Three years of quarantines, unemployment, and tyranny took its toll on everyone. After the economic collapse, the state assigned all jobs. The state assigned me and forty-nine other men to the sunflower fields. I didn’t question it or why they assigned me to a farming detail. I went along because I needed the job for my family.
The farm didn’t look like any farm I had ever seen. Huge white tent structures sprawled all over the fields covering the crops. Large pipes connected each of the structures, I assumed they were irrigation line. We finally reached the farmstead. We filed out of the truck and stood in line while they scanned our identification and issued work clothes. The work detail was for six months. I watched the truck which brought as the previous detail boarded. Maybe there were twenty men. They looked skinny and frail.
One guard nudged me forward. “It doesn’t have to end that way. Simply obey the rules and time will go fast.”
I nodded in agreement as they piled coveralls and a pair of work boots into my arms and guided me to the barracks. They assigned each worker a bunk and footlocker. They fed us a meal while they instructed us on how to act and what the daily routine would be. The guards led us back to the barracks. It was lights out and work started at five o’clock in the morning.
The lights flipped as the guards yelled at us to wake up. We all quickly got dressed and loaded into a wagon. The gate to the wagon closed as a tractor started up and we crawled out into the fields. We went past all the white structures to a vast hole the size of a football field. There were ten semi-trucks backed up to the hole. The tractor stopped, and the guards led us into the hole. The hole was just under seven feet deep. The truck doors opened as they extended roller ramps into the holes. Black body bags slid down into the hole. Our job was to remove the bodies from the bags after we lined them up in the hole.
We stacked bodies up till lunch. Some looked like they died peacefully, some had terror and agony on their faces, and some bodies were full of bullet holes. The bodies were both young and old, and every age in between. The bodies were frozen when they came out of the truck. Our job was to get them into place before they thawed. Some men could not handle the job. They broke down sobbing. The guards surrounded the hole. They had rifles; they shot the first man that attempted to crawl out of the hole in the head and added to the pile.
The trucks kept coming with more dead bodies as we filled the hole. The guards had shot five men, which was the right amount to keep the rest of us in line. We watched as the bulldozers pushed earth over the bodies. There was twelve inches of dirt between us and the dead. The special air seeders ran over the area, shooting seeds into the ground. They gave us sandwiches and water to eat as we watched the process. The next machine sprayed a black tar substance over the seeds as they placed a large box at the end of the site.
Another machine came and built a tent structure over the field. I swore I saw plants popping out of the ground as the machines draped the plastic sheathing over the poles. The noises from inside of the structure sounded like slurping and slimy goo slinking across the land. We were told to walk back to the farm to clean up and receive our evening meal. I heard two men talking in front of me as they veered off to one structure. They ripped open the plastic and walked into a field of sunflowers. The sunflowers came alive and attacked the men. The flower heads struck the men and stuck to their bodies as the blood flowed.
The flowers were eating the men alive as they screamed for help. The guards stood back and laughed as the bodies shrunk down to nothing.
One guard stood in front. “Interesting the way they instantly liquify a body and suck it down to the roots. You are a worker, or you are food here. That is your world for the next six months.”
The captain of the guard rolled up in a Jeep. He stepped out and murmured to the other guards. He turned to address the workers. “You all need to understand what is going on here. Follow me.”
The captain walked into the structure the other two men went into. “Stay off to the side and step up on the walkway.”
We all followed one by one. The sunflower heads seemed to follow us. I looked closer and notice the heads didn’t have seeds in them, but thousands of black stingers or needles. A huge brown bladder with strange forms swimming in some primordial goo laid at the end of the field.
The captain spoke. “These flowers, or whatever the hell they are, process the bodies, converting them into what you see at the far end of the field. That is where they hatch.”
I raised my hand. “What do you mean they?”
The captain laughed. “The aliens dumbass. We work for them. The treaty signed stated we would work the fields in exchange for life. We lost the war. Now we are all just slaves.”
I looked at the brown goo to study the shapes. They looked like squid with humanoid heads.
The captain walked over to me. “After thousands of years of evolution, this is what we have become. Slaves feeding an alien nation our dead in order to survive obliteration.”