Pump Six and Other Stories

Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi

Book: Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi Read Free Book Online
Authors: Paolo Bacigalupi
Tags: Science-Fiction
had to take intravenous feedings or they withered away while they were inside.
    I was about to sink a whole load of refugees when Jaak shouted. "Get out here! You've got to see this!"
    I stripped off my goggles and ran for the monitoring room, adrenaline amping up. When I got there, Jaak was just standing in the center of the room with the dog, grinning.
    Lisa came tearing in a second later. "What? What is it?" Her eyes scanned the theater maps, ready for bloodshed.
    Jaak grinned. "Look at this." He turned to the dog and held out his hand. "Shake."
    The dog sat back on its haunches and gravely offered him its paw. Jaak grinned and shook the paw, then tossed it a food pellet. He turned to us and bowed.
    Lisa frowned. "Do it again."
    Jaak shrugged and went through the performance a second time.
    "It thinks?" she asked.
    Jaak shrugged. "Got me. You can get it to do things. The libraries are full of stuff on them. They're trainable. Not like a centaur or anything, but you can make them do little tricks, and if they're certain breeds, they can learn special stuff, too."
    "Like what?"
    "Some of them were trained to attack. Or to find explosives."
    Lisa looked impressed. "Like nukes and stuff?"
    Jaak shrugged. "I guess."
    "Can I try?" I asked.
    Jaak nodded. "Go for it."
    I went over to the dog and stuck out my hand. "Shake."
    It stuck out its paw. My hackles went up. It was like sending signals to aliens. I mean, you expect a bio-job or a robot to do what you want it to. Centaur, go get blown up. Find the op-force. Call reinforcements. The HEV was like that, too. It would do anything. But it was designed.
    "Feed it," Jaak said, handing me a food pellet. "You have to feed it when it does it right."
    I held out the food pellet. The dog's long pink tongue swabbed my palm.
    I held out my hand again. "Shake." I said. It held out its paw. We shook hands. Its amber eyes stared up at me, solemn.
    "That's some weird shit," Lisa said. I shivered, nodding, and backed away. The dog watched me go.
    That night in my bunk, I lay awake, reading. I'd turned out the lights and only the book's surface glowed, illuminating the bunkroom in a soft green aura. Some of Lisa's art buys glimmered dimly from the walls: a bronze hanging of a phoenix breaking into flight, stylized flames glowing around it; a Japanese woodblock print of Mount Fuji and another of a village weighed down under thick snows; a photo of the three of us in Siberia after the Peninsula campaign, grinning and alive amongst the slag.
    Lisa came into the room. Her razors glinted in my book's dim light, flashes of green sparks that outlined her limbs as she moved.
    "What are you reading?" She stripped and squeezed into bed with me.
    I held up the book and read out loud.
 
Cut me I won't bleed. Gas me I won't breathe.
Stab me, shoot me, slash me, smash me
I have swallowed science
I am God.
Alone.
 
    I closed the book and its glow died. In the darkness, Lisa rustled under the covers.
    My eyes adjusted. She was staring at me. "'Dead Man,' right?"
    "Because of the dog," I said.
    "Dark reading." She touched my shoulder, her hand warm, the blades embedded, biting lightly into my skin.
    "We used to be like that dog," I said.
    "Pathetic."
    "Scary."
    We were quiet for a little while. Finally I asked, "Do you ever wonder what would happen to us if we didn't have our science? If we didn't have our big brains and our weeviltech and our cellstims and—"
    "And everything that makes our life good?" She laughed. "No." She rubbed my stomach. "I like all those little worms that live in your belly." She started to tickle me.
 
Wormy, squirmy in your belly,
wormy squirmy feeds you Nelly.
Microweevils eat the bad,
and give you something good instead.
 
    I fought her off, laughing. "That's no Yearly."
    "Third Grade. Basic bio-logic. Mrs. Alvarez. She was really big on weeviltech."
    She tried to tickle me again but I fought her off. "Yeah, well Yearly only wrote about immortality. He wouldn't take

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