Second Variety

Epstein reached into his coat. “Here.” He tossed a packet of photographs onto the table, tied with a string. “Look for yourself.”

Hendricks untied the string.

“You see,” Rudi Maxer said, “that was why we wanted to talk terms. The Russians, I mean. We found out about a week ago. Found out that your claws were beginning to make up new designs on their own. New types of their own. Better types. Down in your underground factories behind our lines. You let them stamp themselves, repair themselves. Made them more and more intricate. It’s your fault this happened.”

Hendricks examined the photos. They had been snapped hurriedly; they were blurred and indistinct. The first few showed—David. David walking along a road, by himself. David and another David. Three Davids. All exactly alike. Each with a ragged teddy bear.

All pathetic.

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