Worm Food

It wasn’t raining this morning, so Eino didn’t grab a poncho. But, as he’d come to expect, the weather on Kultainen Tunti could change on a dime. Without the weather mod-sats there was little that could be done about it. At the moment, things were not as golden as the name implied. Eino was soaked. The patrol at least kept him moving around the encampment’s concrete perimeter. And he got a nice blast of heat whenever he saw one of the little bastards spring up from the dark soil. His plasma rifle topped out at 12,000° C.

Eino stopped at once. Buried in the patter of rainfall-on-concrete he heard a whistling. It was coming from the main gate. He quickly made his way over to find a civvy—you could always tell them by their khakis, of all the things to lug across 100 lightyears—huddled beneath an umbrella, whistling and calling and walking out into the damn mud.

“Hey!” Eino called. The man jumped, clearly surprised. “Stay on the pad.” He pointed with his rifle. The civvy looked down and stepped back onto the concrete.

“You haven’t seen a dog, have you?”

“A dog? What? No. You brought a dog to Kultainen Tunti? They let you put it in cryo?”

The man rolled his eyes sourly. “It’s a dachshund. Have you seen it?”

“No. Haven’t seen any dogs. Just stay on the pad, alright?”

“But what if she got out?”

“Then she ain’t coming back unless she flapped her ears and flew away. Anything that goes wandering around out there is worm food. That goes for you too.”

Just then, one of the ugly buggers burst from the soil, shrieking and coiling its maw to expose a tunnel of ragged teeth. Eino blasted it, and the creature was instantly blackened to to a crisp. Its tubular meter-long body sizzled on the wet mud.

The man was clutching at his heart, wrinkling his crisp white button up. “What in God’s name was that?”

Eino shrugged with one shoulder. “Worm.” He looked again at the charred carcass, and then back at the man. “I hope you find your dog. Stay on the pad.” He turned his back before the man had a chance to reply. It was chilly and he had another hour until shift change. Best to keep the blood flowing.

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