snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница

SACRIFICE ZONE

WARNING. The National Parks Service has declared this area to be a National Sacrifice Zone. The Sacrifice Zone Program was developed to manage parcels of land whose clean-up cost exceeds their total future economic value.

And like all Sacrifice Zone fences, this one has holes in it and is partially torn down in places. Young men blasted out of their minds on natural and artificial male hormones must have some place to do their idiotic coming-of-age rituals. They come in from Burbclaves all over the area in their four-wheel-drive trucks and tear across the open snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница ground, slicing long curling gashes into the claycap that was placed on the really bad parts to prevent windblown asbestos from blizzarding down over Disneyland.

Y.T. is oddly satisfied to know that these boys have never even dreamed of an all-terrain vehicle like Ng's motorized wheelchair. It veers off the paved road with no loss in speed -- ride gets a little bumpy -- and hits the chain-link fence as if it were a fog bank, plowing a hundred-foot section into the ground. It is a clear night, and so the Sacrifice Zone glitters, an immense snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница carpet of broken glass and shredded asbestos. A hundred feet away, some seagulls are tearing at the belly of a dead German shepherd lying on its back. There is a constant undulation of the ground that makes the shattered glass flash and twinkle; this is caused by vast, sparse migrations of rats. The deep, computer-designed imprints of suburban boys' fat knobby tires paint giant runes on the clay, like the mystery figures in Peru that Y.T.'s mom learned about at the NeoAquarian Temple. Through the windows, Y.T. can hear occasional bursts of either firecrackers snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница or gunfire.

She can also hear Ng making new, even stranger sounds with his mouth. There is a built-in speaker system in this van -- a stereo, though far be it from Ng to actually listen to any tunes Y.T. can feel it turning on, can sense a nearly inaudible hiss coming from the speakers.

The van begins to creep forward across the Zone.

The inaudible hiss gathers itself up into a low electronic hum. It's not steady, it wavers up and down, staying pretty low, like Roadkill fooling around with his electric bass. Ng keeps changing the snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница direction of the van, as though he's searching for something, and Y.T. gets the sense that the pitch of the hum is rising.

It's definitely rising, building up in the direction of a squeal. Ng snarls a command and the volume is reduced. He's driving very slowly now.

"It is possible that you might not have to buy any Snow Crash at all," he mumbles. "We may have found an unprotected stash."

"What is this totally irritating noise?"

"Bioelectronic sensor. Human cell membranes. Grown in vitro, which means in glass -- in a test snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница tube. One side is exposed to outside air, the other side is clean. When a foreign substance penetrates the cell membrane to the clean side, it's detected. The more foreign molecules penetrate, the higher the pitch of the sound."

"Like a Geiger counter?"

"Very much like a Geiger counter for cell-penetrating compounds," Ng says.

Like what? Y.T. wants to ask. But she doesn't.

Ng stops the van. He turns on some lights -- very dim lights.

That's how anal this guy is -- he has gone to the trouble to install special dim lights in addition to snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница all the bright ones.

They are looking into a sort of bowl, right at the foot of a major drum heap, that is strewn with litter. Most of the litter is empty beer cans. In the middle is a fire pit. Many tire tracks converge here.

"Ah, this is good," Ng says. "A place where the young men gather to take drugs."

Y.T. rolls her eyes at this display of tubularity. This must be the guy who writes all those antidrug pamphlets they get at school. Like he's not getting a million gallons of drugs every second through snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница all of those gross tubes.

"I don't see any signs of booby traps," Ng says. "Why don't you go out and see what kind of drug paraphernalia is out there." She looks at him like, what did you say?



"There's a toxics mask hanging on the back of your seat," he says.

"What's out there, toxic-wise?"

"Discarded asbestos from the shipbuilding industry. Marine antifouling paints that are full of heavy metals. They used PCBs for a lot of things, too."

"Great."

"I sense your reluctance. But if we can get a sample of snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница Snow Crash from this drug-taking site, it will obviate the rest of our mission."

"Well, since you put it that way," Y.T. says, and grabs the mask. It's a big rubber-and-canvas number that covers her whole head and neck. Feels heavy and awkward at first, but whoever designed it had the right idea, all the weight rests in the right places. There's also a pair of heavy gloves that she hauls on. They are way too big. Like the people at the glove factory never dreamed that an actual female could wear gloves.

She trudges snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница out onto the glass-and-asbestos soil of the Zone, hoping that Ng isn't going to slam the door shut and drive away and leave her there.

Actually, she wishes he would. It would be a cool adventure.

