Little Fuzzy – Day 56 of 77

About this time tomorrow, it would be his own idea, with grudging recognition of a suggestion by Victor Grego. In time, that would be forgotten; it would be the Mallin Theory. Grego was apparently agreeable, as long as the job got done.

“Well, if you can make anything out of it, pass it on to Mr. Coombes as soon as possible, to be worked up for use in court,” he said.

XII

Ben Rainsford went back to Beta Continent, and Gerd van Riebeek remained in Mallorysport. The constabulary at Post Fifteen had made steel chopper-diggers for their Fuzzies, and reported a gratifying abatement of the land-prawn nuisance. They also made a set of scaled-down carpenter tools, and their Fuzzies were building themselves a house out of scrap crates and boxes. A pair of Fuzzies showed up at Ben Rainsford’s camp, and he adopted them, naming them Flora and Fauna.

Everybody had Fuzzies now, and Pappy Jack only had Baby. He was lying on the floor of the parlor, teaching Baby to tie knots in a piece of string. Gus Brannhard, who spent most of the day in the office in the Central Courts building which had been furnished to him as special prosecutor, was lolling in an armchair in red-and-blue pajamas, smoking a cigar, drinking coffee—his whisky consumption was down to a couple of drinks a day—and studying texts on two reading screens at once, making an occasional remark into a stenomemophone. Gerd was at the desk, spoiling notepaper in an effort to work something out by symbolic logic. Suddenly he crumpled a sheet and threw it across the room, cursing. Brannhard looked away from his screens.

“Trouble, Gerd?”

Gerd cursed again. “How the devil can I tell whether Fuzzies generalize?” he demanded. “How can I tell whether they form abstract ideas? How can I prove, even, that they have ideas at all? Hell’s blazes, how can I even prove, to your satisfaction, that I think consciously?”

“Working on that idea I mentioned?” Brannhard asked.

“I was. It seemed like a good idea but….”

“Suppose we go back to specific instances of Fuzzy behavior, and present them as evidence of sapience?” Brannhard asked. “That funeral, for instance.”

“They’ll still insist that we define sapience.”

The communication screen began buzzing. Baby Fuzzy looked up disinterestedly, and then went back to trying to untie a figure-eight knot he had tied. Jack shoved himself to his feet and put the screen on. It was Max Fane, and for the first time that he could remember, the Colonial Marshal was excited.

“Jack, have you had any news on the screen lately?”

“No. Something turn up?”

“God, yes! The cops are all over the city hunting the Fuzzies; they have orders to shoot on sight. Nick Emmert was just on the air with a reward offer—five hundred sols apiece, dead or alive.”

It took a few seconds for that to register. Then he became frightened. Gus and Gerd were both on their feet and crowding to the screen behind him.

“They have some bum from that squatters’ camp over on the East Side who claims the Fuzzies beat up his ten-year-old daughter,” Fane was saying. “They have both of them at police headquarters, and they’ve handed the story out to Zarathustra News, and Planetwide Coverage. Of course, they’re Company-controlled; they’re playing it for all it’s worth.”

“Have they been veridicated?” Brannhard demanded.

“No, and the city cops are keeping them under cover. The girl says she was playing outdoors and these Fuzzies jumped her and began beating her with sticks. Her injuries are listed as multiple bruises, fractured wrist and general shock.”

“I don’t believe it! They wouldn’t attack a child.”

“I want to talk to that girl and her father,” Brannhard was saying. “And I’m going to demand that they make their statements under veridication. This thing’s a frameup, Max; I’d bet my ears on it. Timing’s just right; only a week till the trial.”

Maybe the Fuzzies had wanted the child to play with them, and she’d gotten frightened and hurt one of them. A ten-year-old human child would look dangerously large to a Fuzzy, and if they thought they were menaced they would fight back savagely.

They were still alive and in the city. That was one thing. But they were in worse danger than they had ever been; that was another. Fane was asking Brannhard how soon he could be dressed.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. (To tell the truth I don't even really care if you give me your email or not.)