星际动物园
The Star Zoo


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    1 You must marry me
    1 You must marry me
    
    Nothing ever happens on Just Like Home—that's the name of the planet I live on.I get so bored!
    But tonight was Remembering Night and that's exciting.There's the big fire where everybody must put on something that they love and watch it burn.Then there's the dancing round the fire.
    But what I like best about Remembering Night are the clothes.We usually wear what we like on Just Like Home—but the clothes must have the name of our name-animal on them.For example,I always have the word'Hummingbird'on my clothes,which means my name is Hummingbird—Hummy for short.
    Nobody knows what a hummingbird looks like,but we know what birds are.Birds are animals that fly.The Book of Remembering tells us that.
    I don't always believe what the Book of Remembering says.
    Nobody knows who you are on Remembering Night because you wear black clothes that cover you from head to foot,and there is no name of your name-animal.You can only see people's eyes looking out of the eye-holes in the clothes.
    It was dark outside.The only light came from the big fire.I beld my father's hand at first and we danced together.My mother danced away and I couldn't see her.Soon I lost my father.I didn't know where they were.
    It didn't matter.I was dancing in the middle of the crowd.Our family would meet together in the robot plane afterwards.
    There were about a thousand people round the fire.Too many people to count.Nearly everybody on Just Like Home was there.
    Everybody,on planets all over the Galaxy,was dancing round fires at the same time.What a wonderful thing!
    The last dance began.You hold hands in a big circle round the fire—everybody together.You dance round and round in a circle until…
    Well,everybody knows what happens in the end.
    I was holding hands with someone on my right and someone on my left.We were all shouting,'BURN BURN BURN BURN BURN BURN BURN…'
    The last dance went on for a long time.In the end somebody fell down.He pulled down the people on both sides of him.Then people on both sides of them fell down.Everybody was too tired to stay on their feet.
    People fell down all round the circle.Falling.Dying.
    We wear black clothes to remember.We remember the Burning.
    We remember that we have a Galaxy,but we are alone.We are empty in our hearts.We are the only living things in the Galaxy.
    Sad.Lonely and sad.
    I lay on the ground,very,very tired.I was happy and sad at the same time.Happy to be with everybody,sad that we were alone.
    Then the worst thing in my life happened.Somebody came up to me and said,'Hello.'I didn't know who it was.I could only see his eyes shining in the light of the fire.But it was the voice of a man who was much older than me.
    'Hello?'I answered.I didn't want to talk to him.
    'I saw you in the dance,'he said.'I know you're a young girl because you were dancing like a young girl.I think you're seventeen years old.'
    'No,I'm only sixteen,'I said.
    'Wonderful.Just what I want,'said the man.'I will marry you.You must marry me.'
    I couldn't believe what he was saying.This was terrible.And very bad luck.
    Yes,it was true a woman must marry any man who asks her on Remembering Night—by order of the Star Council.I'm sixteen so I'm a woman,not a child.I couldn't say no to this man.I was sick in my heart.
    'My name's Buff,'the man said.'What's your name,sweetheart?'
    'Er,my name's,er…Caterpillar,'I lied.'I'm usually called Kate.'
    'Well,Kate,'Buff said,'will you marry me?'
    'I'm sorry,Buff.I know I'm sixteen and old enough to get married but my parents don't want me to get married yet.I'm their only daughter.'
    Buff laughed.It was a horrible Iaugh.He enjoyed knowing I didn't want him.What a monster!
    Oh,thank Earth-and-animals I hadn't told him my real name!
    I jumped up suddenly and ran into the crowds of people in the dark.I was safe.He couldn't find me.I went to our robot plane and sat inside until my parents came.
    I didn't tell my parents anything.I was afraid.The Star Council said Buff was right and I was wrong,and I didn't know what my parents would do.
    Next morning I forgot about it.How could Buff find me?There were hundreds of girls on our planet.He didn't know my name.He had only seen my eyes.
    Suddenly my father came into my room.'Hummingbird,'he said sadly.
    'What's the matter?'I asked.'Why are you calling me Hummingbird,not Hummy?'
    'Hummingbird,ask your robot for a wedding dress.'
    'Why?Why?'But I knew the answer.
    'You will marry a gentleman called Buffalo.'
    'No,father,I can't.'I started crying.'I don't want to.I'm too young.I don't want to leave you.I hate him!'
    My father shook his head.'Please,Hummy,it's only for one year.You can't be a child forever.Lots of girls don't want to get married at first.The Star Council says we must get married as often as possible and have children.You know why.'
    'Why?'I spoke like a small child.
    'Because we are lonely.Because there is nothing in the Galaxy except us.You know all that,Hummy.'
    The dressing-robot made me a wedding dress—we have robots for everything like that.The dress was white and covered me all over except for my eyes.
    My father took my arm.
    Buff was waiting with my mother.I saw his eyes through the eye-holes of his wedding suit.They were small mean eyes.
    'Hello,Kate,'he said.
    My father said,'Her name is Hummingbird.'
    'I know,I know,'Buff said.
    'How did you find me?'I asked Buff.
    'I had a small camera,'he answered.'I took a photo of your eyes.Did you know that everybody's eyes are different?Nobody has eyes like yours.'
    I turned to my father.'Listen to him!Can't you see how horrible he is?Please don't make me marry him.'
    My father didn't say anything.He couldn't help me.
    You can say no if a man asks you to marry him on Remembering Night.But you must have a very special reason.A reason that the Star Council will accept.If you are doing work that is important for the Galaxy,the Council will usually accept that as a good reason.
    I couldn't think of anything like that.But it was something to hope for…if I could escape.
    I was afraid.I didn't want to run away and never see my family again.
    Some neighbours arrived,and the wedding began immediately.
    Buff stood next to me and held my hand.His hand was large and a little wet.How I hated him!
    My father picked up the Book of Remembering.He read,'In the beginning there were millions of planets in the Galaxy but there was only life on one.That was the planet Earth.People and animals lived together.But people polluted Earth.It became too hot for animals to live.They died.All the animals died.So people left Earth and never returned to that planet.Their hearts were empty when they left Earth,empty today,empty forever…'
    Buff was still holding my hand.
    My father spoke again.'Buffalo,will you take my daughter Hummingbird to be your wife for one year,in the name of Earth and the animals?'
    Buff answered,'I will.'
    My father turned to me.'Hummingbird,will you take this man Buffalo to be your husband for one year,in the name of Earth and the animals?'
    That's when I ran.
    I let the wedding dress fall off me.I ran fast.They ran afterme but I could run much faster without the wedding dress.I got to our robot spaceship,jumped into it and said,'Take off.'
    'Why are people running towards us?'the spaceship asked.
    'Take off now!'I shouted.'It's life or death!'
    The spaceship couldn't argue.It took off.
    Just Like Home was green all over—fields of wheat everywhere.I was out in space looking back at my planet.All around me were stars.
    The millions of stars in the Galaxy—that's where I could hide!
    
