Matt is a secret weapon. Naturally immune, he serves his country by spreading plague in places his government wants to destabilize. It’'s only politics—he knows that—but it changes you. First you’re afraid to touch anyone, and then you’re just afraid.
The boy lives on a garbage dump in a city crowded with a million poor kids just like him. They will all soon be dead of the plague Matt will unleash here, but Matt sees the boy’s face in his dreams, and if he’s ever to be human again, he has to make a difference in this one child’s life.
“The Boy in Zaquitos” is a novelette of approximately 8,800 words. It originally appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 2006, and was selected by Stephen King for The Best American Short Stories 2007.
“Bruce McAllister is one of the least known and greatest talents working in the science fiction field today.”
—Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories
“Among top short story talents in the field, McAllister is a leader. Polished, moving, thought-provoking — this collection is without parallel.”
— Harry Harrison, Science Fiction Grand Master
“Bruce McAllister is that rarity, a writer who can do anything. His stories range from the sweet to the terrifying, idea-dense to atmospheric, character-rich to event-packed. And sometimes all of this in the same story. Writers read other writers to learn tricks, but I often cannot see how he does it. He’s a magician.”
— Gregory Benford