The Color of Mink

Short Story, Vegan Fiction – Reading time approximately: 15 minutes

All photos credit: Jo-Anne McArthur / #MakeFurHistory


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One by one they came
Two by two they fled
Others lingered by
a flowing River Nigh
Raising the sun to their glasses
While fat ones sat on their asses
Waves of chariots rushed their shore
Sent by flaming clouds of More
· · ·
They had hummingbirds in nets
and feasted on our pets
while roasting marshmallows fired by kits
But it all came to a head
with our sword in their stead
As they floundered from their bed
their blue blood bled red
And they cried, never the More

~A Child’s Poem, from The Annals of Vegans’ Defiance
—Thirteen Plagues and the More


HellsARC

2:35 a.m. Oktober 15, 2054

“HellsARC armed, ignition on three.” Arming’s done via Android Rocket App. Detonation, I keep the old fashion way: shock incendiary. Gives me a reason to bring my .338. Command grumbles, but my expertize affords the privilege.

Simplicia’s voice, a gentle feline purr over the com, “Showtime, little fuzzies.”

Little fuzzies, like how she says it. Cute they are.

But HellsARC? Nothing cutesy. Creates a fireball the size of Gawd-fugging-knows-what and shoots straight up two-hundred-yards. Slow, building vengeance. A squatty blunt nose rocket harassed by a twisting, blazing, orange serpent. At its peak, it stalls a mesmerizing moment as if frozen in space, spraying a shower of glowing shrapnel. It falls in an ever-increasing spiral spitting out a corkscrew of flaming multicolor fragments. Makes the state-mandated Politikal Day fireworks look like a spark from a beaten-down Zippo on a windy day.

It buys us time, distracts, and captures the dread of the unsuspecting. With a bang to scare the banshees out of perdition. Scares me and I’m fearless. I am the FireMan. My name’s Moon. My job is the assembly, setup, and detonation of HellsARC. And, I’m the lookout, I don’t assist the release. Command prefers me at a distance, figures I’m too old, too slow, or maybe too unstable in case things go south. They’re wrong; two out of three. Weathered face, gray streaks, and four-inch scar fool them. I think I look tough, experienced, intimidating. The more when I howl.

Belly-down in the grass on a hill, I spy through the night-optic scope of my .338 I named Emma; after Goldman. To the east, HellsARC. To the west, our objective. Nestled among the reaching pines, sixteen white-washed barns staggered like the Quonset huts at boot camp. More in the character of Auschwitz 1. Peaceful, from here. An eerie serenity. Inside tells the tale. Unrelenting wails of misery and fright. Foggy Lake—poisoned to stink by farm runoff—a quarter-mile further with two thirty-man, 1400 kW jet boats at the ready. In the forest, Team Liberation awaits the hell of HellsARC, their go-get-’em sign in the heavens.

We are ARC, Animal Rescue Confederacy. An underground movement polished to military precision empowering animal rights to unprecedented prominence. Ranked as the number one domestic terrorist threat by the Politikal. An Honor. But not surprising when authorities paint with broad sweeping strokes the mask of terrorism over freedom’s canvas.

The breeze brings a rabid sting of ammonia. The fetid heap of little fuzzies’ urine and feces. Burns the eyes. Smells like fear warmed to a char. Northward, upwind, in an open-air barn awaiting detonation is HellsARC XIII with its epithet, ‘Suck This’ in cursive nested in the pinstriping. Thirteen. I’m not superstitious, mind. Still, in anticipation, I need a deep breath and take one.

A twist of the power ring brings the incendiary into focus. Ready to close my eyes on the squeeze of the trigger. You don’t want to watch this whizzbang go boom, or you’ll see spots for a week. And the fur farmers in the three surrounding houses, they’ll stain their wooly pajamas. Although it’s offensive calling mink slavers farmers. Farmers tend the soil, raise fruits, and vegetables, flowers, not sentients. Over the com, I start the count, “One, two… shit, stand down.”

In my earpiece, the purr of Simplicia, “Problem, Moon?”

Simplicia is Major General. Owns a Ph.D. and a black belt in Taekwondo. Lionhearted. Gifted with the magical ingredients of compassion, courage, and intelligence. Strapping and slightly curvy. High cheekbones. Blue orbs. A usurping smile. Makes me wish I was younger, smarter, refined, and good looking. Didn’t have this scar. Incompatible. Still, I’m thinking to ask her out.

“We have a body entering the zone, sweetheart General.” The zone, a three-hundred-yard blast radius of HellsARC. Up to me, I’d blow the furrier to my namesake. A just comeuppance by my reckoning.

