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Updated: May 21

Flash Fiction by Nick Parker

title card for Chapulines by Nick Parker

Chapulines. Bugs. I know, I thought it was gross at first too, but we need to eat. I mean, it sure beats life back home. At least here I don’t have to worry about where my next meal will come from. We’ve got a system. We all pitch in. It’s simple. Elegant.

Sometimes I wonder why this wasn’t how things worked back home. It would have been—it would still be—so easy to make things better. You’d just have to make things a little less extravagant at the top so that the bottom has enough to thrive. It’s not a zero-sum game. If we all thrive, we all thrive. Things got so bad back home because so few wanted so much. It’s a shame, really.

But here I am, eating bugs.

It’s not that bad though. If prepared correctly, they are actually quite delicious. Boil ‘em Batter ‘em. Fry ‘em. Toast ‘em. Spice ‘em. You can put ‘em in anything. You can even grind them up and make a sort of flour out of them and make protein bread, yum!

I think the hardest part to get used to is the legs. They have a tendency to get caught in your throat. It’s a pretty disgusting feeling, especially if you remember they are legs. My trick is to chew more than I think I should and close my eyes while I swallow. But you know what they say? Protein is protein.

Protein is important. It's the building block of amino acids. Without protein we can’t make more cells. And without more cells we can’t survive. For long distance space travel, and the subsequent colonization of an alien planet, we need a sustainable food source. One that is small enough to transport but can replenish itself indefinitely with very little input (they eat plant scraps that are inedible to humans, and you can even feed them the parts of the grasshoppers we don’t use)! The best part though, is you kill them painlessly by flash-freezing them. Plus, they have a long shelf life, you can use a single harvest year-round!

You know what’s not sustainable? Meat. The cattle industry is what destroyed the atmosphere. You’d think it was fossil fuels or nuclear war or Taylor Swift’s private jet, but no, it was billions of cattle. Two hundred and twenty pounds of methane per cow per year, and at its peak there were two billion cows on the planet. That’s 440,000,000,000 pounds of methane per year!

Home. I really need to stop calling it that. It’s not like I’m ever going back. Nope. This is my home now. For now, at least. In a few years we’ll land on New Earth. I’ve been brainstorming ideas for what to call the first settlement, and I think I’ve landed on New Plymouth. You know, like where the first European settlers landed in North America? Hopefully there won’t be an indigenous population like there was back then. I’m not really sure what we’d do then. We didn’t bring any weapons. 

This is the first rule of space travel: No weapons in space. 

The second rule is we have to eat bugs.

The chances of there being any intelligent life in our new home is extremely low. The first thing we’ll do after we set up our habitat is to begin terraforming. We don’t actually know what the atmosphere is made of. We did send probes, but we didn’t have the time to wait for them to arrive before we set out. We’ll, hopefully, receive the signal sometime soon!

I know what you must be thinking, if the rich caused all the problems back home, who sent us? Who paid for this expedition? Aren’t we just the people who caused the apocalypse escaping?

Well, it was one rich man, not the richest mind you, said he saw a vision from God and sold everything he had to build the Ark (that’s what this ship is). He took donations from all over the world—thousands of other families sold everything they owned and poured it all into this Ark project. My parents were one of these people. I didn’t have a say in this. I didn’t have any money; I was only eight! I’m sixteen now.

One of the other kids, Timmy, said that we abandoned everyone back home. That if it was really God that gave The Prophet the vision, if he even had one, then why did he only save us? I think Timmy’s right. If God were God, then he could have saved the planet and he chose not to. No. I think it was fear that drove this exodus. Fear and a lack of faith in humanity to right its wrongs. I think we did abandon the Earth. And for what? To spend the rest of our lives eating bugs?

They’re not that bad, though. Once you get used to the legs.


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