"I know lots of neat jailhouse songs," Cheyenne said. "We could have had us a sing-along last night if the cops had let me bring in my Jim Dandy."

"And we could have used your guitar pick to dig us out of here," Attila Demirci said. The Turko-German exchange student rubbed his left cheek, still sore where Buck's right fist had banged into it before the rainstorm last night.

"Wish we could have rescued those pigs," Buck said. "They're most likely sausages by now."

"No, sir! I reckon that there's loose pigs rooting through those cornfields right now," Cheyenne said.

"If that truck hadn't dived into the river, the whole bunch of them would have been barbecued," Attila said.

"Or drowned when the truck sank," Cheyenne said.

"It was the truck that saved those pigs' bacon," Buck said. "I wonder why it did that."

"Hard to know what an autovehicle is thinking about," Cheyenne said. He looked out through the bars of the cell. "I hope Janellen and Ruth are OK. They probably never spent a night in jail before."

"Janellen will be fine. Ruth, too, if they don't make her eat a baloney sandwich," Attila said.

A guard slammed the gate open. "Grab your hats, boys. We need this cell for grownups."

"What sort of tip do your guests generally leave?" Cheyenne asked.

"Smart ass." Cheyenne pulled on his hat. "Where's my guitar?"

"In the van with the girls. Happy Trails, Cowboy."

The students' Independence Day demo hoped to persuade the Governor to restore funding to the state's Pre-Kindergarten Centers. This morning, Buck had called an autobus to take them to the protest site, the highway across from the Big Boy Restaurant, out by the river bridge.

The protestors slung backpacks over their shoulders, packs lumpy with water bottles, granola bars and tubes of SPF-50 sunscreen. Blond to translucency, Janellen Smith wore a white cotton pants suit with long-sleeves and a wide-brimmed white hat. The sunscreen she had on the backs of her hands was rated SPF-100.

Buck, a bullhorn on the floor beside him, strapped into the leftmost front seat, where a driver would have sat were this not an autonomous vehicle. Buck's seatbelt needed its extender.

"Janellen. Come sit here," Attila said, patting the seat beside him.

"She'll sit where she damn well pleases, Hun," Buck said. "Come over here, Janellen."

"Your master calls, Miss Smith," Attila said.

Janellen snapped in next to Buck. "Be nice," she said. "Attila is our guest."

"I didn't invite that Kraut- Turkey," Buck said.

Cheyenne strapped his Jim Dandy Flat Top guitar onto the seat beside him. Ruth slipped in behind Attila, reverently inhaling the shampoo scent of his hair.

As soon as the autobus confirmed that its passengers were belted in, it pulled out from the college parking lot toward the highway.

"We'll make Governor Mac open those Kiddie Centers," Janellen said.

"We Shall Not Be Moved!" Ruth shouted.

"Someone is going to get hurt," a freshman girl called from the back of the bus. "We can't just sit out on the road like ducks in a row and let the cars roll over us."

Buck twisted in his seat to address her. "The cars won't hurt us. They can't."

"I know that's what everybody says," the girl said. "First Law. 'An Autonomous Vehicle may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.'"

"Talk First Law to a four-unit road train tooling along at eighty k-p-h," Attila said. "If one of those gasoline-burning tyrannosaurs lost control we'd be smeared like goat cheese on rye toast."

Ruth leaned over his shoulder. "What do you mean, Attila, ‘gasoline-powered'? Autonomous vehicles are electric."

"Except for the biggest rigs," Attila said. "Even with the cost of pollution controls, fueling a big truck with gasoline is cheaper than electric."

"Gas or electric, autonomous trucks have to obey the Laws like every other autovehicle," Buck said. "They have to protect us."

"Yes, but remember how those two kids were killed when a boulder fell down and mashed their bug?" Ruth said.

"That was out in Utah, near Provo," Attila said. "Afterwards, the cops scrapped the car and poured the goulash into two body-bags."

"That's icky, Attila."

"Sorry for saying ‘goulash', Ruth. I forgot you're a vegetarian."

"Actually, I'm a vegan," she said.

