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Chapter 11


The old shape changers of the worlds were not totally erased.

The machines that build and maintain the space stations need fuel, parts, energy.  And so the planets are scourged, the mountains toppled, the forests cut, the marshes drained, and the shape changers living in these worlds are changed too.  Their bodies are broken, their hearts and minds stupefied.  Yet their powers remain, although in pieces.  Re-animated by the lust and greed of people similarly beaten, the shape changers become golems.

The golems take many forms, and then can infect anyone.  They prey on the young and old, the robust and the sickly.

Blasted worlds, writhing with hordes of sick, hopeless people- these are the golem's breeding grounds.

When space people leave their ships, touch soil, planet, and folk, they risk encounter with these golems.  I risk such encounter.

I should have read the signs.  Signs of ghosts.  The fan at the festival drew a strange smile, fearful.  The gift I brought from Nacerima had triggered some memory of a golem in a childhood game I used to play.  And most of all, I had been sensing ghosts lingering nearby.

I played too close to the mouth of the demon and I was bitten.  I waited to see the affects of the poison. I waited, praying not to die, knowing the work left to be done.

This time, there was no poison.