The Tears Of One Thousand Generations

Professor Huntington closed his eyes and whipped the tarp dramatically from the enormous machine. It spanned the entire room, ceiling to floor, and was covered entirely in long, flat, brushed steel panels, creating a kind of false wall.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," he cried, spreading his arms wide, "I give you the baby crusher!"
The room was silent. Someone coughed. The scuffing of feet on the cement floor was clearly audible. Finally a woman near the front raised her pen timidly into the air. Huntington pointed to her.
"Yes, you there, the ill-proportioned woman in the two-toned body suit."
"Why on earth would anyone want to crush a baby?" she asked, shaking her head. "It's beyond the pale."
A murmur went through the crowd. Huntington gritted his teeth, clenching and unclenching his fists. Several of the reporters smirked and leaned forward, microphones extended eagerly.
"Hmm," Huntington said through gritted teeth "Any number of reasons, I suppose. One may have the need to dispose of a baby which had become a nuisance for some reason or another. Similarly, or one might wish to dispose of leftover babies from a large litter. This particular model, for example, can reduce an entire room's worth of baby to slurry in one go." he paused for a moment, adding "Although nothing is stopping the end user from using the machine to dispose of the carcasses of babies which have already expired on their own, I suppose."
"You suppose?" another reporter said, "Do you mean to say that you hadn't considered it?"
"No," Huntington said, a far-off look in his eyes, 'No I suppose I hadn't..."
He produced a small notepad from the pocket of his lab and began scratching out a note. Another reporter started in with a question but Huntington silenced him with an upheld index finger. He continued writing for some time, muttering under his breath and pausing to stare off into space. Upon finishing he snapped the notebook closed and looked expectantly out into the crowd.
"Might we witness a crushing?" came a man's voice from the back of the room. Huntington frowned.
"Most certainly not!" he shouted, leaning to look out at the man, "A true Crushing is an extraordinarily intimate act. It is between the operator, the device, and the child itself. Let me ask you sir, would you allow me into your bedroom as an observer while you and your wife were engaged in the furious act of love?"
"Well no, I don't suppose I would, bu--"

"Precisely my dear." Huntington snapped his fingers and rolled his bloodshot eyes into the back of his head, "Precisely the point. Now I would only ask that you do us all a service and keep that fool tongue of yours from lashing about for the remainder of this session."

The only reply was a muffled cough.
"Splendid." Huntington clasped his hands, "Now then: next question please. Be quick about it now."
No one said a word. Huntington scanned the crowd. Those in the front row averted their gaze or looked at the ground rather than meet his eye. He crossed his arms and glared.
"Nobody is leaving until I am satisfied that a sufficient number of relevant questions have been asked."
Huntington snapped his fingers twice. From the rear and sides of the room came the sounds of bolts and chains being placed upon the doors from outside. The crowd began to grow restless. Everyone began talking at once.
"SILENCE!" Huntington boomed, slamming his fist on the workbench with such force that the resulting boom echoed through the chamber for a few moments.
The room quickly quiet. Huntington began to pace along the edge of the stage, wringing his hands and cursing under his breath. Finally, from the front row a small voice piped up.
"Can it...umm, crush things other than children?" It asked meekly.
"No! Next question!" Huntington barked, fuming.
Again the room was silent. Huntington growled. He stepped forward and pointed to a tall, balding man in the third row.
"You there!" he cried, "Think of a question immediately or I'll have your scalp!"
"Uhh, uhh," the man quaked, opening and closing his mouth like a fish, "How d-d-dose it kill the children?"
"Oh my god." Huntington's threw his arms into the air, "Oh! My! God! You moron! You simpleton! You sniveling toad! How does it kill children? How does it kill children?! It CRUSHES them, you dolt! You gibbon!" He scooped a coffee mug from his desk and hurled it violently to the floor. "A more nauseating imbecilic question I could not fathom! The method of destruction is implicit in the name of the product, is it not? It is! You ass! You ass! You stupid, stupid, nincompopic, troglodytic ass!" tears ran down his face, "GOOD GOD IS THERE NO MAN WHO ALIVE CAN COMPREHEND EVEN THE MOST BASIC OF SCIENTIFIC FACTS?!"
The reporters were no longer paying any attention to him. A few chewed on the ends of their pencils, occasionally scribbling something or another out in their notebooks. Some had begun to gather at the doors, knocking and jiggling the handles, perplexed. Huntington stumbled about the stage, his head clutched in his hand. Finally he composed himself, walked over to a small gray console and pressed series of buttons. A thick plexiglass wall shot up between himself and the crowd.
"This batch is sour. It's gone bad. It must be destroyed," he muttered, shaking his head, "obliterated...extinguished," he paused, smiling, "Crushed."
Someone at one of the rear doors cursed loudly, punching and kicking at it while the others stood nearby, watching and scratching their heads. Huntington looked over at them, furrowing his brow, and then stabbed a few more buttons. The floor beneath him slid open and he began to descend into darkness.
"Hey!" a woman shouted, tugging on the arm of the man next to her and pointing, "Hey, hey!"
But Huntington had already vanished below the floor, the trapdoor sealing behind him. The glass walls slid back into the floor. An alarm blared. On the ceiling, high above, red strobe lights began to flash. A few reporters slapped their hands over their ears and looked about the room. The man at the rear door howled, heaving against it with renewed strength.
Suddenly the child crusher roared to life.
A series of screams erupted from the crowd. Jets of pure white steam hissed from unseen nozzles and the machine began to chug forward.
"We've got to get out of here!" an elderly man cried, pounding on one of the large doors, "We'll be crushed like puppies!"
"No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No!" Added another.

The machine increased in speed, rumbling and clanking as it made it's way across the room. A journalist in a floppy felt hat scribbled furiously in his notebook, glancing up periodically as it drew nearer. A small group had joined hands and were moving their lips in silent prayer. Others howled and clawed and threw themselves at the rear wall of the room. Scowling, a bearded man rolled his eyes and lit a cigarette, his hands shaking almost imperceptibly.
"Hey!" someone cried out indignantly, "You can't smoke in here!"
The man looked up with a raised eyebrow, and then at the crusher, which towered over then, now only a few feet away. He sighed, took a large drag, and then dropped the cigarette, snuffing it out with the toe of his boot.
"There," he said, as a throng of squirming bodies pressed in around him, "Happy?"
In the bunker below, Professor Hunting finished washing his hands and began to dry them on the white cotton towel which hung from the wall. He squinted into the mirror, picking carelessly at a piece of food between his teeth. He turned and started towards the door. From somewhere off in the distance came a resounding boom, vibrating the thick concrete walls. He paused. Silence.
Huntington scratched his temple and, flicking off the light, strode out into the hall. There was still much work to be done. The Duchess and her suitors would be arriving at any moment.
They were bringing their children.

Photo Credits
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