The Risks of Empathy, a Novella
The backlash began almost immediately. An underground network dealing in copies of Selling TEs and Selling TE receiver clones popped into existence almost before the government got their replacement broadcasts on the air. Just like the old days when alcohol and narcotics were illegal, prohibition brought with it a black-market boom. Prior to the ban, black-marketers were dealing only in the seediest recordings: murders, rapes, torture; and the market was limited to the same sliver of humanity that has always found such immorality scintillating.
And, as with all the other failed attempts at prohibition, its result was the exposure of good people to the dark undercurrents of human behavior, crime, and depravity.
And people were recognizing that the truth behind the Selling ban had nothing to do with any medical risk; the ban was aimed entirely at limiting access to the Selling animal TEs.
And more people were pointing this out.
And more people were asking questions.
And the government’s credibility was further undermined.
And the violence spread....
The open stock truck turned off the shimmering asphalt highway onto a gravel road and stopped. The road showed the effects of much recent travel. A washboard of gravel and dust stretched into the distance ahead and pointed toward a range of mountains with their peaks still brushed with snow.
Two camouflage fatigue-dressed people with mean-looking assault weapons in their hands appeared and approached the truck, one on the driver’s side and one on the passenger side. Their faces were hidden by the netting that hung down from their helmets.
The window on the driver’s side lowered and a woman leaned out. "Hey, how y’all doin'? These guys must be mighty thirsty by now. I need to get 'em some water pretty soon."
In the back of the truck fifty or so obviously nervous ostriches were crammed together. Their eyes were wide and they all had their beaks open and appeared to be panting.
"Sarah," said the guard on her side, "I can’t believe you make these runs alone. You’re just asking for trouble." The guard pulled the netting up over his helmet and gave her a big grin. "You know the way. Get those birds out of here."
And with that, the ostriches began the last bumpy leg of their journey to refuge within the reaches of the HtH Timber and Cattle Company.