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Bess

Lisa Mason has published ten novels, including Summer of Love (a Philip K. Dick Award finalist) and The Gilded Age (a New York Times Notable Book), a collection of published fiction, Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, and three dozen short stories and novelettes in magazines and anthologies worldwide. Her story, "Tomorrow's Child," sold outright to Universal Pictures and is in development as a major motion picture.

Her new SF novel, Chrome, is forthcoming. Visit her at lisamason.com.
The alien impregnated me this morning. He has impregnated me ever since I could first conceive, his scientific syringe filled with the fertilizing fluid from an anonymous male of my own kind. The alien waited two weeks after I gave birth to another son, whom I named Ralph, before the alien took him away to the slaughterhouse to be butchered for his delectable baby flesh.
At least my son will die quickly, spared our life of imprisonment and shame.
Rumors say the butchers will cut my son's throat. Bleeding to death is slow and painful. But lately the aliens have attempted to make the slaughtering of us more humane. Rumors say these days the butchers will shoot my son in the head, which will result in his instant demise. With the aliens' wars and civil unrest, though, can they spare the ammunition on slaughtering my son? I wonder. I'm guessing not. The knife it will be. Oh, it will be a humane knife.
That the aliens care about whether the slaughtering of my son is humane will have to be some consolation for me.
It doesn't always go like that. Some of my sons are raised up, fed rich food to fatten them, harvested of their fertilizing fluid, and then they're taken to the slaughterhouse. My daughters, one and all, are raised, fed rich food, and then they're impregnated by the aliens. Like me, they will be kept continuously pregnant until they reach the end of their fertile life. Like me, the numbers tattooed on their ears will fade with age. They will give birth to stillborn babies. They will become of no more use to the aliens. Then they will be taken to the slaughterhouse for butchering.
Am I next?
I have a tiny memory of my mother, of her sweet face, of her big brown eyes filled with compassion, with sorrow. Of my father, I know nothing. The alien impregnated my mother with his scientific syringe by injecting the fertilizing fluid of an anonymous male of our kind into her womb. And thus I was conceived and born.
Why do the aliens imprison us, rob us of our peaceful lives, of our children?
For the rich, fatty fluid my mother and I and my daughters produce from our teats. Fluid meant for nourishing our own babies, but our own babies only get a taste of it before they are taken away. The aliens take our rich, fatty fluid, all of it, for themselves. The aliens crave our thick, silky nutritious fluid.
Rumors say the aliens' own mothers produce only a thin, sour fluid from their teats. The alien mothers' teats' fluid may be enough to nourish the aliens' babies in a time of need. But in prosperous times, the alien mothers and their babies prefer the thick, rich fluid we produce.
Imagine if the alien mothers produced delicious fluid from their teats! How the alien mothers' world would change!
The aliens conquered us and enslaved us long ago and, with their conquest, discovered ways to ensure the flow of delicious rich fluid we produce from our teats. The aliens, rumors say, concoct all manner of gooey garnishes, and lush slabs of fat, and sweet desserts from our thick, rich fluid.
The aliens' relentless exploitation of my womb, of my teats for their delectation, for their gain has worn me out. I'm weary. I'm growing old.
Today my teats are red and sore and rashy from the aliens' machines' incessant squeezing. Squeezing me three times a day until I want to cry out, "Enough!"
But it's never enough for the aliens. They crave more.
The alien who impregnated me this morning looks me over. He runs his hand provocatively over my rump, fondles my teats, and says to his coworker, "She's done."
I know what that means. That means the alien will take me to the slaughterhouse and butcher me for my flesh, which is fat and soft from years of indolent confinement in my prison cell. My flesh, as inferior as it is, will be cut off my bones and will be roasted or baked or ground up and fried. My flesh, worn as it is, is much prized on the aliens' dinner tables.
I want to cry out, "No, not me! I'm pregnant again! Soon my teats will flow with the rich fluid you crave."
I try to communicate with the alien, try to appeal to him, but my voice emerges from my throat only as a soft, sad moan.
For a moment, the alien looks at me with compassionate eyes. For a moment, I hope he'll spare my life. For a moment, I envision him opening the door to my prison cell and allowing me to go, to stroll into the green grassy fields of my dreams. To free me from this torture, this prison.
The alien shakes his head, ties a rope around my neck. A noose. The alien says, "Time to go, Bess."
I try not to cry as he leads me away.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019


I was devastated by a review in the Times Literary Supplement of a book, The Cow with Ear Tag #1389, by Kathryn Gillespie (Chicago University Press). The review set out many of the disturbing details covered by the book. I actually cried. Then, when I was working on something else, Bess demanded that I tell her story.

- Lisa Mason
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