The Troogs took four centuries to understand the planet and to take control of its once dominant species—humans, segregating them into four castes according to their experience of human beings.Troogs first captured surviving children, then tamed them as "housemen". Pet-keeping spread. Zoos of children, mainly brown or yellow skinned, were reared on a bean diet. Once their pets reached adolescence, they were put in captivity for breeding.
After the innovation became too general to suppress, Troog elders hedged the practice with laws. Pets should be killed if it fell sick, and thus, pets had short lives though in some cases they try to save an invalid favourite from death.Within two generations, Troogs had become carnivores. Capons, naturally preferred when young, became the second and largest human caste. Those alive after childhood were kept in captivity maintained at 22 degrees. Capons were not permitted to see the sky or smell unfiltered air. Females preferred to males and the eradication of the tongue quietened the batteries.
The third category—ferocious hound-men—were kennelled as far as possible from the batteries lest they escape and massacre hundreds. None were kept alive after the age of thirty.
Paradoxically, the hound-men survived on the quarry they hunted: the fourth human caste, the caste most hedged with laws.
Troogs preserved a caste known as quarry-men or game, were protected within limits and seasons. Only at the five-yearly Nova Feast were all rules abandoned. Academically minded Troogs studied their behaviour-patterns. It moved Troogs to see some men still frequenting the repositories of human knowledge, despite libraries being a place of danger for the quarry-men.
Millions of the superstitious had identified the Troogs with angels. Few quarry-men lived past thirty and most men dreamed simply of a longer and easier existence.
The first human to be approached by a Troog was Blake, who had studied idealists. These inspired him to speculate the precipice-question: might not the Troogs have conscience? In the corner watched by Shakespeare, Blake found a large rusty typewriter. In it was a sheet of paper:Are you ready to communicate question.
Blake typed: yes.
The days that followed constituted a continual séance between "his" Troog and himself. The Troog admitted that they never ate flesh before the Nova and that protein to them is what alcohol was to humans. Encouraged by evidence of soul, Blake brought to the Troog's notice, from the miscellaneous volumes on the shelves, quotations from his favourite writers and narrative accounts of such actions as the death of Socrates, the crucifixion of Jesus. The last message came days later where the Troog explained that one cannot exile himself from your groupas a Troog. Blake shook as he read. His woman had been taken to the Nova.The Troog's confession was humble, that if they ate no capons, no one would feed them. If they hunted no quarry, nobody would make the game laws or keep the hound-men.
“At least now they live, as we do, for a season. And while they live, they are healthy. I must stop. My stomach, sits heavy as a mountain."
And then out of the darkness loped three hound-men. All around was the squid-like odour of their master.
Cruel as it may seem, one can only marvel at the whole concept the story brings out. This story is unrecognizably the paradox of we ourselves as humans and the way we treat our animals. Note that I say “our animals” because we are currently the so-called masters of the planet.
Yet never have we thought of the day where we may end up like our lowly cousins. Today, an increasing number of us are slowly turning to a vegetarian diet. This, perhaps, is one story worth including as part of any vegetarian promotion campaign.
Human habits such as domestication and game hunting or keeping animals as pets are clearly demonstrated in the story, except this time we are the domesticated, we are the hunted. Even the last caste of humans listed applies to us—making use of members of wild life to hunt another species of wildlife, or even the cruel entertainment of turning raging beasts into creatures of entertainment as in the case if bull fights.
So there is one thing I have to say. If you read the story and nodded to every line with realization and had humbly told yourself that the day will come where the world might end up like this, then you are aware of what you are doing every time you slice through your rib eye steak.
If you read the story, winced, and said, “touch wood”, then perhaps you have not gotten the point of the story. Be more open minded and stop taking your current position as a human being for granted.
As a lover of meat, I have to admit that this story is the most effective thing so far that has been able to make me stop and think. But then it became apparent to me that there is nothing wrong with being omnivorous. Don’t all beings have a choice of what the want to eat? Even in the early years, we humans have been born hunters. Just as carnivorous beast hunted their food, humans hunted as many animals for food, for survival. It has always been a born instinct. And does it mean plants that we consume are lifeless? Does it mean they have been made for food just because they cannot convey thoughts and feelings?