Planet B by Melanie Browne

They lived in the suburbs on Planet B.

In Autumn, the leaves fell.

They were protein-rich, with biosensors.

The housewives and schoolchildren couldn’t get enough.

The government was tickled pink.

“Mine tastes like cotton candy,” a little boy said.

“Don’t eat too many, you have to keep down your pimento cheese-flavored vitamin,” his mother said.

The vitamin transports were crowding the street.

Silent,with no color, people had gradually began to accept their existence without question.

The boy’s mother walked over to one of the trucks and began to flirt with the driver, hoping for favors.

“What a gorgeous day it is today, I just don’t know how you guys can stand to be delivering those boring vitamins on a nice day like today.”

The driver stared straight ahead, to make eye contact would only bring encouragement.

He knew another driver that was severely reprimanded after he fooled around with one of the mommies only a few blocks from here.

A formal reprimand involved a heinous court hearing and no vitamins while awaiting trial.

After a few weeks of no vitamins, many drivers went insane and were quietly thrown in the Oracle Sea. Their bodies would float there, never aging, like giant seagulls.


She leaned in closer, put her mouth closer to his face.

“The Great Benefactor Center is always open, no one goes in there except some old veteran from the Muckraker War. Meet me there at seven.”

She moved away from the truck and grabbed her little boy’s hand who had finished eating his maple leaf, a piece of it still stuck to the corner of his mouth.

“Come on Johnny, the sun is reaching the Orwellian Phase, last time it burned a hole in your leg and it took Dr. O’Brien four hours to fix it.”


At 6:45 the woman opened the doors of the Benefactor Center and walked around looking for the old man but only found his hat sitting on one of the tables in the great room.

She always found the great room to be disconcerting with its hunting trophies on the wall.

She had heard that in the old days a hunting trophy would have been of an animal, perhaps a zebra, rhino or a giant Buck, she had seen pictures.

Those people wouldn’t understand their ways now.

Her eyes couldn’t help but dart to the wall over the podium where the King and Queen of Zakuska’s heads were mounted.

“Good Morning Your Majesties,” she whispered, then walked quickly into the bathroom to freshen up.


The driver parked the vitamin truck outside and walked into the aging Benefactor Center.

“Hello,” he said, looking around.

She popped her head around the corner, feigning surprise to see him.

“I wasn’t sure if you could make it, I know how busy they keep you drivers.”

He coughed nervously and looked her in the eye.

“Well, I’m not technically allowed to fraternize, people have been known to take advantage, they get desperate you know, for vitamins, when the government makes threats, you know, they get scared.”

She grabbed his hand and walked into the hall and to a dark room at the end of the hall with tables and pictures of various officials on the wall.

“Get undressed,” she told him.

He quickly removed his clothes and folded his uniform neatly over a chair.

She stood watching him, her brain hungry for vitamins, her heart dim and deadened.

“Your turn,” he said.

She unbuttoned her blouse.


They fell asleep on the floor, the room still dark and warm.

“I just want a few,” she whispered in his ear.

The driver sighed and scratched the top of his head.

“We could meet again tomorrow, if you wanted,” she says softly.

He stood up and stepped into his uniform, snapping the buttons forcefully, trying not to make eye contact.

“Hey, where are you going? I told you I just need a few, please!”

He didn’t turn around. He knew she was groveling behind him on the floor, he knew she was crying, knew she was cursing herself for gambling and losing.


He drives the truck back into headquarters and turns in his inventory.

“What took you so long?” his supreme principal asks.

“I was watching the lithosphere evaporate.”

“Always the smart guy,” he chuckles.


Later, the driver returned to the suburbs.

He found the woman’s house.

He walked in and found them asleep on the couch.

A book on the history of the world was heavy in her lap.

He aimed his weapon and pressed the button, vaporizing the woman and her son.

When he walked back to his truck, the street was still and quiet.



One thought on “Planet B by Melanie Browne”

  1. Mindlessness, joylessness, sadness, disappointment, exploitation, seduction, blind acceptance, violence—that’s the history of the world for a lot of people, right?

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