Hi there and thanks for reading the story. Those are great questions, and thanks for asking them. One thing I like about short stories is that they are a slice of a bigger picture and there’s a lot more story untold that exists beneath the surface of the story than what is presented in the words of the story itself. This is an aspect to storytelling that Hemingway called “the iceberg theory”. Basically, the iceberg theory (sometimes known as the “theory of omission”) is a technique of writing coined by American writer Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway believed the deeper meaning of a story should not be evident on the surface, but should shine through implicitly. Source.
So, as such, my answers to your questions are my version of the backstory that this story hints at. The reader is free to come up with her own interpretations and theories about the changed ones and where exactly Peck is headed in that spacecraft. That’s all part of “the rest of the iceberg”. But I’ll attempt to answer your questions based on what I had in mind while writing the story.
1) Why would those super humans consume (eat) the normal people?
I toyed with not using the word “consume” because it’s not the sole way the changed ones kill the normal people. They also disintegrate them with what Peck perceives to be corrosive webs but as the story says, each observer sees things a different way with the changed ones. They consume or disintegrate the original people because the original people misunderstand reality to such a degree that they are a danger to themselves and the planet. The changed ones cull the herd and keep them contained, for various reasons but mostly because the original people may be of some use to them so long as they are contained. Whether by eating or making them not exist anymore, it all amounts to the same thing, culling the herd. So yes, animals are easier to get but the original people need to be contained. Also, there’s an aspect of sport to the whole thing because the changed ones regard the original people with such disdain because of their total ignorance of true reality. Consuming the citizens as those few who may qualify to pass to the next level of the test run for the dock is all part of the sport. It puts the necessary pressure on the people who are trying to reach the docks and is all part of the game.
2) Why aren’t the normal people fighting back?
That’s a great question, and you made me realize that probably the story may have benefited from the addition of one of the citizens attempting to fire a gun at one of the changed ones. Then I could have shown that the gun (or any available weapon) would have been ineffective against the changed ones. These are beings who can mold and shape reality as they wish. Their understanding of reality is far beyond what the normal people (the citizens) can comprehend.
The story shows that the changed ones can appear the same as the person expected to see. That demonstrates they have command over reality itself. Of course, it can be debated whether they command reality itself or just the citizen’s perception of reality, but that equates to the same thing. The changed ones are in tune with a higher reality, one where they understand the relationship between reality and the observer and how the observer shapes reality based on their expectations.
3) Apparently the super people (the changed ones) need to recruit the normal people. Can’t they reproduce? Isn’t there an easier way?
Yes, they can reproduce and no, they don’t need to recruit the normal people. The changed ones do this as a sort of sport because, as the story suggests, no matter how “advanced” civilization becomes, and even though they possess a greater understanding of reality, they are still originally human and have an animal nature within them. Just as some of the most advanced civilizations on Earth also carried out violent sporting events for entertainment, such as the Romans with the gladiators, so too do the changed ones. You asked, “Isn’t there an easier way than that force field?” It’s not the point for them to find an “easier” way because it is not by necessity that they attempt to recruit the citizens but mostly for a cruel sport. There are those of the changed ones who hope to find that needle in the haystack, that one citizen who possesses all the qualities needed to have a shot at becoming a changed one. Those few, who are in the minority, hope to find the savable humans because they too were once human themselves and they want to salvage as many as they can from their current primitive condition.
Hopefully, these answers helped you see the story in a new light. I do appreciate your level of interest in the story. Thanks for reading it.