Ruth hugged herself. They'd had a conversation.

Cheyenne plucked an arpeggio on his seatbelt-tethered guitar. "The A-V is your friend," he crooned. "Never crashes you, never mashes you, always gets you there."

The autobus turned into the parking lot of the Big Boy Restaurant, slowing to let a couple on walkers toddle to their parked two-person iBug. Other cars and a six-passenger Baida coach, conveyances of early breakfasters, were parked in the lot.

"Time for us to speak truth to power," Buck announced. He snapped open his seatbelt and picked up his bullhorn. Attila, striding toward the exit door, banged against Buck's broad back.

"Watch where you're going, Hun!"

"Beg your pardon, Big Boy." Stepping out, Attila grinned up at the icon standing over the restaurant's entrance. "Look, Buck! They've put up your statue."

Buck glared at the figure, the twelve-foot-tall, eight-foot-wide Big Boy in bib overalls, beaming down at the hamburger clutched in his pudgy hand. "I should have left you back at the school, Turkey," Buck said.

Ruth took Attila's arm. "I think it's nice of you, you being German and all, to join our protest." She gave his arm a squeeze.

Attila pulled away. "Janellen," he called across the road, "want to grab a cup of coffee?"

"She doesn't have time to trot with a Turkey," Buck said.

"Sheesh, Big Boy. Let the lady decide."

"Coffee later, Attila," Janellen called. She took Buck's arm and joined the crowd by the under-the-bus baggage compartment, hauling out paint and leaflets and placards stapled to sticks. Attila grabbed up a sign from the bin: "PRE-K IS FOR PRECIOUS KIDS!"

"That's the one I had my eye on," Buck said.

"Take it, then, you Hoosier hick." Attila thrust the placard at Buck's belt buckle.

Buck grabbed it. "Watch yourself, Hun."

Ruth rushed over. "We painted signs enough for everybody."

"Tell Big Boy that," Attila said.

"Get your own sign, Hun." Buck put down the placard to help Janellen lift a bucket of red paint from the baggage compartment.

In a spirit appropriate to Independence Day, the students ignored Buck's commands and paired off to sit where and with whom they pleased while they waited to confront their first cars. The ripe corn on both sides of the highway perfumed the dawn air.

Ruth flopped her backpack down next to Attila and pulled out a blanket to sit on. Attila folded his newspaper for a pad and sat, propping his placard across his knees. "By evening we'll all have Tee Bee," he said.

"Tee Bee? What's that?"

"Tired Butt," Attila said. He turned toward her. "You like my Fritzie accent?"

"I do. It sounds so European."

"It is European. I can show you the passport." Attila tapped the tips of Ruth's golden-tipped sandals. "These are not shoes a patriot would choose to kick George the Third's butt. They are more like the slippers Cinderella wore to dance with Prince Charming."

"My shoes are vegan," Ruth said.

"Like, from Las Vegas?"O say can you see, by the dawn's early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming? And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there; O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep, Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam, In full glory reflected now shines in the stream: 'Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave. And where is that band who so vauntingly swore That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion, A home and a country, should leave us no more? Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave: And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave. O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved homes and the war's desolation. Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.' And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

"No, 'Vegan' meaning 'all human made'. No leather. There's nothing in my shoe that's animal."

"How about your foot?"

Ruth laughed. "Seriously, Attila, we vegans think people should not exploit animals."

"I'm not about to give up pork chops for parsnips," Attila said. He stood, picked up his placard and newspaper, and shouted across the median. "Hey, Janellen. That coffee?"

Ruth pursed her lips. She pulled off a sandal and contemplated her toes. Slipping the little shoe back on, she tugged a sheaf of protest handouts from her backpack and stood between the lanes to challenge the first westbound car, a Tesla sedan.

The autocar stopped a meter from Ruth's golden toe-tips. "Beep?" Ruth waved her placard toward the car's windshield: "SAVE PRE-K FOR OUR PRECIOUS KIDS."

A man wearing a flag-and-fireworks tee shirt stepped out. He looked down the lines of students stretched across the highway, two lanes westbound, two lanes eastbound. "Trouble up ahead?"

