Brother Riley Rousseau, hiking the hills of planet Farth, taking holos of
new species of plants and animals, runs afoul of rustlers. Riding an old
tin horse, who now and then crackles out its one whinny sample, he wheels
around and escapes through the sage and into the pass.
"Just a little old demon," said Brother Rousseau, yanking the thing by a
leathery wing out the man's nostrils. There was a great gout of blood and
snot. The demon snarled & gnashed. Expressionless, Brother Rousseau laid
it against the table top and crushed its head with one efficient blow of
the mallet. The sudden relief of silence was broken by the whimpering of
the host. Brother Rousseau shot him up with a syrette of synthorphin. The
Standing on the hill in the lowering sunset, Brother Rousseau paused in
the benediction and looked over his shoulder. A puff of dust moved along
the switchbacks leading up to the hill. He had a good ten minutes before
Below him, the six pitiful tombstones of the makeshift cemetery. In
a sense, it was these six tombstones which convinced the townspeople this
location was a poor one and caused them to move on, leaving this cemetery
adrift in a sea of desolation, up the hill from the broken sticks of
their shacks of desolation.
Who knows how they died. The stones didn't say. Just names and
dates. Brother Rousseau finished consecrating the ground and made the
signs. He felt, as usual, a sense of the six sighs of relief and a breeze
The first rider rose into view. Brother Rousseau waited. The second
appeared. Brother Rousseau waited. The third swam into the picture.
Brother Rousseau waited until all six had presented. Carefully sighting
from behind the tombstone of a young girl, one Jill Mayerling, 2247-2253,
resting the barrel of the gun on the shoulder of her stone, he began
firing. When he was done, all the men were dead, and their clonehorses
were wandering along the brow of the hill, browsing in the grass.
The sun went down.