Behind Paleo Lines

Behind Paleo Lines

Behind Paleo Lines

It was my lunch break when I got a first hand taste of the Vegan-crazed frenzy that was sweeping San Francisco.

Ever since that documentary came out, things were getting pretty weird. Though, at first, I didn’t pay too much attention to it. I didn’t even see the stupid movie. I didn’t really care.

I walked a few blocks down to my favorite burger restaurant. I don’t think I noticed at the time, but nearly everyone I passed was barefoot. They had this gigantic burger covered in heaps of pastrami and Swiss cheese. I’d go in every couple weeks to get one. Sitting there eating that burger at that divey, old burger joint – that was my happy place.

“I’ll have a number five with a side a fries, please,” I said.

I didn’t recognize the cashier at the counter even though I’d been going for years. I thought he must be a new guy. He had long grungy hair, handmade bracelets covered his arms, and he wasn’t wearing any shoes.

“Will that be with tofu, seitan, or soy beef?” He asked.

“Funny,” I said. “Just a normal number five. Beef-beef and pastrami will be just fine.”

The cashier just stared at me and shook his head. He pointed to a giant sign posted onto the overhead menu that read: NO MEAT SOLD HERE! MEAT IS MURDER!

I hadn’t noticed it. I usually don’t look up at the menu.

“That’s a joke, right?” I said.

“We haven’t served animal products in this establishment for three entire days, sir. Now, if you’d like to choose from a tofu, seitan, or soy meat entrees or one of our many salads, I’d be more than delighted to take your order,” he said.

The restaurant had gone silent. Everyone in there had stopped eating and talking and was staring at me. Their plates were covered in lettuce, broccoli, and meatish-looking meatlike-substances. I left confused, bummed, and hungry.

The rest of that week, my other favorite restaurants followed in suite. The street-taco stand around the corner. The deli near the marina. Even the place that used to ONLY sell cuts of steak.

Maybe I should have taken it all as warning signs and got out of the city while I still had the chance. Maybe this would have been a good excuse to move to Canada. But I stayed.

Businesses all but shut down. The Vegans had created some sort of barter and trade communal economic system. Urban (or ex-urban?) farms sprung up all over the city, as did hydroponic farming operations inside the old office buildings. No one wore shoes at this point. The weirdness was continuing to escalate quickly.

It wasn’t until that group of radical Vegans set all the cattle lose and shut down the freeways that I finally decided to make a stand.

I asked my neighbor, who I knew to be a Vegan before all this started, why they did it. The freeing of the cattle was the major turning point in all of this – interstate commerce, most transportation, even communication all shut down.

“It sends a message, man, there’s more than one way to skin an almond, my friend,” he said. “Change for the better is coming.”

“You mean a cat?” I said.

“Don’t be so insensitive,” he said and left.

Despite the all namastes, the first days of the Vegan takeover were chaotic.

Some parts of the city looked like an apocalypse had hit. While it was non-violent for the most part, once local and state government shut down, the police weren’t able to contain things. Any vocal meat-eater was “peacefully” forced the fuck out of town. From what I could gather from early news reports before everything went dark was that the situation was pretty much the same along the rest of the West Coast and most of the East Coast. If you ate meat, you were banished to middle America. I don’t think anyone ate anything but meat out there anyways, so that part seemed to work out. I had to assume that aside from the influx of banished meat-eaters, life was pretty much functioning as it usually did outside the Vegan strongholds.

I hoped so anyway, because it had been over two weeks since I’d had a burger and I wasn’t planning on going any longer.

That afternoon I packed bag and left my apartment. My plan was to get a vehicle that I could take off road or plow through abandoned cars if I had to. With all the cows, I knew it was going to be slow, but I figured I’d best be prepared.

A few miles from my apartment I arrived at a deserted Hummer dealership. Most of the cars outside had been destroyed by activists, but it looked like there were a few good ones inside the showroom.

I was dressed in full riot gear that I’d found abandoned along with a couple of police cars. It looked like a failed attempt at a roadblock or riot control or something. I would have taken one of the cruisers had they not been filled with dirt and converted into flowerbeds.
As I approached the entrance of the showroom, a skinny, barefoot yogi-looking guy dropped his can of organic spray chalk and scurried away. He almost finished the big graffiti message he was working on: LET THE DINOS REST IN PEACE. FOSSIL FUELS ARE MURDER!

