Blood & Burning by Algis Budrys

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By Algis Budrys

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We lose ships, once in a while. We don't find them any more often than you'd expect. " "Travel agents about the same any place, I guess," I said. He shrugged. "Civilization's about the same any place. ' It's true. My father couldn't infect a world with a population of six billion, either. Nor lose an interstellar passenger ship. And end with only a few thousand survivors from it. " He pushed himself down and lay on his back for a minute, with his hands behind his head, looking up. " He didn't sound particularly worried; well, it wasn't our problem.

Used car lots full of stuff carrying ten dollars' worth of paint over the salt rust. A railroad track. A couple of television repair stores, and a weekly four-page newspaper dedicated to getting people to shop at home. On the ocean there are some seafood restaurants, a miniature golf course and a building that looks like a horse barn but in the summertime houses a wheel of fortune and a couple of dart-toss games, with most of the stalls standing empty even in the height of the season. The parking lot for the oceanfront amusements is where the dog track used to be.

Then he pulled his old sedan away from the curb, and pointed the car toward the edge of town, driving with both hands on the wheel and only vaguely feeling the hurt places in the skin of his face. Stannard was sitting hunched in the seat beside him. He rubbed his jaw. "It was incredible," he mumbled. " "All right," Deerbush said. "I'll never forget it. I knew what she was. I didn't change my judgment of her by one iota before she spoke to me. And then, suddenly, she was the most wonderful person in the world.

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