“Eat your humans,” said the pea to her child. The young pea frowned and twisted a piece of the human hair around his fork before letting the whole thing clatter back onto his place. “I don’t want to Mama! Humans are gross.”
Ms. Green abruptly stopped doing the dishes and glared at her son. “Now, Peater. That’s quite enough out of you. I don’t want to hear anything else come out of that disrespectful mouth of yours. In fact, nothing else in either, until you finish all of your humans. No pumpkin, no candy, nothing. Now zip it.”
Peater sat glumly at the table, his round little frame squirming to go up to his room and play games with his older brother Pod. He did as his mother told him. Tears oozed out of his little pea pores, but he managed to swallow every bite of the tough, chewy meat, hair and all.
That night as Peater laid in bed, he began to feel a growing sense of indignation. Why did he have to suffer through eating humans? Why did humans exist at all? What were they good for? I wish we could move somewhere where they don’t exist, he thought. I wish they would all just go away.
He leaned over the top bunk of the bunk bed and whispered to the darkness below him. “Pod! Pod, are you awake?”
There was a brief silence before an audible, dramatic snoring ensued.
Peater rolled his eyes. “Stop that. I have an idea.”
Pod continued his snoring for a few more seconds before pausing, “Well, what is it?”
Peater said, “Let’s get rid of all the humans in the world! That way, we won’t ever have to eat them again.”
Pod laughed. “Yeah, sure. Let’s just poison them.”
Peter said, “Throw them in a big fire! Just round them all up like sheep and then.. Boom!” He sighed wistfully.
“Catapult them to Mars,” Pod replied.
“Or we could drown them..”
“Mash them into mush and feed them to the poor,” Pod murmered sleepily.
“Nah. That already happens, dummy. That’s why I don’t know why we have to eat them. We’re not poor, right?”
“Of course not. Now go to sleep and stop bothering me.”
There was some ruffling below in the lower bunk, and then all was quiet throughout the night.
But by next morning, Peater had not forgotten about his plan. At breakfast, he sneakily eyed his mother who had her back turned away from the pair.
“So, how are we going to do it?” he whispered to Pod, who furrowed his skin in confusion.
“How are we going to get rid of all the humans?”
Pod groaned. “Enough about that. It’s never going to happen, so just suck it up.”
Without turning around, Ms. Green said, “My back might be turned but I can still hear you two. Get rid of all the humans? Boy, if you think you’re going to touch my pot of human barbeque stew that I made for dinner tonight, you might as well not come home once you leave for school. Now, move it.”
Peater whined in exasperation while Pod smoothed out his skin and hopped off his chair, heading out the door. Fine, if he won’t help me, Orange and Brockli will, the younger brother thought to himself.
Orange and Brockli were Peater’s best friends. The former was actually a long, crunchy sort of fellow while the latter was short, thick in the base and had full of shiny green curls. More importantly, Brockli’s dad worked for the FDA. As Peater made his way to them in the school courtyard, an ingenious idea hatched in his mind. He could hardly contain his excitement as he approached them.
“Guys, what’s something that we all hate?” he asked.
Both answered simultaneously. “Ms. Weed.” “Fruit flies.”
“Okay yes, but what is something we all hate, plus have to eat?” Peater asked.
“HUMANS!” Orange and Brockli said. Each wore a disgusted look on their face.
“Right so.. How about we just get rid of them?” Peter said. “I have a plan. So, Brockli, you know how your dad is always bugging us about visiting his produce headquarters? We should just go one day. Check it out. See where they keep all the humans and then.. Well, we’ll figure it out from there.”
Brockli said, “Hmmm… I don’t know. He’ll probably be watching us the entire time. He loves it there, you know. I would feel bad about messing anything up.”
“Messing anything up? We would be doing the whole world a favor! I mean, what good are humans anyways? What do they do for us, exactly? Nothing would change if they weren’t here,” Peater said.
Orange nodded. “Exactly. Plus, do you know how much energy it takes to produce one human? And the amounts of waste that they produce.. Damn. We would be doing the world a favor. They’re basically just trash, producing more trash.”
Brockli anxiously tugged at his curls. “Yeah but they produce carbon dioxide too, which we need…”
Orange cut in, “Way, way too much carbon dioxide. If you want carbon dioxide, just turn on your stove, bro.”
Brockli tried again. “I don’t know. This doesn’t seem like the right thing to do. I don’t think we should…”
Peater exasperatedly said, “Come on, stop being so boring. Nobody would miss having them around. We’ll be heroes. Don’t you want to be a hero, Brock?”
Brockli did want to be a hero. He adored Celery Man, The Husk, and String Bean. With that, he gave in. “Fine, but nobody can know that I had anything to do with it. I’m just going to ask my dad to take us there and then the rest is up to you guys. Seriously. I’m not touching anything.”