"Yes! Trouble! Read this!" Ruth shoved a flier toward the man. "The Governor has withdrawn funding for pre-Kindergarten programs."

"You got kids, little girl?"

"I'm not married." Ruth said.

"Well, I am." He balled Ruth's handout and tossed it back to her. "Girlie, you're making me late for a picnic with my wife and kids."

Across the road, Cheyenne struck a chord on his Jim Dandy and bellowed, "We Shall Not Be Moved."

The protesters, linked hand-to-hand across the highway, joined in his song. Cheyenne walked over to stand in front of a six-person GM autocoach as he strummed and improvised. "Toddlers need pre-K: We shall not be moved."

The coach beeped and said, "Please step out of the roadway."

"No way!" Cheyenne answered.

A gasoline-powered truck the size of a bungalow chugged up to loom over the lesser vehicles.

Buck slung his bullhorn's strap over his shoulder and sniffed the air. "That rig has hogs. They sure stink."

"Perhaps they haven't been given a chance to freshen up," Attila said.

The truck's Teamster, African-American, as tall as Buck but not as beefy, climbed down from his cab. In his hand he grasped the harmonica he'd been playing as his truck tooled along. He blotted the instrument with a red bandana. "I've got five hundred pigs in this rig, you kids. They've got an appointment down the road."

"I don't think your passengers are in any hurry to go from Beast to Wurst," Attila said.

The Teamster laughed. "You got a point, Fritz. But listen to my passengers." The truck vibrated as five hundred pigs contended for trotter room. The Teamster looked around at the road filled with chanting students brandishing placards. "Shouldn't you folks be in school?"

"Man, it's the Fourth of July," Attila said. "Why aren't you in your backyard, saluting Independence with a beer and a bratwurst?"

"'Cause I'm pulling in holiday double overtime, Fritz."

Ruth thrust a flier toward the Teamster. "Please read this, Mister. We can't let your truck roll until the Governor opens up pre-schools for our little brothers and sisters."

"Young lady, I've got kids, too," the Teamster said. "And I've got pigs." He tapped his harmonica on his hand. "No offense, but I'll just sit in my truck till the adults get here to clear the road." He climbed back into the air-conditioned cab, deploying his harmonica to play a moody melody.

On the sun-washed pavement behind the protesters Janellen dipped her roller into the paint bucket and began to spell out, in half-meter red capitals, "PRE-K IS FOR. . ."

Behind and beside the pig rig, lines of bugs sat stymied, their passengers peering out the windows. The lead vehicles honked for permission to proceed.

A bulbous man in knee-length khaki shorts exited his VW Golf, balancing himself on a four-toed cane. He shook this toward the closest student, whose placard read, IF YOU THINK EARLY EDUCATION IS EXPENSIVE, TRY ADULT IGNORANCE."

"I will give your ignorant asses an education!" the large man said. He struck his cane against the concrete. "With this!"

Ruth thrust a flier into his free hand. Swearing, the man balled it and threw it at her head. "This is what I think of you radicals," he said. He spat between her golden sandals.

"You, Sir, are a pig," Attila said.

"Gah!" The big man slammed back into his car, pulled a bottle from the utility bin, unscrewed the cap and drank deeply.

With a hurricane of noise, the downdraft of a TV news helicopter fluttered the blades of the corn-plants. A second helicopter, bearing State Police insignia, spiraled down over the corn. "You are ordered to disperse," a voice blasted.

Protesters swatted their signs toward the airborne police, shouting, "We shall overcome!" Their message was lost in the paradiddle of helicopter blades.

"Move aside, or I'll move you," shouted the passenger in a Tesla van, waving his fist out the window.

Attila stepped up. "Can't move us. We're demonstrating to give little kids a head start."

The man yelled into his car's command console, "Move out!"

A red light blinked as the machine apologized. "Cannot comply."

"Second Law, Dummkopf!" Attila said. "An Autonomous Vehicle must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law." He banged the top of the van with his placard. "It's the Law, Got that?"

"Attila, no violence!" Buck said.

