Second Variety

rubbed his wrist. “I know I’m safe as long as I have this on me. But there’s something about them. I hate the damn things. I wish we’d never invented them. There’s something wrong with them. Relentless little—”

“If we hadn’t invented them, the Ivans would have.”

Hendricks pushed the sight back. “Anyhow, it seems to be winning the war. I guess that’s good.”

“Sounds like you’re getting the same jitters as the Ivans.” Hendricks examined his wrist watch. “I guess I had better get started, if I want to be there before dark.”

He took a deep breath and then stepped out onto the gray, rubbled ground. After a minute he lit a cigarette and stood gazing around him. The landscape was dead. Nothing stirred. He could see for miles, endless ash and slag, ruins of buildings. A few trees without leaves or branches, only the trunks. Above him the eternal rolling clouds of gray, drifting between Terra and the sun.

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