Indianapolis, Indiana, is a bustling metropolitan of nearly two million people after the recent
boom of industry and business. The hot place to be for fluffy trade in the mid west, and home to
regional offices and labs for dozens of biomed and medical companies.
Unfortunately, it also has the most overloaded fluffy shelter system after Portland and LA. For
every one fluff’s capacity there may be two or three of the biotoys crammed in. The local
hugboxer contingents, railing against the wall that is a government made up of republicans and
farmland democrats, made one step forward in their PETA-esque crusade.
They didn’t get fluffies recognized as animals. They have not managed to wrangle the law into
viewing fluffies as sentient beings either. However, they did manage to get legislation passed
to regulate the cruelty in shelters by phrasing it as a matter of hygiene.
At the primary state shelter, east of the city proper, a meeting was underway.
Paul was a big, heavy man with a perpetual wince stapled to his face. Little things always ate
at him, tinnitus, the screeching of his wife, the ulcers. He rolled a coin down his knuckles,
listening to two other people shout at each other.
Amos was an older man, and a hugboxer of the least sophisticated kind.
“Are you fucking kidding me? What are we going to do with these fluffies, we can’t just kill
the excess and keep the remainder that’s two-thirds of our stock!”
Sara was trying to keep him calm. It wasn’t working. She was weak voiced at the best of times
and currently was doing an impression of a very irritated mouse.
The row continued, Amos growing more and more red in the face, and Sara growing more and more hoarse.
Finally, Paul had enough. He opened the bottom drawer of his desk, and everyone shut up. It was
the first time he had moved more than his fingers and the coin in fifteen minutes. A short
rummage, and Paul set a bottle of Evan Williams on the desk, with a slightly stained rocks
glass soon after.
“Amos. Your heart is in the right place but the legislature was clear. Any public shelter
running more than a hundred and ten percent above capacity for more than a week will have their
funding cut until the problem is fixed. We’re running at three hundred fifteen percent. We have
five days to fix this.”
He pours himself a rather generous portion. “And what’s worse is we need to change how we run
the shelters to show that this isn’t going to be something that happens again. The time where
we can just warehouse them is over. I don’t know how we’re going to do this in five days but if
we don’t then we’ll have a whole lot of new problems.”
Amos sighs and puts up his hands. “Look, I know we’re in a tight spot, but we can’t just
abandon these animals.”
The trio look to the man sitting in the corner of the room. Connor, from Chicago. That’s how
everyone knew him. No surname, just Connor-from-Chicago. He was on his second pack of Dunhills by the open window.
“They’re not animals. They’re bio-toys. Amos I honestly wonder how the fuck you function
sometimes because by your logic we should be rescuing the fucking furbies and putting all the
tamagotchis on digital life support.”
“Listen here you little shit.” Amos began, but stopped as Connor stood up.
“No, I don’t think I will. You asked me for help and the only thing right now that I know would
help is if you would kindly put a cork in it and get the stick out of your ass.” Connor said,
popping his back from the long hours in a crumpled, beaten office chair. “The shelter system
has something like four million fluffies too many in Indiana alone. This is going to be a
growing problem. Can’t release them even if they’re fixed, can’t sell them for meat because
they’re from a non-FDA source. Can’t sell them to the biotech companies because they’re not up
to their breeding standards and they have their own supply. The only place left is adoption,
universities, or incinerators.”
Amos sighed and took off his shelter ID badge. “I won’t be a part of mass murder.”
Connor snorted. Amos shot him a dirty look, dropped his badge on the small table, and walked
Sara glanced over. “Ok, now we’re down one. What next, hot-shot?”
With a french inhale and a smoke ring, Connor pulled out a phone. “Now, I call in an expert.”
Sam’s phone rang, rattling on the desk. Lightning poked his head up from his bed, looking
around. After a few more rings, he jumped up on the office chair, and answered.
“Hewwo, Sam’s phone.”
The other end paused, a breath audible over the speakerphone. “Is… is this a fluffy?”
“Hewwo, I’m Witenin’. Sam in da showah. Can I take a message?”
“Y-yeah. Sorry, I didn’t know Sam had a fluffy. When he gets out can you have him call Connor?
I have a job for him if he’s interested.”