The nightstick I picked up made quick work of the locked door. As the crash of broken glass settled, I heard hurried footsteps around the corner. I headed towards them.

As I rounded the corner down a hallway, a door at the end had just shut. I snuck towards the door to try to listen inside.

“Shhh, they’ll hear you,” a voice from behind the door whispered.

“Are they going to eat us?” another said.

“No. That’s definitely not Vegan, no way,” said another.

I knocked on the door with the nightstick.

“I’m not here to hurt or eat anyone. Just looking for some keys,” I said.

“Shit, I told you to be quiet!” one of the voices said. “Go away! Please, we don’t want any trouble.”

“No trouble, just need some keys. I’m on a mission to get out of here and get a burger and I’m growing impatient,” I said.

“Do they eat burgers?” someone said. “I don’t know.”

“Uh, what kind of burger are you going to eat?”

“A fucking meat burger made from a goddamn cow. Now please just give me some keys,” I said and the door slowly swung open.

Behind it crouched two men and one woman. They were wearing rustled, dirty suits and looked like they hadn’t slept in days.

“You don’t look or talk like one of them,” one of the men said.

“One of who?” I asked.

“The VEGANS!” the woman said.

“You’ve got to excuse us. We’ve been held up in here ever since things went crazy. They started burning the cars outside, they forced most of the other employees out of town. We managed to hide out until we could get most of the doors locked or barricaded. We were all salespeople here,” the other man said.

“Right. Well I’m sorry to hear all that. Anyways, about those keys,” I said.

“Yes, yes. Certainly. After that documentary, less and less people were buying Hummers. Said it didn’t map to their worldview anymore. Then once everything got out of control people started actively destroying them. You can have your pick, here’s the keys,” he said.

I took the keys and headed back to the showroom. I picked the biggest Hummer in there.

“Any gas in the service department I could have before I go?” I asked.

“Well, uh, yes, but…” one of the men started saying.

“Only if you take us with you,” the woman said.

We loaded some extra cans of gas into the back of the Hummer and left the city. My plan was to head east, get clear of all the Vegans, and eat a burger or a steak or something. I knew, it’d be slow getting there, but I didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was.

Almost instantly upon entering the freeway I had to weave through a maze of abandoned cars. Shortly after that we got our first glimpse of the liberated cattle.

As far as I could see, clogging every inch of open road, were cows. I slowed the Hummer to a crawl, honking now and again, trying to gently nudge the cows out of the way. For the first hour or so, we inched along in silence. That was until the ex-hummer-saleswoman noticed a Crossfit billboard on the side of road.

“Crossfit! Man, do I miss it. Ever since this all started, I haven’t been able to do my workouts of the day. The gym I’d been going to was right in the heart of downtown. It was the best place, seriously. The gym owner introduced us all to this thing called the Paleo diet. Basically you eat like cavemen did because, well, cavemens’ and womens’ lives were pretty much like Crossfit all-the-time. Carrying giant sticks and rocks around, running from dinosaurs and saber tooth tigers and whatever else they had to run from. So we would eat high protein, high fat, low carbs, no processed stuff. I swear, once I switched, I could actually sit there and watch my muscles growing,” she said.

She continued on for what seemed like five hours. Keeping my attention on the cows and the excruciatingly slow progress we were making made it easy enough to drown out her babbling.

“There look, look, look!” She yelled as loud as she could, breaking the wall of zen I’d built up around myself.

Up ahead just off the freeway was a big brick building – an old warehouse or something. Leaning against its side were giant tractor tires and thick rope. In big, bold letters across the front it said: CHRIS FIT CROSSFIT.

“We’ve got to stop! There might be more Crossfitters and Paleos in there!” the woman said.

“What difference would that make,” I said.

“They’d probably want to join us!”

I hadn’t thought about it much, but from the bits and pieces I caught from her monologue, it did seem like these people liked to flock together and follow one another. If she was right, who knew, maybe I’d be able to rally together some sort of pseudo-movement as an opposing force to the Vegan controlled East and West.

We parked in front of the building and approached the front door. A metal slat slid open.

“Password,” the doorman asked.

“Uhhh, let’s go with ‘Dollar sign’-’pound’-PaleoCrossfit123,” I said.

“You missed a ‘dollar sign,’ but it was close enough. You may enter,” he said.

The building was full of lean, sweaty people wearing tight fitting tank tops. There were weights and equipment strewn about. Basing off all the sweat, I assumed they were in the middle of a workout.

