Yes, I know you eat the livestock, but what do the children do?” Frank was not as amused this time. “They’re not children; if they were we wouldn’t harvest them, we’d let them grow big first.” John felt sick, a small elf was looking up to him, silver eyes gleaming. He brushed her short hair around her pointed ear and saw a small, yellow tag. He almost threw up right there. “You…you can’t be serious! You can’t eat them! They’re people!” John’s eyes were wide with fear and anger. Frank smiled and said “They’re not people, they’re delicious! They are just another of God’s creatures put on this great green earth for our consumption.” “No, this is…no! It’s not…just no!” The elf who had been clinging to John was beginning to tear up “You, you…don’t like elves?” Tears quickly welled up and began to fall from her face. Frank knelt down to console her. “It’s ok, it’s ok, I’m sure he does, or will, he’s probably just never tried it before.” “Like hell I will! I’m not some baby eating monster!” Frank sighed, “again, they aren’t children, what’s wrong with veal anyway? I thought your favorite food was bacon, why we sat down and had beef steaks last night!” “There is an obvious difference between pigs and cows and…elves?” John had to bite his tongue to not say humans. “Damn straight there is!, elf meat is much tastier, healthier too. They feed themselves plenty of leafy greens, they’re like walking multivitamins. The mulch they smoke gives them a natural hickory flavoring! It’s like they’ve been basting themselves in barbecue sauce all their life. Best of all is that they like it, it?s how they celebrate life, they take pride in growing up strong and meaty. Sure some of them are less thrilled about it than others but they?d never cut down a tree to cross the river and escape because they respect nature so much.”

John realized the elf was doing squats in front of them to show off her thighs. Frank picked her up, “you’re a good girl, aren’t you? You’ve been doing lots of running lately, haven’t you?” The girl beamed and nodded energetically. “Then how would you like to be some steaks tonight?” The girl became ecstatic. “Steaks! Steaks! Steaks! Steaks!” She shouted. “Ok ok…” Said Frank as he slung her over his shoulder. The other elves by this point had noticed the commotion and realized what was happening. They clamored and jumped and groped shouting “pick me! Pick me!”. Frank laughed and patted their heads “Oh we only need one today”. The look of disappointment on their faces was obvious, most slunk back deeper into the woods, while a few others stayed, hoping that he would change his mind. "C’mon, let me show you the rest of the facility.? They went back to the gate and the guard waved them through, everything was happening too quickly for John to protest. They went down a gravel road came up to a large hanger-like building. The constant buzzing of machinery and what sounded like trickling water unsettled John somehow. Frank set the girl down and grabbed a large steel door handle. “Boy, do you know what an abattoir is?” “Uh…no…should I?” The heavy steel door opened slowly.

part 2

A wave of heat and stench washed over Jonathon. At first it was like somebody left a piece of rank meat in a sauna, he began to sweat as his eyes darted across the massive facility. It was an intricate maze of girders, conveyer belts, chains and gears. Hundreds of people in spotless white lab coats and hard hats were scurrying about, poking, prodding, checking and watching countless the operations the colossal machine performed. The little girl who had been beside him was wide eyed and teary, if it was any other situation, Jonathon would have immediately recognized that expression as one of great pride.

Jonathon realized his shirt was very moist and clinging to his back. A cold sweat washed over him and he found the smell to be quite bearable. Slowly the image began to form in his mind as he decoded an identified what he smelt. He realized the most powerful scent was bacon; he was reminded of normal breakfasts involving pigs and chickens. The second smell, which probably confused him most, was that of cinnamon. This perturbed him because he had a gut feeling there was no bacon or cinnamon anywhere in this facility. The last smell was that of burning wood, possibly pine. Frank breathed in deeply and let out a massive sigh of satisfaction. “That, my boy, is the smell of progress”

Jonathon’s uncle owned the worlds most sophisticated and technologically advanced elf processing facility in the world. The unit itself cost over 60 million dollars, not including privately funded research, personnel and overhead costs. The facility was powered by a small hydroelectric plant nearby, also owned by Jonathon’s uncle. Elves, in all their wondrous glory, were very difficult to process due to their hearty bodies. Frank knelt beside the little elf that they had brought to this place, he whispered something in her ear and pointed to a large ladder leading up to a chute that looked like an air vent. The girl smiled and ran off, threw herself up the ladder and waved before diving head first into the chute.

“Let me give you the guided tour” Frank told his nephew as they headed to a small office. The office was plain, but tasteful with a door at the other end leading to a long bright white hallway. One of the walls had a long Plexiglas window stretching the entire length for visitors to observe the facilities? machinations.

“You see…” Frank began “Elf meat is a relatively new invention, if I can call it that. The last 500 years or so of elf use has primarily been as a labor force. It was the crossbreeding of the aggressive African fighting elf and the relatively weak, but docile North American wood elf that ended the slave trade. The worker elf…as we call it… revolutionized industry and quickly became a global commodity. Before that the worker elf, the gentler breeds would be kept as pets and the aggressive ones used as protection or sports” “Elf sports?” Said Jon, still confused and overwhelmed.

"Oh you know, wrestling, racing and strength competitions. It was before the creation of the IECA, or International Elf Championship Association, so they were pretty barbaric, no regulation on the length of the blades used, weight classes or mulch deprivation. Anyway, after the worker elf ushered in a new enlightenment the world rushed to find new and creative uses for the wonder kin. French alchemists tried to turn their blood into wine. German doctors mastered surgery and anesthetics. Chilean craftsmen weaved baskets out of their hair. The North American natives are credited with the first uses of elf, heating and tempering bones found in burial ground to form tools."
Jonathon heard a wet grinding noise and loud buzzer, then it went quiet again. He didn’t want to think about it.

