Lies, Inc., by Philip K. Dick

Re: Lies, Inc., by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Tue Sep 01, 2020 6:26 am

Chapter Ten

Around him in the room the faces of the people became, as he listened to the emphatic, virtually strident pitch of the discussion, suddenly flat and lurid. Like cartoon colors, he thought, and that struck him wrenchingly, as very sobering and very chilling; he sat stiffly, unwilling to move, because even the slightest body motion augmented the oppressive garishness of the crudely painted only quasi-human faces surrounding him.

The discussion had become a vicious, ear-splitting dispute.

Two opposing explanations of the paraworlds, he realized at last, were competing like live things; the proponents of each were more and more with each passing instant becoming manic and bitter, and abruptly he had a complete understanding of the inordinate, murderous tenacity of each person in the room, in fact all of them ... now no one, even those who had decided to remain in the living room to admire the jerky, twitching image of President Omar Jones drone out his harangue, had managed to avoid being sucked in.

Their faces, as Rachmael glanced about, stunned him. Terrible in their animation, their mechanical, horrifyingly relentless single-mindedness, the people around him battled with one another in a meaningless, formless muck of words; he listened with dread, felt terror at what he perceived; he cringed -- and felt himself cringe -- from them, and the desire to hop up and run without destination or the most vague spacial orientation that might help him locate himself, learn where he was, who these envenomed antagonists were -- men and women who, a few intervals ago -- seconds, days; under the LSD it was impossible to be even remotely accurate -- had lounged idly before the TV set, listening to a man who he knew was synthetic, who did not exist, except in the professional brains of THL's sim-elec designs technicians, probably working out of von Einem's Schweinfort labs.

That had satisfied them. And now --

"It wasn't a programming," the fold-fleshed dyed-haired older woman insisted, blasting the air of the room with the shivering, ear-crushing shrill of her near-hysterical voice. "It was a lack of programmmg."

"She's right," the thin, severe man with gold-rimmed glasses said in a squeaky, emotion-drenched falsetto; he waved, flapped his arms in excitement, trying to make himself heard. "We were all supposed to be falsely programmed so we'd see a paradise, as they promised. But somehow it didn't take with us, the few of us here in the room; we're the exceptions, and now those bastard 'wash psychiatrists come in and do the job right."

In vitriolic weariness Miss de Rungs said, to no one in particular, "The hell with it. Leave it up to our control; let the control worry." She leaned toward Rachmael, unlit cigarillo between her dark lips. "A match, Mr. ben Applebaum?"

"Who's our control?" he asked as he got out a folder of matches.

Miss de Rungs, with contempt and rasping animosity, jerked her head at Sheila Quam. "Her. This week. And she likes it. Don't you, Sheila? You just love to make everybody jump. Squirm, squirm, when you come into the room." She continued to eye Sheila Quam with hateful vindictiveness, then turned away, sinking into a voiceless interior brooding, cut off from everyone and in verbal interaction in the room with deliberate and hostile aversion; her dark eyes filmed with loathing.

"What I saw," Rachmael said to Sheila Quam. "Under the LSD -- that cephalopod. That you called -- Hank Szantho calied -- the Aquatic Horror-shape. Was that psychedelic? Under the condition of expanded consciousness did I pick up an actual essence and penetrate a hypnoidal screening-field of some kind? And if that --"

"Oh yes; it was real," Sheila Quam said levelly; her tone was as matter-of-fact as if this was a technical, professional discussion, something of academic interest only. "The cephalops of that sort seem to be, or anyhow it's conjectured by anthropologists in the area to be -- anyhow it's the most reasonable working hypothesis, which they'll probably have to go on whether they like it or not -- is that the cephalopodan life-form experienced as what we refer to as Paraworld Blue, its dominant species, is the indigenous race that dwelt here before TEL showed up with --" She paused, now no longer composed; her face was hardened and when she again spoke her voice was brisk and sharp. "Good big a-thought-for-this week advance weapons. Old papa von Einem's clever monstrosities. The output of Krupp and Sohne and N.E.D, filth like that." She abruptly smashed into a repellent chaos the remains of her cigarillo, "During the Telpor transfer to Whale's Mouth you were fed the routine mandatory crap, but as with the rest of us weevils it failed to take. So as soon as the LSD dart got you you started intuiting within your new environment, the illusory outer husk rigged up became transparent and you saw within, and of course when you got a good clear dose of that --"

"What about the other paraworlds?" he said.