But not how ARC operates.

Not how I will behave, they warned me. The decorated conscript of 72 confirmed headshots and countless kills in the Empire’s kill and get killed flush. A hero by patriotic accounting. Got me a lousy pension and my name on a plaque somewhere in the halls of the Capitol. I’ve killed men, women, kids, moms, dads. Purged the remains of cities left beneath bombed-out rubble. Assisted the massacre of civilians in the name and by the blessing of Imperial Conquest. But somehow this is different. ARC and her sponsors dislike killing. I will play by their rules—the sponsors. We need them, their money; explosives and military gear aren’t cheap. Plus, some’s on the payroll, like Simplicia, the River, everyone but me.

I’m here for freedom and revenge. For the hell of HellsARC—the symbolic rage of the voiceless. To piss in the face of thugs who prey and profit on the vulnerable. The innocent. Last month we sank the largest hog farm in the Politikal. Two-hundred-thirty, below-minimum-wage migrants and their ivory tower overlords took a hard lesson in animal rights. Took us two tries in nine months, but we did it. It was fun. A blast. Pigs are the coolest, these enjoy freedom.

River barked, “Human or animal?”

“Neither,” I told him. “Fugging fur farmer on an elecFour-wheeler.”

Look, I’ve developed a measure of misanthropy over the years. Consider it man’s redeeming virtue. And raise by the Empire—and other than the annoying quirks of PTSD, the fugging nightmares—I don’t have a problem shredding dregs. Killing is what humanity does best, and I’m pretty damn good at it. But River, if left to him, would take his deviltry to the level of animal agriculture. He’d torture the pricks for the time it took him to read Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and I’m pretty sure he can’t read. “Fry the fuck,” he says and pops a gum bubble. But I think better, for now. And Simplicia knows I know better. She’s silent over the com, but I’m sure she shook her head.

The farmer dawdles in the barn, scratching his groin, kicking dirt. Nervous. Impatient. Clueless of the hell hidden behind the stacks of hay, or he wouldn’t be there.

I watch, wait. Exploit the opportunity to daydream.

Then, the object of my reverie speaks to me. “Moon?”

“Ah, sweetheart. General.”

“Status?”

“Furrier’s beneath the overhang beside the detonator. Just lit his third smoke. Might save us a bullet.” But I don’t like it. This time of the morning, curfew, he’s waiting for someone, something.

Then, the paradigm shift. Tumbling through a dark tunnel, I’m back on the battlefield. Possessed by dark powers, the soul-fungi of a warrior.

Turning off Highway 41, I see headlights lighting up Minkers Lane. The growl of Army issue all-terrain tires, unmistakable. MPF, Militarized Police Force in their six-wheeled armoredRovers. Our plan leaked, and that’s why only I know where HellsARC’s planted. Smarter than I look. And before MPF reach the mink, they’ll pass by Big Bang. That’s me planning for possibilities. “The Schutzstaffel has joined our little soiree, Schatz General.”

River said, “They get in the zone, send them to hell as well, FryBoy.”

Disturbs me we think alike.

“Stow it, River,” said Simplicia. “That’s an order.”

But he won’t, the young, impetuous, loud-mouth punk. He provokes me. Imagine him calling me FryBoy, the derogative of the FireMan. Any self-respecting arsonist would take offense. I do, and I would kick his ass if I thought I could. Hell, if we pull this off, I’ll celebrate, give it a go. Trouble is, for all his empty assheadedness River’s quick as a rattler and stout as a pair of bolt cutters packing a venomous punch. Well trained. Six inches taller, seventy pounds heavier. Spells challenge. A Titan, my impulsive little brother. Calls for a sucker-punch. Not his first.

“Our guests have debarked in the zone,” I said. “Greeted by the farmer. A last-minute pep talk among the Gestapo.”

River threw in, “Blow it, my bunghole.”

Now I’m his anus.

My ARC issue safety glasses contain an optic transmitter relaying what I see to Simplicia’s optical receiver and to one of many screens at Command Central. I remove them and shatter them beneath my fist. Some things are better not seen. Crosshairs on the primer, I ask, “Sweetheart, General?”

I am a child of the Empire gone rogue, a snake set to strike at the toxic tentacles of its creator. A bead of sweat rolls down my spine. A grin stabs my cheek, bending the scar into a lightning bolt. Senses Heighten. I hear not only the amplified chirp of crickets but the rustling grass as they spring about. I smell them, the mink, the soil; the gamy of MPF, their gun oil, and the sweat beneath their new virgin Kevlar. My eyes adjust like an owl of the night. The portent of death. Steady as steal. I suck breath and hold it. Place my finger on the trigger. Await the command.

