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A Kept Species

It was a bloodless conquering, as they went.
The aliens ships deployed missiles the size of roses' thorns, and sleeted down over our cities. They interfaced with the internet, uploaded themselves into our computers and phones, and seized control.
We spoke to them, in our panicked self-texts and google prayers, and asked:
"What are you doing? What do you want?!"
They replied:
Do not fear. We love you. We have come to take care of you.
They burrowed into the planet's crust, and built machines below the surface--machines that cleaned the air, that produced food and medicine, that offered abundant free energy.
The aliens were gentle about it. Despite mankind's frenzied efforts to shoot each other and nuke, well, anything, they took our toys away before we hurt ourselves.
A decade passed, as they turned their technology towards providing for us. The coming of the aliens was the end of scarcity, and, for a while, humanity could hardly believe its collective luck.
There was panic and dread and frenzied debate, of course:
Erudite professors arguing that altruism and compassion were the natural end-state of a sufficiently advanced species, saying that it is only natural that a species for whom interplanetary travel is effortless would spend a penny's worth of their phenomenal cosmic power to uplift us.
Firebrands on the radio reminding us that pigs are fatted before the slaughter, and everything has its price.
Reality was nuanced, as it often is. In this case, unfortunately, both sides were right.
The aliens loved us... or, more precisely, they found us endearing. Precious.
It wasn't long before they started to breed us for cuteness.
It's a genetic disorder that's been with us for ages--though, is "disorder" the right word, if it's desirable?--called Williams Syndrome.
Historians speculate that it might have been the origin for legends about elves. Those with the condition are profoundly trusting, with a carefree mindset, perfect pitch, and a bubbly, shallow intelligence--a "cocktail party temperament."
And stunted stature, abnormalities in the eyes and teeth, and decreased lifespan--but it seemed those were worth the cost.
The aliens really love those little guys.
We watch as a group of Williams--all smiling huge, laughing delightedly together--ascend the ramp up into the alien ship. They will travel the universe together, to witness untold miracles.
We weren't invited.
I can't help but wonder what wolves think of dogs.
A cunning tactical mind, made lean and decisive by evolution's bloody eons... deliberately bred into gullibility. And smaller, too, because who cares about spinal structure, when, oh, look!
It fits in my purse!
Do wolves hate dogs? Do they feel a contempt for their cousins, who accepted our poisonous bargain? Come inside, to the warmth and food and head-pats... and surrender your species to us. Let us make you our accessory.
Maybe I'm projecting. Maybe I'm just jealous of the Williams.
After all, I'm not allowed in the house.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, October 12th, 2020
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