“Otay, I wiww-…” Lightning turned as the shower curtain slid open. “Pwease howd, Sam jus got
Lightning jumped down and trotted over to the bathroom door. “Daddeh! Phown!”
Sam slipped out of the bathroom with a towel. “Thanks Lightning.” He continued drying off,
leaning over the phone. “Sam here.”
“Sam, it’s Connor.”
A pause. Sam closed his eyes and sighed. “Oh god. You aren’t in jail again are you?”
“What? No. No, dude, I got a job for you. Also when did you get a fluffy, I thought you were
mister shitrat murderboner.”
Sam grinned. “Lightning is different. Very different. What job?”
“Murderboner type job.”
Pulling on a pair of sweats, Sam settled into the chair. Lightning jumped up on his lap for
scritches, which Sam obliged. “Ok you need to be more specific.”
“Indiana legislature just fucked over the public shelter system, but left the private one
unfucked. We want to hire you to come up and help us develop new policy for the public
shelters, and how to get things back on track. It’s a one, maybe two day job, and we’ll pay
your consulting rate.”
Three hours later Sam was pulling into a gravel parking lot in his borderline clapped-out panel
van, blasting Rush. Connor was waiting outside, and snagged Sam as he got out.
“Come on, let’s get lunch before I take you in there. You didn’t bring your fluff did you?”
Sam walked with him, looking around. “No, he’s with a friend I work with. Something you want to
keep private then?”
Connor glanced at him and kept silent. A block of walking brought them to a diner, run-down on
the outside but clean and warm on the inside, straight out of the sixties. They took a booth,
and after ordering, Connor took out a notepad from his breast pocket.
“Look we have a real problem. You heard about the legislation that passed, right?”
Sam nodded, and Connor continued.
“I was serious what I said on the phone. The problem is that nobody here wants to actually do
anything since that would mean being targeted.”
With a sigh, Sam leaned in. “You mean you don’t want to be in crosshairs. I also assume that
nobody there has balls enough to do the obvious.”
Connor nodded. “That too. The shelter system isn’t like it is in Illinois. They’ve got the
Republicans on one side cutting funding, and the hugboxers on the other wanting higher
humanitarian standards. The Democrats are waffling as usual.”
He leaned in, conspiratorially. “So I wanted you to come in because, well, you have a way of
solving problems like this.”
Sam sat, thinking as the meals were served. He started in on a reuben, the start of a grin
starting to pull at his mouth.
The shelter was a series of barely-heated warehouses. Fluffies sniffled and huu-huued in wire
cages, stacked head high. Food was a nutrient sludge piped in next to brackish water. Sam
watched a mare noisily eat, runny shit constantly dribbling from her soiled haunches. Some
looked up at Sam, eyes brightening, until they saw the ID clipped to his shirt pocket. The
lights overhead flickered occasionally as a freight train rumbled past.
The smell was beyond comprehension, the only saving grace being Connor’s cigarette smoke and a
generous application of mentholated nasal snuff. There wasn’t a single clean fluffy, some
stained with only urine and feces, others were jammed in mixed sex cages, covered in other
Sam looked over at Paul. “How many warehouses do you have?”
Paul sighed. “We have nine like this, and one more for storing vehicles and supplies and the
Sam turned back, looking over the railing down at the rows of cages, and the inch-deep layer of
fluids and waste coating the floor.
“Ok. We’re going to need interns or something. How many people can you get?”
Connor glanced over at Paul. “If we pull in everyone at all the regional shelters that’re free,
Paul nodded in agreement. “More realistic is twenty. I can’t compel them to come.”
With a sigh and a pinch of the bridge of his nose, Sam groaned. “Of course not. It’ll do. Get
them, and get some hoses and respirators. Take twelve people, put them in teams of four and get
them to hose out all the warehouses. Have the rest meet me at the storage warehouse.”
An hour later Sam stood in front of fourteen volunteers.
“Right, raise your hand if you give a fuck about fluffies.”
No hands went up.
“Thank god, we’re going to have our work cut out for us. First, get all the vehicles out and
get some tables set up, and the spare cages.”
Looking at each other, confused, the volunteers went about their business. Sam went over to
“I’m going to need an empty shipping container, a pallet of bales of straw, a hundred sheets of
plywood, and an oxyacetylene cutting torch.”