    1 你必须嫁给我
    
    “赛家”总是死气沉沉的——赛家是我住的行星的名字。我真是烦透了!
    但今晚是怀旧夜,让人兴奋。点着一堆很大的篝火,每个人都要把一些他们心爱的东西放进火里,看着烧掉。然后,大家围着火起舞。
    可怀旧夜最让我喜欢的地方是衣服。我们在赛家平常喜欢穿什么都行——但衣服得写上我们“名肖”动物的名字。比如,我的衣服上总有“蜂鸟”这个词,指的是我的名字叫蜂鸟——简称蜂儿。
    没人知道蜂鸟长得什么样,可我们知道什么是鸟。鸟是会飞的动物。《往事追忆》上是这么告诉我们的。
    我不是太相信《往事追忆》上说的东西。
    在怀旧夜没有人会知道你是谁,因为你从头到脚罩着黑衣服,也没有你名肖动物的名字。你只能看见别人的眼睛从衣服的眼洞里往外看。
    外面很黑。唯一的亮光是那堆大篝火发出的。开始时,我抓着爸爸的手,一起跳舞。我妈妈跳着跳着离我们远了,我看不见她。没多久,爸爸也不见了。我不知道他们去了哪儿。
    没关系。我在人群当中跳舞。我们家人最后会在智能飞船上会面。
    大概有上千人围着篝火,人多得数不过来。赛家上几乎所有人都在那儿。
    银河系每个行星上的所有人都同时在围着篝火跳舞。多么不可思议啊!
    最后一个舞蹈开始了。大家拉着手,在篝火外面围成一个大圈——每个人都拉着手。大家围着圈跳啊跳啊,直到……
    唉,谁都知道最后怎么了。
    我右边拉着一个人的手,左边拉着一个人的手。我们都喊着:“烧啊、烧啊、烧啊、烧……”
    最后一个舞跳了好久。最后有人倒下了。他把他两边的人也拽倒了。然后他们两侧的人也都倒了。大家都累得站不住了。
    一圈人都倒下了。崩溃了,沉寂了。
    我们穿着黑衣服是为了怀念。我们纪念“大火灾”。
    我们记得我们有一个银河系,但我们是孤独的。我们心里空荡荡的。我们是银河系里唯一的生物。
    伤感。孤独而伤感。
    我躺在地上,精疲力竭。一时间我又高兴又难过。我高兴和大家在一起,我难过因为我们孤独。
    然后我一生最糟糕的事发生了。有个人走到我面前说道:“你好。”我不知道是谁。我只能看到他的眼睛在火光下闪光。但那是一个比我大好多的男人的声音。
    “你好?”我答道。我不想和他说话。
    “我看见你跳舞了,”他说,“我知道你是个年轻的姑娘,因为你的舞姿像个年轻姑娘。我猜你有十七岁了。”
    “不,我才十六,”我说。
    “太好了。正合我意,”这个男人说,“我要娶你。你必须嫁给我。”
    我简直无法相信他在说什么。这太可怕了。真是倒霉透顶。
    是的,在怀旧夜,女人必须嫁给向她求婚的男人,这是真的——是星际理事会定下的规矩。我已十六岁,是女人,不是孩子了。我不能拒绝这个男人。我心里一阵恶心。
    “我叫牛子,”这男人说。“你叫什么,亲爱的?”
    “呃,我叫,呃……毛虫,”我骗他道,“他们都叫我虫子。”
    “好,虫子,”牛子说,“你肯嫁给我吗?”
    “对不起,牛子。我知道我已十六,到了可以结婚的年龄,但我父母还不想让我结婚。他们只有我这一个女儿。”
    牛子大笑起来。笑得好可怕。知道我不喜欢他,他很开心。真是个混蛋!
    噢,感谢地球及其动物我没告诉他我的真名!
    我突然跳起来,跑进黑暗中的人群。我安全了。他找不着我。我回到我们的智能飞船上,坐在里面直到我父母回来。
    我什么也没对父母说。我害怕。星际理事会说牛子是对的,我是错的,我不知道我父母会怎么做。
