The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell

Free The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell by Harry Harrison

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Authors: Harry Harrison
trees, snorting with massive maternal protectiveness. A good two meters from snuffling nose to twitching tail. Covered all over with protective spines now rigidly erect.
    Sybil gasped with horror.
    I smiled and cried out, “Sooooy, pig, pig, pig!”
    â€œJim—what is it?”
    â€œOne of the most endearing and lovely creatures in the galaxy, friend of my youth, companion to man. It is a—porcuswine!”
    She looked at me as though she thought I was going mad.
    â€œEndearing? Is it going to attack?”
    â€œNot if we don’t threaten her swinelet.” The tiny creature had lost its fright when its monster dam had appeared and had nosed aside the protecting quills to find some refreshing milk.
    I moved slowly, bending over to pick up a windfall branch. Beady and suspicious eyes followed my every movement.
    â€œThat’s a good girl,” I said, stepping forward and making reassuring clucking noises. She quivered a bit but held her
ground. Turning her head to follow me as I approached. A drop of saliva formed on a protruding, sharp tusk, then dripped to the ground.
    â€œThere, there,” I murmured. “Little Jimmy doesn’t hurt porcuswine. Little Jimmy loves porcuswine.”
    Reaching down I brushed a handful of quills slowly aside between her ears, reached out and prodded with the end of the branch, then rubbed it strongly through the thick bristles.
    Her eyes were half-closed as she burbled contentedly.
    â€œPorcuswine just love to be scratched behind the ears—they can’t reach the spot themselves.”
    â€œHow do you know about these terrible creatures?”
    â€œTerrible? Never! Companions to mankind in his quest to the stars. You should read your galactic history more closely. Read about the strange beasts and deadly creatures that were waiting for the first settlers. Monsters that could eat a cow in a single bite. They learned fear from the faithful porcuswine, let me tell you. An artificial genetic mutation between giant pigs and deadly porcupine. Tusks and hooves to attack, spines to defend. Loyal, faithful and destructive when needs be.”
    â€œGood pork chops too?”
    â€œIndeed—but we don’t speak about that in their presence. I was raised on a farm and let me tell you, my only friends were our herd of porcuswine. Ahh, here’s the boar now!”
    I shouted joyous greeting to the immense and deadly form that lumbered out of the forest. He glared at me with red and swiney eyes. Grunted aloud with pleasure as the end of my stick scratched and scratched at his hide. I grunted with the effort—and pleasure as well.
    â€œWhere did they come from?” Sybil asked.
    â€œThe forest,” I said scratching away.
    â€œThat’s not what I mean. What kind of a place is this with volcanoes, lava flows, gravity waves—and these creatures?”
    â€œA planet that had to have been settled by mankind. We’ll find out soon enough. But first let us follow the pigpaths into the forest and find some water. Drink first, cogitate later.”
    â€œAgreed,” she said leading the way. I followed her and our
newfound porcine friends followed me. Grunting expectantly for more delicious scratching attention. We lost them only when the path led through a clearing surrounded by storoak trees. The boar slammed his tusks into the trunk of one heavy-laden tree and shook it mercilessly. Acorns as big as my head rained down and the little family munched on them happily.
    We emerged from the forest into a water meadow that had been stirred up muddily by sharp hooves. It bordered a small lake. The far side was shielded in mist that obscured any details. We left the muddy path and found a shelf of rock that led to the water. Sat at the water’s edge and drank cupped handfuls of the clear and cool water until we had drunk our fill.
    â€œFind a few dry sticks, rub them together and it could be pork for dinner,” Sybil said,

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