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  Viper Wire by Richard Kadrey

Field Trip

We came across these words spoken by Hassan I Sabbah, Sheikh of the Mountains and leader of the Assassins: "Nothing is true, everything is permitted."

Inspired, we brought chicken blood, a Hand of Glory and a pocketful of Goofer Dust with us on our fifth grade school trip to the Museum of Natural History.

Our boldest and most skilled practitioner of the black arts, Courtney Anne Walters, climbed on the pedestal in the lobby and marked out an inverted pentagram with the blood. Then she cast the dust and set the Hand of Glory in the center of a magic circle.

Mrs. Romano, our teacher, was yelling at the top of her lungs for Courtney to get down. Courtney did as she was told, and so did the Tyrannosaurus Rex that Courtney had just re-animated.

As a sort of field test, Courtney had the beast (all animated bones, like the skeleton swordsmen in The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, our favorite movie back then) eat Mrs. Romano. It gobbled her down and we kids cheered.

When the head of the museum appeared to see what the ruckus was about, Courtney sicced the dinosaur on him, too. "Don't be ridiculous. This is a place of science," he said calmly before the beast's jaws could snap shut. The dinosaur looked puzzled. Then it fell to pieces, bones scattering across the marble lobby floor.

Everything might be permitted, we learned, but it only takes one killjoy to ruin everyone's good time.


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Richard Kadrey is a member of a small group of innovative writers, including William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, Pat Cadigan, Tom Maddox, and others, who changed the face of science fiction in the 1980s. He also creates art. He lives in San Francisco.

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