Nobody knows how the first Weaselfolk came to be, but we know they were first noticed in Chicago. If we still had scientists — and science in general — perhaps we’d still be trying to figure out their strange physiognomic and, above all, psychological origins.
At first they were just a public nuisance. People assumed regular weasels were just getting larger. Then they began walking on two feet, using their hands more dexterously, and communicating with a variety of sounds, from hisses, short breaths, growls and shrieks. It was only when they began trying applying for jobs, renting apartments, and wearing suits, that people started to worry. By then every major western city had a Weaselfolk population.
Weaselfolk are incredibly inept at some of the most common of society’s tasks. They cannot cook, clean, take care of people, take care of private property, or handle any sort of mundane repetitive task. As it happened, a lot of them gravitated towards banking, insurance, real estate, copyright and patent law.
The only problem was, these institutions were dominated by people who were very protective of their jobs, their companies, and the industry as a whole. They had history, they claimed, and a code, and Weaselfolk would absolutely spoil everything.
That’s when the Weaselfolk riots broke out. Delegates were sent to communicate with the Weaselfolk leadership, except the two groups still could not understand each other, though some suspected that the Weaselfolk understood English perfectly and we’re just faking it.
The police, the riot squad, and eventually the army came in but the Weaselfolk were resilient, and no matter how many Weaselfolk were beaten, tossed in jail, gunned down and otherwise slaughtered in the streets, their numbers never seemed to dwindle. Weaselfolk reproduce very quickly, and in large numbers, and each newborn grows to maturity in less than one day.
Finally, an adjunct professor of ethical philosophy at the University of Chicago — the Weaselfolk’s “hometown” so to speak — came up with the idea of the game.
After the game was introduced into Weaselfolk culture, the rioting and infanticide and cannibalism and necrophilia all stopped. So did the rapid and massive Weaselfolk reproduction flatten out. The game so preoccupied the Weaselfolk, that all the rest of us had to do was allocate a portion of society’s wealth to maintaining pleasant conditions for them to play.
Professor Shoehorn, the inventor of the game, has never been able to adequately explain it to any of us: not its rules, not its objective, not its logic. Nor has any acceptable theory ever been offered as to why the game worked so well with the Weaselfolk. All he left us with were simple instructions for us to follow to keep the game going. We should never have executed Professor Shoehorn.
This is how The Weaselfolk Game played out: Every major western city would dig a massive pit, preferably on the exact spot where a central square or prominent crossing was. Then we’d pave and carpet and paint the pit to give it a cold office look. Then came the objects. As per Professor Shoehorn’s instructions, it should begin simple: a shoe lace, a slice of white bread, and a half a gram of gold.
The objects would be thrown into the pit, ruthlessly fought over by the all Weaselfolk inside, and eventually claimed by winners.
Afterwards, the Weaselfolk would begin bargaining and negotiating with one another to exchange the objects, and they’d do this in the most civilized manner. At first, the second part of the game went quickly, but as more objects were demanded by the Weaselfolk — who started managing to speak in single simple nouns — the exchanging part of the game became increasingly elaborate and lengthy.
Next round was a live calf, a German-English dictionary, a McDonald’s Big Mac, 100 pounds of printer paper, and a pickaxe.
After that was any 19th century edition of Moby Dick, a synthesizer, a police officer’s uniform, a Louis Vuitton purse, a row of seats from a Paris Metro car, a box of live worms, a Fast and the Furious DVD box set, a stainless steel kitchen, a sheet of LSD tabs, and 1% of the globe’s corn.
Then it was FC Barcelona, 50% of the world’s sugar, the Hoover Dam, all the real estate in Tokyo, Vancouver and Seattle, all the world’s supply of penicillin, a hundred thousand penguins, several GM plants in North America, half the German pension fund, Nigeria, the rights to every song whose titles begin with “I”, The Sphinx in Egypt, the Ebola virus, Russia’s gas, and the Great Barrier Reef.
And after that it kept going.
Eventually the game pits dug for the Weaselfolk were becoming so wide and so deep they were tripping fault lines and causing spillage of industrialized amounts of poisonous spume and storms of gene-mutating cloudstuff. The Chinese were the first to drop nuclear bombs in their pits which subsequently sunk all of America. The Europeans instead incorporated the pits into the Union and nominated members of the Weaselfolk as EU Commissioner and President of the ECB.
Meanwhile in every underdeveloped part of the planet, where hunger meant cannibalism and love was retroactively defined as rape, local populations began resembling the Weaselfolk: first in speech and mannerisms, and later, in appearance. This evolution reached a point such that anything slightly humanoid-looking would either be persecuted into the underground or put on television as contestants in a new game where the winners got to keep the losers as slaves for life. Cooking, cleaning, taking care of people, taking care of private property, and handling all manners of mundane repetitive tasks.
— Michael Zunenshine is a collection of mismatched machine parts from Montréal, some of which do writing while others do posting as @RealityTVDinner. Read some more work at Expat Press, Close to the Bone, Terror House Magazine, Soyos Books, and D.F.L. Lit, here: linktr.ee/realitytvdinner.