The Meat | Revati Radhakrishnan Beyond the Panorama November 10, 2021

The Meat | Revati Radhakrishnan

His gloves were smeared with blood stains. The fowl was fluttering with fear in the rusty cage. Grabbing the fowl by its shank, he slit its throat with sheer annoyance. Though the customer waiting at the butchery was anxious enough, seemed to be casual over the plight of the fowl, at the same time, keen enough for the day’s delicacy. The butcher laid the skinned chicken on the block, pieced it properly and delivered as per the customer’s demand. However, the customer, joyously footing towards home, could feel the phobia of animal cries echoing in the meat market.

The weathercock on the roof of the customer’s house was active. He unlocked the door and was greeted by his pomeranian pet. “Be a good boy, I will reward you with a big bone”, said his master, placing the meat-filled sack in the sink. He carried his pooch and walked to the hallway. The drops of leaky tap crinkled the sack and the meat spasmedabruptly. In the hall, the pet started to sniff around and growl. His master sensed the alertness, then an eerie glow from the sky struck the weathercock. Its alphabet tumbled down with the arrow rod in the middle of it, describing it as “S I N”.

“Grills from Hell” – the LED signage flared out of the newfound restaurant. The crowd lined up at its entrance was endless. The huge grandeur mannequins of grilled grinning critters were an added attraction to the crowd. Some of them were found to be posing around the mannequins with their phones. “Whoa! My hands inside the jaws of these monsters will smash my profile for sure”, said a preppy teen guy placing his arms in the jaws of the alligator and the shark. “Take a pic of me with the beast”, said a girl of six, excitedly posing with the buffalo. Like so, the chain of chattering posters went on cramming the mannequins.

Many lenses of the media were broadcasting these bustles in and around the restaurant. “The wait is over! As you can see, thousands of people are lined up for the inaugural function of this unique meat restaurant from the Ripley’s Franchise. Mr. Ripley Hank is the founder of HiGene Meat Makers and Distributors (HMMD), who established it just one year back. The hygiene, quality, and taste have made HMMD achieve success in every field of the meat trade. Be it in local or international markets, athlete academies, and other restaurants, it is the talk of the town”, said the reporter earnestly.

In the nick of time, an elegant approach of a vintage vehicle to the restaurant lobby exhilarated the crowd. Mr. Hank stepped out to the red carpet and cut the red ribbon amidst hailing applause. He then entered the restaurant, consequently, the enormous horde of foodies marched along with him. Before being indulged by the words of the crowd, the guards safeguarded him to the dias. Meanwhile his phone buzzed with a monotone. “Yes, father, I will call you in a while. I am…” said Mr. Hank. “What have you done, Ley? Why did you do so?” Interrupted his father desperately. “Father, what are you talking about?” Questioned Mr. Hank perturbedly. “It’s your paper, it’s sinister!” Responded his dad horridly. “You shouldn’t have gone in the study, father”, whispered Mr. Hank sternly. “But you have begone from your virtues son, and nature will penalize your vice sooner or later”, replied his dad sorrowfully. Perhaps his voice squealed as the coarse hinges of an old door and the frequency of the network diminished, that disconnected the call.

Before Mr. Hank could redial, one of his guards gave him the microphone. He began to deliver his speech from the dias. ”Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the “Grills from Hell”, where the meaty meals are not just ought to inflate your intestines but also regenerate your histones. It isn’t a myth but the truth that you have been hearing all across the world. Yes, the proteinous meat we make and serve has capabilities to meet each of your body protein requirements, from an infant to an old man, of an athlete to an employee. Thus, time has come for all of you to experience and relish your enriched meals that will nourish your body and brain”. Mr. Hank boasted proudly and beckoned a waiter to his direction, who possessed a charcoal grill of porcelain-enameled bowl with lamb steaks. Mr. Hank took out a polypropylene tube of colorless serum from the inner pocket of his jacket. He opened it’s cap and poured a drop over the lamb steaks, out of which a savory smoke emerged.

Tempted meat-eaters either recorded or captured the arena instantly on their phones for about thirty minutes. As soon as it ended they sat on their reserved tables giving chaotic calls to the waiters. The latters pushed the charcoal grills to the tables expeditiously. Table No.16 had tuna steaks grilled for sizzlers. Table No. 66 had a beef jerky grilled for a burger. Table No.116 had a pork loin grilled. Table No. 166 had a full turkey grilled. And Table No. 216 had a chicken breast grilled for pizza. Though the tables had discrete meats, the toppings upon each were alike with pellucid serum. “Can we have short ribs please?” Asked a couple at Table No. 266. “Sure sir and madam, it will be there in a while”, replied the waiter and walked towards the kitchen. He passed the order to the supreme Chef, the latter passed it on to his assistant, who then hastened to the freezer room with a cart.

The ceiling light of the corridor nictated over the assistant, who strode through the stainless steel double door of the freezer room. The skinned headless buffalos were hooked at the ceiling-mounted crane. He pulled one of them, laid it in the cart, and rolled it towards the door. From the sixth row of the crane, one headless buffalo fell abruptly on the floor, making his blood run cold. Assuring himself seeing the fallen flesh, he walked and leaned to it, while his eyes darted to the shaking cart. “Christ”, he cried as the headless meat jounced out of it, to which the rest of the headless buffaloes jerked and joined precipitously. All of them cornered and stuffed him with themselves until he had bloated and blasted into shredded flesh. The headless buffaloes sucked his flesh, crushed his bones, and licked his blood.

“Is that blood?” Asked the food writer, looking at Mr. Hank’s hand resting over the table. “It’s wine”, chuckled Mr. Hank drawing a towel from his lap. “But you do owe blood on your hands, Mr. Butcher”, joked the other. It harked back Mr. Hank to the period of his prior obscure research work in the lab. He had spent hours beside the rocking bioreactor of cells, nurturing it like a mother and rushing to the spinning centrifuge of proteins in the polypropylene tubes, for feeding it to the cells. While he was busy in this prolonged process, an evil mind was always found to be glittering out of his shallow eyes.

“What’s in it?” Asked the food writer, staring at the grill that shook the contemplation of Mr. Hank. The waiter lifted the lid, out of which a gator’s meat sprang out and bit the writer’s mouth and stuffed itself into him. The astounded waiter, trembling over his feet, ran out of the table. This sent a chill to Mr. Hank’s spine and he remained seated until the waiter’s loud scream awakened him to be terrified with a shoal of sardines wobbling over the waiter, chewing his ears, and stuffing him with themselves. Gathering all his vigour, he watched the horrendous scene of bloated humans being blasted like balloons, their organs being sucked by the chunks of chicken breast, pork lions, tuna steaks, beef jerky, and many other unearthly meats. He ran out of the sinsterous restaurant and geared his vehicle. On his way, he witnessed menacing meats sucking the flesh of the baseball players near the stadium, of the customers and shopkeepers in the markets, and of the families in the houses. Unexpectedly a trailer truck of HMMD skidded over and dashed on his vehicle scattering the wriggling meats all over the city.

Adjacent to the cemetery, a laboratory was situated in the basement of a farmhouse at the outskirts of the city. A rat was snooping through the rocking bioreactor, surrounded by the empty polypropylene tubes with labels “Dead Human Protein (DHP)” and “Dead Animal Protein (DAP)”. The rat continued to sniff around and crawled into the freezer, where Petri Dishes with embryos of livestocks were stored. His restlessness inside the freezer caused one of the petri dishes to fall down and the embryo was out of the dish. When the rat tried to sniff the embryo, it grasped the rat’s nose and engulfed him, assimilating all his proteins.

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