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For the War Effort

Rachel Rodman (a href="http://www.rachelrodman.com">rachelrodman.com) the author of the food-themed collection Exotic Meats and Inedible Objects (Madness Heart Press). This is her fourth appearance in Daily Science Fiction.

It was a civil war of the most bloody, brutal sort, not East vs. West, or brother vs. brother. But rather: Past vs. Future.
They (the Future) had a staggering technological advantage. Our skies were filled with weapons that we did not understand; our cities pillaged and brutalized by invasions for which we could devise no shields. But our position gave us another kind of advantage. Just one, really. So, for there was no other choice: none at all.... We exploited it.
To our hands--violently, unnaturally--we transferred bundles of our own flesh: uprootings of potentialities that many of us, at one time, had wanted very much. (That I, too, had wanted so very, very much.) So it felt like more than war, this sacrifice. But we were members of the Great Generation. The Final Generation.
We could not let them win.
Around the fires we gathered, in our public squares: heat and whoosh and flicker, in long long lines, extending through cities and countryside, and we roared as the smoke ascended, for we could see it--Yes! Yes! Yes!--the count of our enemies/descendants, diminishing across distance; the shrinking phalanxes of their armies in the sky; the dots of their ground troops, viewed through our spyglasses: fewer and fewer; and we, yes, we, determined and resourceful we (and here the roar went up again!), reducing the numbers of this superior force at this clever remove, as we could not in direct combat.
Into heat; into plumes of smoke; into Never-Was. Attrition and annihilation.
To the front of the line--my turn--I pushed at last, with thousands still behind me; thousands upon thousands, each with our bundles of flesh: compatriots-in-war, each of us hunching for pain, hobbled by the recency of our surgical scars.
"'U' is for victory!" I intoned fiercely.
And I cast my uterus onto the fire.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, January 11th, 2021

Author Comments

This story has two points of origin: 1) My husband's grandparents met in Trafalgar Square. Early in our first child's life, I would sometimes take her there, en route to the National Gallery (babies love art museums, turns out, especially when they are asleep). And I would get a little existential shiver, as if the barrier between times was a little thin, and I might, by mischance, step through, and endanger her existence by disrupting her great-grandparents' first date.

2) I read a fair amount of Heinlein as a kid, before I was old enough to know better. Ever since, I've thought a lot about The Moon is a Harsh Mistress--especially about how, in a war against the Earth, the lunar colonists, by launching boulders, might be able to turn the gravitational difference between the two worlds to their advantage, and harm a much stronger army. I wasn't sure what to do with either of those ideas, until it occurred to me (although--patent pending; please don't tell anyone--in reality, this is simply my solution to every artistic problem): Just mash both of them together.

- Rachel Rodman
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