Preamble: This the eighth chapter of a serialized science-fiction short story concerning animal control and an exterminator. (Previously: Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 and Chapter 7)
by Cheeseburger Brown
The queen was apoplectic. "Idiot!" she said at a proper speed. "Imbecile! Ass!"
I was walking away. She scrambled after me, shouting at the back of my head. She grabbed at my elbow but I yanked it out of reach and strode on. I really didn't have time for such bleeding heart tripe as hers. I mean, patience is a virtue but when there's no conceivable action gradient you can't just stand there watching entropy swell. Life's short.
I went through a couple of walls, looking for a weak ceiling so I could punch through to get to my stupid palette. After an interval the pests in the rooms I passed through howled and gradually flinched.
"Can't you see what's going on here? Can't you see they are a miracle?" pleaded Queenie.
I stopped and spun on heel. "A miracle? Are you new?" My expression was as amused as angry. "Amazed, are you, by the complexity of their warren?"
"There's more," she rushed to say. "What about the missiles that destroyed your planetfall skiff? Were they not quite improbable? Does such chance-defying genius mean nothing to you?"
I rolled my eyes and pushed onward. "Listen lady, of course the things can generate high improbability. They generated us, after all. That's not news. I'm as reverent as the next guy. If I ever have kids, I'll bring them to the zoo to show them the ancestors and the elephants. For sure. But that's where they belong -- in a zoo. Not metastasizing in the wild! People have been killed, you know. That can't go on. Even someone as zealous as you must be able to see that."
"Life is precious, on that we are agreed," she hissed. "Theirs as well as ours."
I stopped again, but I did not turn around. "They don't have a life in any meaningful sense, and you know it." I said. "Can you even imagine what it would be like to be conscious from within a biological framework?" I turned to face her. "Your thoughts would literally be made of snot. It makes me sick to consider. In such a claustrophobic computational space! It would be like being a living jukebox, rutting through the same chemically coded sub-routines over and over again, over and over again. You call that a life?"
"They know love."
"Of course they do. Otherwise, how could we?"
"So even love is trivial to you, William. For this you have our pity."
We looked at each other for a long moment. Finally I said, "Well, thanks for that I guess," and jumped up through the ceiling.