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´╗┐Title: Beyond Lies the Wub
Author: Dick, Philip K., 1928-1982
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Beyond Lies the Wub" ***

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[Illustration: _"The wub, sir," Peterson said. "It spoke!"_]


               BEYOND LIES THE WUB

                By PHILIP K. DICK


 _The slovenly wub might well have said: Many men
   talk like philosophers and live like fools._


They had almost finished with the loading. Outside stood the Optus, his
arms folded, his face sunk in gloom. Captain Franco walked leisurely
down the gangplank, grinning.

"What's the matter?" he said. "You're getting paid for all this."

The Optus said nothing. He turned away, collecting his robes. The
Captain put his boot on the hem of the robe.

"Just a minute. Don't go off. I'm not finished."

"Oh?" The Optus turned with dignity. "I am going back to the village."
He looked toward the animals and birds being driven up the gangplank
into the spaceship. "I must organize new hunts."

Franco lit a cigarette. "Why not? You people can go out into the veldt
and track it all down again. But when we run out halfway between Mars
and Earth--"

The Optus went off, wordless. Franco joined the first mate at the bottom
of the gangplank.

"How's it coming?" he said. He looked at his watch. "We got a good
bargain here."

The mate glanced at him sourly. "How do you explain that?"

"What's the matter with you? We need it more than they do."

"I'll see you later, Captain." The mate threaded his way up the plank,
between the long-legged Martian go-birds, into the ship. Franco watched
him disappear. He was just starting up after him, up the plank toward
the port, when he saw _it_.

"My God!" He stood staring, his hands on his hips. Peterson was walking
along the path, his face red, leading _it_ by a string.

"I'm sorry, Captain," he said, tugging at the string. Franco walked
toward him.

"What is it?"

The wub stood sagging, its great body settling slowly. It was sitting
down, its eyes half shut. A few flies buzzed about its flank, and it
switched its tail.

_It_ sat. There was silence.

"It's a wub," Peterson said. "I got it from a native for fifty cents. He
said it was a very unusual animal. Very respected."

"This?" Franco poked the great sloping side of the wub. "It's a pig! A
huge dirty pig!"

"Yes sir, it's a pig. The natives call it a wub."

"A huge pig. It must weigh four hundred pounds." Franco grabbed a tuft
of the rough hair. The wub gasped. Its eyes opened, small and moist.
Then its great mouth twitched.

A tear rolled down the wub's cheek and splashed on the floor.

"Maybe it's good to eat," Peterson said nervously.

"We'll soon find out," Franco said.

       *       *       *       *       *

The wub survived the take-off, sound asleep in the hold of the ship.
When they were out in space and everything was running smoothly, Captain
Franco bade his men fetch the wub upstairs so that he might perceive
what manner of beast it was.

The wub grunted and wheezed, squeezing up the passageway.

"Come on," Jones grated, pulling at the rope. The wub twisted, rubbing
its skin off on the smooth chrome walls. It burst into the ante-room,
tumbling down in a heap. The men leaped up.

"Good Lord," French said. "What is it?"

"Peterson says it's a wub," Jones said. "It belongs to him." He kicked
at the wub. The wub stood up unsteadily, panting.

"What's the matter with it?" French came over. "Is it going to be sick?"

They watched. The wub rolled its eyes mournfully. It gazed around at the
men.

"I think it's thirsty," Peterson said. He went to get some water. French
shook his head.

"No wonder we had so much trouble taking off. I had to reset all my
ballast calculations."

Peterson came back with the water. The wub began to lap gratefully,
splashing the men.

Captain Franco appeared at the door.

"Let's have a look at it." He advanced, squinting critically. "You got
this for fifty cents?"

"Yes, sir," Peterson said. "It eats almost anything. I fed it on grain
and it liked that. And then potatoes, and mash, and scraps from the
table, and milk. It seems to enjoy eating. After it eats it lies down
and goes to sleep."

"I see," Captain Franco said. "Now, as to its taste. That's the real
question. I doubt if there's much point in fattening it up any more. It
seems fat enough to me already. Where's the cook? I want him here. I
want to find out--"

The wub stopped lapping and looked up at the Captain.

"Really, Captain," the wub said. "I suggest we talk of other matters."

The room was silent.

"What was that?" Franco said. "Just now."

"The wub, sir," Peterson said. "It spoke."

They all looked at the wub.

"What did it say? What did it say?"

"It suggested we talk about other things."

Franco walked toward the wub. He went all around it, examining it from
every side. Then he came back over and stood with the men.

"I wonder if there's a native inside it," he said thoughtfully. "Maybe
we should open it up and have a look."

"Oh, goodness!" the wub cried. "Is that all you people can think of,
killing and cutting?"