"You are not my boss, Big Boy."

"Damn it, Hun. We've got to work together," Buck said.

"Meconium. Frass. Scybala. Merde. Scheisse!" Attila chanted. Then, "Bok! Bok! Buck!"

"What the hell are you clucking about?" Buck demanded.

Attila laughed. "You just proved you don't know 'shit'."

"That's juvenile," Janellen said.

"Begging your pardon, Miss Smith, but 'Buck' is the Turkish word for 'shit'. Very appropriate, it seems to me."

"You both disgust me."

"Something else, my dear Miss Smith," Attila said. "You and I are kin under the skin. My patronymic, 'Demirci,' is Turkish for 'Smith'." He blew her an air-kiss. "You'll always be a sister to me, Janellen."

"Goddamn polyglot Hun," Buck said.

"Take that back, Buck!" Attila said.

"Take back 'polyglot'? Or 'Hun'?"

"Attila, King of the Hunnish Empire, is our Turkish national hero."

"You're no hero, Turkey!" Buck swatted his sign ("SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN TO COME TO PRE-K") toward Attila's head. The German lunged toward Buck, whose raised right fist, grasping the stick of his placard, caught Attila on the side of his jaw and rocked him back onto a Ford van. He scrambled to his feet and leaped toward Buck.

Cheyenne pushed his guitar between the two. "Mind you boys don't ding my instrument," he said.

Ruth reached to grasp Buck's arm. "We're fighting the Governor, not each other," she said.

Attila rubbed his left cheek. "That was a sneak attack, Buck."

"I suggest you retire to the other side of the road, Hun," Buck said.

"We'll discuss this later," Attila said. "Away from the girls."

"Cool it, Attila," Ruth said. "Let's have peace."

"Good idea, Ruth. How about making it a piece of pie?"

"Thanks, yes."

Ruth and Attila strolled toward the cart offering pie with paper plates and plastic forks. Another cart offered iced tea. Attila bought wedges of pumpkin pie and paper cups of tea. He scooped ice from his cup, wrapped it in a paper napkin, and pressed it against his cheek.

A white van with a satellite dish perched on its roof drove up behind the mass of immobile bugs and coaches. Three reporters wearing body cameras threaded through the cars to get closer to the students dancing and chorusing on all four lanes: "We Shall Not Be Moved," and then, "Governor Mac, Give back Kids' Pre-K jack."

Sunflowers towered along the river side of the Big Boy parking lot, their seed-heads patrolled by bees. Behind them the corn fluttered in the downdraft of the two helicopters. Their breeze was welcome to the sweating students.

Passengers had left their cars to visit the restaurant, where beer and wine were available. The passengers, their car being Designated Driver, need not fret about Breathalyzers.

By mid-afternoon the highway was jammed tight in all lanes and both directions. A TV helicopter circled, filming for the six o'clock news. Students patted fresh sunscreen on the backs of their necks; the girls in shorts besmeared their legs. The restaurant's ice machine chattered to meet the demand of the growing crowd.

A jeep crunched through the cornfield at the side of the road. Driven by a sergeant, the jeep halted at the edge of the pavement. A lieutenant wearing desert cammies and a green helmet liner climbed onto the hood of the vehicle to once-over the road. "What a fucking fucked-up cluster-fuck!" he said.

"Whatcha want me to do, Loot?" his sergeant asked.

"Hand me my Voice of Command." The officer lifted the bullhorn and aimed it toward the thickest part of the crowd. "You damned brats get your asses off of my roadway." His words bounced off the belly of the restaurant's Big Boy icon.

Buck deployed his own horn. "No way, Jose!"

Under a continuo of pig snorts and helicopter racket, "We shall not be moved" rose from five-dozen voices, backed by Cheyenne on his guitar. The Teamster dropped down from his cab, mouthed his harmonica and joined the anthem.

Behind the jeep a halftrack crashed through the corn, bearing a dozen soldiers, ten men and two women, spraying sap from the stalks.

"Hey, Girls! I like them legs!" one of the cigarette-smoking males yelled, waving his carbine toward the student women in their summer shorts. One of the women soldiers socked him in the chest.