"Well? What about them? They're real, too. Just as real. The Clock; that's a common one. Paraworld Silver; that comes up again and again." She added, "I've been here a long time; I've seen that one again and again ... I guess it's not so hard to take as Paraworld Blue. Yours is the worst. Everybody seems to agree with that, whether they've seen it or not. When you've gone through Computer Day and fed your experience into the fniggling thing's banks so that everybody in the class can --"

Rachmael said carefully, "Why different psychedelic worlds? Why not the same one, again and again?"

Sheila Quam raised a thin, expertly drawn eyebrow. "For everyone? The whole class, as long as it exists?"

"'Yes."

After a pause she said, "I don't really know. I've wondered a whole lot of times. So have plenty of other people who know about it. The wash psychiatrists, for instance. Dr. Lupov himself; I heard a lecture he gave on the subject. He's as no-darn-place as anybody else, and that's what --"

"Why did Miss de Rungs say everyone squirms when you come into the room?" He waited for her answer; he did not let her off the hook.

Smoking a newly lit cigarillo placidly, Sheila Quam said, "A control, whoever he is -- it varies from one month to the next; we take turns -- has the power to order the euth-x of someone he thinks a menace to Newcolonizedland. There's no board of appeal, any more; that didn't work. It's a very simple form, now; I fill it out, get the person's signature, and that's it. Is that cruel?" She eyed him searchingly; evidently the query was sincere. "Next month, in fact sixteen days from now, it'll be someone else's turn and I'll be squirming."

Rachmael said, "What's the purpose of the killing? Why has the control been given such power? Such drastic authority to arbitrarily --"

"There are eleven paraworlds, " Sheila said. She had lowered her voice; in the crowded kitchen the infuriated, hip-and-thigh argument had terminated by dwindling swiftly away and everyone was mutely listening to Sheila Quam. Even the de Rungs girl was listening. And her expression of malice had one; only a stricken, anticipatory dread showed. The same expression that pervaded the features of each person in the room. "Twelve," Sheila continued; the presence of the stony, voiceless audience did not seem either to nonplus her nor to goad her; she continued in the same detached, reasonable fashion. "If you count this." She gestured, taking in the kitchen and its people and then she tossed her head, indicating the booming TV set in the living room with the we-bring-you-live-on-tape voice of President of Newcolonizedland, Omar Jones. "I do," she said, "In some ways it's the most bug-built of all of them."

"But the legal, sanctioned murders," Rachmael said, staring at the girl with her glorious white-shiny hair, her immense guileless blue eyes, and, beneath her turtle-neck sweater, her small, articulated breasts. It did not seem congruent with her, this capacity, this office; it was impossible to imagine her signing death decrees. "What's the basis? Or is there a basis?" He heard his voice rise and become almost a snarl. "I guess there doesn't have to be, not if everyone is locked in." Without consultation with anyone in the class he had come to that self-evident conclusion; the huddled, resigned air about all of them showed that. He felt it in himself already, and it was a noxious, almost physically poisonous sensation, to find himself drawn gradually into this demoralized milieu. Waiting for the control to act, and for whatever reason served. "You consider these people enemies of that state?" He gestured convulsively toward the yammering TV set in the living room, then turned, set down his syn-cof cup with a sharp clatter; across from him Sheila Quam jumped, blinked -- he seized her by the shoulders and half-lifted her to her feet. Wide-eyed, startled, she returned his gaze fixedly, peering into him, penetrating him back as he focused with compassionless, ruthless harshness; she was not afraid, but his grip hurt her; she set her jaw in an effort to keep still, but he saw, in her eyes, the wince of physical suffering. Suffering and surprise; she had not expected this, and he could guess why: this was not what one did to the pro tem control. Pragmatically it was suicidal if not insane.