Anyway, she goes up to the middle of the "drug-taking site." Is not too surprised to see a little nest of discarded hypodermic needles. And some tiny little empty vials. She picks up a couple of the vials, reads their labels. "What did you find?" Ng says when she gets back into the van, peels off the mask snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница.

"Needles. Mostly Hyponarxes. But there's also a couple of Ultra Laminars and some Mosquito twenty-fives."

"What does all this mean?"

"Hyponarx you can get at any Buy 'n' Fly, people call them rusty nails, they are cheap and dull. Supposedly the needles of poor black diabetics and junkies. Ultra Laminars and Mosquitos are hip, you get them around fancy Burbclaves, they don't hurt as much when you stick them in, and they have better design. You know, ergonomic plungers, hip color schemes."

"What drug were they injecting?"

"Checkitout," Y.T. says, and holds up one of snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница the vials toward Ng. Then it occurs to her that he can't exactly turn his head to look.

"Where do I hold it so you can see it?" she says.

Ng sings a little song. A robot arm unfolds itself from the ceiling of the van, crisply yanks the vial from her hand, swings it around, and holds it in front of a video camera set into the dashboard. The typewritten label stuck onto the vial says, just "Testosterone." "Ha ha, a false alarm," Ng says. The van suddenly rips forward, starts heading right into the middle of the snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница Sacrifice Zone.

"Want to tell me what's going on?" Y.T. says, "since I have to actually do the work in this outfit?"

"Cell walls," Ng says. "The detector finds any chemical that penetrates cell walls. So we homed in naturally on a source of testosterone. A red herring. How amusing. You see, our biochemists lead sheltered lives, did not anticipate that some people would be so mentally warped as to use hormones like they were some kind of drug. How bizarre."

Y.T. smiles to herself. She really likes the idea of living in a world snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница where someone like Ng can get off calling someone else bizarre. "What are you looking for?"

"Snow Crash," Ng says. "Instead, we found the Ring of Seventeen."

"Snow Crash is the drug that comes in the little tubes," Y.T. says. "I know that. What's the Ring of Seventeen? One of those crazy new rock groups that kids listen to nowadays?"

"Snow Crash penetrates the walls of brain cells and goes to the nucleus where the DNA is stored. So for purposes of this mission, we developed a detector that would enable us to find cell wall snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница-penetrating compounds in the air. But we didn't count on heaps of empty testosterone vials being scattered all over the place. All steroids -- artificial hormones -- share the same basic structure, a ring of seventeen atoms that acts like a magic key that allows them to pass through cell walls. That's why steroids are such powerful substances when they are unleashed in the human body. They can go deep inside the cell, into the nucleus, and actually change the way the cell functions.

"To summarize: the detector is useless. A stealthy approach will not work. So we go back to snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница the original plan. You buy some Snow Crash and throw it up in the air."

Y.T. doesn't quite understand that last part yet. But she shuts up for a while, because in her opinion, Ng needs to pay more attention to his driving.

Once they get out of that really creepy part, most of the Sacrifice Zone turns out to consist of a wilderness of dry brown weeds and large abandoned hunks of metal. There are big heaps of shit rising up from place to place-coal or slag or coke or smelt or something.

Every snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница time they come around a corner, they encounter a little plantation of vegetables, tended by Asians or South Americans. Y.T. gets the impression that Ng wants to just run them over, but he always changes his mind at the last instant and swerves around them.

Some Spanish-speaking blacks are playing baseball on a broad flat area, using the round lids of fifty-five-gallon drums as bases. They have parked half a dozen old beaters around the edges of the field and turned on their headlights to provide illumination. Nearby is a bar built into a crappy snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница mobile home, marked with a graffiti sign: THE SACRIFICE ZONE. Lines of boxcars are stranded in a yard of rusted-over railway spurs, nopal growing between the ties. One of the boxcars has been turned into a Reverend Wayne's Pearly Gates franchise, and evangelical CentroAmericans are lined up to do their penance and speak in tongues below the neon Elvis. There are no NeoAquarian Temple franchises in the Sacrifice Zone.

"The warehouse area is not as dirty as the first place we went," Ng says reassuringly, "so the fact that you can't use the toxics mask won snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница't be so bad. You may smell some Chill fumes."

Y.T. does a double take at this new phenomenon: Ng using the street name for a controlled substance. "You mean Freon?" she says.

"Yes. The man who is the object of our inquiry is horizontally diversified. That is, he deals in a number of different substances. But he got his start in Freon. He is the biggest Chill wholesaler/retailer on the West Coast."

