“You’re too young to go on protests!” Claire’s mom told her again.
“But mom! I’m thirteen now!” Claire insisted. “Loads of other teens will be there! Its important!”
“No Claire, you’re not old enough.”
“But Mom! Governor Quimby says he wants to build a wall between America and Canada! To keep Canadian fluffies out, and he wants to make it legal to kill fluffies any way people want to. They’ll kill millions of them mom!”
Claire was on the verge of crying. She couldn’t believe that so many cruel people wanted to vote for Quimby. He was ahead in the polls by a long way, and if he was elected, fluffies everywhere would suffer, not just in America. Claire’s mom sighed and looked at her daughter.
“This is really important to you isn’t it?” she asked Claire.
“Yes mom, yes it is.”
“Okay then, you can go, but I’m going to come with you. You’re not old enough to be unaccompanied.”
Claire stood in the rain, holding up a banner saying “Human Rights for Fluffies”. Nutella was strapped to her chest, in a carrier that was really designed for human babies.
It was a miserable protest. At first they had chanted and sang songs, but then the skies had opened, and the downpour had washed away most of their enthusiasm. Most of the other schoolkids had left, taking their fluffies with them. Now, Claire and her mom and a hard-core of PETA activists were all that was left, chanting and waving their banners outside the Vancouver City Hall.
“Down with Quimby!” one girl chanted.
“Fluffies have human DNA!” yelled another.
Claire just shivered, and hugged Nutella closer to keep her warm. The rain had soaked into her fluff and the poor creature was sodden.
“Mummah-Cwaire?” the fluffy asked her, “How wong tiww home tiem? Nutewwa nu wike wain, it am cowd.”
“Just a bit longer…” said Claire, reassuring the miserable fluffy. Half of her wanted to go home too, but the other half of her knew it was important to stay.
“Don’t worry Claire,” Angela, the purple haired PETA leader told her, “The city councillors have really got the message today. The last of them will be leaving the building to go home soon. We’ll wait till they leave so they all know how important our struggle is.”
Angela’s conviction really stirred something in Claire’s heart. She remembered all the horrible pictures of fluffy abuse she had seen on the PETA forums, pictures that had made her cry. If good people like her didn’t make a stand, people all over the world would think it was OK to abuse, hurt and kill fluffies. The UN might designate them as biotoys after all, rather than giving them human rights. It wasn’t a world Claire wanted to grow up in.
“HUMAN RIGHTS FOR FLUFFIES!” Claire yelled at the top of her voice, feeling her sadness turn into anger, even as she blinked back her tears.
“Human rights for fluffies!” the rest of the group chanted, taking Claire’s lead. For a few minutes, Claire led the group in chanting, and they copied everything she said. Angela gave Claire a hug, and wrapped a blanket around her and Nutella, to keep them warm.
A few moments later, the last few stragglers from the city hall emerged from the building and into the freezing autumn rain. As soon as the city politicians saw the PETA protestors, they ran for their cars. An unfortunate few had to flag down passing taxi cabs, and they attracted the majority of the protestors ire.
“Human Rights for Fluffies!”
“PRISON FOR QUIMBY!”
“Fluffies have human DNA!”
The protestors shouted and chanted at the city councillors, who tried their best to ignore them, but managed to look angry, scared and embarrased, all at the same time.
“Fuck off hugboxers!” yelled a fat taxi driver, leaning out of his window, “Quimby’s right, fluffies are vermin! Just like president Supreme.”
“FUCK YOU!” Yelled Angela at the fat man, who drove off shaking his head.
A couple of other cars honked their horns, but whether it was in support of the protest, or in dispute of it, Claire could not tell.
Suddenly, Claire heard a squeal of brakes. A large, black pickup truck had ground to a halt a dozen yards away, and two guys in the back started to hurl eggs and rotting vegetables at the protesters. A man standing next to Claire and Angela was hit in the face by an egg, covering him in rotting goo. The men in the truck hurled abuse and laughter along with the rancid trash.
“YOU ASSHOLES!” screamed Angela, and led her cell in a frenzied charge towards the truck. Caught up in the moment, Claire started to follow.
“No! Claire!” she heard her mom yell after her, but it was too important. Claire ran towards the truck.
The men’s amusement soon turned to fear as fifteen people holding wooden stick banners charged towards them, howling for their blood. One man hammered his hands on the roof of the pickup’s cab, and the driver soon reacted by speeding away. Other other man dumped something on the floor with a wet thud, just before the protestors caught up with them.
Claire and the others shouted and screamed at the abusers, calling them every name under the sun. There was something liberating about hearing adults swearing and angry, and knowing their cause was just. Claire let the rage flow through her. Then, she saw the fluffies.
On the floor, in a slowly expanding puddle of blood, was a disembowelled fluffy mummah. Her legs were feebly twitching, and a gurgling sound came from her throat. A chirping noise alerted them to the new-born foals, who were impaled on barbed wire, and wrapped around the mother’s neck like a hideous necklace. All the fluffies had been horribly tortured, and were going to die. There was nothing Claire could do about it.
“Noooooooo!” Claire howled in anguish. “Noooooooooo!”
Adult hands pulled Claire away from the dying fluffies, trying to reason with her, to comfort her, just to make her look away.
“No! Let go of me!” Claire argued, “I’ll kill them! I’ll KILL THEM!” she screamed with rage.
“Claire!” Angela said, placing her hands on Claire’s cheeks. Something about the serious look in Angela’s pale green eyes made Claire’s anger turn into tears.
“It’s OK,” said Angela, hugging Claire close to her, as Claire cried into her chest. She felt her mom hugging her too.
“Why? Why did they do that?”
“Because they hate us,” was Angela’s simple answer. “But its OK. We will stop them.”
