Pork Rib for your Thoughts
by S Shane Thomas

“It’s okay Cocoa,” Doctor Simmons assured. “Our lives aboard the colonial starship have built up to this moment.”

The doctor’s reassurance worked wonders to soothe the nervous chimpanzee. Cocoa, a mild mannered and social animal, now looked on edge due to the vessel’s landing preparation sequence.  The colony hosted a half million human inhabitants as well as what Doctor Simmons lovingly referred to as Noah’s Arc; a collection of Earth flora and fauna both living aboard the vessel and stored in artificial wombs for introduction to their new home world. Humanity could not conceive of completely detaching itself from its fellow Earth species even when traveling for generations aboard a city sized vessel to populate another habitable world. The Earth habitat sections of the colonial starship also produced some of the ship’s oxygen as well as dairy products. Doctor Simmons had forbidden nearly all meat consumption since its cost in space and resources drained the confined habitat impractically.

Cocoa stroked the cheek of another animal dozing peacefully as the ovoid colony slid with some friction into their new world’s atmosphere. The chimp gazed into Simmons’s gray eyes. A smile creased the woman’s age worn face.

“That’s right Cocoa, I helped the others sleep so they would not be afraid or hurt themselves as we land. It could get rough.” Doctor Simmons got the strange feeling that she knew exactly what Cocoa thought, not just the usual guided conversation based upon mutual observations. She felt almost as if Cocoa’s thoughts appeared in her mind. “That’s right. You were not put under because you had a reaction to the tranquilizer before.”

Cocoa thought something more reassuring about her interaction with Doctor Simmons. The human’s jabbering seemed to form notions that the chimpanzee could understand. The pair held hands and gazed out a porthole as their home slid into place at the base of a mountain.

Doctor Simmons and her staff grew overloaded with work during the following days preparing the Earth Habitats for the colony’s partial dismantling. After hours her colleagues gave one anecdote after another about the strange understanding between their animal charges and themselves. During the conversation they became startled by their ability to know what the other person would say.

In the weeks that followed the landing humans and Earth animals all demonstrated their ability to communicate complex notions telepathically. The colony’s scientific community roiled in uproar over the predicament. Nearly everyone delighted in the inexplicable change, except for the colonists who looked forward to consuming meat again now that resources permitted sustainable ranching practices.

Nearly every species found their niche within an ever increasingly diverse community of humans and sentient animals. Primates soon aided in construction and exploration missions, birds served as small parcel delivery curriers, and cloven animals helped with the heavy lifting. Chickens, bees, and cows happily assisted in food production and considered their eggs, milk, and honey their contribution to society. Pigs took a different view of their situation. They demanded better living accommodations and luxuries other animals afforded through their wages. The colony practiced democracy, but its social assistance program bankrupted within months due to the hogs.

At last, carnivorous species of animals as well as humans discontent with the arrangement found a solution to keep their delicate new society prosperous. A simple surgical procedure disabled the hog’s ability to hold sentient thoughts. Within days the smell of bacon permeated throughout the community. Every creature had their own contribution to make.

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