"Be at ease and get rid of those damned cigarettes!" the Lieutenant shouted. The cigarettes hit the pavement. The Lieutenant jumped down from the hood of the jeep. "Fix bayonets," he ordered.

The soldiers leaped out of the halftrack, tossing back into its bed the sheaths of the stubby bayonets. The sergeant cursed his squad into a line of skirmishers, the blades on their dainty carbines pointing toward the crowd. "You college brats are ordered to disperse," the officer bull-horned. He jumped back into the jeep and stepped on the gas.

The jeep, not constrained by the Laws of Autonomous Vehicles, lunged forward a meter or two before an Elio bug nuzzled its front bumper, blocking the jeep. The two women in the little three-wheeler stared out their windshield, eyes wide.

"Exit the vehicle." The car was addressing its passengers. "Exit the vehicle," the machine repeated, this time more loudly. "For your safety, exit the vehicle."

The women clicked free their seatbelts, opened the door and stepped onto the pavement.

A coach crept along the berm beside the pig truck. It raised up its doors like beetle wings. "For your safety, exit the vehicle," the machine told its passengers.

Four men and two women stepped out to stand with the students. More autocars, two-person bugs and larger vans and coaches were ordering their passengers to get out. When their doors closed the leading machines eased forward, brushing past their evicted passengers.

The soldiers dressed their line, their little bayonets wobbling. The Lieutenant raised his automatic in his right hand, his bullhorn in his left. "I order you to disperse!"

"And I order you to stuff yourself, Herr Field Marshall," Attila yelled back.

One of the soldiers shouted. "Show some respect. We are your National Guard." Balancing his little weapon on its trigger, he bumped it against his knee.



"Stop that, you idiot!" The Lieutenant dropped his bullhorn and lowered his .45.

The round rang twice as it streaked under the pig truck to punch a pair of holes in the gasoline tank.

Fuel trickled out and pooled under the truck. A pseudopod of gasoline touched the cigarettes smoldering on the pavement.

"Bok!" Attila leaped forward to stomp on the glowing cigarettes, but was blocked by the truck's surging forward. The truck angled off the road, crashed through a row of sunflowers and a narrow strip of corn to dive into the river.

"What the hell is happening?" the Teamster yelled.

A finger of spilled gasoline excited a smoldering cigarette. With a pop, a line of fire exploded and skittered toward the truck, now bubbling down into the water. Where the truck had stood a moment ago a puddle of gasoline flared, smoking then shrinking to a black ring on the concrete.

The cab of the truck poked into river-bottom mud. The pigs inside, water pushing them toward the roof of the truck, kicked and gurgled distress.

With a groan the back doors of the truck burst open to release a regiment of swine, splashing toward the bank. The pigs paddled to climb up the slope, their trotters churning the mud.

"I didn't know that pigs can swim," Ruth said.

"I see that trucks can't," Attila said.

Scrambling out of the river, up the bank, onto the road, pigs pushed past people and immobile autocars. The animals squealed a triumphant chorus as they trotted into the cornfield to begin their harvest.

"They ought to be wearing party hats," Cheyenne said. Lifting his guitar he sprang back to avoid a mud-smeared sow. She bumped against one of the pie carts and tipped it over. Surveying the spill, she selected blueberry.

"That's one smart AV," Janellen said, leaning on the concrete railing of the bridge to look at the truck settling into the water. There were muddy pig-smears on her white trousers.

Cheyenne stood by the Teamster. "Your truck obeyed Third Law," he said.

"You mean, by saving itself from burning up? Sure. ‘An Autonomous Vehicle must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.' But why did my truck let my pigs out?"

Before Cheyenne could answer, the halftrack crashed out from the cornfield, tossing stalks and corn ears onto the highway.

"Disperse!" shouted the Lieutenant, steering the tracked vehicle. Empty bugs rolled toward him, crushing the scattered greenery. Fat ears of corn snapped off the stalks and rolled onto the road. Pigs squealed applause and trotted in to enjoy the cornucopia.

