Blood & Burning by Algis Budrys

By Algis Budrys

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Not when it's been written with a pencil stub by the light of a gasoline lantern in a big tent. Not when the doctor's so tired, and the people in the tent are so bad off from sicknesses nobody knows. I mean you don't walk around with something like that in your pocket. I would rather just sit here for a while and feel guilty. But, you know, you can't keep that up very long. You know all you're doing is playing with yourself, because any time you feel guilty for having something simple and clearcut like cancer, you're really just pretending you can afford luxuries.

We don't much believe in theory any more. You can be as civilized as the Klarri, and know you shouldn't go around contaminating other people's worlds, but when your faster-than-light ship breaks down and you've got to ditch, you pile into the lifeboats and you ditch. If you're really lucky you've had your FTL breakdown within reaching-distance of a solar system, and the solar system's got a planet you can live on; you come down any way you can, and you don't put decontamination high on your priority list.

Marten was back in the doorway. "Mrs. Holloway, I think it might be best if you came back here," he said, looking at me significantly. Arlene shook her head impatiently. "Mrs. " She shook her head. "I wonder what kind of bug you caught," she muttered. "Mrs. Holloway! I appreciate the fact that you love your husband, but he's potentially dangerous. Any man in sufficient delirium to hurl glasses and... and other things... at another individual, and then attempt to run him down with a bed... tear his shirt off – " he finished up with a mutter.

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