Jack Holloway landed the manipulator in front of the cluster of prefab huts. For a
moment he sat still, realizing that he was tired, and then he climbed down from the
control cabin and crossed the open grass to the door of the main living hut, opening it and
reaching in to turn on the lights. Then he hesitated, looking up at Darius.
There was a wide ring around it, and he remembered noticing the wisps of cirrus clouds
gathering overhead through the afternoon. Maybe it would rain tonight. This dry weather
couldn’t last forever. He’d been letting the manipulator stand out overnight lately. He
decided to put it in the hangar. He went and opened the door of the vehicle shed, got back
onto the machine and floated it inside. When he came back to the living hut, he saw that
he had left the door wide open.
“Damn fool!” he rebuked himself. “Place could be crawling with prawns by now.”
He looked quickly around the living room—under the big combination desk and library
table, under the gunrack, under the chairs, back of the communication screen and the
viewscreen, beyond the metal cabinet of the microfilm library—and saw nothing. Then
he hung up his hat, took off his pistol and laid it on the table, and went back to the
bathroom to wash his hands.
As soon as he put on the light, something inside the shower stall said, “Yeeeek!” in a
He turned quickly to see two wide eyes staring up at him out of a ball of golden fur.
Whatever it was, it had a round head and big ears and a vaguely humanoid face with a
little snub nose. It was sitting on its haunches, and in that position it was about a foot
high. It had two tiny hands with opposing thumbs. He squatted to have a better look at it.
“Hello there, little fellow,” he greeted it. “I never saw anything like you before. What are
The small creature looked at him seriously and said, “Yeek,” in a timid voice.
“Why, sure; you’re a Little Fuzzy, that’s what you are.”
He moved closer, careful to make no alarmingly sudden movements, and kept on talking
“Bet you slipped in while I left the door open. Well, if a Little Fuzzy finds a door open,
I’d like to know why he shouldn’t come in and look around.”
He touched it gently. It started to draw back, then reached out a little hand and felt the
material of his shirt-sleeve. He stroked it, and told it that it had the softest, silkiest fur