Finally, Y.T. gets it. Ng's van is air-conditioned. Not with one of those shitty ozone-safe air conditioners, but with the snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница real thing, a heavy metal, high-capacity, bone-chilling Frigidaire blizzard blaster. It must use an incredible amount of Freon.

For all practical purposes, that air conditioner is a part of Ng's body. Y.T.'s driving around with the world's only Freon junkie.

"You buy your supply of Chill from this guy?"

"Until now, yes. But for the future, I have an arrangement with someone else."

Someone else. The Mafia.

They are approaching the waterfront. Dozens of long, skinny, single-story warehouses run parallel down toward the water. They all share the same access road at this snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница end. Smaller roads run between them, down toward where the piers used to be. Abandoned tractor-trailers are scattered around from place to place. Ng pulls his van off the access road, into a little nook that is partly concealed between an old red-brick power station and a stack of rusted-out shipping containers. He gets it turned around so it's pointed out of here, kind of like he is expecting to leave rapidly.

"There's money in the storage compartment in front of you," Ng says.

Y.T. opens the glove compartment, as anyone else snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница would call it, and finds a thick bundle of worn-out, dirty, trillion-dollar bills. Ed Meeses.

"Jeez, couldn't you get any Gippers? This is kind of bulky."

"This is more the kind of thing that a Kourier would pay with."

"Because we're all pond scum, right?"

"No comment."

"What is this, a quadrillion dollars?"

"One-and-a-half quadrillion. Inflation, you know."

"What do I do?"

"Fourth warehouse on the left," Ng says. "When you get the tube, throw it up in the air,"

"Then what?"

"Everything else will be taken care of."

Y.T. has her snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница doubts about that. But if she gets in trouble, well, she can always whip out those dog tags.

While Y.T. climbs down out of the van with her skateboard, Ng makes new sounds with his mouth. She hears a gliding and clunking noise resonating through the frame of the van, machinery coming to life. Turning back to look, she sees that a steel cocoon on the roof of the van has opened up. There is a miniature helicopter underneath it, all folded up. Its rotor blades spread themselves apart, like a butterfly unfolding. Its name is painted snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница on its side: WHIRLWIND REAPER.

Chapter 32

It's pretty obvious which warehouse we are looking for here. Fourth one on the left, the road that runs down toward the waterfront is blocked off by several shipping containers -- the big steel boxes you see on the backs of eighteen-wheelers. They are arranged in a herringbone pattern, so that in order to get past them you have to slalom back and forth half a dozen times, passing through a narrow mazelike channel between high walls of steel. Guys with guns are perched on top, looking down at Y.T. as she snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница guides her plank through the obstacle course. By the time she makes it out into the clear, she's been heavily checked out.

There is the occasional light-bulb-on-a-wire strung around, and even a couple of strings of Christmas-tree lights. These are switched on, just to make her feel a little more welcome. She can't see anything, just lights making colored halos amid a generalized cloud of dust and fog. In front of her, access to the waterfront is blocked off by another maze of shipping containers. One of them has a snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница graffiti sign: THE UKOD SEZ: TRY SOME COUNTDOWN TODAY!

"What's the UKOD?" she says, just to break the ice a little.

"Undisputed King of the Ozone Destroyers," says a man's voice. He is just in the act of jumping down from the loading dock of the warehouse to her left. Back inside the warehouse, Y.T. can see electric lights and glowing cigarettes. "That's what we call Emilio."

"Oh, right," Y.T. says. "The Freon guy. I'm not here for Chill."

"Well," says the guy, a tall rangy dude in his forties, much too skinny to snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница be forty years old. He yanks the butt of a cigarette from his mouth and throws it away like a dart. "What'll it be, then?"

"What does Snow Crash cost?"

"One point seven five Gippers," the guy says.

"I thought it was one point five," Y.T. says.

The guy shakes his head. "Inflation, you know. Still, it's a bargain. Hell, that plank you're on is probably worth a hundred Gippers."

"You can't even buy these for dollars," Y.T. says, getting her back up. "Look, all I've got is one-and snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница-a-half quadrillion dollars."

She pulls the bundle out of her pocket.

The guy laughs, shakes his head, hollers back to his colleagues inside the warehouse. "You guys, we got a chick here who wants to pay in Meeses."

"Better get rid of 'em fast, honey," says a sharper, nastier voice, "or get yourself a wheelbarrow."

It's an even older guy with a bald head, curly hair on the sides, and a paunch. He's standing up on the loading dock.

"If you're not going to take it, just say so," Y.T. says. All of this chatter has nothing snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница to do with business.

