By Algis Budrys
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I think perhaps you thought out that there was another world in which our sort of creature was prey. I think you thought you knew a way to get breathing stuff. You are young. Your judgments are romantic. " Jackson just kept gripping his arm, swaying with his eyes closed. He did have room enough inside himself, though, to think how wonderful it was that everybody, Amsirs included, could think they knew everything just because they knew something. "Well, that's not how it is, creature"—the Eld Amsir went right on, while the doctor unstoppered a stone bottle of something that looked like water but burned like fire when he poured it over Jackson's running elbow and then began winding a long, tight strip of shaved-thin hide around Jackson's left arm in a spiral from shoulder to wrist.
It all looked a little different, not as spread out, and pretty crowded. His left forearm and hand were turning purplish white. The Amsir came down lightly a few strides away from him as he stopped to loosen the tie above his elbow, and leaned watching the blood squirt out around the dart. He tried to work his fingers. Finally he reached over with his right hand and pushed against the crooked stiffness in his fingers. A little bit of that, and he was able to make his thumb and forefinger twitch toward each other.
Or to be kicked out and let hang this way when needed. But if those were hinges, they had no give in them now. He put his ear to the ladder, which was as warm as his own flesh, and he could hear things humming. Well, anything that could talk had to have a heart. He looked over at the bunch of Amsirs. All of them were watching him with considerable interest. There were other Amsirs gathering overhead—passersby and just loungers who'd noticed that a new creature of his kind was about to try for the talking door.