“May I ask what brings you here, stranger?” the doorman said. “If you’ve come for protein powder, I’m afraid we’re almost completely out.”

“We’re just passing through, on our way out of Vegan-occupied territory,” I said.

“This is an awesome gym you guys have got here. Just, wow,” the saleswoman said.

“To whom do we owe this pleasure!” a voice shouted from across the building.

The dense crowd of Crossfitters parted as a tall, lean-muscle, bald guy made his way to the front. He wore a cut off tank-top that said: CHRIS FIT! CROSSFIT! GET FIT!

“Would you look at that? My shoe’s untied,” he said as he got to the front and stood with his chest puffed looking at us.

The doorman knelt to the floor and began tying the guy’s shoes.

“I’m Chris Fit, this is my Crossfit gym, and these are my Crossfit gym members,” Chris Fit said with his arms extended. “What brings you here?”

“We’re just passing through. Headed out of Vegan-occupied territory. Going to make a stand. Fight the good fight, you know?” I said trying to mask the underlying sarcasm in my tone.

“Who? The four of you!” Chris Fit said and started laughing. His gym members started laughing with him. “You’ve come here for bodies then! You’re forming an army. I like it.”

“Well – not…”

“Please, there will be enough time to discuss strategy and tactics later. Now tell me, how’d you get here? The roads are pretty clogged up. I’ve been sending runners to some other gyms in the area to keep communication open, but we haven’t been able to acquire a vehicle to get us through.”

“We’ve got a Hummer,” I said.

“Excellent! That’s what I’ve been waiting for!” Chris Fit said. “What did I tell you all about the power of manifestation? See! It works. I’ve been trying to work up a plan to get farther East. We’re nearly out of whey protein powder. I haven’t had a skinless chicken breast in weeks. My body needs animal protein to survive! How else do you think I maintain all this lean muscle?”

“Sounds like you guys are in. Great,” I said. “But I did say we have a Hummer. Like a single one. We can only fit one more person in it.”

“Obviously,” Chris Fit said and started laughing again. “I’ll be driving. You four can ride along. My gym members, well it was supposed to be a cardio day anyway. Plus I’ve got a killer circuit for them to do. And while I usually avoid beef – it’s too fatty for my liking – I think we’ll solve our meat deficiency pretty easily once we get going.”

And almost as quickly as I’d formed a Paleo-Crossfitter resistance army, I’d all but lost control of it. I wasn’t going to try to see what would happen if I told Chris Fit no or that I’m in charge. Whether I liked it or not, I was along for the ride.

Chris Fit instructed his doorman, who weirdly catered to his every wish, and his gym members to rally up all the push carts from the back and to build make-shift carts out of some of the old tires, weight racks, and bars.

Within minutes, the parking lot was full of carts. The Crossfit army was jumping in place and stretching their arms and legs, taking their final sips of the last of their protein shakes.

Chris Fit took the keys to the Hummer and we followed him inside of it. He rolled down the window and signaled over to his doorman-assistant-guy.

“I’ll need three groups of carts on each side of the car. One near the front, one in middle, one behind. As the carts in front get full, they’ll cycle back and the next group will relieve them. We’ll continue until we reach our destination. Should be somewhere around the Nevada border. You got that,” Chris Fit said. “Relay that to the other groups. Follow my lead and try to keep pace. I’ll stop and let the carts catch up every few miles.”

Chris Fit fired up the Hummer and revved the engine.

“What are all the carts for?” I asked.

Chris Fit just laughed.

“Seatbelts fastened?” He said. “We’re in for a long, bumpy ride, folks.”

“We’re not going to be able to go all that fast. It took us nearly all day to get out of the city,” I said.

“And would you look at that, you’ve answered your own question, amigo,” Chris Fit said.

I didn’t follow at all.

He gunned the engine and did a lap around the parking lot. He pulled out and stopped just before the freeway entrance.

“This is where it gets fun,” Chris Fit said.

The ex-Hummer-salesmen were silent in the backseat. The saleswoman had borrowed some workout clothes and joined the ranks behind us. She said she was dying for a good workout.

Chris Fit hit the gas and peeled out onto the freeway. An endless wall of cattle was all that was ahead of us. He wasn’t slowing down.

The Hummer barreled into the first cow and sent it flying up into the air. A splatter of blood dusted the windshield.

The cow came crashing down in a heap onto one of the cart pushers. He crumbled under the weight. The rest of the pushers hoisted the cow onto the cart and kept moving. I noticed someone hustle back to check the man’s pulse and shaking their head. He took his hand away from his friend’s neck and hustled back to the cart.

