All images from Pixabay unless otherwise noted.

Mejan wondered if she’d made the right decision in caving to her son’s desire to visit the zoo. It was a place she didn’t approve of. On the one hand, it bred endangered animals for future release into the new wild zones. That part she liked. But it also preserved certain native species too dangerous for freedom, creatures forced to endure long lives in cages, denied their natural habitat and the opportunity to breed.

“I want to see them,” Benzi said, his heart set on viewing the latter in their high-security enclosures. “I need to write a report about an animal for a school project.”

Mejan’s nose wrinkled at the thought. “Why not pick a different one? An elephant or tiger? Something less scary.”

“I’m not a little kid.” Benzi huffed a challenge to say otherwise. “My teacher said the government is thinking of exterminating them, and I don’t know if that’s righteous. I want to see them for myself.”

Righteous? How could she argue with her junior professor and his big words? They stood in line for tickets to the exhibit. Benzi was ten, and his argument told her the time had come. The truth about these predators couldn’t—and shouldn’t—be denied him. A terrible choice was being discussed in every corner of the planet, and clearly, children his age weren’t ignorant of the debate.

An underground tunnel with collapsible gates led to the section of the zoo reserved for the threatening creatures. It ended at a spacious courtyard, and once she’d stepped into the sunlight, Mejan’s worries receded.

Wide bricked paths wandered toward the cages, and Japanese maples grew from round plots planted with colorful violets. Hummingbirds zoomed between branches and sipped from feeders. A butterfly garden overflowed with Monarchs, the latest species on the mend.

“This is much nicer than I expected,” she said as her son jogged ahead to the largest enclosure.  She hurried to catch up and stood protectively beside him as he hooked his fingers on the chain link fence. A second fence, an electrified version, stood ten feet farther in. A stagnant moat wound between them.

She drew in a breath as six of the animals ran from their community shelter.  They shrieked at each other in their rapid language.

Mejan winced. Not good. But before she could suggest they try a different area, three of the large males pounced on a female. One punched her in the face as another tried to breed with her. The female screamed as a male heaved up a rock and smashed one of the species’ rare youngsters in the head. The little one crumpled and mewled in the dirt.

In a panic, Mejan grabbed Benzi’s sleeve and dragged him from the fence. Her heart pounded in her ears as she fled. Near the butterfly garden, she squatted and stared into her son’s terrified eyes. “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have brought you here. I’m so sorry. Let’s go.”

“But my project,” Benzi whispered, his jaw quivering. “Can we find some who aren’t fighting?”

“I don’t know. They’re all violent.”

“All of them?” A tear caught in his lashes, and he blinked it into submission.

She nodded and hugged him, furious at herself. “They killed off the peaceful part of their species decades ago.”


“Let’s get ice cream.” She pointed a thumb at a colorful stand with a pink awning. “We need a break from this.”

“Okay, but you still have to tell me why.”

Peppermint ice cream provided Mejan with a needed excuse to sit on a shady bench and regain her composure. Benzi’s tears had dried up, but not his questions. “You still have to tell me why they kill each other.”

Mejan blew out a sigh. “No one really knows the answer, love, because their behavior makes so little sense. Researchers think they have something wrong with their brains. Some sort of dominant genetic defect. Supposedly they’re brilliant, but until we moved here, they used their intelligence to find newer and more effective ways to kill each other. For generations, they killed without shame–other animals, butterflies and bees, trees, and plants. They destroyed everything necessary for their own survival, including their air, water, and soil.” She shook her head in disbelief. “They even wrecked the weather.”

Benzi gave her a quizzical look. “The weather?”

She shrugged. “I know it’s hard to believe, but yes, even the weather.”

They finished their ice cream and dropped their sticky napkins in a recycle bin. Hand in hand, they strolled down the path, seeking a quieter enclosure. Benzi halted. “When did they start killing their offspring?”

Mejan’s shoulders slumped as she faced him. “I don’t know. But think about it. It’s hardly a surprise that one day they’d aim their weapons at their young. What still baffles our researchers is that they didn’t seem to mind all the death. In fact, their leaders made it easier and easier to keep killing.”

“That’s why we keep them all in cages, I guess.”

Mejan wrapped an arm around his shoulders as they walked. “Yes, that’s why.”



He gazed up at her, a somber cast to his innocent eyes. “I don’t think we need to exterminate them.”

“Why, Benzi?”

“Because we don’t kill on purpose. And I think they’re going to finish the job without us.”


Guns are the leading cause of death for US children and teens, since surpassing car accidents in 2020. 

The AR-15. Promoted as “America’s rifle” by the NRA (National Rifle Association). It shoots 45 rounds per minute and is the weapon of choice for shooting children in US schools.