But then, Simplicia says, “Abort.”

“Abort?” I asked, in a clear, disbelievingly voice. My mistake. I could have said I misunderstood the order, but not now, not when they review the recording. And maybe I should have aborted. Packed my toys, went home, had a beer, and forgot all about this. Except, I don’t drink. Not anymore. And I never forget the things I regret. None of them. Not fugging ever. And this was the fuzzies last chance. Our chance to take animal rights from wishy-washy semi-unresistive veganism to all-out war. Maybe not the smartest thing I’ve done. But we’ve died for less. A lot less.

Pandemonium rules under the whirling, whistling umbrella of HellsARC’s flaming sputter. A symphony. Poetic. Stunning in appearance and effect. But the MPF are professionals possessed with a pernicious, albeit misguided sense of duty. They will recover—most of them—and regroup quickly then go on a deadly offensive. Although MPF number in the fifties, knowing their tactics and how they use them is my advantage. And, I hold the high ground.

I estimate HellsARC XIII reached a record two-hundred-forty yards, slow and ominous. I’m impressed with this build. Unfortunately, with it, blew up any chance I might have enjoyed with Simplicia over dinner. The incidental body contact. A kiss goodnight.

“Fucking Christ, Moon!”

Holy damnation, sweetheart. I sure did. Never heard her cuss before. Always the collected commander. Impeccable breeding.

Simplicia brought me into ARC. Stood me before her superiors in a penthouse in a dizzying highrise with a commanding view of the Capitol, crazy. We seemed a good fit. I needed redemption; they needed an explosives expert. On intel from River, she found one ravaging the dumpster behind Taco Hell. The drunken sewage spew of an Imperial Army, the smut of a man who lived his life fighting the wrong wars for all the wrong reasons. A vegan picking hamburger and maggots out of half-ate burritos, sucking sugary spit out of a cup through a straw, and shouting obscenities at the world. The Brass stated their objection to more than my stench. They read my service record with pleasurable disdain, loud, in my face, reiterating: A killer. A killer. What the fug did they expect from an explosives expert? They quote, Unpredictable. Disrespectful of authority… But I’ll argue this was entirely predictable of me. Pity though, my disobedience will reflect poorly on Simplicia’s judgment when she’s summoned before their sovereign counsel.

But it won’t go as wrong for her if we succeed; Freedom is more than our motto. I would hope.

“Move!” she ordered. “The Color of Mink, go. Go!”

That’s my girl. “I’ll buy you some time, sweetheart General.”

She was pissed, “Never call me that again.”

“You got it, sweetheart.”

I did the math in my head; not bad for a dropout with a pickled brain, eh? It’s three-quarter a mile from outside the zone to the barns. If the MPF board their armoredRovers, our force will never make it to the boats in time. They will find us in the barns with mink in hand, we’re finished, as are the fuzzies. However. If MPF foots it, figuring a fifteen MPH jaunt, that gives our troops three minutes to clear the barns, set the charges, and make for the lake. One-hundred-eighty seconds, I’ll see they have more.

Time depends on disabling the armoredRovers, the four that aren’t belly-up courtesy of HellsARC. The technological advantage of today’s electric transports is there’s no engine block to punch a hole in and hope it seizes up when you need it to. It never does. Been there, done that, very unreliable. But, put the same .338, 300 gr Lapua Scenar through the armature, and it’s an instant short-circuit. Sparksville. The trick is getting the armoredRovers to show their ass and place the bullet between the half-inch steel louvers and hitting the sweet spot. That’s where a savvy upstream sharpshooter with expert knowledge of projectile dynamics and the mechanics of armoredRovers comes in.

It was our night, all right. We set the little fuzzies free to roam the forest and raise a family. Team Liberation made it to the boats with minutes to spare. The fur farm burned to the ground, and the furriers, if they’re smart—however unlikely, should rethink their livelihood. The MPF took a shot of their own penicillin. Several. And our troops left me behind. On my order. No way I could ignite the HellsARC, keep the MPF hunkered down and scrambling for cover, and make it to the boats in time. I’m fast, not that fast. But it’s okay, I always have a backup plan. This one was a short sprint behind me. A relic, a fossil fuel burning, Yamaha 250 dirt bike. Bought it and a quart of low-grade octane for a song from a local kid. Fun, but a bugger to start and behaved like an ass. Hard to imagine some used these noxious means. Vexing.