“Woowee! Heads up back there!” Chris Fit said with a smile. “Guess that one was a little too rare for his taste.”

Chris Fit chuckled and just continued driving.

The next cow went flying forwards and fell limp on the road in front of us. Chris Fit plowed right over it. The Hummer bounced. A different cart group steered its way towards the dead cow, hoisted it up, steered back into formation and continued on.

Several hours later, the front of the Hummer and the windshield was almost entirely covered in blood. The carts were beginning to fill up with (mostly) dead cows and when I looked behind us, I could almost trace a trail of bloody tire tracks and athletic shoe prints all the way back to the gym. I guess they’d be useful if we ever got lost.

Chris Fit came to a stop to let his gym members catch up and take a quick rest. He pulled the windshield wiper controls to try to clear some of the blood. It just smeared it around.

“No fluid! Bummer,” Chris Fit said and motioned towards his doorman.

The doorman came running to the car and removed his tank top. He hopped up on the hood and began scrubbing at the windshield.

One of the ex-Hummer-salesmen opened his door and vomited.

Chris Fit started laughing.

“Come on man! Someone’s gonna step it that!” Chris Fit said. “You’re sick.”

The windshield was cleared up and Chris Fit called his doorman to the driver’s side window.

“How we doin’ back there?” Chris Fit said.

“We’ve lost seven so far,” the doorman said. “Four were crushed by cattle. The others were too exhausted. Couldn’t continue.”

“Sounds like we’re stronger for it. We ready to go then?” Chris Fit said. “Still got some light left.”

“Light?” I said. “It’s two in morning. I can’t see a thing.”

“Moonlight, smartass! Hello!” Chris Fit said and whistled to his gym members to continue.

Despite the weight of the carts under the cattle corpses, the Crossfitters continued on. As dawn broke, the cattle herds seemed to thin out a little. Enough so that Chris Fit didn’t feel the need to hit every single one of them.

“Think we’ll have plenty of food once we reach our destination,” Chris Fit said. “We’ll store what we can, but tonight, we feast!”

By late morning, the Hummer died near the top of a rise in the road. It was either due to a lack of fuel or cattle guts clogging the intake – probably a bit of both. The gym members heaved the carts full of dead cows up to the top of the hill.

As we all reached the peak, we could see a large building off in the distance and to our right a sign that read: Welcome to Nevada.

It was an abandoned port of entry checkpoint. After the cattle were released and everything shut down, I guess there was no use for it. It seemed a good a place as any to set up camp, or as Chris Fit would call it, build an army.

A few abandoned freezer trucks were still cold enough to store a lot of the cows. The rest were butchered by an assembly line of Crossfitters and cooked on a giant makeshift barbecue.

I’d gotten my wish. I’d be eating some steak. And since there was nothing else I felt I could do, I decided I’d enjoy it. I mean, shit, it was the whole reason all this started in the first place. I felt oddly accomplished.

The port of entry had a big empty garage attached to it. Chris Fit instructed his Crossfitters to set up tables and chairs for the feast. By the time the room was set, it resembled the set up I’d imagine would be found in a medieval castle’s dining room. There was a raised chair and table where Chris Fit was already sitting. As the cows were cooked, they were set up on the table in front of him on overflowing platters. The other tables were set up so that everyone eating would have a direct view of Chris Fit.

The steaks finished cooking and everyone filed into the makeshift dining room.

“Everyone!” Chris Fit stood and said. “We’ve come a long way! We’ve lost some good people getting here! But now, it’s time to celebrate, it’s time to feast. I’ve earned it. You’ve earned it. We’ve all earned it together. Now let’s eat!”

The room erupted in applause and cheers. And while it could have at least used some salt and pepper, it was the best steak I’d ever tasted. (Despite the utterly – no, not udderly – inhumane manner in which they were slain.)

As everyone finished eating, Chris Fit shared his next plan of action, or rather, gave his next set of orders. He said our resistance needed to make our first stand against the Vegans. His plan was to secure enough territory so he could begin to build a bigger army and stop any mass Vegan migrations. He said we needed to secure our territory.

Groups of Crossfitters were ordered to gather all the bones from the cattle we’d hit and head North and South. They were to lay the bones down in a line to mark the border between Vegans and Crossfit-Paleos. When they ran out of cattle bones they were to head back into Vegan territory and collect some more. After a few weeks and a couple of thousand dead cows, the Western bone line was drawn.

