Review: “An Unfortunate Incident at the Slaughterhouse” by Harper Hull

4 of 5 stars.

Included in Extreme Zombies edited by Paula Guran, this short story marries the 1993 Mad Cow Panic to the contemporary concerns over GMOs. The narrator works at a modern, “organic”, non-GMO farm in Cheshire, England that has both Herefords for slaughter and Friesians for milking. He and his work-pals, Will and Jack, notice a sick milking cow attacking, biting at, other members of her herd. The madness spreads to a couple of the bitten cows. In short order, all of the sick cows are killed, a few others have been trampled. A vet, Dr. Bloom [“Dr. Doom”], takes blood samples from the dead cows while milk distribution is suspended. Beef distribution has not.

It’s not long before some of the Hereford’s start to exhibit strange behaviors. . . .

There are so many reasons to love this story. Firstly, it shows the first moments of the “sickness” and the actions of the Patient Zero. Secondly, the cautionary tale so closely echoes the dozens of farm-infection scares that make the news every year and the reactions to head off disaster. Thirdly, it centers the questions What are we putting in our bodies? and What is going into the bodies of the certified-safe animals that are farmed for human consumption? This tale is highly recommended.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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