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.