“Nice one, Polly… Really-really nice…”
The banged up van was driving fast down Sunrise Highway, on its way to Freeport High. Polly was nervous. Sitting in this deathtrap with 7 more people on a Sunday night, she started questioning her choices.
For the last 23 years, cows, pigs, and poultry were born infected with the “C4L1” virus. Nobody knew its origins, but it was there, and it was incurable.
Four years ago, a small company called “Veggie Cuts” offered a solution. Vegetarian products that tasted like meat, and were virus-free.
“C4L1” or “CALI” as people started calling it wasn’t deadly. At least that was the official story. Everybody knew it would eventually kill you (one way or another), but there was no definite correlation. And that was the alibi meat companies needed. Meat was cheap. So people ate it. And public school cafeterias with small budgets had no choice.
Then, 2 years ago, a group of college students calling themselves “The Nine”, decided to take action. They started protesting, boycotting, and suing meat companies.
It didn’t work. Nobody cared.
So, they started promoting “Veggie Cuts” products (burgers, “chick”-fillets, sausages) to make people realize it’s time to stop killing themselves. People still didn’t listen. It was time for more extreme measures.
They picked 3 High Schools (one in LA, one in Colorado, and one in New York). They would load 3 trucks with products, and put them inside the cafeteria freezers. Each truck would be accompanied by a van full of volunteers to carry out the mission. And Polly found herself into one of these vans.
She told the group she was in for the cause. And yes, she did care about food quality. Who wouldn’t? But the real reason was her shyness. Polly was never good with people. Her parent’s divorce and moving around the country because of her mother’s job (a VR experience designer) didn’t help much. So when “The Nine” invited her to join, she said “Yes!”
And then there was Nick, the group’s leader, and her crush for him. Maybe if she stayed close, he would finally notice her.
“Stupid, stupid Polly…What are you doing? …”
She was nervously tapping the floor with her foot, when the van reduced speed and turned right into Brookside Avenue. She looked outside the window and saw the school’s baseball field. They had arrived. The van passed in front of the main building and then turned right again into the school parking space. Nick opened the van’s side door:
“OK everybody, let’s do this.”
Everybody got out. The place was empty. The smell of spilled beer and fast food garbage was quite strong.
“Game night…Right…” Polly thought.
She could see the football stadium in the distance.
The white truck carrying the “Veggie Cuts” pulled in, and parked next to them.
Nick’s cellphone buzzed.
“What? Crap… OK, thanks for telling me.”
“What’s the matter?” Polly asked.
“The other two groups failed. The cops got them.”
Everybody turned around and looked at him, worried.
“How did they find out, man?” Paul, the truck driver asked Nick.
“I don’t know guys, and we don’t have much time. Let’s go!”
Paul opened the truck’s doors, and pulled out 4 big trolley carts.
“OK guys, start loading”.
The whole group started loading the carts. It took them about 2 minutes to finish. Then a guy everybody called “JJ”, started walking towards the back of the building:
“This way people …”
“Are you sure you know where we are going?” Nick asked.
“Please man. Freeport Alumni here, class of 2079!”
The group followed him quickly across the parking lot, to the back entrance. Nick picked the locks, and they went inside.
JJ took the lead.
Five minutes later, after passing a few walls with dented lockers, handmade posters for school events, a trophy case, and some dark and empty classrooms, they entered the cafeteria.
“OK everybody, you know what to do”.
The rest of the group started emptying the meat products from the freezers, and replacing them with “Veggie Cuts”. Nick gave Polly some stickers.
“Stick them to the front of the buffet line, so that the students know they are eating Veggie Cuts today.”
“But, won’t the staff notice the difference?”
“The boxes are unbranded, Polly. They won’t know what they are serving. They just don’t care.”
Ten minutes later, the job was done. Everything was in place, and all the meat boxes were loaded on the trolleys ready to be disposed.
“Time to go, people.”
Everybody smiled. As they started walking to the exit, Nick turned to Polly:
“Good job Polly. How do you feel?”
“That…was…awesome!!” Polly replied loudly.
But, as they took the last turn towards the exit, they saw red and blue lights blinking in the distance.
“You are surrounded” a voice yelled.
“Put your hands up, and walk out slowly”
“This is your last warning. Come out with your hands up”.
“Damn it, how did they find us?” Nick asked himself.
“Do what they say, people. Live to fight another day.”
As they walked out of the building, they saw 4 police cars and a police van parked. Officers were pointing their guns at them.
“On your knees. Hands behind your heads”.
“How did you find us?” Nick asked.
“Next time you decide to use a stolen truck, remove the tracking pods, genius”, a sergeant replied.
Seven hours later, the group was escorted to the court to face punishment. As they were waiting outside the court room, Polly looked at a newspaper left on the chair next to her. The title read:
“Freeport High students demand the ban of all meat products after Veggie Cuts makes it into their school cafeteria.” “NO MORE CANCER IN OUR FOOD!”
“Oh man, my mom is going to kill me.”
Story Type: Flash fiction
Length: <1000 words
Based on this article: https://thehustle.co/missouri-law-meat-alternatives/