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Книга The Power of the Nail. Содержание - The Power of the Nail. by Samuel R. Delany and Harlan Ellison

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She seized his hand, and the laughter shook along her arms so that the spheres rolled in his palm. “Oh, Bob—” Then tears. “I can go home! I am going home.” A pause as she heard herself, then. “We’re going home! You’re finished!” She smiled.

“Well…” He smiled. And smiles suddenly were something neither of them had ever seen before. He looked back across the porchrail at patchwork Polo. “I’ve still got to fasten the last twenty or so together. How are you at hefting a hammer?”

“We’re going home,” she repeated. “Gimme.”

Evening on Saquetta pours green across the crags where the molloks live. (A dark green sea that fills and blots out Polo. And the last of the sun sinking in.) And they held each other’s hand, walking back to the compound.

“I’m going to miss them, a little. They were getting to be cute, scurrying around in the grass—” A harsh sound from her. “Who am I kidding.”

Zagaramendo started up the steps. And suddenly his arm flailed.

Margret jumped back.

His shoulder hit the step, and then he was rolling.

“For God’s sake. Bob! Are you all right—?”

Roll, and drop, roll and drop: the black spheres came down the porch steps. He had left them in the corner beside the burner.

“Oh, Bob, you didn’t trip over—”

He was groaning.

“Bob?” Which is not exactly what she said: it came out in two syllables, the second much higher than the first.

On her knees, she tugged him over. There was blood on his overalls, at the hip.

He was gasping, eyes closed, mouth opened, and was pawing at his pocket.

Confused, she stuck her hand into the swag-pocket pouch.

The nails! The threepenny brads from the supply inventory…

The blood was spreading down his overalls.

Red, not pale blue like the blood from the furry ugly things that should have been cute, dribbling off the parrot-beak of the things that lived in the crag caves above Polo, where he had planted his death-bringer, knowing…

Knowing…

And weighing it against her…

And not caring…

Turning away…

Blood…as Polo sank into the green sea.

Coffins, on Saquetta, are round. And the natives… small (and yes, round), are, as the life-forms on so many other worlds, organic. And, as on so many other worlds, there were other life-forms, not just molloks. There were cocci—staph, strep, diplo and mono—bacilli, sperilli, rickettsia, and viruses…

Three little Saquettes came out of the tall grass and stood aimed at the antenna, quivering, belonging for a time to the vibration of a thing unseen…

Peritonitus still takes only twenty-four hours to kill.

And on the morning of the seventh day…

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