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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Junk Food (08/30/12)

TITLE: Empty Calories
By Timothy Klingerman


“The new artificial foods are ready, sir.”

“Artificial? How many times must we have this discussion? This is an all natural product, Michaels. As the product’s chief architect, you should not need reminding.”

“If by ‘natural’ you mean all the components are found in nature, then I would agree. However, we have combined them in ways that do not occur in nature. We have created foods that look, taste and behave just like those occurring in nature, while having no nutritional value whatsoever. Still, if you plant their seeds in the ground, they will grow like any other plant of their kind. That just seems unnatural.”

“Well, it may seem that way to you, Michaels, but did you ever stop to think that some people are tired of naturally-occurring foods, healthful or not? Men don’t want to settle for the natural order of things when they can establish a new order of their own. That’s why they will be drawn to our product even though it can’t satisfy their fundamental need for nutrition. It will feed a more base hunger than that.”

“Then by your own definition, it is unnatural.”

“Wrong! I believe it is perfectly natural for man to pursue his own way, rather than to be always subject to nature. He is himself a part of nature, isn’t he? Why then should mankind’s creative activities be considered unnatural? Should man have to be subject to the tedious rhythm of a ‘natural’ existence? He should not! That is why this product will appeal to everyone. It is an escape from the natural order of things, yet it is created from natural things. It is a triumph of man, by man, and for man.”

“It is certainly a departure from the created order, but it is hardly an improvement, or triumph, as you claim! Our own research has shown that—”

“Our research? Don’t you mean your research—that I funded? As I remember it, you were the one who developed the theories; you only needed my money to bring them to fruition. Now that you’ve lost control of what you created, you want to give me equal credit for the science. Not a very ethical solution to your moral problem, is it, Michaels?”

“What I developed was meant to help people struggling with obesity and eating disorders. I didn’t think far enough ahead to realize that it would become a disorder of its own.”

“Spare me the sob story. What you have created is everything you conceived of and more. It will allow people to eat as much as they want without any of the natural consequences. What you failed to see was that your creation would trigger an addictive response in people; that being able to constantly satiate their hunger with no nutritional component would release powerful chemical highs that would lead to binge eating and the pursuit of other sensual pleasures. The world will thank you later.”

“Will they? I think not. You and I both know the rest of the story. The research told a darker tale. People preferred our product to naturally-occurring foods. They found them more satisfying than foods that actually provide for their dietary needs. They suffered malnutrition during the study, because they refused to eat anything but our product. With their hunger completely and continually satisfied, they were unaware they were starving themselves to death.”

“It’s all in the fine print on our website. You needn’t worry about any legal consequences—“

“Oh, there will be consequences, though legal may not be among them, thanks to the fine print! Well, I plan to go public with all the details. I’ll move them from the fine print to the headlines; even put them on a marquee if I have to! How would you like that?”

“Very much indeed, Michaels! By all means, tell them of the dangers—that will only excite them all the more. They won’t be able to resist it then. And when they do examine it closely and try it for the first time, their eyes will be opened. They will see that it is pleasing to the eye, good for food, and that they surely will not die.”

“I’ve heard that before.”

“Yes. And the result will be the same this time too. Man simply cannot help himself.”

“I am going to fight you anyway, sir.”

“Excellent. Make sure you tell everyone not to eat it. I am counting on it.”

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This article has been read 385 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/06/12
This is a super creative tale. You definitely went outside of the box on this one. I have to give you props for your brilliance. I sense there is a much deeper message to this story. The more I read, the more I believed this was an allegory for homosexuality. Now perhaps I'm wrong and that wasn't your intention but I can clearly see the thread that ties it together and think you did an outstanding job of writing on topic while delivering a subtle, yet important message. Wow!
Brenda Shipman 09/07/12
Very clever! You did a good job of getting inside the mind of depraved man, as well as what God says in His word.
Lois Farrow09/07/12
Very well written and quite chilling. Michaels was very brave standing up to the other, but he actually wanted the bad publicity. Very clever.
Danielle King 09/09/12
Deep and dark, clever and creative is what comes to mind.

You've put together a truly unique story and written in a gripping style. Great job.
Genia Gilbert09/10/12
This is a unique take on the topic. I found it thought provoking and quite interesting. Good writing!
Myrna Noyes09/11/12
WOW!! Very creative and extremely disturbing! You have man's depraved human nature down pat! Michael's boss has such a sinister, twisted mind; but unfortunately, his predictions are on target!

On the moral level, mankind seems to be sinking faster and deeper into deception and darkness, and your story sounds that warning.

Excellent job!
lynn gipson 09/11/12
On the level with alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, or even too much sugar or salt, people, when told it is not good for them, we do it or die...I understood this. and thought it was brillant! God Bless
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/13/12
Congratulations for ranking 13 overall!