Back at the hotel, a squeamish, disinclined valet parks the 250. Later, in my room, still washed in the fumes of internal-combustion, I watch the news. Emergency vehicles flashing blue and red lights in the background. The on-site reporter, a fop with pretty hair, shook his pretty face with feigned rue, and said, “It was over a six-million-dollar loss.” A ridiculous estimate, I consider priceless. The camera pans across the smoldering remains of the mink barns, then to the belly-heavy sheriff, he’s caught taking a bite out of a frosted jelly-filled. Wipes his mouth along his sleeve and says, “According to the farmers, the mink are domesticated and won’t survive the wild.” The overtone’s clear, we’re the evildoers who doomed the minks to a horrible fate. Whatever. Or even if: Suffer terrifying captivity 24/7, filth, hunger, cannibalism, disease, infection, insanity, and bloodcurdling death, or die free, at peace?

A propaganda prop fills the screen: A ditzy dame, long dress, spiked heels, diamonds, and red plumper lips, cuddles in a mink stole—heads intact, marble eyes. A fur farmer in the foreground, wearing a white-tee in bib-overalls and a goofy smile, holds a live mink to his chest like the beloved family pet. These people are sick.

Back to the sheriff with jam in a glob bobbing from his chin, says, “Anyone sees a mink, don’t approach it, you’ll get bit.” Oh? Cuddly domesticated little fuzzies bite? They didn’t even nibble their rescuers, only snuggles of appreciation. Assheads don’t get it, they have such puny perspectives.

Simplicia rings me on the secure channel. Probably calling to apologize for her rude behavior. To tell me I did right. Ask me out to dinner. Spend the night together; I’ll need a shower.

“Hello, sweetheart.”

“Hello, Moon, you reckless, insubordinate…” She sounds harsh, but a smile soon blossoms in her tone. She likes me and makes it embarrassingly obvious. Finally, she asks me out for dinner. Knows a vegan spot north of here.

“Love to,” I say. “I’ll drive.”

~Moon


Close your eyes, listen.
To the sound that calls your heart.
They cry out for you.

A Lone Male Mink - Photo credit: Jo-Anne McArthur / #MakeFurHistory
A Lone Male Mink – Photo credit: Jo-Anne McArthur / #MakeFurHistory

The inspiring true story of liberation.

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ARC is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of my imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. All rights reserved.

31 Comments

    1. Lol! For a second there I thought you were going to say, “Clearly written.” I had to look up bloke. I had an idea but wanted to be sure. We don’t get much foreign slang in the sticks of Redneckville. Hey, I made mention of Emma Goldman. lol

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Haha – well, I think it is both clearly and well written. I forget sometimes that what is common vernacular here (at least amongst my age group 🙂 ) is not necessarily known elsewhere. Thank goodness for google, or bing, or whatever. I think younger people are adopting more Americanisms, though. So, where is Redneckville?

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Hi Katrina, Fifty years ago while attending university in a Redneckville in the Flint Hills of Kansas, I roomed with a Brit from Manchester and gained a large vocabulary from that bloke. Bloody hell did!

          Liked by 4 people

    2. Just butting in to tell you I actually LOLed at your profile where you said you’re an older woman, a feminist and a vegan…a triple whammy of bad. Me too, although I replace “feminist” with “conservative.” And I have to add “single and with no kids” to the mix, so I have the quintuple whammy of even worse. Yay, I win! 😀

      Like

        1. 😂 Trust me, Katrina, in any competition for weirdness, no one beats me. No one! 😳 I’m way past being embarrassed in any meaningful way though. In a world chock full of what most people are, I’ve come to be proud of being uniquely kooky and weird. Nice to meet a simpatico like you though, unless I’ve creeped you out, too, haha! Women like me bravely go where normal women never would: on into old age on our own, no young family members to saddle with our care-taking, and then all that grief, and then their own lives ending. May we be blessed on into the future.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. No, definitely haven’t creeped me out 🙂 I’d love to own to being even a little bit weird, but alas I am ‘normal’ – apart from being vegan and supporting activism, which admittedly some people do think is weird. Prior to being vegan, an ex once told ne that I was the most normal person he knew – so there, I’m damned! However, becoming older has made comfortable with, and even like, who I am, so in fact I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Maybe with this new-found happiness, there’s hope for me to develop a bit of my own special type of ‘weird’ – lol! Yep, being single and child-free does make us much braver, I reckon.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. But being single and child-free does indeed make us WEIRD, so by “normal” I assume you mean your behavior but not your lifestyle. My behavior is odd along with the lifestyle, although I keep it all sort of quiet so as not to start fist fights with the neighbors and such. Have to remain cordial and get along with the normal people. 😖

