a short story involving a farmer on an alien planet

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by dymondbolt, Jul 22, 2010.

  1. dymondbolt

    dymondbolt New Member

    Jul 22, 2010
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    Howdy; I'm new here, but not to SF and fantasy. I've been reading both since 1968. And I read in an anthology of a number of authors, written in the 1950's or very early 1960's; a short story about a farmer on an alien planet that had a little trouble with one of the local "animals". The planet had an intelligent species, but they were sexless and very docile to the pilgrim humans carving out farms on their planet. Seems each farm had one or two of the creatures. The planet had lots of other animal life, many dangerous, others just big.
    So one day the farmer wakes to find close to half his crop has been eaten by what the "locals" call a Horta. This story was written long before the Star Trek episode with that name applied to one of their creatures.
    So the locals hear the farmer is mad and wants to make sure the Horta doesn't come back. He's gonna hunt and kill it.
    The locals are horrified at first, then one of them helps in the hunt.
    But the farmer doesn't get much information out of the "guy" and as they start stalking it, the Horta seems to have started hunting them. A trap that was set for it, gets turned around on them both and the local is killed.
    And as he continues to hunt it, it seems to be getting smarter and a bit playful.
    Finally one of his traps collides with one of the Horta's and the farmer is injured and trapped under a log, while the huge Horta is trapped in a pit with no chance of escape. { one bit of info that was teased out of the local before it died, was that the Horta is the mother creature for the local animals. And upon the few times that the farmer actually got a shot at the thing, all that they found near where he shot it, was a mangled bit of flesh that vaguely resembled the shrunken shape of a viscious huge predatory bird}.
    So he suddenly learns, trapped as he is, that the Horta can speak!
    It normally lives in a mental state of animal ignorance. Taking in information relating to the world and nature, and growing all the animals in the area.
    Her body is an amalgam of all the creatures she is gestating till they grow to a size and then she releases them and starts anew. That includes the intelegent locals [That's why no sexual organs]
    And even trapped, she isn't angry at the farmer. She had a fun time hunting him back. She's not the only one on the planet, but it will cause some problems in the local area when she dies.
    So the farmer pulls one of the smaller logs near him so it falls into the pit.
    Then the Horta disassembles her self and each small part escapes up the log.
    He finally gets to see the part of her that is just her. And as she reassembles, he realizes that she doesn't realy have to help him.
    But moments later he thinks she's gonna have one of her much bigger "Kids" finish him off. One of those huge birds enters the clearing. And then kicks the heaviest blocking logs off of the farmer. Then it leaves.
    The Horta is still there.
    Thanks all around.
    Farmer "But what happens when you forget all of this and take a bite out of my crops next season? You said when your intelligence isn't needed, you loose it."
    Horta "That shouldn't be a problem. Just hunt me again for a day or two, and I'll remember you and what happened before. No nasty traps and we'll both have a bit of fun, til I remember you."
    Farmer "Sounds good to me."
    And her last cogent thoughts as they parted were, "He's a really resourceful, creature. Maybe next brood of children, I'll include a few of him amongst them."

    So does anyone recall the author and name of the story? Or even the anthology that it was in.

    Thanks for any help.