“How can they be so horrible?” Claire asked, crying in her new friend’s arms, “Why do they want to hurt fluffies so much?”
“Because they’re evil,” Angela told her, “But we are good.”
Later, when Claire got home, she found Alice, playing with the fluffies. The fluffies were being their usual innocent selves, playing games, blissfully unaware of the horrible world that they lived in. Just imagining why anyone would want to hurt them made her heart ache with pain. Humphrey was showing Nutella how high he could stack blocks, making the younger fluffy giggle every time they fell down. Humphrey kept trying though, and was telling Nutella he could stack the blocks “Twelve-teen high”.
Alice looked over her shoulder, and met Claire’s gaze. The poor girl looked haunted. Claire had no idea how she would have felt at Alice’s age if her parents had been near to divorce, let alone if she had found out she had been adopted. Even playing with the fluffies was doing little to distract Alice. Gone was the innocence of the girl who played with the fluffies on the beach just a few weeks ago.
“Was the protest good?” asked Alice, looking up at her with sad blue eyes “Did you stop the mean people from hurting fluffies?”
Claire remembered the disembowelled mummah, and her necklace of dying babies.
“Yeah… yeah it was good. We got the message across. They know we hate Quimby.”
“Quimby is a meanie,” said Alice.
“Yeah… yeah he is,” Claire agreed.
“Mummah-Cwaire!” interrupted Humphrey enthusiastically, “Humpfwee hav made a bwocky Pywamid, it am twewve-ty bwockies high!”
Alice turned and giggled, “Its only FIVE blockies high, you silly fluffball!”
“Siwwy Awice, Humpfwee can count weaw gud.”
For a moment, Alice’s innocence had returned.
Later that evening, Claire was finishing her homework for school the next day. Alice had gone out with her father, so apart from the fluffies, Claire was alone.
She looked over from her desk to see the fluffies, sound asleep in a fluff-pile. At the moment, there was only Nutella, Snowflake and Humphrey, but Claire’s mom had told her that Alice’s parents were still fighting badly, and that Alice might be staying with them for weeks rather than days. That meant that her other two fluffies, Wendy and Rebecca would be joining them too.
Claire’s phone vibrated, showing her a text had arrived.
The text was from Angela, and simply said: Meet me at the Library.
Pulling on her coat, Claire made sure that the fluffies were sleeping soundly, and snuck out of the house. Her mom wouldn’t understand why she had to suddenly go, so she left without telling her where she was going.
When Angela saw her, she gave Claire a fierce hug.
“I was so pleased you came today Claire, we need people like you for the cause. You might be our youngest member, but you’ve got a strong heart. Come with me, I’ve got important things to tell you.”
Angela led Claire to a study room, hidden towards the back of the Library. Sitting in the room was Chris, a hipster looking guy with a large beard and thick rimmed glasses. He looked up as they entered, and flipped the lip on his laptop closed.
“Oh, its you.” he said.
“Yes, and I’ve brought Claire with me.”
“Are you sure you…”
“Yes Chris,” Angela said, “She deserves to know the truth.”
“But Angela, she’s just a kid…”
“She’s not a kid, she’s a young woman now. And she’s got more heart than many people twice her age. We need to tell her.”
“Tell me what?” Claire asked, confused as to what their secret might be.
Chris sighed, and opened up his laptop lid.
“Come over Claire, let me show you what we’ve found out.”
Intrigued, Claire sat down next to the man. Angela stood behind her with her hands on Claire’s shoulders.
“Okay, so, you remember you gave us some of your cousin’s hair last week?” Chris asked her, “Well, the results have come back.”
Claire looked at Chris’ face, then up at Angela.
“Go on,” Angela told Chris.
“Claire… your cousin Alice, she has genes that are normally only found in fluffies. We think she might have been part of HASBIO’s human genetic experiments.”
Claire didn’t know what to think. She knew that HASBIO, the company that created fluffies had been shut down by the government, and that many of its executives and scientists had ended up in jail or fled into exile, but to hear this about her own cousin was simply too much.
“But… how? How can Alice have Fluffy DNA?” Claire asked.
Chris looked nervous, but continued.
“Claire, we think HASBIO only created fluffies to have a quick way to test the effects of different genes. They are only pregnant for two weeks, and the babies start talking after just a few days. We think HASBIO was experimenting with the effect of different genes on intelligence, and once they found genes that worked in fluffies, they started to use CRISPR editing to insert those genes into the human genome. They were creating designer babies Claire, in '24 and '25. Alice was one of those babies.”
Claire felt as if the room was spinning. She felt Angela’s hands give her shoulders a reassuring squeeze.
“But Alice is… OK, she’s seven, she’s the right age, but HASBIO was just in America right? Alice is Canadian? Isn’t she?”
Chris opened up another file on his laptop. Inside were a number of PDF documents, including a birth certificate.
“Claire, you told us Alice was adopted,” Chris said, and hunched down a little, looking around as if to make sure no-one was watching, “So I got a friend of mine in a different cell to hack into some government databases in the US. We found her birth certificate.”
Claire looked on the screen. The certificate said Alice Doe, born 8th November 2025, Seattle, Washington, USA.
“Its legit. I double checked her DNA with the national database. Its her. She was born in America. But there’s more. I googled her name and found more about her. Apparently, she was abandoned by whoever her real mother was, and was saved by a pair of feral fluffies. Have a look at this newspaper article.”
Chris double clicked another file, and a scan of an old newspaper article appeared on the screen.
FLUFFIES SAVE BABY, the headline read.
Beneath it was a photograph of an Italian chef holding two fluffies, and another man, holding a baby.
The other man was Governor Quimby, a man who wanted to be the next president of the United States.