Grabber the Cancer Cell

[a short story by ~burning woman~ ]

When little Grabber Gulp was born, he was adored by all. Some even said he was the cutest little Cancer cell they had ever seen. He was a jolly little cell who enjoyed his food immensely. Momma Gulp was so very proud of her little Cancer she took him everywhere to show him to everyone she knew.

These were good times for Grabber. That was some time ago.

Grabber grew and became aware of his world, or “host” as his fellow Cancers called it and as his teachers insisted he labeled it. As he learned Cancer history, Grabber Gulp became introspective and tried to understand his species versus the one his “host” consisted of. He explored some of the more populated parts of the host in his neighbourhood. It began to dawn on him that there were simply too many Cancers upon it and inside it. He began to feel the unease, then the pain, Cancers caused the host. This troubled him though he could not be sure why.

The Gulps were quite well-off, as Cancers consider such, so Grabber was encouraged to further his education. Being quite bright for a Cancer, they sent him to the best Cancer universities. Grabber learned quickly. He soon understood how everything in his civilization was interconnected and designed strictly for exponential growth. He grasped the concept that if his civilization ever sought to balance itself; to stop expanding and change to a *steady state of non material growth, it would die.

What Grabber also came to realize was that the opposite was equally true: that if his species continued to expand exponentially at the expense of its host, it would simply overwhelm the host’s ability to maintain itself in a state that would feed and support his species. The host, he reasoned from his studies and personal observations, was actually dying and it was the Cancers that were the cause of it.

Further studies showed that many scientists all over the host were aware of the problem but were not allowed to talk about it. They were charged with finding solutions to the threatened end of the Cancers should something terrible happen to the host.

Some were attempting to discover means whereby the Cancers could be propelled across space into a new host. Others believed that the Cancer civilization could be balanced; that a substantial population of Cancers, ideally the current one, could survive on the current host if certain areas of the host’s anatomy were declared reserves, or preserves, just enough so the host wouldn’t die.

Grabber wasn’t impressed with any of that.

“The problem we’re faced with,” said Grabber Gulp to a group of students he had become spokesperson for, “is that too many Cancers believe the host’s resources are practically infinite and capable of accommodating a lot more Cancer population. Too many believe that if we dig deeper, literally or not; if we develop more esoteric technology we can extract more resources in places our species had never even known existed. We can feed all the Cancers on this host and much, much more. We’re the intelligent species here, and we rule the host.

This hubris, people, is going to be the end of our civilization, and of ourselves. When our host dies, we die.”

That sort of talk didn’t go well at all in Grabber’s world. Predictably he lost his tenure at the university where he’d begun teaching. As he was leaving he was warned by the president to watch what he said from now on.

Until now grabber had spent his entire life on an area of the host called the “Left-Breast.” It was an affluent area of the host and Grabber realized no one was going to support him in his crusade to make Cancers understand the danger they were in as long as things continued reasonably well. He decided to emigrate to a much more crowded and poorer area of the host called the “Right Thigh.”

On his very arrival the conditions he observed there totally shocked him. There was mass starvation as the area had been overcrowded and stripped of resources for some time. Cancers were dying everywhere but that wasn’t the worst of it. The entire Right Thigh was itself dying. The blood was so badly infected that many Cancers were dying of thirst and a host of diseases they didn’t even have names for. The smell of death was everywhere.

Grabber realized that what was happening on and in the Right Thigh was soon going to happen to his home area. Unable to do anything to alleviate conditions in the Right Thigh he returned to his home, determined to prevent a complete physical collapse and death of the Left Breast. He began a series of lectures, showing videos and documentaries he had smuggled out of the Right Thigh along with his own pictures of hundreds, even thousands, of dead and dying Cancers along the blood vessels.

One night as he pondered his next speech in a hotel room, the door was forced open and a dozen police Cancers pounced on him, threw a black bag over his head and dragged him downstairs and into a waiting vehicle. He was taken to an interrogation center where he was tortured and drugged. In his torpor he signed a document stating that everything he’d claimed to have seen was lies; that his documentaries and videos were the fabrications of Right Thigh terrorists who wanted to destroy the economy of the Left Breast.

After he signed the document, Grabber was thrown head first into an incinerator.

(For some thoughts on “steady state economy” see


17 thoughts on “Grabber the Cancer Cell

  1. kertsen

    Amazing you must have been reading Richard Dawkins ‘ The Selfish Gene ‘ , it’s a tough book with some extraordinary ideas . I find it almost impossible to follow but let me quote: ‘ We are machines or survival vehicles created by our genes and used by them to become immortal.
    The predominant quality of a successful gene is a ruthless selfishness.’
    So your ‘ propelled across space to enter a new host ‘ is solved by sexual reproduction of the host species namely us.’
    Later Dawkins carries his argument further : Replicators built for themselves survival machines, they created us but they do not control us.’ I suspect your story would disagree here since you say of the cancer ‘ We rule the host ‘.
    The great stumbling block that Mr Dawkins has to overcome is altruism and he takes up the theory of reciprocal altruism ( you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours ). Some of these experts question whether true altruism really exists , it sort of rang bells with me when I hear the words true Christian. Anyway the allegory is a good one and like all good allegories the creator unearths things they had not thought of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Kertsen. I wish I had read Richard Dawkins’ “The Selfish Gene” so I could reply more intelligently. A “must read” now! I wonder if the selfish gene is a bit worried at this point, seeing as we the vehicles of its immortality may be on the point of doing ourselves in, driven by that very selfish gene. I wonder if they’re like the Cancer cells – thinking, ‘life is good, there is no problem, just carry on as you were…’


      1. kertsen

        Sha’Tara I’m sure you would make a better job of tackling the book than me but I’m not so sure you should try , it may be better if you keep on writing instead.


