The Strangers of Kindness
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by Terry Hickman
Category: Science Fiction
Description: Whether you're lost on your own world in a hostile society, or on an alien world amid bizarre life forms, the strangers of kindness offer salvation in many forms. We are pleased to present two such stories: People Like Them: Theo Dahl, bookseller, and Jennifer Skoada, truck farmer, are cruelly thrown together by their near-future New USA's increasingly repressive fascist laws. Theo's destruction seems to be Jennifer's only hope, until another turn of the screw theatens to destroy them both. Aided by five orphans who Theo and Jennifer take under their wings, and two brave strangers, they seek a place that will welcome "People Like Them." The Wedding Present: Pasha Sands, a sprightly blob of intelligent silicon, crash lands on Earth. Though it deplores the concept of slavery, the only way Pasha can rebuild its spacecraft is by purchasing a human to do the physical labor. Jared, the young man it buys, and Anna, "The Wedding Present" owned by Pasha's abusive neighbors, show Pasha how far a human will go for a loved one. There are many kinds of wedding presents, as Pasha learns to its surprise.
eBook Publisher: The Fiction Works, 2004 http://www.fictionworks.com
eBookwise Release Date: April 2004
5 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [197 KB]
Reading time: 126-177 min.
The Strangers of Kindness
They surgically implanted the "tether" in his throat, snug against the jugular vein. This made it nearly impossible to remove without rupturing the vein, especially since only back-alley surgeons would ever attempt it, and then only under the kind of financial inducement that was by definition beyond a person in Theo's situation. It made a small lump, and he could feel it there, with every heartbeat, even under the scraping pain of the sutured incision.
They were careful to explain its function. When he was sold, his owner would be given the control unit. The unit emitted a signal every sixty seconds which would "placate" the tether; if he moved out of range or the unit was damaged, the tether wouldn't receive its signal and immediately a countdown would begin. At the end of two hours, it would disgorge its explosive contents and probably blow off his head. The owner could specify the distance over which the signal would effectively reach the tether.
It was also designed to deliver lesser punishment: small doses of extremely potent pain-inducers. The owner at a touch of a button could administer corrective "admonishments" which would reduce the slave to helpless agony for several hours. They wrapped a gauze bandage around his neck and sent him back to the cell to wait for the trip to the pillory.