    第二天上午我就把这事儿忘了。牛子怎么能找得到我?我们的行星上有好几百个姑娘。他不知道我的名字。他只看见了我的眼睛。
    忽然,我爸爸进了我的房间。“蜂鸟,”他满面愁容地说道。
    “怎么啦?”我问,“您为什么叫我蜂鸟,不叫蜂儿?”
    “蜂鸟,让你的机器人给你一套婚纱。”
    “为什么?为什么?”但我知道是怎么回事儿了。
    “你要嫁给一个叫水牛的男人。”
    “不,爸爸,我不能。”我哭了起来。“我不要嫁人。我太小了。我不想离开您。我讨厌他!”
    爸爸摇了摇头。“好了,蜂儿,不过是一年的功夫。你不能总是个孩子。好多姑娘开始都不想嫁人。星际理事会说我们必须尽量频繁地结婚,然后生孩子。你知道原因。”
    “为什么?”我孩子似地说道。
    “因为我们孤独。因为除了我们,银河系就没有其他东西了。这些你都知道的,蜂儿。”
    机器人裁缝给我做了一套婚纱——我们做什么都有机器人。婚纱是白的,除了眼睛,把我全罩住了。
    爸爸挽着我的胳膊。
    牛子和我妈妈在一起等着。我通过他结婚礼服的眼洞看见了他的眼睛。一双刻薄的小眼睛。
    “你好,虫子,”他说。
    我爸爸说道:“她的名字叫蜂鸟。”
    “我知道,我知道,”牛子说。
    “你怎么找到我的?”我问牛子。
    “我有个小照相机,”他回答,“我给你的眼睛照了张像。难道你不知道每个人的眼睛都不同吗?没有人长着和你一样的眼睛。”
    我转向爸爸:“听他说的话!您难道看不出他有多坏吗?求您别让我嫁给他。”
    我爸爸没说话。他帮不了我。
    怀旧夜里,男人向你求婚你可以拒绝。但你要有非同寻常的理由,一个星际理事会能接受的理由。如果你正在为银河系做重要的工作,理事会一般会认为这是可以接受的正当理由。
    我想不出任何这种理由。可这只能是痴心妄想……我要是能逃跑该多好。
    我害怕。我不愿逃跑,不愿将来永远见不到我的家人。
    几个邻居到了,于是婚礼马上开始。
    牛子站在我身边,抓着我的手。他的手很大,有点湿。我恨死他了!
    爸爸拿起《往事追忆》。他读道:“开始的时候,银河系有数以百万计的行星,但只有一颗行星上有生命,那就是地球。人类和动物生活在一起。但人类污染了地球。它变得太热了,动物无法生存。它们死了。所有的动物都死了。所以,人类离开了地球,再也没有回到那颗行星。他们离开地球的时候,心里空荡荡的,今天仍是空荡荡的,永远空荡荡的……”
    牛子还抓着我的手。
    爸爸又说话了:“水牛,以地球和动物的名义,你愿意娶我的女儿让她做你一年妻子吗?”
    牛子答道:“我愿意。”
    我爸爸转向我:“蜂鸟,以地球和动物的名义,你愿意嫁给水牛让他做你一年的丈夫吗?”
    就在这时候我跑开了。
    我把婚纱扯了下来。我跑得很快。他们追我,但我没穿婚纱,跑得比他们快得多。我跑上我们的智能飞船,跳了上去,说道:“起飞。”
    “为什么人们朝我们跑?”飞船问道。
    “马上起飞!”我叫道。“生死攸关!”
    飞船不会争辩。起飞了。
    赛家整个都是绿的——到处都是麦田。我在太空中回头看着我的行星。我的周围都是星星。
    银河系的数百万颗星星——那正是我的藏身之地!
    

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