Sheila, gratingly, said, "All right; possibly someday we'll have to admit -- classify -- Omar Jones and the colony we've built up here as just one more paraworld. I admit it. But until then this remains the reference point. Are you satisfied? And until then any alternate distorted sub reality perceived by anyone arriving is judged prima facie evidence that he's in need of a wash. And if psychiatric help doesn't bring him around to the point that you're at now, sharing this reality instead of --"

Hank Szantho said brusquely, "Tell him what the paraworlds are."

The room, then, was silent.

"Good question," the middle-aged, bony, hard-eyed man said presently.

To Rachmael, Szantho said, "It's von Einem's doing."

"You don't know that," Sheila said quietly.

"He's got some razzle-dazzle gadget he's been playing around with at the Schweinfort labs," Szantho continued, "Undoubtedly stolen from the UN, from where it tests its new top-Secret weapons. Okay, I don't know that, not like I saw it in action or a schematic or something. But I know that's what's behind all this damn paraworld stuff; the UN invented that time-warping device recently and then Gregory Floch --"

"Ploch," Miss de Rungs corrected.

"Gloch," Sheila said bitingly. "Gregory Arnold Gloch. Anyhow, Gloch, Floch, Ploch; what does it matter?" To Rachmael she said, "That freak who switched sides. Possibly you remember, although all the news media because of really incredible UN pressure more or less squelched it, right down the line."

"Yes," he said, remembering. "Five or six years ago." Greg Gloch, the peculiar UN progeny prodigy, at that time beyond doubt the sole genuinely promising new wep-x designer at the Advance-weapons Archives, had, obviously for financial reasons, defected to a private industrial concern which could pay considerably better: Trails of Hoffman. And from there had beyond question passed directly to Schweinfort and its mammoth research facilities.

"From that time-warpage wingding," Hank Szantho continued, appealing to each of them with jerky, rapid gesticulations. "What else could it be? I guess nobody can say because there isn't nothing; it has to be that." He tapped his forehead, nodding profoundly.

"Nonsense," Miss de Rungs retorted. "A variety of alternate explanations come to mind. Its resemblance to the UN's time-warpage device may be merely --"

"To be fair about this," the middle-aged, hard.-eyed man said in a quiet but effective monotone, "we must acquaint this newcomer with each of the major logical alternatives to Mr. Szantho's stoutly defended but only theoretically possible explanation. Most plausible of course -- Szantho's theory. Second -- in my opinion, at least -- the UN itself, since they are the primary utilizers of the device ... and it is, as Mr. Szantho pointed out, their invention, merely pirated by Gloch and von Einem. Assuming it was obtained by von Einem at all, and proof of this either way is unfortunately not available to us. Third --"

"From here on," Sheila said to Rachmael, "the plausibility swiftly diminishes. He will not recount the stale possibility that the Mazdasts are responsible, a frightening boogyman we've had to live with but which no one seriously believes, despite what's said again and again, This particular possible explanation properly belongs in the category of the very neurotic, if not psychotic."

"And in addition," Miss de Rungs said, "it may be Ferry alone, with no help from anyone; from von Einem or Gloch. It may be that von Einem is absolutely unaware of paraworlds per se. But no theory can hold water if it assumes that Ferry is ignorant."

"According to you," Hank Szantho muttered.

"Well," Sheila said, "we are here, Hank. This pathetic colony of weevils, Theo Ferry put us here and you know it. THL is the underlying principle governing the dynamics of this world, whatever category this world falls into: pseudo-para or real or full para." She smiled grimacingly at Hank Szantho, who returned her brilliant, cold glare dully.