“There are a million uses for elves, every single part too. Their leather is elastic, durable and impermeable. Their bones are soft and malleable, but can be hardened with enough heat. Not to mention they make great soup stock. Their hair, when treated with the right enzyme polymer is nearly indestructible, great for fishing nets. They are so full of nutrients that it is actually possible to extract and harvest valuable minerals from them. Even their bodily waste, despite being rare and difficult to acquire, has saved millions of lives in third world countries by making once infertile land arable through fertilization.”

“But if they can work, are pleasant to look at and do all these wonderful things, why do you eat them?”
"Ha! These girls have never worked a day in their lives; they spend most of their time smoking mulch and singing in the woods. Plus they like to keep their hair and nails trim and proper. These are a special breed, made from rare strains of Kobe and Kunoichi elf from northern Japan. Their genetic sequence was developed in-house, I patented it long ago. Their meat, besides being exceptionally nutritious, is a lot easier to get off the bones. I mean, have a 12 step system in place to soften and tenderize them, but some elves, like the African fighting elf are simply too tough, wiry and dangerous to harvest economically.?
“What do you mean?”
“Well, they are wily and sinewy creatures, they clog and jam most machines, on purpose no doubt. And it costs a fortune replace lost handlers and technicians. There is always some hot-shot newbie who doesn’t take them seriously then loses a limb.”

“I can’t possibly imagine one of those sweet looking girls hurting a fly.”
"Ha ha ha ha ha, I thought you hadn’t even seen an elf before today, my elves are especially docile. But believe me, I’ve seen fighting elves brandish regurgitated wooden spikes they swallowed and blinded machine operators with them. Using their bare hands, a pack of feral elves can skin a human in less than a minute, they’ll enjoy it too. It’s not pretty."
Jonathon was speechless, a pair of scientists carrying clip boards were engaged in a heated discussion about PH levels were walking in the opposite direction.

Frank continued.
“All industrial use of elf requires highly specified equipment, strains and personnel. Some of them you wouldn’t even recognize them as elves, like the long-haired sprinters or the bulbous corpulent apples.”
“Sprinters? Apples?”
“Sprinters have a good 2 or 3 feet of hair growing all over them, perfect for shearing and weaving, obviously. Corpulent apples are deep red blobs with stubby arms and legs that are barely sentient. Their fat can be engineered to have extreme levels of a variety of vitamins and minerals which is then extracted and sold. Their genetic cousin, the corpulent ghost has made traditional salt mining obsolete. Of course, you have to understand that not all farmers are upstanding and honest like me. It did not take long for the first strains of SDMUs to appear. They were a boon to the black market and are still a hot button topic in any parliament in the world.”

“SDMU? Am I supposed to know what that means?”
"Self Destructive Mulch Users, most elves have a sweet tooth for mulch, but they always show some restraint. SDMUs lack self control when they smoke and will overdose if left to their own devices. Since the elfish body breaks down the toxins that make mulch unsuitable for human consumption, they can be processed into a highly addictive drug with euphoric and sedative effects. I have a dedicated team of scientists who monitor the mulch levels in all of our products to make sure they are all within the legal limit.?

"Wow…I had no idea it was all so complicated…and widespread. How come I have never heard about this?"
Frank and Jonathon reached the end of the hallway; Jonathon had managed to look away from the Plexiglas the entire time, a subconscious aversion to gore. Waiting on the other side of the doors was a man in a white coat, holding a transparent blue bag, full of what appeared to be steaks. “Here you go sir” he said as he handed it to Frank. As Frank and his nephew headed for the exit he continued:
“Well, most people don’t know about elves. Loop holes in regulations allow people to package elf meat as beef or pork or chicken, if the right seasonings are used. There was a huge backlash 30 years ago about taking jobs away from humans, so most companies aren’t too proud of using their labor, much like the sweatshops of old. Concerns of mulch poisoning and genetically modified food have been pretty stead for a long while. Perhaps the biggest reason is that wild elves have been marginalized to areas devoid of human settlement. People just don’t think about what they can’t see what’s not right in front of them. Kids like you who have never spent a day on a farm have no idea what the world was like.”

The sun was setting was the two walked up the hill to Franks house. Jonathon had yet to fully make the connection between the little companion they had met earlier and the bag of meat his uncle was carrying. He was too disturbed by a world he didn’t even know existed. But somehow, he knew this knowledge would stay with him forever.

"I know you’ve seen a lot today, it is probably pretty hard to swallow, but c’mon, cheer up. Let’s go fire up the barby!"
As much as Jonathon hated to admit it, it smelt wonderful, simply delectable. “The world is a messed up place, the system is broken, I don’t know how, but some how, some way…I’ll change the world” he thought to himself. “…after dinner.”

you’ve got a talent for writing and invention that’s obvious. however it is still very much in the rough. you need to work hard to develop your gifts if you want your work to be appreciated by a broader audience. good job anywayz I liked reading this on a day when I got pummelled on the poker tables and needed some spiritual relief

This was an incredibly fresh take on elves. I definitely was not expecting this. Great job!

So…some time in the last 4 years and all the forum software changes…all the punctuation became question marks. It was moderately fun changing it back.