01/24/2023 Snippet, GHOSTS ON AN ALIEN WIND.



Nur tossed a small, tangled lump of wires and circuits onto my desk. “Behold!” he said. “The thing that tried to kill you.”

I looked at it — and then I looked away. There was something wrong about the twisted, matted thing, like the wires were spelling out words I didn’t want to read. “Okay, what is it? Where did you find it? And when did it try to kill me?”

“Well, easiest question first. I found it inside the basket you brought along for your picnic, hidden inside a cold-pack.” I realized right then that Nur had the kind of calm you get when you’ve slammed a couple of mood-dampeners in a row. “It was also smeared with a pretty nasty neurotoxin. Good thing I was wearing gloves.”

“Jesus.” That was closer to a prayer than I’d come for a long, long time. I’d been carrying that thing around all day, after all. “Wait, though: this isn’t a bomb, is it?”

“Oh, no, Pam. It’s a sonic transmitter. One that broadcasts at a frequency we can’t hear, but the local lifeforms can. I checked with The Process, and it thinks the signal could have been what got the not-cows rampaging. The only thing is, we’d have to actually check to confirm it. Which is not a good idea…”

“Gotcha. I don’t feel like trying to be cruel to alien animals, either. What if we succeed?” I restrained my first impulse to poke at the transmitter with a stick. I restrained my second one to smash it with a hammer.