"We don't get chicks back here very often," the fat bald old guy says. Y.T. knows that this must be the UKOD himself. "So we'll give you a discount for being spunky. Turn around."

"Fuck you," Y.T. says. She's not going to turn around for this guy.

Everyone within earshot laughs. "Okay, do it," the UKOD says.

The tall skinny guy goes back over to the loading dock and hauls an aluminum briefcase down, sets it on top of a steel drum in the middle of the road so that snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница it's at about waist height. "Pay first," he says.

She hands him the Meeses. He examines the bundle, sneers, throws it back into the warehouse with a sudden backhand motion. All the guys inside laugh some more.

He opens up the briefcase, revealing the little computer keyboard. He shoves his ID card into the slot, types on it for a couple of seconds.

He unsnaps a tube from the top of the briefcase, places it into the socket in the bottom part. The machine draws it inside, does something, spits it back out.

He hands the snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница tube to Y.T. The red numbers on top are counting down from ten. "When it gets down to one, hold it up to your nose and start inhaling," the guy says.

She's already backing away from him.

"You got a problem, little girl?" he says.

"Not yet," she says. Then she throws the tube up in the air as hard as she can. The chop of the rotor blades comes out of nowhere. The Whirlwind Reaper blurs over their heads; everyone crouches for an instant as surprise buckles their knees. The tube does not come back to snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница earth.

"You fucking bitch," the skinny guy says.

"That was a really cool plan," the UKOD says, "but the part I can't figure out is, why would a nice, smart girl like you participate in a suicide mission?"

The sun comes out. About half a dozen suns, actually, all around them up in the air, so that there are no shadows. The faces of the skinny man and the UKOD look flat and featureless under this blinding illumination. Y.T. is the only person who can see worth a damn because her Knight Visions have compensated for snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница it; the men wince and sag beneath the light.

Y.T. turns to look behind herself. One of the miniature suns is hanging above the maze of shipping containers, casting light into all its crannies, blinding the gunmen who stand guard there. The scene flashes too light and too dark as her goggles' electronics try to make up their mind. But in the midst of this whole visual tangle she gets one image printed indelibly on her retina: the gunmen going down like a treeline in a hurricane, and for just an instant, a line of dark angular things silhouetted above the snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница maze as they crest it like a cybernetic tsunami. Rat Things.

They have evaded the whole maze by leaping over it in long, flat parabolas. Along the way, some of them have slammed right through the bodies of men holding guns, like NFL fullbacks plowing full speed through nerdy sideline photographers. Then, as they land on the road in front of the maze, there is an instant burst of dust with frantic white sparks dancing around at the bottom, and while all this is happening, Y.T. doesn't hear, she feels one of the Rat Things snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница impacting on the body of the tall skinny guy, hears his ribs crackling like a ball of cellophane. Hell is already breaking loose inside the warehouse, but her eyes are trying to follow the action, watching the sparks-and-dust contrails of more Rat Things drawing themselves down the length of the road in an instant and then going airborne to the top of the next barrier.

Three seconds have passed since she threw the tube into the air. She is turning back to look inside the warehouse. But someone's on top of the warehouse, catching her eye for a snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница second. It's another gunman, a sniper, stepping out from behind an air-conditioning unit, just getting used to the light, raising his weapon to his shoulder. Y.T. winces as a red laser beam from his rifle sweeps across her eyes once, twice as he zeroes his sights on her forehead. Behind him she sees the Whirlwind Reaper, its rotors making a disk under the brilliant light, a disk that is foreshortened into a narrow ellipse and then into a steady silver line. Then it flies right past the sniper.

The chopper pulls up into a snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница hard turn, searching for additional prey, and something falls beneath it in a powerless trajectory, she thinks that it has dropped a bomb. But it's the head of the sniper, spinning rapidly, throwing out a fine pink helix under the light. The little chopper's rotor blade must have caught him in the nape of the neck. One part of her is dispassionately watching the head bounce and spin in the dust, and the other part of her is screaming her lungs out.

She hears a crack, the first loud noise so far. She turns to follow snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница the sound, looking in the direction of a water tower that looms above this area, providing a fine vantage point for a sniper.

But then her attention is drawn by the pencil-thin blue-white exhaust of a tiny rocket that lances up into the sky from Ng's van. It doesn't do anything; it just goes up to a certain height and hovers, sitting on its exhaust. She doesn't care, she's kicking her way down the road now on her plank, trying to get something between her and that water tower.

