Hardfought by Greg Bear

By Greg Bear

During this Nebula Award–winning brief tale via grasp SF author Greg undergo, people are engaged in an extended warfare opposed to a sophisticated alien race, the Senexi, however the risk for peace may possibly exist because of a tender woman who learns the enemy’s better function and humanity’s chance to conform.

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I never saw that before. I picked him up hitchhiking north. He had on dark cotton pants and a light jacket and lace shoes. With a brown canvas bag and a hat pulled down over his ears and his hands in his pockets. I pulled over right away. He looked sorry as hell. I took him all the way up north, to my place. He had some antelope meat with him and we ate good. That was the best meat I ever had. We talked. He wanted to know what I was doing for work. I was cutting wood. He was going to go up to British Columbia, Nanaimo, in there, in spring to look for work.

He cut wood with me that winter. He worked hard. When the trillium bloomed and the varied thrushes came he went north. I did not see him again for ten years. I was in North Dakota harvesting wheat, sleeping in the back of my truck (parked under cottonwoods for the cool air that ran down their trunks at night like water). One night I heard my name. He was by the tailgate. the falls “You got a good spot,” he said. “Yeah. ” “Good. ” He sounded tired, like he’d been riding all day. Next morning someone left, too much drinking, and he got that job, and so we worked three weeks together, clear up into Saskatchewan, before we turned around and drove home.

He told no one. He spoke with no one. While he was up there the dog, Leaves, slept out on some rocks in the Sweetgrass River, where he would not be bothered, and fasted. I came at dawn and then at dusk to look. I could not tell from a distance if he was asleep or dead. Or about the dog. I would only know it was all right because each morning he was in a different position. The fourth morning——I remember this one the best, the sun like fire on the October trees, so many spider webs sunken under the load of dew, the wind in them, as though the trees were breathing——he was gone.

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