The Mirror. Part 7: Freeman, don't pass out!
Gordon and Freeman get a chance to get back to their times. But before that happens, they want to visit a human farm to get the proof of what awaits humanity in the past and take it home.
Vegans of the world, unite!
Freeman finds Gordon lying on a pillow on the Professor's veranda.
Freeman: Ah, here you are. Good morning.
Gordon doesn't answer. Freeman flops down on the pillow next to Gordon.
Gordon: How long have we been here? Four months already?
Freeman: Yes, it's our fourth month. You've been quiet lately, lost in thought. What happened?
Gordon: Nothing in particular. I just started thinking about things I'd never thought about before. It turns out we aren't alone in the universe. And I've been thinking a lot about what the Professor has told and shown us. About humanity, what humans were like when they arrived. I can't even believe it.
Freeman: I understand. In our time, no one could even imagine how low our civilization could descend. It seemed like humanity was marching triumphantly along the path of progress and development.
Gordon suddenly changes position and takes a look at Freeman.
Gordon: Yeah, that's the whole thing, everything was already clear even then. You and I just didn't want to see it. We just worked on our teleporter and weren't interested in anything else.
Gordon: Each of the planet's inhabitants did their own thing and wasn't interested in where humanity was going. No one assessed it. Everyone simply couldn't care less. Our house was on fire, and you and I didn't even notice.
Freeman: And it's all because people don't want to think about anything but themselves. People in our world are very narrow-minded. I've just now come to understand how savage and ignorant humanity still is.
Gordon: Really, these Boogeys haven't gone that much farther than we did. What they do with humans is just horrible.
Freeman: And the best part is that we did the same thing with animals.
Gordon: Yes, and that's been keeping me up at night, too.
The Professor appears on the veranda.
Professor: My friends, I have wonderful news for you. I just spokkke with Gharg. He says that he's managed to solve the timeline problem for the time machine. Another two or three weeks, and everything will be ready! You'll be on your way home, and he'll become the renowned inventor of time travel.
Gordon: That really is good news, Professor. And we are really grateful that you did not abandon us. But Freeman and I have one request for you.
Freeman looks at Gordon in surprise.
Professor: I'm listening, Gordon. I'll be happy to try and help.
Gordon: Can you show us the farms where Humies are kept?
Professor: Uhhh… of ckkourse I ckkan, but what for? They are horrible places – Humies go out of their minds there. Human farms are ruled by cruelty and ruthlessness. It's not a sight for the weak-spirited.
Gordon: We want to record it all on film. Right, Freeman?
Confusedly, Freeman nods his head.
Gordon: We ought to return to our time with proof. I would also ask you, Professor, to speak before the camera and describe everything that you've shown and told us about the future, or, rather, the past – about human civilization.
Professor: Hm, I see a twinkkkle in your eyes, Gordon. You want to change the course of history?
Gordon: I don't even know what exactly I want yet. But we should record that video. Freeman, we'll record it on your smartphone. You haven't lost it, have you?
Freeman: No, I have it. I've even got an extra battery for it.
A few days later, the Professor's aerocar lands in a parking lot by a farm.
Professor: Okkkay, guys, we have exackktly six hours for everything.
Gordon takes a look around. The farm is incredibly huge.
Gordon:That’s not much for such a big farm. I don't think a week would be enough to see everything.
Professor: I've made a deal with a Boogey that works here. He has a special aerocar for getting around the farm. And, for a small fee, he's kindly agreed to give us a little tour around the farm. Do you have your translators?
Freeman: Yup. And he didn't ask why you need to show the farm to two Humies?
Professor: I told him that you're ackktors. And that you have to see everything with your own eyes. Get a taste of it, so to speak.
Gordon: It looks like that's our tour guide there.
A Boogey approaches, coming from the direction of the main entrance.
Professor: Good morning, Hrok. We arrived on time, as I promised.
The Professor and the tour guide bow slightly to each other. Then Hrok takes a look at Gordon and Freeman.
