The Fallacy of Mother's Milk

She picked absently at the sores that covered her body. The baby's wailing continued.

"Would you feed that thing?" Her husband's voice was weak and sickly, but didn't have far to travel from the bed behind her.

She grudgingly climbed out of her ragged chair and made her way across the trash strewn floor. Fleas danced about not heeding her footsteps. When they landed on her they would stay, peppering her legs. She lifted the screaming child out of the clothes drawer they used as a crib. She made no comforting sounds and slung the child over her shoulder.

She made her way down a long hallway absent of doors except for the one that ended it. The door opened to another room in disarray. The stench of garbage and sewage spilled out into the hall. She had to step over a broken hat rack that had fallen in front of the entry.

In the center of the room lay the dead lioness. The machines that controlled the animal's biological functions stood from floor to ceiling around the perimeter of the room. The mechanical humming, the clicks and beeps punctuated the child's crying. Hoses, tubes and small rectangular ducts connected the massive machines to the beast. They snaked along the floor and hung from the ceiling, penetrating the corpse at multiple points.

She put the child down next to the artificially warm animal. It found a teat and immediately began to suckle. The now solitary noise of the machines was comparatively quiet. It made her dizzy and she put a hand against the wall to steady herself. Her heart filled with rancor for the child as she watched it suckle and knead at the lioness' breast. She had stopped wondering centuries ago when her punishment would end, but still couldn't resign herself to the child's torments.