There is a second snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница cracking noise. Before this sound even reaches her ears, the rocket darts horizontally like a minnow, makes one or two minor cuts to correct its course, zeroes in on that sniper's perch, up in the water tower's access ladder. There is a great nasty explosion without any flame or light, like the loud pointless booms that you get sometimes at fireworks shows. For a moment, she can hear the clamor of shrapnel ringing through the ironwork of the water tower. Just before she kicks her way back into the maze, a dustline whips past her, snapping rocks and snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница fragments of broken glass into her face. It shoots into the maze. She hears it Ping-Pong all the way through, kicking off the steel walls in order to change direction. It's a Rat Thing clearing the way for her.

How sweet!

"Smooth move, Ex-Lax," she says, climbing back into Ng's van. Her throat feels thick and swollen. Maybe it's from screaming, maybe it's the toxic waste, maybe she's getting ready to gag. "Didn't you know about the snipers?" she says. If she can keep talking about the details of the job, maybe snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница she can keep her mind off of what the Whirlwind Reaper did.

"I didn't know about the one on the water tower," Ng says. "But as soon as he fired a couple of rounds, we plotted the bullets' trajectories on millimeter-wave and back-traced them." He talks to his van and it pulls out of its hiding place, headed for I-405.

"Seems like kind of an obvious place to look for a sniper."

"He was in an unfortified position, exposed from all sides," Ng says. "He chose to work from a suicidal position. Which is snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница not a typical behavior for drug dealers. Typically, they are more pragmatic. Now, do you have any other criticisms of my performance?"

"Well, did it work?"

"Yes. The tube was inserted into a sealed chamber inside the helicopter before it discharged its contents. It was then flash-frozen in liquid helium before it could chemically self-destruct. We now have a sample of Snow Crash, something that no one else has been able to get. It is the kind of success on which reputations such as mine are constructed."

"How about the Rat Things?"

"How about them?"

"Are they back in snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница the van now? Back there?" Y.T. jerks her head aft.

Ng pauses for a moment. Y.T. reminds herself that he is sitting in his office in Vietnam in 1955 watching all of this on TV.

"Three of them are back," Ng says. "Three are on their way back. And three of them I left behind to carry out additional pacification measures."

"You're leaving them behind?"

"They'll catch up," Ng says. "On a straightaway, they can run at seven hundred miles per hour."

"Is it true they have nuke stuff inside of them?"

"Radiothermal isotopes."

"What happens if snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница one gets busted open? Everyone gets all mutated?"

"If you ever find yourself in the presence of a destructive force powerful enough to decapsulate those isotopes," Ng says, "radiation sickness will be the least of your worries."

"Will they be able to find their way back to us?"

"Didn't you ever watch Lassie Come Home when you were a child?" he asks. "Or rather, more of a child than you are now?"

So. She was right. The Rat Things are made from dog parts.

"That's cruel," she says.

"This brand of sentimentalism is very snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница predictable," Ng says.

"To take a dog out of his body -- keep him in a hutch all the time."

"When the Rat Thing, as you call it, is in his hutch, do you know what he's doing?"

"Licking his electric nuts?"

"Chasing Frisbees through the surf. Forever. Eating steaks that grow on trees. Lying beside the fire in a hunting lodge. I haven't installed any testicle-licking simulations yet, but now that you have brought it up, I shall consider it."

"What about when he's out of the hutch, running around doing errands for you?"

"Can't you imagine snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница how liberating it is for a pit bull terrier to be capable of running seven hundred miles an hour?"

Y.T. doesn't answer. She is too busy trying to get her mind around this concept.

"Your mistake," Ng says, "is that you think that all mechanically assisted organisms -- like me -- are pathetic cripples. In fact, we are better than we were before."

"Where do you get the pit bulls from?"

"An incredible number of them are abandoned every day, in cities all over the place."

"You cut up pound puppies?"

"We save abandoned dogs from certain extinction snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница and send them to what amounts to dog heaven."

"My friend Roadkill and I had a pit bull. Fido. We found it in an alley. Some asshole had shot it in the leg. We had a vet fix it up. We kept it in this empty apartment in Roadkill's building for a few months, played with it every day, brought it food. And then one day we came to play with Fido, and he was gone. Someone broke in and took him away. Probably sold him to a research lab."

"Probably," Ng says, "but that's snow n 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception. 18 страница no way to keep a dog."

"It's better than the way he was living before."

There's a break in the conversation as Ng occupies himself with talking to his van, maneuvering onto the Long Beach Freeway, headed back into town.

"Do they remember stuff?" Y.T. says.

"To the extent dogs can remember anything," Ng says. "We don't have any way of erasing memories."

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