Final image compliments of Wikipedia

207 thoughts on “Extermination

  1. This is a powerfully written story!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Nicole. Sometimes I just have to share what’s on my mind, and a story is a good way for me to get it out of my system. I’m not without hope, but my heart is still broken for all the victims. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jennie says:

    My goodness, what a powerful story, especially the ending statement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was having a bad week when I wrote this, Jennie. More little kids losing their intensely precious lives. It just makes no sense to me at all, which I expressed through the characters in this story. I do have hope though. The sad thing is that change won’t happen soon enough for many. Hugs, my friend.


  3. Resa says:

    Le Sniff!

    …. but true.

    A chain is as strong as its weakest link.
    Civilization is as peaceful as its most violent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A rather dark tale, Resa. But when I wrote this, it had been a terrible week here and every day since there’s been a mass shooting on the news, mostly of teenagers. It’s baffling to me (like it is for the characters in this story) that nothing is done to stop it. Hugs, my friend. ❤ ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Resa says:

        I watch from up here in Canada.
        It’s far from perfect here, but the gun thing in the USA is a unique beast.
        Even if strict laws were passed, there are already more than enough firearms in circulation to keep the murders going.
        The black market would flourish.
        I’m not sure what happened, but the government here was working on a law that would require a special permit to buy bullets.
        85% of guns crimes in Canada are committed with illegal guns smuggled in from the US.
        Hugs to you, my friend. ❤ ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        • OMG. I’m so sorry that the gun violence from the US is spilling over into Canada. I know the US addiction to guns can’t be completely cured, but there are lots and lots of things that can be done. Liscensing, permits, registration, training, higher minimum ages, mandatory locked cabinets, a ban on assault weapons, and accountability. No one is accountable here.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Dalo 2013 says:

    Every now and then, I feel that humans have evolved to a much greater level than thousands of years ago, but I read such a powerful story as you have created here, Diana, and I see in important areas we have not made much headway. There is a line that really caught me: “A tear caught in his lashes, and he blinked it into submission.” It made the story, even in all its gloom, hold a piece of hope for us all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m hopeful too. Our younger generations here are fed up with guns, and within the next decade things are going to change for the better. But I feel so sad for the people, expecially the children, for whom it will be too late. They will lose their one miraculous life. It upsets me that this doesn’t matter to so many people and occasionally I need to vent a story. Keep reflecting beauty and heart, my friend. That makes a difference.


  5. Linda Raha says:

    I read this yesterday, but I needed a night to ‘sleep on it’ before commenting. Very grim indeed! I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. I too, lost a brother over thirty years ago. I did not lose mine due to an act of gun violence. My prayers are with you and with all families that have lost a beloved. I strongly believe that with faith, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26) Therefore, we have hope for a better future…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading, Linda, and I understand the desire to sleep on it. Every once in a while I just need to share that this isn’t okay with me. But I also feel a lot of hope as the young people who are fed up with guns become voters. They will take care of what their parents and grandparents haven’t the courage to do. And I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. I know he’s in your heart still, as is mine. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. judeitakali says:

    What a powerful poignant and profound story, horrifying and beautifully crafted. I appreciate you so much for this, Diana. It may not be guns from where I am, but everything rings true. In a different guise.💔

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jude. It’s disorienting that some human beings can be loving and generous, while others are bent on cruelty and destruction, to the point of ruining their own chances of survival. Gun violence here is rampant and it seems that children are the targets more frequently. It’s insane. I’m sorry that violence is a problem in your country too. It seems to be everywhere. Thanks for reading and for the kind comment. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Powerful and visceral read Diana and so important. It’s chilling really love your sentences. Loved this line “A tear caught in his lashes, and he blinked it into submission.”
    It’s a sad truth that our voices have been hushed with ice cream and crazy peeps but still we speak up and pray for peace.. Great imagery! 💞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading, Cindy, and I’m glad you liked the writing. It’s a topic that really gets to me. I wanted to express my bafflement and sadness. Yes, we should pray for peace, and keep spreading the kindness. ❤


  8. My goodness. That was so chilling. Egh. I need ice cream now.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow. A powerful inditement, D. One of the most effective I’ve read. Thank you. If the majority of Americans were allowed to have their say, the worst of this problem would be solved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for reading, Curt. I rarely get this political on my blog, but there’s a point when I just can’ keep the old mouth shut. And you’re right. Most Americans are willing to do what it takes to protect children and other victims, of which my brother was one. Hugs, my friend.


  10. A riveting story touching on so many elements in our lives today that need redressing, guns are not the weapon of choice in the UK and Ireland as there are stricter gun controls but they are still on the streets and these days knives seem to be the weapon of choice and unfortunately it is the young who feel the need to carry and use them in turf wars and sometimes for fun. In history we have seen the pendulum swinging to one side or another but it always swings back again and I do feel the that is about to happen as the public begin to voice their disapproval.. ♥♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to read my grim tale, Sally. As dire as it is, I sense that people here have finally had enough. Things won’t change over night, but I’m hopeful that the pendelum is swinging in the right direction. Sadly, I think people will always find ways to kill, but anything we can do to prevent it, is worth the effort. Hugs. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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