Franco clenched his fists. "Come out of there! Whoever you are, come
out!"

Nothing stirred. The men stood together, their faces blank, staring at
the wub. The wub swished its tail. It belched suddenly.

"I beg your pardon," the wub said.

"I don't think there's anyone in there," Jones said in a low voice. They
all looked at each other.

The cook came in.

"You wanted me, Captain?" he said. "What's this thing?"

"This is a wub," Franco said. "It's to be eaten. Will you measure it and
figure out--"

"I think we should have a talk," the wub said. "I'd like to discuss this
with you, Captain, if I might. I can see that you and I do not agree on
some basic issues."

The Captain took a long time to answer. The wub waited good-naturedly,
licking the water from its jowls.

"Come into my office," the Captain said at last. He turned and walked
out of the room. The wub rose and padded after him. The men watched it
go out. They heard it climbing the stairs.

"I wonder what the outcome will be," the cook said. "Well, I'll be in
the kitchen. Let me know as soon as you hear."

"Sure," Jones said. "Sure."

       *       *       *       *       *

The wub eased itself down in the corner with a sigh. "You must forgive
me," it said. "I'm afraid I'm addicted to various forms of relaxation.
When one is as large as I--"

The Captain nodded impatiently. He sat down at his desk and folded his
hands.

"All right," he said. "Let's get started. You're a wub? Is that
correct?"

The wub shrugged. "I suppose so. That's what they call us, the natives,
I mean. We have our own term."

"And you speak English? You've been in contact with Earthmen before?"

"No."

"Then how do you do it?"

"Speak English? Am I speaking English? I'm not conscious of speaking
anything in particular. I examined your mind--"

"My mind?"

"I studied the contents, especially the semantic warehouse, as I refer
to it--"

"I see," the Captain said. "Telepathy. Of course."

"We are a very old race," the wub said. "Very old and very ponderous. It
is difficult for us to move around. You can appreciate that anything so
slow and heavy would be at the mercy of more agile forms of life. There
was no use in our relying on physical defenses. How could we win? Too
heavy to run, too soft to fight, too good-natured to hunt for game--"

"How do you live?"

"Plants. Vegetables. We can eat almost anything. We're very catholic.
Tolerant, eclectic, catholic. We live and let live. That's how we've
gotten along."

The wub eyed the Captain.

"And that's why I so violently objected to this business about having me
boiled. I could see the image in your mind--most of me in the frozen
food locker, some of me in the kettle, a bit for your pet cat--"

"So you read minds?" the Captain said. "How interesting. Anything else?
I mean, what else can you do along those lines?"

"A few odds and ends," the wub said absently, staring around the room.
"A nice apartment you have here, Captain. You keep it quite neat. I
respect life-forms that are tidy. Some Martian birds are quite tidy.
They throw things out of their nests and sweep them--"

"Indeed." The Captain nodded. "But to get back to the problem--"

"Quite so. You spoke of dining on me. The taste, I am told, is good. A
little fatty, but tender. But how can any lasting contact be established
between your people and mine if you resort to such barbaric attitudes?
Eat me? Rather you should discuss questions with me, philosophy, the
arts--"

The Captain stood up. "Philosophy. It might interest you to know that we
will be hard put to find something to eat for the next month. An
unfortunate spoilage--"

"I know." The wub nodded. "But wouldn't it be more in accord with your
principles of democracy if we all drew straws, or something along that
line? After all, democracy is to protect the minority from just such
infringements. Now, if each of us casts one vote--"

The Captain walked to the door.

"Nuts to you," he said. He opened the door. He opened his mouth.

He stood frozen, his mouth wide, his eyes staring, his fingers still on
the knob.

The wub watched him. Presently it padded out of the room, edging past
the Captain. It went down the hall, deep in meditation.

       *       *       *       *       *

The room was quiet.

"So you see," the wub said, "we have a common myth. Your mind contains
many familiar myth symbols. Ishtar, Odysseus--"

Peterson sat silently, staring at the floor. He shifted in his chair.

"Go on," he said. "Please go on."

"I find in your Odysseus a figure common to the mythology of most
self-conscious races. As I interpret it, Odysseus wanders as an
individual, aware of himself as such. This is the idea of separation, of
separation from family and country. The process of individuation."

"But Odysseus returns to his home." Peterson looked out the port window,
at the stars, endless stars, burning intently in the empty universe.
"Finally he goes home."

"As must all creatures. The moment of separation is a temporary period,
a brief journey of the soul. It begins, it ends. The wanderer returns to
land and race...."

The door opened. The wub stopped, turning its great head.

Captain Franco came into the room, the men behind him. They hesitated at
the door.

"Are you all right?" French said.