Professor: Uhh, these are my Humies, Gor and Free. And they understand everything that you are going to tell us.
Hrok looks questioningly at the Professor.
Professor: Yes, technology does keep advancing.
Hrok: Okay, critters, don't touch anything with your little hands, don't take a leak, don't crap yourselves! Listen to what I'm saying. And I'll try to make it interesting for you. Come along with me.
When all three get onto the grounds of the farm, Hrok begins his story.
Hrok: Right now we are on one of the biggest farms on our planet. What sets it apart from other, smaller farms is its universality. A huge number of goods and food products are produced here – Humie meat, Humie milk, leather, hair, bones. About 300,000 Humies live on our farm. Alright, let's start with the meat sector.
All four sit on an open platform with seats, which turns out to be an unusual aerocar. The platform starts gliding quietly through the air. Five minutes later, it is already standing near the Humies’ barracks. When all four are inside the barracks, Hrok stops.
Hrok: Okay, in the barracks, please stick to the safety rules. Don't stick your hands behind the bars, don't tease the Humies. Some might be very aggressive, despite the sedatives. Got it?
Professor: You feed them sedatives?
Hrok: Of course. These are wild animals, after all. One day, the system which automatically dispenses sedatives into the nutrient mixture broke, and the Humies didn't get their dose. And boy, what happened. They just absolutely freaked out. They were rushing at the bars, screaming wildly, howling. Some were hitting the bars so strongly that they cracked their heads. So the sedatives are essential for them. It's easier that way for them and for us. Okay, let's keep going.
The barracks looks like a typical prison in a Third World country. A long corridor with cages and people on both sides. Hrok is walking slowly and narrating.
Hrok: Six to eight Humies live in each cage. There are only males here. In the cages, each Humie has its own place to sleep and facilities to relieve themselves and to eat.
Professor: I thought that Humies spend most of their time outside.
Hrok: Well, yes, that's what it usually looks like on the meat packages. In reality, Humies go outside twice a day for two or three hours, depending on the weather conditions. In colder regions of the planet, they walk very little. And that's bad, because after walking they get more of an appetite and their body mass grows faster.
As Hrok tells them about how Humies are fed, Gordon and Freeman examine the cages and people with horror. Gordon holds his smartphone in his hands and records a video. The cages are very tight, about 10 by 10 feet in size. There are two or three triple bunk beds in each one. They have no mattresses or pillows. Just hard, flat surfaces. The people in the cages are absolutely naked. Their bodies are dirty. And all of them are unnaturally well-fed and muscular.
Hrok: … and the nutrient mixture is dispensed automatically into the cells by these tubes here.
Professor: Hrok, is it true that they add steroids to people's food so that their muscle mass grows more?
Hrok: Steroids, antibiotics and a bunch of other hormones. You understand, after all, they're always getting sick, so we have to take care of their health.
Professor: I have heard that those chemicals give most of them severe liver, intestinal, and kidney diseases.
Hrok: You'd have to ask our veterinarian. Those diseases have a low death rate, since they don't have time to die from them. They're sent to the slaughterhouse faster than the disease kills them.
They walk past a cell in which a man is lying curled up on a shelf, moaning. Two people are sitting by him and apparently trying to help him. Another one is sitting near the trough with food and eating the nutrient mixture with a detached look. The man’s moan makes Gordon and Freeman stop near the cage. One of the people, who is sitting closer than anyone else to the front bars, observes the scientists.
Humie: What do you need?
Freeman: (perplexed) Mmm… ehh… hello. Maybe you need some help? Is he sick?
Humie: Yes, he’s not doing well.
Freeman: What’s wrong with him?
Humie: His stomach hurts. He is beyond help.
Professor: Hrok, maybe you need to call a doctor? This Humie is really badly off.
Hrok: No, he won’t come. It’s not allowed. The veterinarian only comes if there is a danger of a virus or infection that can infect other Humies. And this one will most likely croak within the next 2 weeks.