A dozen passengerless bugs and two coaches surged up to block the halftrack and the soldiers with bayonets.

"I think the cars are protecting the soldiers from the pigs," Attila said.

"Actually, they seem to be protecting everybody from everybody else," Janellen said. The breeze, promising rain, fluttered her big white hat.

The Guardsmen, city youngsters, advanced cautiously toward the foraging swine. "They'll get a ribbon for this campaign," Cheyenne said.

Deeper in the fields, pigs lunged into the air like Frisbee players, snatching ears of corn off the stalks. One team trotted back to the road to investigate the pies that had fallen from the tipped cart.

The Teamster sat with his cellphone by the side of the highway, calling for swineherds to help him gather up his cargo.

Passengers were climbing back into their vehicles, slamming the doors, anxious not to be knocked over by a torpedoing pig.

"Line of Skirmishers!" the Guard officer ordered. His sergeant cursed his troops into line as they stumbled through the corn toward the students, their carbines and bayonets wobbling.

The empty bugs drew together to become a wall between the troops and the students.

Half a dozen pigs, intent on fresh corn on the cob, scampered through the line of soldiers. One man made a clumsy feint with his bayonet. A bug gently pressed his little weapon aside.

"The cars are talking to each other," Cheyenne said. "They're communicating vehicle-to-vehicle."

"They are protecting us from the soldiers and the soldiers from the pigs," Janellen said.

The empty autocars were sheep-dogging swine into the narrow cornfield on the river side of the road, away from standing passengers and students. A few empty cars rolled up to block the two Guard vehicles. The troops scrambled onto the halftrack to get above the scrum of pigs.

"The cars are herding the pigs in one direction, us in another. Like I said, they're communicating Vee-to-Vee," Cheyenne said. "Moving together, like a flock of birds."

In the parking lot, the students' yellow autobus switched on its interior lights. Easing its way through the crowd, gently pressing aside pigs and students, the bus coaxed, "Pardon me. Please make way."

Sirens sounded from the city. Blocked by the lines of bugs and coaches, three human-driven police cars bounced along the grass of the median strip.

A woman sergeant and a patrolman jumped from the lead squad car. The man slipped. "Goddamn! There's pig shit all over my shoe." "A policeman's lot is not an 'appy one," his sergeant said. She looked into the western sky. "Rain's coming. It'll wash your shoe."

Dark clouds to the west veiled the setting sun. The highway lights flickered on, their globes bowed over the clogged road like the heads of the sunflowers below them. Thunder came with driving rain.

"Officer, take your command back to the barracks," the police sergeant said.

The Guard Lieutenant, outranked by the police sergeant's civil authority, balled his fists on the steering wheel of the halftrack. His troops pulled ponchos over their heads and slipped the sheathes back onto their bayonets.

A policeman peeled open a pack of double-cuff plastic restraints. "You five line up," his sergeant ordered.

"Why are you arresting us?" Ruth asked her, wiping rainwater from her eyes, "The First Amendment, remember? We beat King George, remember?"

"The Constitution empowers me to arrest the ringleaders of a riot, Miss," the sergeant said. "By the amount of mud on you five youngsters, I'd say you're the ringleaders."

"We were demonstrating peacefully," Janellen said.

The sergeant looked around the mass of autocars, now feeling their way, avoiding the occasional pig, the litter of placards and shattered staves, the overturned carts and smears of pig-ravaged pies, past the truck, sinking deeper into the river. "If this was a peaceful demonstration," she said, "spare me an insurrection."

As the other students boarded their bus, programmed to take them back to the campus, Janellen, Ruth, Buck, Cheyenne and Attila were escorted into squad cars.

"My guitar is getting rained on," Cheyenne said.

"As am I," the police sergeant said. She handed Cheyenne's instrument to one of her men. "Dry off Cowboy's banjo and stow it in the trunk of my car."

The road cleared. Under the lights, a human-driven tow truck backed toward the riverbank and the submerged truck, its hook dangling. The Teamster, sitting beside the tow truck's driver, played a mournful tune on his harmonica.

