Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Beyond Lies The Wub by Philip K. Dick

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Planet Stories Cover Art, July 1952 - Public Domain
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Beyond Lies The Wub

By Philip K. Dick

The slovenly wub might well have said: Many men
talk like philosophers and live like fools.

They had almost finished with the loading. Outside stood the Optus, his arms folded, his face sunk in gloom. Captain Franco walked leisurely down the gangplank, grinning.

“What’s the matter?” he said. “You’re getting paid for all this.”

The Optus said nothing. He turned away, collecting his robes. The Captain put his boot on the hem of the robe.

“Just a minute. Don’t go off. I’m not finished.”

“Oh?” The Optus turned with dignity. “I am going back to the village.” He looked toward the animals and birds being driven up the gangplank into the spaceship. “I must organize new hunts.”

Franco lit a cigarette. “Why not? You people can go out into the veldt and track it all down again. But when we run out halfway between Mars and Earth—”

The Optus went off, wordless. Franco joined the first mate at the bottom of the gangplank.

“How’s it coming?” he said. He looked at his watch. “We got a good bargain here.”

The mate glanced at him sourly. “How do you explain that?”

“What’s the matter with you? We need it more than they do.”

“I’ll see you later, Captain.” The mate threaded his way up the plank, between the long-legged Martian go-birds, into the ship. Franco watched him disappear. He was just starting up after him, up the plank toward the port, when he saw it.

“My God!” He stood staring, his hands on his hips. Peterson was walking along the path, his face red, leading it by a string.

“I’m sorry, Captain,” he said, tugging at the string. Franco walked toward him.

“What is it?”

The wub stood sagging, its great body settling slowly. It was sitting down, its eyes half shut. A few flies buzzed about its flank, and it switched its tail.

It sat. There was silence.

“It’s a wub,” Peterson said. “I got it from a native for fifty cents. He said it was a very unusual animal. Very respected.”

“This?” Franco poked the great sloping side of the wub. “It’s a pig! A huge dirty pig!”

“Yes sir, it’s a pig. The natives call it a wub.”

“A huge pig. It must weigh four hundred pounds.” Franco grabbed a tuft of the rough hair. The wub gasped. Its eyes opened, small and moist. Then its great mouth twitched.

A tear rolled down the wub’s cheek and splashed on the floor.

“Maybe it’s good to eat,” Peterson said nervously.

“We’ll soon find out,” Franco said.

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