Peater rolled his eyes but agreed. By the end of the night, he had gotten his mom’s permission to visit the Food and Product Distribution Center with his friends on Saturday. He even eagerly ate his human stew without any complaints, slurping up the eyes and spitting out teeth while thinking of his plan.
His mother patted his arm. “That’s a good boy. I knew you would get used to it, not so bad, right?”
He grimaced. “Not so bad.”
When he went into their shared room, Pod asked, “How’s destroying the humans going?”
Peater nodded very seriously. “Fine, just fine.”
On Saturday, the veggies packed some light refreshments and drove to the FPDC. Hiding behind the car seats, Peater revealed a slender needle.
Brockli tugged at his curls. “What the hell is that?”
Peater said, “The end of those humans. It’s carbon monoxide. It has no smell or anything so once I shoot one of these bad boys up, it’s over for them.”
“Yeah but you have one needle. There’s like, thousands of humans. How is that going to get rid of them all?” Orange asked.
As it turned out, that was not something they had to worry about. The humans came in a fleshy gloop, contained in an enormous vault, before being sliced into sections for consumption, then added with pink and brown dye to appear more appetizing.
Brockli’s father saw the looks on the children’s faces as they stared at the vault in both awe and disgust. “It’s just become easier this way,” he said. “A lot of veggies think humans are made through natural reproduction and that is how it used to be. But the process is too slow and we can make them bigger here, by growing them through these machines, so we do. But, this is no fun. Anyone up for dairy? It’s my favorite part!”
Brockli and Orange followed the older vegetable around the corner but Peater stayed behind. Looking around swiftly to make sure no workers could see him, he threw the syringe into the vault, watching in satisfaction as the pressure of the organs and mush released the gas in the needle. With that, he left the scene. He rejoined Brockli and Orange, high fiving them both.
Sure enough, his plan had worked. Later that night, on the news, a young cauliflower exclaimed in distress, “The FPDC has issued a hold on all human production at the moment. Word has gotten out that consumption of human is not safe to eat. Today a worker has found an empty syringe in a human cornea, and no one at the center is claiming responsibility.”
Peater could hardly contain his joy. He made an excuse to leave the table early and went upstairs to find Pod as usual, sitting in front of the computer. “Guess what? I did it!!”
Pod chuckled, “Destroyed all the humans, right? Did you hear what’s been going on?”
“Yes, I did it!”
Pod slowly turned around. “Peater.. What? Are you serious?”
Peater answered, “Yes. You didn’t believe in me, but I got rid of humans for us and now we won’t have to eat them anymore!”
Pod said, “But some veggies already have…”
“What do you mean?”
“They didn’t catch it in time. But some packages of infected humans somehow got out and now there are whole families of veggies sick, Peater.”
The younger pea stared. “No way… I’m sure they’ll get better. Oh my god.. You can’t tell anyone, okay?”
Pod shook his head sadly and did not reply. Within the week, a national emergency was declared. The “Cornea virus,” as the epidemic was called, had developed into an airborne strain that affected the respiratory systems of the very old and the very young veggies.
One victim was Brockli. It began with a tingle in his curls, which traveled throughout his stalk and eventually encased the poor vegetable in fits of coughing and sneezing. He was kept shut in his room and wore a mask over his face, to prevent spreading the virus, but his condition continued to worsen. Soon he was bedridden with the illness. Peater and Orange visited Brockli every chance they could after school, but eventually Peater’s appearance grew more and more scarce, as he could not bare facing Brockli without feeling incredibly guilty.
Peater did not tell anyone how he felt, and instead he stayed to himself a lot. Sometimes, the guilt would drive him to tears as he thought about his friend. Everyone assured him that the cornea virus was not as deadly as the news was making it seem, and that Brockli would surely get better in two weeks. But two weeks had passed, then a month, and Brockli continued to experience severe coughing, sneezing, and shortness of breath. It seemed as if he was going to die.
This silent observation, that no one dared to say aloud, prompted Peater to finally see Brockli. He went on a day in which he knew Orange wouldn’t be there. Peater wanted to apologize to Brockli alone. It was a little difficult, because every time Peater was getting into the midst of his apology, Brockli would break out into a coughing fit and tears would stream down his face, making the whole situation for Peater very uncomfortable and sad.
“What I came here to say is…. I should’ve listened to you. You were right and I’m s-”
AHAHKKUHUHUHUHAHUHUH, Brockli interjected again. Eventually the corners of his mouth turned up and gave way to laughter. Peater sat stunned as Brockli cackled for a minute straight.
“Are you… okay?” Peater asked.
“Better than ever. Better than I’ve ever been. I’ve just been waiting for you this whole time to admit that you were wrong!” Brockli sat straight up on the bed and cracked his stalk, stretching out his arms. There was no hint of phlegm in his previously raspy voice.
“Whew! I need some fresh air.” He climbed out of bed and left Peater in dazed silence.