Hrok says something into his communication device.
Hrok: I ordered to have him sent to slaughter tomorrow.
Freeman is standing and looking at the people in the cage, flabbergasted. He is completely absorbed and, as if hypnotized, unable to look away from them. The people in the cage, in turn, are looking at him with pathetic, doomed gazes. The person lying on the shelf keeps on moaning. What affects Freeman most of all is not the fact that people’s arms and legs are swollen, that their buttocks are disproportionately large, or that their muscles are unnaturally massive, but the people’s gazes. He is full of grief and feebleness, which in turn, grew into detachment from the external world.
Hrok goes further, the Professor follows.
Gordon: Let’s go, Freeman.
Freeman: My God, Gordon. This is just horrible. I’ve never seen people more humiliated and miserable. How can they not go out of their minds here?
Gordon: You bet they’re losing their minds. Look over there. (he nods to the side to indicate)
In the next cage, a man with a dirty face is sitting on the floor and swinging violently back and forth. At the same time, he is making a quiet howling sound. His eyes are wide open and directed at the floor.
Freeman: Yeah. Look, one more just the same. And over there – one more…
Somewhere nearby, someone cries out loudly. Then that inhuman scream is replaced by a squeal. The Professor turns around, but Hrok doesn’t even pay any attention to the sounds.
Gordon: Yeah, it looks like the majority here are mentally ill! What a horrible place.
Freeman: Life in these cages could drive anyone insane.
They reach the other end of the barrack. Hrok stops.
Hrok: And now, we will walk to the slaughterhouse. Are you really sure you want to see it?
Professor: Yes. Why do you ask?
Hrok: How can I put it… not any Boogey can work in the slaughterhouse. Many of them try, but leave quickly. It’s a difficult job, especially psychologically. After all, Humies are living beings, and when one has to slaughter thousands of them, even the most thick-skinned Boogey begins to feel uneasy.
Professor: If each Boogey killed the Humie whom they intend to eat or whose skin they are going to use for their purse with their own hands, nobody would ever need all these farms.
Hrok: Hmm, you’re exactly right. Even I don’t like to go there too often. But if you insist…
Hrok and the Professor head to the next building. Gordon and Freeman trudge along behind them. On their way to the slaughterhouse, a big, long platform being driven by a Boogey flies past them. The platform is carrying people from one of the barracks. They are standing crowded tightly together, because the platform is packed.
Hrok: These kinds of platforms deliver Humies from their barracks to the slaughterhouse, in groups of 50 to 70 heads.
A few minutes later, the group is already inside the slaughterhouse.
Hrok: So, here we are in the slaughterhouse. Right behind my back, you can see a temporary enclosure for the Humies. They are waiting there for their turn.
Hrok leads them to the observation deck. The deck is a convenient place from which to observe what is happening below, in the enclosure. There are many people down there, and the place is very noisy, like a station or a market. Some people are sitting on the ground peacefully, and some of them are rushing about the enclosure and swearing furiously. People bump into each other, stumbling over those who are sitting; some of them are falling down.
Professor: It looks like there’s a panic down there.
Hrok: Yes, that’s normal. Before the slaughter, we increase the doze of tranquilizers, but they’re nervous and restless anyway. They can probably feel that the end is near. See, some of them are sitting calmly. Apparently, our chemicals worked on them. But then others are galloping around like crazy.
Gordon approaches the railings and starts recording everything happening below on his smartphone. One person notices him, runs up to them, stands right under the observation deck and begins to wave his hands and scream.
Humie: Hey, brother! Help us! They’re going to kill us all now! Help us, you hear me? They’re going to slaughter us all! Help!
Gordon backs away from the edge of the platform and takes a look at Freeman.
Suddenly, an alarm is turned on. The internal gate of the enclosure opens. Two Boogeys with special spears come out from there and start driving the people into the gate. They hit the people with their power spears, forcing them to move in the right direction. After these hits, some people fall on the ground and can’t get up for a long time. The other Humies help them and drag them towards the gate. Several Humies try to attack a Boogey and take his spear away from him.
