By George R. R. Martin, Cory Ench, Catska Ench

Telepaths examine the newly chanced on international of Shkea, the place each local inhabitant, and more and more human colonists, worships a mysterious and lethal parasite. Winner of the 1975 Hugo Award for top Novella.

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Sample text

Miss Adams had shown Rick how they kept the old newspapers on film tapes. And when he did his big project for social studies, he had chosen the farm’s history, which gave him a good chance to use those films to look things up. That was how he learned all there was to know about Lizzy and Matt. There had been a lot in the old paper about them. Lizzy Mendal, Matthew Mendal, aged eleven and five—Lesley could almost repeat it word for word she had read Rick’s copied notes so often. They had been walking across this field, carrying lunch to their father who was ploughing.

And when they had come up she had spoken almost as if she were angry (but Lesley guessed she was really frightened) asking them where the Mendal house was. If it had not been for the stone and Rick doing all that hunting down of the story behind it, they would not have known what she meant. But Rick had caught on quickly. He had said that they lived in the old Mendal house now, and they had brought Lizzy and Matt along with them. But before they got there they had guessed who Lizzy and Matt were, impossible as it seemed.

Jill was still shaking a little. But Marcy’s relaxation was soothing. And she wanted to see the cat close again. Perhaps he would let her pet him. Again that black head pushed through the brush and Ulysses, stopping once to lick at his shoulder, came to join them. “He’s half Siamese,” Marcy announced as if that made him even more special. “His mother is Min-Hoy. My mother had her since a little kitten. She’s old now and doesn’t go out much. ” Jill shook her head. “They don’t allow them—nothing that uses up air, people have to have it all.

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