"Do you mean me?" Peterson said, surprised. "Why me?"

Franco lowered his gun. "Come over here," he said to Peterson. "Get up
and come here."

There was silence.

"Go ahead," the wub said. "It doesn't matter."

Peterson stood up. "What for?"

"It's an order."

Peterson walked to the door. French caught his arm.

"What's going on?" Peterson wrenched loose. "What's the matter with
you?"

Captain Franco moved toward the wub. The wub looked up from where it lay
in the corner, pressed against the wall.

"It is interesting," the wub said, "that you are obsessed with the idea
of eating me. I wonder why."

"Get up," Franco said.

"If you wish." The wub rose, grunting. "Be patient. It is difficult for
me." It stood, gasping, its tongue lolling foolishly.

"Shoot it now," French said.

"For God's sake!" Peterson exclaimed. Jones turned to him quickly, his
eyes gray with fear.

"You didn't see him--like a statue, standing there, his mouth open. If
we hadn't come down, he'd still be there."

"Who? The Captain?" Peterson stared around. "But he's all right now."

They looked at the wub, standing in the middle of the room, its great
chest rising and falling.

"Come on," Franco said. "Out of the way."

The men pulled aside toward the door.

"You are quite afraid, aren't you?" the wub said. "Have I done anything
to you? I am against the idea of hurting. All I have done is try to
protect myself. Can you expect me to rush eagerly to my death? I am a
sensible being like yourselves. I was curious to see your ship, learn
about you. I suggested to the native--"

The gun jerked.

"See," Franco said. "I thought so."

The wub settled down, panting. It put its paw out, pulling its tail
around it.

"It is very warm," the wub said. "I understand that we are close to the
jets. Atomic power. You have done many wonderful things with
it--technically. Apparently, your scientific hierarchy is not equipped
to solve moral, ethical--"

Franco turned to the men, crowding behind him, wide-eyed, silent.

"I'll do it. You can watch."

French nodded. "Try to hit the brain. It's no good for eating. Don't hit
the chest. If the rib cage shatters, we'll have to pick bones out."

"Listen," Peterson said, licking his lips. "Has it done anything? What
harm has it done? I'm asking you. And anyhow, it's still mine. You have
no right to shoot it. It doesn't belong to you."

Franco raised his gun.

"I'm going out," Jones said, his face white and sick. "I don't want to
see it."

"Me, too," French said. The men straggled out, murmuring. Peterson
lingered at the door.

"It was talking to me about myths," he said. "It wouldn't hurt anyone."

He went outside.

Franco walked toward the wub. The wub looked up slowly. It swallowed.

"A very foolish thing," it said. "I am sorry that you want to do it.
There was a parable that your Saviour related--"

It stopped, staring at the gun.

"Can you look me in the eye and do it?" the wub said. "Can you do that?"

The Captain gazed down. "I can look you in the eye," he said. "Back on
the farm we had hogs, dirty razor-back hogs. I can do it."

Staring down at the wub, into the gleaming, moist eyes, he pressed the
trigger.

       *       *       *       *       *

The taste was excellent.

They sat glumly around the table, some of them hardly eating at all. The
only one who seemed to be enjoying himself was Captain Franco.

"More?" he said, looking around. "More? And some wine, perhaps."

"Not me," French said. "I think I'll go back to the chart room."

"Me, too." Jones stood up, pushing his chair back. "I'll see you later."

The Captain watched them go. Some of the others excused themselves.

"What do you suppose the matter is?" the Captain said. He turned to
Peterson. Peterson sat staring down at his plate, at the potatoes, the
green peas, and at the thick slab of tender, warm meat.

He opened his mouth. No sound came.

The Captain put his hand on Peterson's shoulder.

"It is only organic matter, now," he said. "The life essence is gone."
He ate, spooning up the gravy with some bread. "I, myself, love to eat.
It is one of the greatest things that a living creature can enjoy.
Eating, resting, meditation, discussing things."

Peterson nodded. Two more men got up and went out. The Captain drank
some water and sighed.

"Well," he said. "I must say that this was a very enjoyable meal. All
the reports I had heard were quite true--the taste of wub. Very fine.
But I was prevented from enjoying this pleasure in times past."

He dabbed at his lips with his napkin and leaned back in his chair.
Peterson stared dejectedly at the table.

The Captain watched him intently. He leaned over.

"Come, come," he said. "Cheer up! Let's discuss things."

He smiled.

"As I was saying before I was interrupted, the role of Odysseus in the
myths--"

Peterson jerked up, staring.

"To go on," the Captain said. "Odysseus, as I understand him--"



Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from _Planet Stories_ July 1952. Extensive
    research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on
    this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and typographical
    errors have been corrected without note.





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