Professor: Hrok, look. It looks like a riot.
Hrok: No, everything’s fine. It happens quite often. Humies realize that they will be killed soon, so they are throwing themselves at the enclosure workers. But it’s all pointless. Hey, look, what did I tell you? The riot’s already over.
The three attackers are already lying on the ground. One of them is still convulsing after a hit from the protective field. The others are unconscious or already dead.
Hrok: Now the enclosure workers are driving the Humies into the service chamber. Do you want to see how the Humies are killed?
The Professor takes a look at the scientists.
Professor: Yes, Hrok, we’d like to see.
Hrok: Okay. Follow me.
A minute later, they end up in a room with a glass wall. Behind the glass is the service chamber, with people inside. Hrok approaches a Boogey sitting at a panel with numerous buttons and tells him something. The Boogey takes a glance at the guests and nods in approval.
Hrok: This is the service chamber control panel. Now the gate will be closed, and the operator will turn on the liquidation system.
Professor: How does the liquidation system work?
Hrok: The principle is the same as that of a regular power spear. It’s just that, here, the hit doesn’t have a single point as a target – it goes across the entire area of the chamber.
The alarm sounds again. The chamber gate closes. The operator says something on speakerphone. The chamber turns into sheer chaos. Even the Humies who were calm and indifferent to everything five minutes ago suddenly come back to their senses and start throwing themselves against the walls, hitting them with their fists, screaming and going mad. Someone’s bladder can’t resist, and he urinates right on the floor. Another one vomits on another person’s back out of stress. Freeman’s legs tremble when he sees this picture, but he makes an effort to remain standing.
Hrok: Now everything will be over.
The operator says something on speakerphone again and presses a button on the panel. A hum can be heard, and the people in the chamber suddenly stiffen, begin to convulse, and fall on the floor. Several seconds later, they are all on the floor. The majority of them have apparently already died, but several people are still showing some signs of life. They are lying on the floor, squeezed by other bodies, convulsing. Enclosure workers appear in the chamber. They go around stepping on the bodies and finishing off the ones who are still alive.
The Professor turns away from the glass wall and steps aside.
Hrok: I told you that this wouldn’t be a pretty sight. But what can you do – that’s the world we live in. We need to eat something, after all, right?
The Professor doesn’t reply and only shows with a gesture that he would like to leave. In the hall, Hrok suggests that they see the milk department. Five minutes later, everyone is already in the aerocar, gliding silently over the ground. One more platform with Humies being delivered to the slaughterhouse goes past them. Freeman watches it with a sad expression.
Freeman: Not only do they live in prison in inhumane conditions for their whole life, but they’re also killed just like Hitler killed people in his gas chambers.
Gordon: Yeah… They’re imprisoned, condemned to the death penalty. But what are they guilty of? Just of being different from Boogeys.
Freeman: They are simply weaker than the Boogeys. They can't fight against their technologies. It’s really cruel and cynical of the Boogeys to take advantage of that… But we – the people – are just the same kind of bastards! We even treat each other the same way.
Freeman: Was it so very long ago that they abolished slavery in America? Was it so long ago that we stopped killing each other just because someone believes in a different God or has another skin color? And we rape our natural world and torture our animals the same way.
Gordon nods in agreement.
Professor: Hrok, are little children are also killed in the slaughterhouse?
Hrok: What? Children? God forbid! Or what are you talking about?
Professor: I mean Humie cubs.
Hrok: Ohh… Well, yes, they are also killed. Do you want to see that?
Professor: No, no way. I’ve seen enough deaths for today. I just don’t understand how cruel and heartless one has to be to work here.
Hrok shrugs his shoulders.
Hrok: It’s just a job, like being a teacher or doctor. Someone has to make your shoes, right? (he nods, indicating the Professor’s shoes)
Professor: They’re made from artificial material, not Humie skin.