"But if the paraworlds are derived via the UN's time-warpage gadget," the hard-faced middle-aged man said, "then they would constitute a spectrum of equally real alternative presents, all of which split off at some disputed episode in the past, some antediluvian but critical juncture which someone -- whoever it is -- tinkered with through the damn gadget we're discussing. And so in no sense are they merely 'para.' Let's face that honestly; if the time-warpage gadget is involved then we might as well end all speculation as to which world is real and which are not, because the term becomes meaningless."

"Meaningless theoretically," Miss de Rungs answered, "but not to anyone here in this room. Or in fact anyone in the world." She corrected herself, "Anyone in this world. We have a massive stake in seeing to it that the other worlds, para nor not, stay as they are, since all are so very much worse than this one."

"I'm not even certain about that," the middle-aged man said, half to himself. "Do we know them that thoroughly? We're so traumatized about them. Maybe there's one that's better, to be preferred."

He gestured in the direction of the living room with its logorrheic flow of TV noise, the pompous, unending, empty spouting-forth of jejune trash by the nonreal president of what Rachmael -- as well as everyone else on Terra -- knew to be a nonreal, deliberately contrived and touted hoax- colony.

"But this world can't be para," Gretchen Borbman said, "because we all share it, and that's still our sole criterion, the one point we can hang onto." To Rachmael she said, "That's so important, Because what no one has laid on you yet, mercifully, is the fact that if two of us ever agree at the same time --" She lapsed into abrupt silence, then. And regarded Sheila with a mixture of aversion and fear. "Then out come the proper forms," she went on, at last, with labored difficulty. "Form 47 -B in particular."

"Good old 47-B," the curly-haired youth said gratingly, and instantly grimaced, his face contorted. "Yes, we just love it when that's trotted out, when they run their routine check of us."

"The control," Gretchen continued, "signs 47-B after he or she -- she, right now -- feeds someone's paraworld gestalt in on Computer Day, which is generally late Wednesday. So after that it becomes public property; it isn't simply a subjective delusional realm or a subjective anything; it's like an exhibit of antique potsherds under glass in a museum; the entire damn public can file past and inspect it, right down to the last detail. So there would hardly be any doubt if ever two individual paraworlds agreed simultaneously.

"That's what we dread," the fold-fleshed older woman with lifeless dyed hair said in a toneless, mechanical voice, to no one in particular.

"That's the one thing," Gretchen said, "that really does scare us, Mr. ben Applebaum; it really does." She smiled, emptily, the expression of acute, unvarying apprehension calcified into sterile hopelessness over all her features, a mask of utter despair closing up into immobility her petite, clear-hewn face -- clear-hewn, and frozen with the specter of total defeat, as if what she and the rest of them dreaded had crept recently close by, far too close; it was no longer theoretical.

"I don't see why a bi-personal view of the same paraworld would --" Rachmael began, then hesitated, appraising Sheila. He could not, however, for the life of him fathom her contrived, cool poise; he made out nothing at all and at last gave up, "Why is this regarded as so -- injurious?"

"Injurious," Hank Szantho said, "not to us; hell no -- not to us weevils. On the contrary; we'd be better able to communicate among each other. But who gives a grufg about that ... yeah, who cares about a little minuscule paltry matter like that -- a validation that might keep us sane."

Sheila said, remotely, "'Sane.'"

"Yes, sane," Hank Szantho snarled at her.

"Folie a deux," Sheila said mildly. To Rachmael she said, "No, not injurious to us, of course. To them." She once more indicated the empty living room -- empty except for the din of Omar Jones' recorded unending monolog. "But you see," she explained to Rachmael, raising her head and confronting him tranquilly, "it wouldn't just be real; that is, real in the experiential sense, the way all LSD and similar psycheletic drug-experiences are ... they're real, but if one of the experiences is common to more than a single individual the implications are quite great; being able to talk about it and be completely understood is --" She gestured faintly, as if her meaning at this point was obvious, scarcely worth articulating.

"It would be coming true," Miss de Rungs said in a stifled, unsteady voice. "Replacing this. " She ejected the end word violently, then swiftly once again sank into her withdrawn brooding.

