One of the great things about reprints in our digital age is that they continue to extend the reach of these stories going forward. People don’t need to collect back issues of a magazine in order to discover stories they like. I’m glad to see this story by Susan Palwick get this treatment.
So I had five days of not knowing where Bobo was, while Johnny and Leon baited me at school and Mom and David yelled at each other at home. And then finally the satellites came back online on Friday. The GPS people had been talking about how they might have to knock the whole system out of orbit and put up another one—which would have been a mess—but finally some earthside keyboard jockey managed to fix whatever the hackers had done.
Which was great, except that down here in Reno it had been snowing for hours, and according to the GPS, I was going to have to climb 3,200 feet to reach Bobo. Mom came in just as I was stuffing some extra energy bars in my pack. I knew she wouldn’t want me going out, and I wasn’t up to fighting with her about it, so I’d been hoping the snow would delay her for a few hours, maybe even keep her down in Carson overnight. I should have known better. That’s what Mom’s new SUV was for: getting home, even in shitty weather.
She looked tired. She always looks tired after a shift.
“What are you doing?” she said, and looked over my shoulder at the handheld screen, and then at the topo map next to it. “Oh, Jesus, Mike. It’s on top of Peavine!”
I could smell her shampoo. She always smells like shampoo after a shift. I didn’t want to think about what she smells like before she showers to come home.
“He’s on top of Peavine,” I said. “Bobo’s on top of Peavine.”
Mom shook her head. “Honey—no. You can’t go up there.”
“Mom, he could be hurt! He could have a broken leg or something and not be able to move and just be lying there!” The signal hadn’t moved at all. If it had been lower down the mountain, I would have thought that maybe some family had taken Bobo in, but there still weren’t any houses that high. The top of Peavine was one of the few places the developers hadn’t gotten to yet.
“Sweetheart.” Mom’s voice was very quiet. “Michael, turn around. Come on. Turn around and look at me.”
I didn’t turn around. I stuffed a few more energy bars in my pack, and Mom put her hands on my shoulders and said, “Michael, he’s dead.”
I still kept my back to her. “You don’t know that!”
“He’s been gone for five days now, and the signal’s on top of Peavine. He has to be dead. A coyote got him and dragged him up there. He’s never gone that high by himself, has he?”
She was right. In the year he’d had the transmitter, Bobo had never gone anywhere much, certainly not anywhere far. He’d liked exploring the neighbors’ yards, and the strips of wild land between the developments, where there were voles and mice. And coyotes.
“So he decided to go exploring,” I said, and zipped my pack shut. “I have to go find out, anyway.”