The Ruling Class Feasts

This was later.

Hillary ran to the crashed airliner, but not because she was hungry. She’d walked for days through blackened plains, where all forms of life had vaporized and the few buildings that had stood were now woven into hellish rockscape—was very hungry, yes—but she ran to help the survivors. There were none on board, though she’d seen the plane flying low, heard it crash. There was a full flight of corpses still buckled in and one engine burning. She walked the aisle, nudging bodies to see if someone was alive and unable to scream, then sat in the main exit hatch for an hour, thinking that there might be food in the west, but that she had to survive to get there.

She dragged a corpse out through the emergency exit to the engine, stood it on its feet and leaned it over the fire with a harness of linked seat belts. The corpse fell in when the harness snapped. It ignited at once and had become black powder and bones by the time she’d dragged out another. She laid the second corpse on the wing and kicked it near the first. A new chain of seat belts was tied to its foot, and she had wrapped the free end around her fist.

“I will not pretend she’s a cow,” she said. “The cows are gone. I have to get used to it.”

She dry-heaved over the edge of the wing, and stayed there, eyes on the corpse until it was cooked. She dry-heaved again as she yanked it back from the fire and as she dragged it into the plane. She left it in the first-class aisle, and hunted down a steak knife in the galley. There was a dinner tray left there, but she grabbed only the knife and a club soda. She had planned to adjust and she would.

Wiggling and sawing with the knife, she pried off the corpse’s arm, the most human-seeming piece that she thought she could stomach. Then she sat on the floor with the arm in her lap and stared into the faces of the passengers. None stared back.

“I know what I’m doing,” she told them.

She raised the arm to her mouth and then heard a scuffling. She was caught, and she turned slowly to see by whom. It was just Donald. She had thought he might be close behind. He stood in the exit hatch, his burnt and scraped scalp now infected. He was sweating and out of breath, and he licked his lips at her food.

“Help yourself,” she said. “Cook a few while you’re at it.”

She held eye contact and bit out a chunk. It took effort not to dry-heave.

They sat at a safe distance from the plane, finishing their first meals since the blue haze. The smoke that had followed that haze had cleared, but the sky was the colors of sunset at noon. A last chunk of muscle sat on top of a stacked pair of suitcases. Neither touched it for a moment, and then Donald gave it a pinch with his pinkie extended.

“Don’t mind if I do,” he said and pulled off a few strands with his teeth.

There was more cooked meat in the suitcases, but Hillary left them zipped. She watched him greedily slurp at the last piece and tried not to feel sick—she would not allow herself to throw up in front of him.

“Now hear me out,” he said, picking his teeth with his pinkie. “And I preface by observing that we will go mad if we don’t entertain ourselves.”


“We set up a polling booth, or have a huge tea party. If you’ll look the other way, there was one in there with quite a figure. Or we set up a semicircle and finish our—”

“I will murder you and then feast if you touch another passenger.”

“Look who respects the dead when she’s full.”

The plane exploded. They both flinched at the boom, though they had thought it would happen. A fireball climbed the purple sky. He looked upward.

“You’re right!” he called at the sky. “It’s false equivalence!”

Hillary was smiling.

“That’s the first one,” he said.

Her smile dropped. She said, “You’ll carry the suitcases, and I’ll wait for you.”

“I get it,” he said. “Now you have an outrageous position from which to haggle. The battle commences.”

“I won any battle when the plane exploded. The food is coming with me. You will carry the bags, and you will eat lightly from here on. I don’t want your company, and, carrying both, I can outpace you.”

He considered.

“My scalp is infected,” he said and covered his mouth to burp. “I may need tending.”

“Which passenger, Trump? Was it the preteen?”

He smirked.

“Kick me out of the NFL.”

“We are not making deals.”

Later, she kept him in front and in sight as he dragged her suitcases west.

“You got conned. These have wheels,” he said, and then got her smile wrong again. “There’s the second.”


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