The room, now, was tomb-like still.

"I wonder which one," Hank Szantho said, half-idly, to himself but audibly. "The Blue, ben Applebaum? Yours? Or Paraworld Green, or White, or god knows which. Blue," he added, "is about the worst. Yeah, no doubt of that; it's been established for some time. Blue is the pit."

No one spoke. They all, wordlessly, looked toward Rachmael. Waiting.

Rachmael said, "Has any of the rest of you --"

"None of us, obviously," Miss de Rungs said, with rigid, cupped firmness, "has undergone Paraworld Blue. But before us -- several, I believe, and fairly recently. Or so the wash psychiatrists say, anyhow, if you can believe them."

"But not all of us," Gretchen Borbman said, "have been before the computer, yet. I haven't, for instance. It takes time; the entire memory area of the cerebral cortex has to be tapped cell by cell, and most of the retention in stored form of the experience is subliminal. Repressed from consciousness, especially in the case of-less favorable paraworlds. In fact the episode in its entirety can be split off from the self-system within minutes after the person regains contact with reality, in which case he has absolutely no knowledge -- available, conscious knowledge, that is -- of what happened to him."

"And a pseudo-memory," Hank Szantho added, rubbing his massive jaw and scowling. "Substituted automatically. Also a function beyond conscious control. Paraworld Blue ... who in his right mind, who wants to keep his frugging right mind, would recall it?"

Gretchen Borbman, impassive, drained and pale, went to pour herself a fresh cup of the still-warm syn-cof; the cup clattered as she maneuvered it clumsily, With iron-rigid fixity all of them maintained a state of contrived obliviousness toward her, pretended not to hear the tremor of her nervous hands as she carried her cup step by step back to the table, and, with painstaking caution, seated herself beside Rachmael. None of the other weevils showed any sign whatever of perceiving her existence in their midst, now; they fixedly kept their eyes averted from her halting movement across the small, densely occupied kitchen, as if she -- and Rachmael -- did not exist. And the emotion, he realized, was stricken terror. And not the same amorphous uneasiness of before; this was new, far more acute, and beyond dispute directed absolutely at her.

Because of what she had said? Obviously that; the ice-hard suspension of the normal sense of well-being had set in the moment Gretchen Borbman had said what seemed to him, on the surface, to be routine: that she, among others in this group, had not presented the contents of their minds, their delusional -- or expanded-consciousness-derived -- paraworld involvement. The fear had been there, but it had not focused on Gretchen until she had admitted openly, called attention to the fact, that she in particular viewed a paraworld which might conform thoroughly to that of someone else in the group. And therefore would, as Miss de Rungs had said, would then be coming true; coming true and replacing the environment in which they now lived ... an environment which enormously powerful agencies intended for extremely vital reasons to maintain.

-- Agencies, Rachmael thought caustically, which I've already come up against head-on. Trails of Hoffman Limited, with Sepp von Einem and his Telpor device, and his Schweinfort labs. I wonder, he thought, what has come out of those labs lately. What has Gregory Gloch, the renegade UN wep-x sensation, thrashed together for his employers' use? And is it already available to them? If it was, they had no need for it as yet; their mainstays, their conventional constructs, seemed to serve adequately; the necessity for some bizarre, quasi-genius, quasi-psychotic, if that fairly delineated Gloch, did not appear to be yet at hand ... but, he realized somberly, it had to be presumed that Gloch's contribution had long ago evolved to the stage of tactical utility: when needed, it would be available.

"It would seem to me," Gretchen Borbman said to him, evidently more calm, now, more composed, "that this rather dubious 'reality' which we as a body share -- I'm speaking in particular, of course, of that obnoxious Omar Jones creature, that caricature of a political leader -- has damn little to recommend it. Do you feel loyalty to it, Mr. ben Applebaum?" She surveyed him critically, her eyes wise and searching. "If it did yield to a different framework --" Now she was speaking to all of them, the entire class crowded into the kitchen. "Would that be so bad? The paraworld you saw, Paraworld Blue. Was that so much worse, really?"

