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Riya's Foundling   By: (1931-2008)

Riya's Foundling by Algis Budrys

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Riya's Foundling


[Transcriber note: This etext was produced Science Fiction Stories 1953. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: Now, if the animal we know as a cow were to evolve into a creature with near human intelligence, so that she thought of herself as a "person" ... ]


The loft of the feed house, with its stacked grainsacks, was a B 72, a fort, a foxhole any number of things, depending on Phildee's moods.

Today it was a jumping off place.

Phildee slipped out of his dormitory and ran across the yard to the feed house. He dropped the big wooden latch behind him, and climbed up the ladder to the loft, depending on the slight strength of his young arms more than on his legs, which had to be lifted to straining heights before they could negotiate the man sized rungs.

He reached the loft and stood panting, looking out over the farm through the loft door, at the light wooden fences around it, and the circling antenna of the radar tower.

Usually, he spent at least a little time each day crouched behind the grainsacks and being bigger and older, firing cooly and accurately into charging companies of burly, thick lipped UES soldiers, or going over on one wing and whistling down on a flight of TT 34's that scattered like frightened ducks before the fiery sleet of his wing rockets.

But today was different, today there was something he wanted to try.

He stood up on his toes and searched. He felt the touch of Miss Cowan's mind, no different from that of anyone else flat, unsystematic.

He sighed. Perhaps, somewhere, there was someone else like himself. For a moment, the fright of loneliness invaded him, but then faded. He took a last look at the farm, then moved away from the open door, letting his mind slip into another way of thinking.

His chubby features twisted into a scowl of concentration as he visualized reality. The scowl became a deeper grimace as he negated that reality, step by step, and substituted another.

F is for Phildee. O is for Out. R is for Reimann. T is for Topology. H is for heartsick hunger.

Abruptly, the Reimann fold became a concrete visualization. As though printed clearly in and around the air, which was simultaneously both around him and not around him, which existed/not existed in spacetime, he saw the sideslip diagram.

He twisted.

Spring had come to Riya's world; spring and the thousand sounds of it. The melted snow in the mountaintops ran down in traceries of leaping water, and the spring crests raced along the creeks into the rivers. The riverbank grasses sprang into life; the plains turned green again.

Riya made her way up the path across the foothills, conscious of her shame. The green plain below her was dotted, two by two, with the figures of her people. It was spring, and Time. Only she was alone.

There was a special significance in the fact that she was here on this path in this season. The plains on either side of the brown river were her people's territory. During the summer, the couples ranged over the grass until the dams were ready to drop their calves. Then it became the bulls' duty to forage for their entire families until the youngsters were able to travel south to the winter range.

Through the space of years, the people had increased in numbers, the pressure of this steady growth making itself felt as the yearlings filled out on the winter range. It had become usual, as the slow drift northward was made toward the end of winter, for some of the people to split away from the main body and range beyond the gray mountains that marked the western limits of the old territories. Since these wanderers were usually the most willful and headstrong, they were regarded as quasi outcasts by the more settled people of the old range... Continue reading book >>

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