Word spread of Chris Fit’s army and meat-eating survivors in the West flocked to us en masse. In the East, refugee camps had been set up to handle the influx of meat-eaters during the first mass migrations. Many of the refugees left the camps to join Chris Fit’s ranks.

Numbers grew as more and more Crossfit-Paleo fanatics from both the coasts and the refugee camps joined the resistance. Command posts sprung up all along the Vegan-Paleo borders on the East and West.

Big signs were hung at each of the command posts that read: Meat-Eater Safe Zone. Refuge to those who join. Prison for all Vegans.

Months passed and our – Chris Fit’s – army grew. Most of Chris Fit’s time was spent traveling the bone-border checking on this army and giving new orders.
He put me in charge of the port of entry for whatever reason. I thought it was pretty clear I was just there for the free steak.

My orders were simple enough: Make sure his Crossfitters continued doing their workouts of the day and consuming enough animal protein. Arrest any Vegan that showed up. And hold any other travel until Chris Fit could question them and find a place in his ranks for them personally.

I hadn’t seen anyone in a while, and the first rule pretty much took care of itself. These guys seemed like they were always in the middle of some high intensity training circuit.

The Vegan-Paleo Crossfit war, if you could really call it a war, was really nothing more than a childish game of don’t cross this line or I’ll scream. Neither side had attempted anything resembling an offensive attack. Judging by Chris Fit’s prior actions and reactions, I was thankful for that.

It’d gotten to the point where I thought I’d never see another “normal” person again. Most of my time was spent in an old office room inside the port of entry.

I was moments away from settling in for my afternoon nap when a sweaty Crossfitter came bursting through the office door.

“Commander, sir,” he stood and saluted.

“That’s really, really not necessary,” I said.

“Sorry, sir. Two travelers on the horizon. Headed this way,” he said. “We’re bringing them to you now.”

“Great…,” I said, rolling my eyes.

Two men with hipster mustaches wearing ironic eyeglasses and skinny jeans were escorted into my office.

“Listen man,” one of the men started. “We told your friends already, we seriously don’t want any trouble, we’re just trying to get some In N’ Out burgers, man.”

“I can’t believe this is happening again,” the other said.

“What do you mean again?” I said.

“We’ve been held up in some Vegan border checkpoint for the past two weeks,” the first one said. “They were force feeding us tofu and vegan cheese and making us watch food documentaries all day.”

They said their names were Theodor and Michael. They played flute and bass, respectively, in some Vegan Cavemen Band back in the city. For some reason, the band became one of the mouthpieces of the Vegan establishment – singing propaganda songs and rallying folks together and stuff.

Theodore said the band’s lead singer had a big hissy fit after a concert and they decided to head out for some burgers. I could definitely relate.

“Listen guys, I feel what you’re going through. Unfortunately, my hands are sorta tied. The guy who’s running the show is pretty nuts. He’s going to have to talk to you guys before you can leave. He comes by every couple weeks, so he’s due for a visit soon,” I said. “We’ve got plenty of steak.”

“Oh, shit! Alright then!” Michael said.

The office door burst open again with another Crossfitter. He was crying.

“Siisii, Sir. I’ve, I’ve – I’ve got some really… Really bad news,” he said between sobs. “It’s C-C-Chris Fit, he’s… he’s dead.”

“Ok… What happened?” I said.

“The, the Mexican military. They shot him!” he said. “Chris Fit was trying to borrow one of their tanks so we could make a real stand against the Vegans. They thought he had a gun and they shot him. It – it was just a cow femur.”

The Crossfitter couldn’t choke back his tears any longer and rushed back out of the room.

The phone on the table started ringing.

“Hello?-

-Yes.

-What do you mean it’s over?

-No, no. That’s great news!

-Yup. For the most part.

-Okay, thank you!”

I hung up.

“What was that about?” Theodore said.

“It’s over. All of it!” I said. “Some study or something claimed vegetables have feelings and the Vegan establishment has collapsed. And with Chris Fit dead, we’re home free.”

“Well, shit. Gonna have to pass on those steaks then,” Michael said. “If you’re headed back to the city, you want to come to In N’ Out with us?”

“Yeah, you’re welcome to join us,” Theodore said. “I think I can still taste the vegan cheese. I’m just about dying for a real hamburger.”

“Me too, Theodore, me too.”