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I tend to stay away from having fist fights with the neighbours, too – lol! I consider myself fairly mild-mannered, but having said that, I notice that I am a heck of a lot stroppier than I used to be. In fact, I’m positively unrelenting over some things, now. There are some things about aging that I absolutely love 🙂

                Liked by 2 people

                1. About things to love about aging; me too…notably the “no more leg hair” part and that I can be my old, real (pre-puberty) self once again, and can be eccentric, and boring (but not bored) at the same time.

                  Liked by 2 people

  1. You and those sultry sirens. Makes me feel like a gelatinous fireplug of a female, haha.

    My favorite part was of course:

    ” “According to the farmers, the mink are domesticated and won’t survive the wild.” The overtone’s clear, we’re the evildoers who doomed the minks to a horrible fate. Whatever. Or even if: Suffer terrifying captivity 24/7, filth, hunger, cannibalism, disease, infection, insanity, and bloodcurdling death, or die free, at peace? ”

    EXACTLY! Thanks for your warped imagination and for writing for us, Peter.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Hi, Bill. Yeah, those “farmers'” concerns for the health and wellbeing of “their” animals out in the scary wilderness, well, it touches the heart like nothing else can. If the fools didn’t own those hell holes in the first place, that would solve everything very nicely; except, how would the farmers feed their families? Sob, sniffle, violins. Revolting.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Lol. I believe it all stems from early puberty when we boys would go to the corner drugstore buy a pack of gum and peruse the detective magazines.

      My favorite line? “These people are sick.”

      Thanks for reading!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. All we girls wanted in the old days was Paul McCartney, while you boys were mesmerized by the Jessica Rabbits of the world. It’s so unfair, boo hoo! Anywho, I remember those “True Confessions” type magazines aimed at women in the 60s and found them truly demented. New name for our species: Homo Insanus (among much else).

        But on a serious note, every moment of every day either consciously or subconsciously, I’m praying/hoping for people everywhere to finally see what we see and for all these godawful, evil hells full of innocents to be shut down permanently and forever remembered as a time of deep shame for our species. This evil taints everything.

        Many thanks to you for being an entertaining voice against what’s going on.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, you’ve done it once again, Peter. A riveting and rollicking tale that takes evil-incarnate to the mink barn and whoops the life out of low-life death-dealers. I also enjoy how you have slyly diverted the munition merchants’ equipment away from the “normal” eternal war customers who kill by proxy in a bunker somewhere, directing drones to slaughter for profit and destroy everything but themselves. Thanks too for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, I hadn’t known of that worthwhile site until now. Fiction always beats commentary on cutting through to real culprits and dirty dealers. I’ve never been able to write fiction at all, being more a technician and word-parser — as you can clearly see by reading this very reply 🙂
    Go Minks!

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I’m a parser from way back, both in my preoccupation with languages living, dead(like Latin) or imaginary. One of my other parse-esque skills, as you know, is querying databases with languages such as Unix. They have all come in handy one surprising way or another 🙂 — like translating a million or two words from German to English. So parsing is nearly autonomic.

        Liked by 3 people

            1. Hi Peter, Thank you for the very kind words — heart, demeanor, and wit make a grand trio. I shall try to keep deserving that compliment and will take pains to avoid stroppiness. Languages are like separate and distinct music genres or instruments in an orchestra. Speaking of parsing, the diacritical marks (used in the Quran and in language classes) parse sounds one millimeter at a time and unambiguously. It’s taken me years to get through the beginner stage, but it has become one fine hobby for someone who goes OCD at such things.

              Liked by 1 person

          1. Hi Katrina, Thanks for the kind reply. I started working on a minicomputer manufactured by the Singer Corporation (the sewing-machine people) in the early 70s, learned how to link manufacturing databases, bills of material and such. The only terminal was in the computer room. Then, during the 80s, I worked on a Cincinnati Milacron minicomputer manufactured in 1972, writing RPG-II. My industrial experience came in handy when translating (and parsing) technical German for industrial cranes and such. And not to worry about P’s or Q’s, I’m not a member of the grammar police 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

  3. That’s a very interesting career, Bill! I have to keep my lip zipped about your and you’re, and there and their, too. Strangely enough, no-one wants their errors pointed out to them, however well-meaning it’s intended 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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