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South Dakota

“They–how do they shit, for one thing–”

Mackie shrugs, hopping out as the rotor slows. “Quantum!” he shouts. “Remember, don’t stop watching! Even if it spits!”

Ned wants to watch the sky–surely the FBI’s close behind–but he doesn’t. His quarry eyes him with nervous disdain and tries to walk away, which fails, of course. Ned wraps his arms around one neck.

“Hear that?” says Mackie. More helicopters. “You ready?”

“I don’t think we can ride these things!”

“Just close your eyes.”

Ned does, inhaling the rich smell of Quantum Llama. Together, for a moment, they fail to exist.

North Dakota

The helicopter descends, but the animals don’t scatter; they turn in place, or take a few steps back and forth, but that’s all. Ned counts eight of them, takes the binoculars from Mackie and looks back: this time there are five. He peers through the lenses.

“No,” he says.

“Must have other ranges elsewhere,” says Mackie, “but this is the only one in North America. They like the terrain in the Badlands.”

“Those are not,” Ned says, with rising uncertainty, “Pushmi-Pullyus.”

“Keep observing, or the waveform could collapse,” Mackie says sharply. “And no, not exactly. We call them Quantum Llamas.”