# # #

The five ringleaders, fresh from jail, sat at the big table at The Diverticulum, campus pizza pub, for an After Action Report. "What is most important," Buck said, "is that the pre-K's got their funding back. The Governor conceded."

"I'll drink to that," Cheyenne said.

"Right. You buy the first pitcher," Attila said.

"To balance his budget after reauthorizing the funds for pre-K's, the Governor has cut our college subsidies in half," Buck said.

"So we shot ourselves in the foot," Janellen said.

"Little kids win a lot, us big kids lose a little," Ruth said. She looked over toward the pizza ovens. "Smells delicious."

"Ruth, are you vegans allowed to drink beer and eat pizza?" Attila asked.

"Of course we can," Ruth said. "It's not as though we were some kind of food nut."

"Pizza has cheese on it," Buck said. "Cheese is made from cow's milk. Cows are meat."

"I have specified that my pizza be made with vegan cheese," Ruth said.

"Vegan cheese is made by mashing up puppies," Attila said.

Ruth rested her hand on Attila's. "I know. But they're vegan puppies."

The first pizza arrived for the carnivores, half sausage, half pepperoni, just as Cheyenne brought over his assigned pitcher of beer.

"What was going on with the cars yesterday?" Buck asked.

Cheyenne cut himself a sector of pizza with the little pastry wheel. "Like I said, they were working together Vehicle-to-Vehicle"

"The truck saved the pigs. Got them away from the gasoline fire, then turned them loose from the sinking truck. The pigs would have burned up if the truck hadn't jumped into the river," Janellen said. "And they would have drowned if the truck hadn't opened its doors,"

Ruth's pizza arrived, certified free of animal content. "Good." Wiping a tendril of vegan cheese from her chin, she said, "I think the autocars showed reverence for life."

"The truck and the cars gave the pigs the protection of the Laws, just as though the pigs were people," Attila said. "That's disturbing."

"Why disturbing?" Buck asked.

"I'll tell you why," Cheyenne said. "Why did the autocars protect the pigs?" He paused. "It's because they don't see any difference between us people and those pigs."

Ruth set down her beer mug. "You called that guy who spat at me a pig, Attila."

"A metaphor," he said.

"Maybe not," Ruth said. "What if Cheyenne is right, and the truck and the other autovehicles decided that the pigs fit their definition of ‘human'? That they had to protect them?"

"That's silly," Janellen said.

"No, it makes sense," Cheyenne said. "Why else would the drowning truck set the pigs free? It was applying First Law to save the truck's passengers."

"Who happened to be five hundred pigs," Buck said.

Attila laughed. "How do you expect anautovehicle to see the difference between your average pig and your average Hoosier?"

"I'll overlook that remark, since it comes from an average Turkey," Buck said.

"If the cars were defending the pigs, what will they do when they find out that we slaughter them for food?" Janellen asked. "Under First Law, if they extend First Law to pigs, the cars will have to stop us. They cannot, by inaction, allow us to continue killing them." "What if the autovehicles turn all-the-way vegan?" Ruth asked. "Extend their protection to cattle? Maybe even chickens?"

"Then we'd all have to wear golden vegan sandals and eat chemical cheese on our pizzas," Attila said.

Ruth put down her beer. "If our autocars do go vegan, you guys might have to modify your diets."

"Worse than that," Attila said. "We might have to become pedestrians."




Last year the Science Fiction Writers of America renewed my membership on the basis of stories published when I was practically a boy.

My stories back in the 50s, 60s and 70s came out in all the fragrant s-f and mystery pulps of those years. Many were anthologized: Speculations, '73; Purr-fect Crime, '89, Analog II, '63, Hitchcock's A Brief Darkness '87 and the 1971 Mystery Writers of America anthology, Murder Most Foul.

Recently a dozen of my one-act plays have been produced by amateur groups and rejected by professional companies.

My dreadful s-f novel, Wild and Outside, Chilton Press, appeared and disappeared in 1969.

My most recent sale (last week) was to Mystery Weekly Magazine, a short story, Acid Test.



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Jose Sanchez Filler "Beastie on A Leash"