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.Spam! The lowliest of meats suddenly seemed to me to be the most delectable of entrees.It was high in fat and high in salt, two things my body sorely needed.A can of green beans was going to be my side dish, and along with those, another bottle beer would go quite nicely.Both the Spam and green bean cans were designed to require no can opener, and I popped them open along with my beer open and sat in the shade on a cushioned bench with a plastic fork in my hand and a faint, but satisfied smile on my face.Things were looking up.There’s something about sitting on a gently rocking boat in cold water on a hot summer day that is supremely relaxing.Birds were in the trees on the banks, some singing, some squawking.Sure, there were occasional gunshots, usually far in the distance, but I was learning to tune those out the same way I used to tune out traffic noise from the highway that ran right past my apartment.I slowly filled my stomach and savored each salty bite as it went down.Even the beer was kind enough not to bring any unwanted memories with its flavor.Eventually my lazy thoughts turned to more serious matters, and the problem of the Smart Ones, King Joel, and Mark.Murder Plan A, my bomb, had failed.I’d had such high hopes for that.Ratios of gasoline vapor to oxygen, barometric pressure, wind speed, and even humidity had likely played into the poor result.Perhaps on another day with even slightly different conditions, it might have worked exactly as planned and rid west Austin of its infestation of human roaches.The failure was demoralizing, but it couldn’t be the end of my efforts.The thunder of an oncoming brainstorm started me thinking.The snipers with the silencers, the ones that had killed Jerome, had done well for themselves.The number of infected bodies in that intersection was impressive.Surely those guys were all dead now, and their weapons were lying by their corpses, or lying where they left them after getting infected and wandering off, but still, they’d done well while they lasted.I wasn’t much of a marksman, but I’ll bet Murphy was, and I had no doubt Dalhover could shoot.But bringing Dalhover out on hunting trips among the infected was too dangerous for him.As for Murphy and I, with a little care and a little planning, we could blend in and out of the infected population without any of the Smart Ones ever noticing.Heck, we could follow the naked horde like the Indians used to follow the buffalo herds on the Great Plains and hunt the Smart Ones into extinction.That brought up the next question: how to identify the Smart Ones.Could we identify them based solely on their behavior? Possibly.And if we made a mistake and killed a dumb one, well, no big loss.They all needed to die eventually.I wondered if night vision goggles or an infrared riflescope would be helpful in sorting out which of the Whites down range was burning cooler than the others.The cooler ones would be the smarter ones.But was the equipment sensitive enough to allow us to tell the difference of a couple of degrees? Probably not.That would leave us with behavior-based identification.I wondered if Murphy would go along.It would be great, so much safer, to have him as a partner in the venture, but I would go it alone if I had to.I understood the danger posed by my list of targets.I was convinced that it was a matter of life or death for anyone with a normal capacity for thought.When my pontoon boat drifted around a bend and the faux riverboat came into view, it surprised me.I’d been so lost in my thoughts and plans that I’d lost track of time.Hours had passed, and it was late in the day.I wondered if I’d dozed off without realizing it.Well, no harm done.At the moment, I felt better than I had in many days, and I was on my way home, so to speak.As I drifted closer to the river boat, I waved and smiled.The girls recognized me and waved back.Good.We needed to talk.I started the engine on the pontoon boat and made a large U-turn so that the ski boat would be behind the pontoon boat in the current as I navigated up to within ten feet of the tourist boat.“Hey,” I called over, “I need to anchor here for a bit so that we can talk.Is that cool?”By this time, all three girls were up on the top deck, curiously watching.It was Amy who answered, “Yes.What happened to your canoe?”“I traded it in.”“That looks like your old ski boat.”“It is [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]