Hrok: Natural skin is more durable and more pleasant to the touch. But there’s no accounting for taste.
Professor: Durability is questionable. To me, all that seems like stupid and useless stereotypes which mean that millions of intelligent creatures have to suffer and live in hell.
Ten minutes later they land near another barrack.
Hrok: Now, I’ll show you the farm where Humie milk is produced. Professor, are your Humies castrated?
Professor: Uhh, no… What do you mean?
Hrok: I’m afraid they might make a run at the females. On the farms, all the males are castrated at birth. It reduces their aggressiveness. I hope your Humies will be good boys.
Professor: Yes, you don’t have to worry about them.
When they are inside the barrack, Gordon continues recording his video. The women live in cages for 5 to 6 persons, just like in the male barrack.
Gordon: Damn it, Freeman, look at their breasts! These Boogeys are totally out of their mind.
The women in the cages are naked. Their breasts are incredibly large and hang down almost to the navel. It is clearly very difficult and uncomfortable for them to carry such a load.
Hrok: We are in the female barracks. As you can see, they live in the same kind of cages as the males, with a small exception. There is a special milking device in each chamber.
Hrok: The females go to the device themselves and attach the pump to their breasts. First, the device washes the female’s nipple, and then it pumps out the milk.
Professor: And what if the female doesn’t go to have her milk pumped?
Hrok: It will just be all the worse for her. She will experience pain, which eventually can lead to death. They know all this. That’s why the milking process doesn’t require any effort on our part.
Professor: And why do they have such huge breasts? In natural conditions, they are not so massive and hideous.
Hrok: We put some additives in their nutrient mixtures, which make the breasts grow and increase the amounts of milk.
Professor: As I understand, females don’t always give milk – only when they’re pregnant and for a certain period after the child’s birth.
Hrok: Yeah, that’s right. So we impregnate them every two years. On average, each female gives birth to about 5 cubs and gives us milk for about 10 years. Then she is sent to slaughter.
The women in the cages are sitting in an unexpectedly calm way. Nobody is crying or going mad. Even the appearance of the men doesn’t make any impression on them.
They are sitting silently and doing the kind of things available to them – some are eating, others pumping their milk, and others relieving themselves.
Professor: And they are impregnated naturally? You bring males to them?
Hrok: No, of course not. That would be too difficult and expensive. We do everything more simply. We have male sperm that we use to impregnate the females. Do you want to see how it’s done?
Hrok and the three guests go to the end of the barrack. Having passed through a small corridor, they appear in a room where Boogeys are impregnating the females. Hrok stands near the wall.
Hrok: The impregnating process is carried out manually, because it’s very difficult to automate it. Specially trained veterinarians do this work. We’ve gotten lucky – they’re just about to impregnate a female, so you will get to see everything for yourselves.
Gordon turns on his smartphone camera and starts recording. The veterinarian brings in a young girl – she looks 15 years old at most. First, he orders her to kneel down on a special platform.
Then he takes her hair with his hand and bends her forward, pressing her head to the ground. The girl starts kicking and screaming. Some belts come out from the platform and fix her arms and legs in an restraint position. The veterinarian releases her hair and takes an instrument that has been prepared in advance, which looks like a metallic shank about one foot long. The girl hisses and swears, trying to set herself free. It is, apparently, the first procedure of this type in her life. The veterinarian sprinkles his instrument with some liquid and takes it with his right hand. With the other hand, he grabs the girl’s hip and directs his instrument right between her legs. The girls moans and starts screaming and kicking even heavier. The veterinarian barks something in response and continues with the procedure. Ten minutes later, he takes out his instrument. A thin stream of blood trickles down the girl’s hip.
Freeman: Gordon, but she’s a virgin, she’s a really young girl! This is rape, pure and simple!
Gordon turns off his camera and puts his smartphone in his pocket.
Gordon: Professor, let’s get out of here. I can’t look at this all any more.
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