Three Liters, Twenty-One Grams by Rich Larson

We hear the transporter coming, thanks to the chorus of hoarse screaming, and when it lumbers past our cover we get the full view: a massive mech strapped with wriggling prisoners, their limbs amputated to conserve space, their naked bodies pierced with spiraling tubes.

Horace goes pale. “Those fucking monsters.”

I shrug. “Learned it from us. They’re just a bit more extreme with it.”

Horace vomits while I call in the airstrike. If he can’t handle the mechs’ version of human shields, I probably shouldn’t mention prisoner processing.

Fully rendered, a human body can provide about three liters of biodiesel.

Rich Larson (Ymir, Tomorrow Factory is a Canadian author born in Galmi, Niger. His work has been translated into over a dozen languages, among them Polish, French, Romanian and Japanese, and adapted into an Emmy-winning episode of LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS. Find him at

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