Specimens by Fred Saberhagen

By Fred Saberhagen

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Then he proceeded deliberately across the basement to the disorderly accumulation of tools and boxes of household hardware that marked the future location of his workshop. From amid the jumble he dug out his trouble light on its long, heavily insulated cord. He had to make quite sure of what he was going to look at, and the daylight was starting to fail outside, and the only other light in the basement, a single bare bulb in an old overhead lamp, was not going to be much help. Dan plugged the cord into an overhead receptacle and then carried its business end over to the old wall and switched it on.

Curled under a blanket, she opened her eyes without moving, and in a moment saw the man Clareson, dressed in his heavy coat and fur cap, pausing at the kitchen door before going out. He was looking in her direction. It was such a strange and terrible glance of pity and warning that she, accustomed to interpreting with great subtlety the expressions worn by pale faces, was up on her knees at once as soon as he had gone out and closed the door behind him. She was ready to jump up and flee, but once on her knees she paused.

He sounded annoyed now to the point of anger, anger with himself not her. "I just forgot about the damned shower. And I didn't mean to upset you over nothing—I shouldn't have tried to talk about this over the phone. It's nothing urgent. Go ahead and enjoy your shower, Honey. " They went on to talk of routine things, mainly the half dozen arrangements for the wedding that were still going to need attention. The photographer. The tuxedos. Rowers. Musicians for the reception. The invitations that had been ordered but were not ready yet.

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