THE OVERNEATH by Peter S. Beagle preview: “Trinity County, CA: You’ll Want to Come Again and We’ll Be Glad to See You!”
In celebration of the release of Peter S. Beagle’s THE OVERNEATH, Tachyon presents glimpses from some of the volume’s magnificent tales.
Want to Come Again and We’ll Be Glad to See You!
by Peter S. Beagle
Connie Laminack complained. She and Gruber were dressing for work in
the yard’s cramped and makeshift locker room, which, thanks to
budget cuts, was also the building’s only functional toilet. To get
to the dingy aluminum sink, she had to step around the urinal, then
dodge under Gruber’s left arm as he forced it up into the sleeve of
his bright yellow outer coverall.
get used to it.”
I won’t. They let me use my Lancôme in school. That
has an FPF rating that’s totally bogus,” Gruber said. “Anything
you can buy retail is for posers and pet-shop owners. Won’t cut it
unscrewed the top from the plain white plastic jar on the shelf below
the mirror, and squinted in disgust at the gray gloop inside. “I’m
just saying. Gack.”
smiled. Stuck with a newbie, you could still get some fun out of it.
Sometimes. “Make sure you get it every damn place you can reach.
Really rub it in. State only pays quarter disability if you come home
try, but some of us actually do read the HR paperwork we sign.”
right,” Gruber said. “College grad.” She gave him a hard look
in the mirror, but dutifully started rubbing the D-schmear on her
hands and arms anyway, then rolled up her pants legs to get at her
too. Especially your face, and an inch or two into the hairline.
Helps with the helmet seal.”
saving the worst for last.”
laughed wryly. “It’s all the worst.”
be the one to know, wouldn’t you?”
the time they headed out to the Heap, he was throwing questions at
her, as per the standard training drill, but not enjoying it the way
he usually did. For one thing, she’d actually done a good job with
the D-schmear, even getting it up into her nostrils, which
first-timers almost never did. For another, she seemed to truly know
her shit. Book shit, to be sure, not the real-world shit she was here
to start learning … but Gruber was used to catching new kids in
some tiny mistake, then pile-driving in to widen the gap, until they
were panicked and stammering. Only Laminack wasn’t tripping up.
had begun to bug him. That, and the fact that she bounced. Like he
to deal with, on top of everything else.
waved back to Manny Portola, the shift dispatcher, who always stood
in the doorway to see the different county crews off. It was one of
Manny’s pet superstitions, and in time it had become Gruber’s as
well, though he told himself he was just keeping the old guy happy.
waved to the dispatcher as well, which irritated Gruber, even though
he knew it shouldn’t. He slapped the day-log clipboard against his
Name the three worst invasives in Trinity.”
she insisted. “Definitely. You didn’t define your terms.” Her
bland smile didn’t change, but Gruber thought he heard a tiny
flicker of anger. Maybe he was finally getting to her. “Are we
talking plants or animals here? ’Cause Yellow Star Thistle and
Dalmatian Toadflax and Kamathweed are hella invasive, even if the
tourists do like the pretty yellow flowers. And if we are
talking animals, not plants, do you want me to stick to the Ds, or do
you want me to rattle off the three worst things that have ever
crawled or flown or swum in here from somewhere they shouldn’t?
Which I could. And what do you mean by ‘worst,’ anyway? Because
for my money, jet slugs are about as yucky as it gets, and there are
a lot more of them up here now than there are China longs. So yeah, I
call trick question.”
definitely wasn’t ready for two weeks of this. “Nobody likes a
For more info on THE OVERNEATH, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story