Note: This story will appear in my upcoming collection Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, and that’s why I’m posting this teaser. However, it has already been published in “Kindle” format, and there is a link to that below, in case you cannot wait for The Cabinet to be published.
FREE RANGE MEAT
It was unusually hot and bright that day, and as Brian approached the parking lot, he almost regretted his decision to walk to the shopping plaza where his nearest Whole Foods was located. Though his backpack was currently empty, he was already sweating heavily beneath it, his tee-shirt sticking to his back. The front of his shirt also, though less sopped than the rear, bore visible sweat marks. Brian had decided already that, as soon as he got home, he was going to take another shower. He hated to waste the water, but even his conservational idealism had its limits; many hours remained before bedtime, and he really didn’t want to spend the rest of the afternoon stinking of stale sweat.
The sky was barely dotted with occasional small clouds, but the air was noticeably humid, and the temperature was well into the upper eighties even though it was only early May. Brian shook his head, tossing his mid-length, straight hair—also damp with sweat—from side to side as he went. He wondered, given such unusual warmth, how anyone could possibly doubt that climate change was real, that the world was getting warmer thanks to the unrestrained use of fossil fuels and the ridiculous output of all the cattle humans raised just so they could eat steak and burgers, wasting countless acres of land that could have grown food for people to eat directly, without nearly so much impact on the environment.
He had to remind himself that one unseasonably hot day was no more proof of global warming than a particularly cold winter day was evidence against it. Still, the emotional weight was hard to resist. He didn’t think he was mistaken in believing that his childhood summers had not been as severe, nor as early, as they were now. That was memory, though, surely colored by the fact that a child’s body was more resilient than an adult’s—though Brian was lean and muscular from regular workouts, a regimen he’d undertaken more to fight against his moderate scoliosis than for trying to look good. Indeed, at forty-four, Brian had often been assured that he looked easily ten years younger. The tee-shirts and shorts he habitually wore helped this impression, but even in a suit and tie, which he wore when meeting with certain clients, Brian could easily pass for a young, upwardly mobile professional rather than a man approaching middle age. Even his simple, wire-framed glasses made him look young and intelligent.
Brian took no special pride in the fact that he looked good for his age, except to think to himself that this was what clean living did for a person. And though, just as with the weather on any given day, he knew that his individual attributes couldn’t honestly be used as evidence of a general trend, he was nonetheless convinced that his health and appearance were due more to lifestyle than to genetics. Perhaps his genes could be credited with the fact that he was smart enough to recognize better ways to live and had the will to act on that recognition. Continue reading