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The Pet Plague
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ISBN-10: 1-89484-143-3
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 216 Pages
Published: April 2002

From inside the flap

In an erotic future society genetically enhanced pets have overrun the world and driven humans into vast barricaded enclaves, where social and sexual mores have undergone drastic changes. When an alien spaceship crashes in the wilds, two competing enclaves form expeditions to recover the advanced technology. A battle between them is certain, but first they must fight their way through an overgrown countryside where intelligent animals rule supreme. [EPIC 2000 Finalist]

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If you want to be entertained, amused and yet forced to think about the implications of our insane culture, you couldn?t do better than to enjoy The Pet Plague.
-- Dr. Bob

The Pet Plague (Excerpt)


Jamie Da Cruz had suffered through a long, hot frustrating day where nothing at all seemed to have gone right. First, he discovered that a whole test plot of his new hambean strain had started growing wildly irregular for no good reason. His boss hadn't believed him when he transferred pictures back to the main Genetic Engineering section office with a suggestion that there had been a foul up in the genevat mixing routine; he thought it more likely to be a mistake in the codes fed into the section's computer -- as if a computer would make a mistake like that. It would have rejected any error obvious enough to have produced such results, and probably added some remark about the fallibility of human memory as well.

The test plot occupied the far corner of a five acre experimental garden at the furthest distance from the center of the Houston Enclave. At the far corner of the test plot itself, Jamie encountered the next anomaly of the day. A small section of the hambeans, tiny and wrinkled as they were, seemed to have attracted the attention of a hungry invader. Several of the little tree-like bushes had been tipped over and the thumb sized hambeans stripped from them.

"Not rats again," he thought. "Damn, will we never get rid of the cursed things?" Rats were a continuing and seemingly insoluble problem in every Enclave, not to mention the wild country as well. They were far more intelligent than the original breeds, and still as elusively ineradicable as ever. Even the few kept as pets or research animals had never developed much of a rapport with man and had to be carefully watched. As for the feral ones -- Jamie shuddered and bent to check for tracks. Surprised, he straightened up again.

"A dog," he said aloud. "I will be damned!" But then a puzzled frown crept across the brown contours of his face.

No. Any dog would know better. Maybe a puppy, he thought hopefully for an instant, then discarded the idea -- the tracks were far too large. Besides, it was almost impossible to envisage so undisciplined a puppy. The enclave bitches knew their place far too well to ever allow their pups to run so wild, so near the enclave borders, and particularly not in the critically important agricultural section of the Enclave. That left only one possibility.

"I will be double-damned," he said aloud again. "A feral dog!" That could only mean a break in the barrier. Jamie bent again and followed the tracks in the soft earth to their source. Sure enough, where the test plot abutted a corner of the barrier he found a scattering of loose earth around a moderate sized hole that tunneled deeply beneath the plastiwire fence. Peering closely, he could see through the grid to where some recent rains had washed a gully beneath the corner embankment. The intruder had only needed to enlarge the opening to gain entrance. He could plainly see where the tracks led from the hole into the hambean plot, but could find none leading out.

"That's it, then," he muttered to himself, touching his holstered laser gun for assurance. A breach in the barrier was certainly not an unknown event, but mice or rats were the more usual culprits. Unless driven by hunger, the larger enhanced animals stayed clear of the Enclaves. Generations of experience had taught them that there was little chance of survival inside Enclave boundaries. When the rare one did intrude, it was almost always caught and killed within hours. The Enclave pets always gave an alarm at the first sight or scent of an intruder; they minded not a whit about snitching on their feral cousins. Their own status and responsibilities within the Enclaves were wholeheartedly oriented toward their human masters; feral animals must fend for themselves. Nevertheless, it had to be reported.

Jamie gave a command to his body computer, which had been surgically embedded in his left forearm once full growth had been reached. Only a slight swelling of musculature indicated it's presence. A brightly colored image materialized at a comfortable chest height two feet in front of him. At the same time he felt the tingle of his finger mouse coming on line. The mouse was a mostly useless relic, but he did use it occasionally.

"Office 112," he said. The holographic swirl of color dissolved and was replaced by an above the waist picture of a young, rather pretty dark haired woman. She looked up from some out of sight business. An inquisitive smile crossed her face, crinkling the edges of her liquid brown eyes.

"You again, Jamie?" she said. "What is it this time?"

"I've got a barrier break, Jeannie, in the same section where I called about the hambeans this morning. Probably a feral dog."

"Oh, My. You've already upset the boss once today. Are you sure?" Concern passed over her face like clouds obscuring the sun.

"I'm sure," Jamie said. "Go ahead and tell Carlos about it. At least he can't blame this on the computer."

"He'll be upset, anyway, but I'll let him know."

"Let him. He can't pin this one on me."

"I know. This just seems to be one of those days." She leaned forward. "Your mustache needs trimming. Want me to do it tonight? I'll throw in a back rub."

"Sounds good. Can I call you after I get in?"

"Seguro. Will you notify maintenance and security, or shall I?"

"I'll do it. You appease the boss. Don't let him take it out on someone's pet."

"Leave it to me. 'By."

"'By", Jamie said to her dissolving image. The holographic display of his body computer reappeared in standard mode. He voiced the area maintenance code, then split the screen to show the foreman the map coordinates. He used his finger mouse to sketch in the precise location of the break in the barrier. The mouse really wasn't necessary; he could have used his voice just as effectively, but he liked it, in the same way a man might favor a straight razor and shaving cream in the age of depilators. Once that was done, he quickly notified the Enclave security section of the breach, then sat down to wait. He backed well away from the opening in the barrier and sat down cross-legged in front of it. He drew his laser gun and waited for the maintenance crew.