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FICTION on the WEB short stories by Charlie Fish

The Cull
by Christine Kelem

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We are everywhere. Not even groups anymore, slowly migrating from one corner to another. We are now an unbroken sea of bodies. Only one body at a time could move anywhere and so there stopped being groups. There isn't a place to lie down when it's time to push the babies out - we do it standing up and screaming which is the way we get the babies in us, too, except for the screaming - but some of us find that it's easier to push a baby out if we're standing.

The eat-sticks and drink-moments are coming with the same regularity but it's difficult to get to the walls where they come through and not all of us share them around as was usually done so the Owners say we are getting too thin. I remember being this many bodies once before and then one day the Owners came in and took some out. We didn't see them anymore.

I'm not sure whether I should want to go or want to stay. I'm not sure there is any difference and nobody knows so I don't know. Sometimes when there is manwood inside of me, I don't want to go because I do like that feeling and even in the middle of pushing out a baby I don't want to go because what if I don't get to make babies anymore in that other place? I like my belly growing big and heavy and feeling the movement inside. I exist that way.

But sometimes there are things that take place between bodies here that look bad and then I think maybe I want go. Maybe the Owners won't ask us maybe thinking about this doesn't matter. I should just stick to what I know which is getting eat-sticks, drink-moments, and babies in me. Asking questions doesn't change anything.

I used to wonder if we would get to see the babies if we did go outside the wall because the Owners take the babies away from us after we push them out and put a special lock on us so no manwood can get in for a certain amount of light time so for a while we are empty and that is a sad time. Somebody asked about the babies once and we never found out an answer plus that somebody never came back either. So as long as there is a baby in there, that is all that matters.

Once in a while instead of eat and drink coming through the walls, more of us come through. They are always younger than we are and every time they come I am older. If they are our babies we would not know. Sometimes I look at faces and wonder how to know but they don't know either so we don't know. It doesn't matter anyway since nobody knows.

The best place for getting manwood is anywhere because it's all the same now, there are so many of us. When we were in groups, then there were places, certain groups that we would go to and do some joining. Joining is really a matter of which manwood fits in which femhole according to height differences. I would just lean over something and then manwood would come inside. Now with all the people around it just happens everywhere. There is something to be said for that and there is something to be said for the other. Each has advantages. It doesn't seem to affect getting a baby though.

I'm ready to push a baby out today. The water ran out of me last night and the pain's rhythm is hard. I'm thinking about pushing this baby out without going anywhere if I can keep from screaming. If I can, I'll keep the baby with me and see what happens. Maybe the baby knows some things.

It's been many lights since the baby came out and I didn't scream. There were so many of us everywhere that no one could see my legs and the blood that came out. Once in a while you come across a body lying down with no one inside but the Owners have not taken it away yet. I found one of those today and I use the cloth on the empty body to wrap up the baby and carry it around. It's a fem baby, I can tell from the space between the legs. It cries sometimes but the crowds are noisy and I stuff my hanging flesh into the mouth which sucks at me. I didn't know babies took in the white that dripped from the hanging flesh. It would always go away by the time I was back looking for manwood. I didn't know.

Sleeping is done standing up, everything is done standing up. You try to get to this place for sleeping and this place for body voiding but you don't always make it. There are so many of us, you can't fall down unless you really try, like I did when just before the fem baby came out.

No one here says many things to each other because there is nothing new and we all know the same thing, do the same thing except now I am different. I am not sure about why I did this thing except that maybe it has something to do with the questions I feel that no one inside here can answer.

It's been almost 250 darks since I kept the fem baby and its eyes are on me now and I ask it where all the babies go and it opens its mouth and makes a gurgling sound at the same time pulling at my hair. Something feels funny inside me and my mouth opens too and I gurgle back. Now an Owner appears beside me and takes the fem baby away. Water runs down my face it hurts like pushing a baby out but in my chest. I am not the only one screaming.

I am very old now, and they bring in more of us that are young bodies. One that is a femhole searches faces and looks into mine and I look back and we do not know for sure but so much has changed on our bodies so how could we. The Owners come in and I push to get to the door. I want to leave and so I do, they are culling the herd today and I am tired.

We pass through the wall and into a space with no bodies and I almost fall down in the emptiness, I am afraid without touching something. There is another wall and we stand against it, all the ones who left. Maybe we could lie down to sleep finally, we are all so tired. Some of the Owners come and look at us, and pinch our arms, and talk to each other quickly, nod or shake their heads, all down the line and they take some and leave me and others. An Owner with a short stick comes and starts walking down the wall, pointing it at our heads and a loud noise happens, again and again and we are watching and thankful because our turn to lie down is coming.

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