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By Greg. Egan

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The polymer was once intended to be cross-linked past any probability of biodegradation – yet evidently a few pressure of El Nido micro organism had came across a fashion. I floated on my again, respiring deeply to purge myself of carbon dioxide, considering the chance of finishing the undertaking walking. the cover above looked as if it would waver, as though in a warmth haze, which made no experience. My limbs grew apparently hot and heavy. It happened to me to ask yourself precisely what i'd be smelling, if I hadn’t close down 90 according to cent of my olfactory variety. i assumed: If I’d bred micro organism capable of digest a substance international to El Nido, what else would i would like them to do once they chanced upon any such meal? Incapacitate whoever had introduced it in? Broadcast information of the development with a biochemical sign? i'll scent the pointy odors of part a dozen sweat-drenched humans after they arrived, yet all i may do used to be lie within the water and allow them to fish me out. # when we left the river, i used to be carried on a stretcher, blindfolded and certain. nobody talked inside of earshot. i would have judged the velocity we set by way of the rhythm of my bearers’ footsteps, or guessed the path during which we traveled by way of tricks of solar at the part of my face … yet within the waking dream brought about via the bacterial pollution, the tougher I struggled to interpret these cues, the extra misplaced and stressed I grew to become. At one element, whilst the get together rested, a person squatted beside me – and waved a scanning gadget over my physique? That wager used to be proven through the pinpricks of warmth the place the polymer transponders have been implanted. Passive units – yet their resonant echo in a satellite tv for pc microwave burst may were distinct. The scanner came upon, and fried, all of them. overdue within the afternoon, they got rid of the blindfold. yes that i used to be completely disoriented? yes that I’d by no means break out? or even simply to flaunt El Nido’s victorious structure. The strategy used to be a hidden course via swampland; I saved taking a look all the way down to see my captors’ boots now not relatively vanishing into the dust, whereas a dry, it appears safe stretch of excessive flooring within reach used to be kept away from. nearer in, the dense thorned timber blocking off the best way appeared to yield for us; the chewing gum had worn off adequate for me to inform that we moved in a cloud of a candy, ester-like compound. I couldn’t see even if it used to be being sprayed into the air from a cylinder – or emitted physically via a member of the occasion with symbionts in his pores and skin, or lungs, or intestines. The village emerged virtually imperceptibly out of the impostor jungle. the floor – i may think it – grew to become, step-by-step, unnaturally company and point. The association of timber grew subtly ordered – defining no linear avenues, yet more and more flawed still. Then i began glimpsing “fortuitous” clearings to the left and correct, containing “natural” wood structures, or glossy biopolymer sheds. i used to be decreased to the floor outdoors one of many sheds. a guy I hadn’t visible prior to leaned over me, wiry and unshaven, maintaining up a glowing searching knife. He seemed to me just like the archetype of human as animal, human as predator, human as unselfconscious killer.

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