A few blinks, and Paul opened his mouth to begin asking, but Connor cut him off, saying, “We’ll
get them. What else?”
Sam popped his knuckles. “Chip readers and earplugs.”
The space was cleared, and the volunteers re-assembled. Sam held up a chip reader. “Right, most
of you know what this is. Tagged fluffies have data in a microchip somewhere. We’re going to
thin the population in passes, starting with chipped fluffs. You find one, pull their cage and
bring them here. If they’re in with untagged, bring 'em anyways and we’ll deal with them. We
have eight readers, so the rest of you will be using the laptops from the office. Take a
fluffy, scan their chip. Contact their owner. If the owner doesn’t want them, call the shelter
they were tagged at. If they say no, put them in the shipping container.”
Standing in the middle of the complex was a shipping container, freshly-cut vent holes in the
bottom and top. The interior had a layer of pallets down, and rails were mounted for plywood to
be slid in, letting multiple layers of fluffies be stored in relative comfort.
“After that, pull out the smarties, rapists, and pregnant fluffies. They get separated and put in
the shipper. Last, sick ones, or fluffies with significant behavioral problems like neuroses, refusal to use the litter-pan, milk thievery, shit mothers, all that. They go in the shipper. It’ll get tight
in there eventually but they’re going to have soft hay to lay on and we can feed in water and
food if this takes long enough.”
Sam finished installing the plywood and straw floors, and the one way wood flaps for the
fluffies to be introduced into the correct layers. The volunteers began working, while Connor
looked on, curious.
He knew Sam all too well. There was something to come.
Surprisingly, a lot of chipped fluffies were returned to their owners. Some reunions were
happy, fluffies apologizing in tears for getting lost. Others were more interesting, panicked
mares begging their humans not to take their leggies for running off and getting pregnant.
In the end the shelters were happy to take the unclaimed chipped fluffies, except for a few
that turned smarty. Over hours of work, the shipping container filled up with fluffies, the
slowly emptying warehouses were getting cleaner, and Paul was looking less and less stressed.
One of the volunteers came up to Sam. “Hey, the container’s pretty full, what should we do?”
Sam went over and saw that the volunteer was indeed correct. The fluffies could lay down but
there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room, and the smell was dense enough that it distorted the air
coming out of the vent holes.
“Right, follow Paul and start cleaning warehouse one and condensing the good stock into it. I
had him set up quick-rinse stations with warm water so you can get the fluffies clean. Make
sure he doesn’t skimp out on giving people gloves and the like.”
The volunteers went off, following Paul towards the first warehouse. Sam got a ladder and
bumped Connor. “Gunna need a hand.”
He set up the ladder and climbed on top of the shipping container. “Pass me that can of
gasoline would you?”
Connor looked at the jerry can, then back up at Sam. “You’re fucking kidding me.”
Sam shook his head with a big, cheery smile. “Not even remotely. Pass it up.”
After a moment, Connor sighed, and passed the gas-can up to Sam. Opening the vent and the
pour-spout, Sam went from vent hole to vent hole, pouring a generous amount of gasoline in,
working the length of the container. The fluffies inside bitched and moaned about ‘stingy
wawas’ and shouted demands or confused threats.
Sam climbed down and grabbed another can, inserting it in one of the bottom most vent holes and
pouring it in. “Good thing I took the time to stuff the pallets with straw, too.”
He walked back, running a fuse, and setting the gas-cans and ladder a safe distance away,
before glancing over at Connor. “You wanna do the honors?”
Connor shook his head. Sam lit the fuse.
Thirty seconds later, the screams of several thousand screaming fluffies were audible as far
away as Greenwood.
Two more days of work later, and the shelter was at seventy percent capacity. The fluffies were
all in individual cages, the floors were clean, and nobody was spraying sorry-poopies. Three
days of screaming, burning fluffies was enough to scare them all into line.
Sam drove away, with a cheque for several thousand dollars, and his face on a hugboxer website
as a mass fluffy murderer. The footage the picture was taken from was used as evidence in a
lawsuit to reverse the legislation that had been passed.
The lawsuit failed. Sam’s methods were used to strip down the shelter fluff population
Within two hours of his image going on the website, it was removed. The footage used in court
was distorted when Sam’s face was visible, and was obviously tampered with.
A federal investigation into the tampering resulted in no new information or actionable