THE DEVILED EGG
The Tockwotton Nursing Home looked out over hundreds of acres of neighboring farmland, nowadays all fallow. In the distance the old farmstead itself loomed, a weather-beaten, tumbledown, abandoned structure.
Everywhere around the globe, farms in similar states of deseutude sprawled: untenanted, unproductive, unneeded.
All thanks to SuperEggs(TM).
Monteverdi Vespers, the elderly inventor of SuperEggs(TM), sat in his smart wheelchair on the patio at Tockwotton, considering what he had wrought.
Thirty years ago he had been so idealistic, even as he approached retirement. He had been focused on solving what appeared to be the major problem of his era: the lack of enough food for many of Earth's eight billion people.
What had inspired him to combine various tailored bacteria and viruses with the rudimentary workings of the new line of legless, wingless, headless chicken, he could not now remember. But his brainstorm had been justified by the results.
Encasing the limbless egg-layer in a box fed by a hopper and relieved by an outlet duct, Monteverdi had created the first SuperEgg(TM) factory. Any organic substance, from grass clippings to oak leaves to seaweed (and including the chicken's own wastes), could be fed into the grinding hopper and directly into the throat-aperture of the chicken. Controls on the box tweaked the chicken's metabolism and hormones and endocrines and proteins, producing eggs of any flavor or nutritional composition.
In one stroke, world hunger had been beaten.
Too bad Monteverdi Vespers had signed a contract assigning all his patent rights to the firm that employed him.
No matter, the old man thought. He had never wanted to get rich. He had done what he had done for all humanity.
But how he wished the charity nursing home he had ended up in didn't recycle its dead residents through his invention!