Carnivores
rating: +30+x

After so many anniversaries, it got harder and harder to do something new and exciting. And John knew that Bailey wouldn't mind if they threw on The Princess Bride for the fifteenth time or talked the night away. But he wanted to make this anniversary special.

"We should in Vermont by now," Bailey said. They'd been driving for at least two hours, leaving behind the skyscrapers and packed streets of Manhattan. Now they entered the part of the state no one talks about — where there were more trees than people.

"We're almost there. I think it's only another thirty minutes."

Bailey looked unconvinced. "You know, with each minute it takes to get there, my expectations for this place only go up."

"Aren't you excited?"

"I'm curious, but I don't mind the Impossible Burgers and Steaks as much as you do." John knew this going in. This year he realized he was being more selfish than in the past. But the anniversary was something for both of them to enjoy, right?

"But they are different," John replied. "Like, they almost taste like the real thing but… I don't know. It's just not the same."

"Yeah… yeah you're right."

"It's been thirty years. I just want to remember the taste of meat."


Foreword: The following is a transcription from a video titled "EXPOSED!" posted to YouTube. This video was flagged by Foundation Webcrawlers for containing possibly anomalous behavior, and put up for review.


<Begin Video Log>

The camera focuses on a dirt road; no cars are in view. In the distance, the outline of buildings are visible through a grey fog.

The cameraman approaches the buildings. Details become visible. One is a small house with a driveway; behind it are a vast array of warehouses.

A light appears from one of the warehouses. The cameraman stops moving. The light moves out toward the road. The cameraman runs into a field next to the road, laying in the wet grass. They start to breathe heavily.

The light draws closer.

It belongs to a semi-trailer truck. On the side of the truck are the words "Williamson Farms"; it includes an illustration of a farmer driving a tractor.

The truck continues past the cameraman.

After a few minutes, the cameraman stands and continues walking toward the buildings.


The only way up to the restaurant was this lonely dirt road surrounded by trees. John really had entered the middle of nowhere, New York. It'd been years since they'd driven this far away from NYC. The city had pretty much everything. Out here there was darkness between the trees, a low whistling of wind, and a full moon out in the sky. Out here, it was wild.

John caught a new shape out of the corner of his eye. And then another. He slowed down, just so he could get a better look. They were trucks and SUVs, probably on their last miles. Some had dents in the doors, others completely missing their bumpers. Broken headlights gazed at John's recently serviced Lexus, remembering the good days. Bailey could imagine the belching of the mufflers and the screeching of the worn down brake pads. They were zombies of cars.

As John and Bailey neared the restaurant, the cars began to evolve. The license plates weren't rusted over. The window cracks disappeared. They got shinier. And sleeker. About a hundred feet out they passed by a cherry red Ferrari parked in a puddle of mud.

"This is the place?" Bailey asked. She knew the answer, but wanted to hear John say it. He was petrified. He didn't know what he expected, but this didn't look like anniversary-material.

"It… should be."

John pulled off the road and parked next to a Tesla. They eyed a man who stood in front of the restaurant, whistling and waiting to open the door for guests. The two sat the in car for a moment before getting out together. They drove all this way after all. They should at least try the food. Bailey held her dress up a little, just to make sure it didn't fall into the dirt. The couple approached the greeter. He wore a vest, and a button-up shirt. His pants were big for his waste, and his face was only half-shaved. The man flashed them a smile with a few missing teeth.

"Welcome to Pete's!" he announced as he held the door. John and Bailey nodded politely, and avoided making eye contact.


The camera man approaches the farm house. Light shines through the front windows. Loud, indiscernible speech can be heard coming from the house.

The camera is aimed inside.

A group of men ranging from their early thirties to their late fifties sit around a dinner table. They appear to be drinking beer and playing cards. They holler and shout as one of the men, wearing a ten gallon hat, gathers a pot of approximately two hundred dollars.

BANG

The camera is rapidly brought back around the corner. The house falls silent.

Unknown Voice 1: Jesus fuckin' Christ Paul, what you shootin' at?

Unknown Voice 2: Saw somethin' in the window.

Unknown Voice 1: Ain't nuttin' out there.

Unknown Voice 2: I said I saw somethin'. I know what I saw.

Unknown Voice 1: And I know you're drunk. Now put that damn thing away before you blow your own head off!

The camera man begins moving away from the house. In the brief silence before the men erupt into their gambling game again, there is a low moaning noise coming from the warehouses.


Inside, the restaurant smelled of lavender. The lighting was romantically dim, and the tables were each fit with tablecloths and wine glasses. Men and women wearing fancy suits and dresses spoke in that quiet voice that fills upscale establishments. The voice used to talk about secrets kept by the absurdly wealthy. After all, this was the crowd who would try to keep their weekend tickets to Hamilton confidential. John could tell why his boss recommended the place.

John approached the hostess, who appeared more concerned with scratching the small of her grubby back than dealing with new customers.

"Umm… a table for two please?" John asked. The hostess blinked.

"Just the two o' ya?"

"Yes, for two."

She studied her podium for a full thirty seconds before grabbing two menus, "Foller me."

John and Bailey were seated at a table right in the middle of the restaurant. The couple stared at each other for a moment. Each looking for signals that everything was ok. Bailey was used to getting this look from John. Normally she was the one dragging him out of the condo on some sort of adventure. It's why she appreciated his attempts each year to pull out a new experience for her. Bailey brought him to multi-colored world of New York City clubs, to the peaceful vista atop Pike's Peak. He'd shoot her that look of "are you sure?". And normally, she was.

John was not used to getting the same look from Bailey.

John unfolded his napkin and set aside his bread plate. Bailey swallowed and followed suit.


The cameraman walks toward one of the warehouses.

The moaning grows louder, with low bellows periodically piercing through the noise.

Approximately five meters away from the door, the camera shakes and a gagging sound is heard.

After a moment, the cameraman resumes approaching the warehouse.

The door to the warehouse is closed, and secured with a padlock.

The moaning is grows even louder.

The cameraman places the camera on the ground. All that can be seen is the cameraman's leather boots.


Conversation did not come easily for John and Bailey while they waited for their food. They grew less nervous after their second glass of wine, but they spent more time looking over their shoulders and keeping an eye on the staff.

Eventually, a man whose belly spilled out between the bottom buttons of this sweaty dress shirt arrived with two plates. His face was unshaved and his smile was littered with yellow and black teeth. He placed the two dishes in front of Bailey and John.

Immediately, they forgot about the waiter. They forgot about the restaurant. They forgot about the two hour drive. There was only the smell. The smell of fat and grease and blood. The smell of cooked innards. The smell of meat.


The padlock falls next to the ground. The cameraman picks up the camera, and slowly opens the door. It makes a creaking sound, that is barely heard over the wails from inside.

He enters the warehouse and turns on a flashlight.

On the left is a herd of cattle, fenced into a pen, shoulder to shoulder. There is no room for the animals to move. They are all facing away from the other side of the warehouse, and their noses are plugged.

On the right side of the warehouse is a pile of harvested cows. All of their fat, muscle and tendons have been removed from their bodies, leaving just skin, bone, and head. There is wriggling in the pile. The harvested cow heads wail and moan. The louder vocalizations appear to emanate from underneath the pile.

After lingering on the harvested cows for thirty seconds, the screen cuts to black. A title appears with the words "No More Cow Sleeves. Dissolve Williamson Farms.".

<End Video Log>


"Two ribeye steaks, medium, made from one-hundred percent real beef. Bone-app-a-tite," the waiter announced.

John and Bailey devoured their meals.

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