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Wish You Were Here

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Wish You Were Here

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Author: Tom Holt
Publisher: Orbit, 1998

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Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
Sub-Genre Tags: Comic Fantasy
Mythic Fiction (Fantasy)
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It was a busy day on Lake Chicopee, where an eclectic bunch of sightseers and tourists had the strange local residents rubbing their hands with delight. Among them was a young man from England, who was there because he knew about the legend of the ghost of Okeewana and what she promised.


From: subconscious mind & memory archives
To: awareness control centre
Message: Please remember that you can't swim

Thank you, Dieb muttered under what little remained of his breath, I hadn't forgotten. Instead of wasting my time telling me things I already know, tell me some way I can get out of ...

The rest of Calvin Dieb's breath, by far the majority, was floating on the top of the lake in bubble form. Another stream of bubbles headed towards it on intercept course.

Sorry, can't help you on that score. Query whether you could sue your school for negligence/breach of contract in that they failed to teach you to swim when you were ten. Query also joining the estates of your deceased parents as co-defendants.

He was just drafting a scathing reply when something nudged his ear. Without actually ceasing to drown, he put drowning on hold for a moment or so. It was, he saw, an otter.

"Hello," said the otter. "Bears."


"And wolves, if they can catch us. But bears, mostly."

"Bears? What about goddamn bears? And how come you can -?"

The otter flipped over and floated on its back. "You were speculating earlier," it said, "about what sort of animals eat otters."

"I - How did you know -?"

"Mind you," the otter went on, paddling languidly with its back paws, like a small furry paddlesteamer, "that wouldn't be much use to you, would it? Bears'd be even harder to get rid of than otters. Can't think offhand of anything on this continent that eats bears."

"Look, I'm really sorry, I didn't mean ..."

"Except," added the otter, looking him in the eye, "humans. I believe barbecued bear steak with onions is considered a delicacy in these parts."

"No. I mean yes. I mean, do you want it to be?"

The otter shrugged. "Don't make no never-mind to me," it said. "I'm not a bear. Not at the moment, anyhow. Welcome to Lake Chicopee, by the way."

INTERNAL MEMORANDUM. Hey, we're floating. Didn't know we could do that. How are we doing that? Hell, I thought you knew.

"Thank you," Dieb replied.

"You're welcome," said the otter. "Have a nice day now, d'you hear?"

Whereupon it rolled over, ducked its head under the water and vanished. Immediately, Dieb started drowning again.

Copyright © 1998 by Tom Holt


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