      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        Thanks for the comment. Well now, Kertsen, that’s almost like a challenge: “What’s IN that book?” I’ll have to find some references to it, decide if I want to read it after all. It just sounded intriguing.


      3. kertsen

        What we hear about Richard Dawkins it is often venom from religious types who object to his forthright condemnation of religion. He is a very intelligent and a rather old fashioned English gentleman with a wild unfettered imagination. Besides his scientific bent he has a poetical and artistic side to his complex nature. Plenty of references on utube but he apparently wishes he had called the book ‘ The Immortal Gene ‘ which I think is due to the moral tone in the word selfish hardly applicable to unthinking genes. Then we must remember the word altruism is another moral word , it seems to me that scientific types just can’t help thinking in moral terms being human. That remarkable vegan Peter Singer has thrown a live squib into the world of science and politics challenging all the accepted thinking. I heard him say that he felt bad about the fact that he had not given one of his kidneys to a stranger since he received a letter from a man who had done just that.


      4. Sha'Tara Post author

        Have to admit, I’ve never heard of Peter Singer. People on both sides of the “big” fence seem to have quite a time dealing with any concept of morality these days. Those who push for it are often the worst violators of morally proper conduct; those who reject it can’t extricate themselves from its presence.


  2. Lisa R. Palmer

    A poignant and apt analogy of the human condition, using one of our few natural “predators” as the protagonist. What a brilliant twist on so many levels!

    And a perfect example of the microcosm/macrocosm model, which can be expanded in both directions simultaneously.

    Bravo, Sha’Tara, bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rosaliene Bacchus

    An excellent allegorical tale, Sha’Tara. Indeed, we-humans have become a cancer on Planet Earth. How foolish to forget that we cannot survive when we kill our host! Yes, some among us believe we can propel ourselves across space into a new host. Only the gods know how many humans would have to sacrifice their lives until we find another ideal host like Earth.


    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thank you for commenting, Rosaliene. Quote: “Only the gods know how many humans would have to sacrifice their lives until we find another ideal host like Earth.”

      Indeed, so true. But it’s worth keeping in mind (conspiracy theory or not) that much of our misrepresented (and much fake) space exploration is propaganda aimed at making a majority of the sheeple believe finding another suitable planet to host mankind is possible. Whether it is or not, all that’s needed is to find something, somewhere (again, real or fake) that may have an earth-type environment as the carrot. As people believe they, or their descendants, can relocate, the belief itself will have the effect of damping any felt need to “fix” problems here. Man has always run away from his problems at home to find a better place somewhere else, claiming it, or ripping it out of the hands of previous inhabitants to push his destructive ways the more. We are the descendants, participants and observers of this truth.

      As a life-long techie I noticed a trend by the corporates (who perfectly reflect man’s ways) towards less and less “fixing” to more upgrading and replacing. Our modern technology is completely based on “upgrades” – a throw-away society gone off the rails and how many are aware? A computer worth $1500 is 5 years old, it’s obsolete. It has to be “upgraded” meaning, throw it away (recycling is NOT clean energy use) and buy a new one. Only the new one will have enough bells and whistles needed to accommodate social media, gaming, storage, HD webcam, and all the rest so it will operate relatively trouble free for a couple of years until new technology is introduced and the process repeats. What is the “life expectancy” of a tablet or cell phone? Of a car?

      When I speak of a civilization based strictly on exponential growth or it dies, that is not a joke: it’s our reality. Our civilization is not a way of life, it’s an empire. It cannot stop growing or it will implode. The converse is also true: if it continues to grow, it will, like “Pizza the Hut” in the movie Spaceballs, literally eat itself to death!
      Man has never had the wherewithal to understand that any system based on predation is doomed from the start because man did not kick-start his civilization. When “he” came about it was already established and running the gauntlet to its eventual demise: it was all a matter of time. We have finally reached that time.

      I spent my life being a Grabber Gulp Cancer cell. I was pre-teen when I began to see that things were not as advertised. Took decades for me to realize neither religion, nor politics nor economics would or could provide any fix to the fix we were in as a species. We needed to go into the unknown, beyond that evil Trinity of powers to find the life we’d been denied or that had been hidden from us since our inception as intelligent, sentient, self-aware beings.

      But the sad truth is, man will not look beyond the obvious and insists on playing with his old rusty, bloody obsolete tools to extract some sort of survival if only for a lifetime. For modern civilized society it’s never been a quest for a sustainable way of life, but truly the survival of the fittest with society’s social systems and beliefs the determinants of what was fittest. Turns out that “fittest” meant the most arrogant and heartless of predators.


  4. Regis Auffray

    A clever and meaningful write… …as you are apt to do.

    Be well as you will,


    *Régis (Reg) Auffray*


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    On Fri, Mar 2, 2018 at 8:09 PM, ~Burning Woman~ wrote:

    > Sha’Tara posted: “[a short story by ~burning woman~ ] When little Grabber > Gulp was born, he was adored by all. Some even said he was the cutest > little Cancer cell they had ever seen. He was a jolly little cell who > enjoyed his food immensely. Momma Gulp was so very proud o” >



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