"Yes," Rachmael said. It was unnecessary to comment further, certainly no one else in the tense, overpacked room needed to be convinced -- the expressions on their strained faces ratified his recognition. And he saw, now, why their unified apprehension and animosity toward Gretchen Borbman signified an overwhelming, ominous approaching entity: her exposure before the all- absorbing scanner of the computer in no sense represented one more repetition of the mind-analysis which had taken place routinely with the others in the past. Gretchen already knew the contents of her paraworld. Her reaction had come long ago, and in her manner now consisted, for the others in the group, a clear index of what that paraworld represented, which of the designated categories it fell into. Obviously, it was a decidedly familiar one -- to her and to the group as a whole.

"Perhaps," the curly-haired youth said acidly, "Gretch might be less entranced with Paraworld Blue if she had undergone a period stuck in it, like you did, Mr, ben Applebaum; what do you say to that?" He watched Rachmael closely, scrutinizing him in anticipation of his response; he obviously expected to see it, rather than hear it uttered. "Or could she have already done that, Mr. ben Applebaum? Do you think you could tell if she had? By that I mean, would there be any indication, a permanent --" He searched for the words he wanted, his face working,

"Alteration," Hank Szantho said.

Gretchen Borbman said, "I'm quite satisfactorily anchored in reality, Szantho; take my word for it. Are you? Every person in this room is just as involved in an involuntary subjective psychotic fantasy-superimposition over the normal frame of reference as I am; some of you possibly even more so. I don't know. Who knows what takes place in other people's minds? I frankly don't care to judge; I don't think I can." She deliberately and with superbly controlled unflinchng dispassion returned the remorseless animosity of the ring of persons around her. "Maybe," she said, "you ought to re-examine the structure of the 'reality' you think's in jeopardy. Yes, the TV set." Her voice, now, was harsh, overwhelming in its caustic vigor. "Go in there, look at it; look at that dreadful parody of a president -- is that what you prefer to --"

"At least," Hank Szantho said, "it's real."

Eyeing him, Gretchen said, "Is it?" Sardonically, she smiled; it was a totally inhumane smile, and it was directed to all of them; he saw it sweep the room, withering into dryness the accusing circle of her group-members -- he saw them palpably retreat. It did not include him, however; conspicuously, Gretchen exempted him, and he felt the potency, the meaning of her decision to leave him out: he was not like the others and she knew it and so did he, and it meant something, a great deal. And he thought, I know what it means. She does, too.

Just the two of us, he thought; Gretchen Borbman and I -- and for a good reason. Alteration, he thought. Hank Szantho is right.

Tilting Gretchen Borbman's fat face he contemplated her eyes, the expression in them; he studied her for an unmeasured time, during which she did not stir; she returned, silently, without blinking, his steady, probing, analytical penetration of her interior universe ... neither of them stirred, and it began to appear to him, gradually, as if a melting, opening entrance had replaced the unyielding and opaque coloration of her pupils; all at once the variegated luminous matrices within which her substance seemed to lodge expanded to receive him -- dizzy, he half-fell, caught himself, then blinked and righted himself; no words had passed between them, and yet he understood, now; he had been right. It was true.

He rose, walked unsteadily away; he found himself entering the living room with its untended blaring TV set -- the thing dominated the room with its howls and shrieks, warping the window drapes, walls and carpets, the once-attractive ceramic lamps ... he sensed and witnessed the deformity imposed by the crushing din of the TV set with its compulsively hypomanic dwarfed and stunted figure, now gesticulating in a speeded-up frenzy, as if the video technicians had allowed -- or induced -- the tape to seek its maximum velocity.

At sight of him the image, the Omar Jones thing, stopped. Warily, as if surprised, it regarded him -- at least seemed to; impossibly, the TV replica of the colony president fixed its attention as rigidly on him as he in return found himself doing. Both of them, caught in an instinctive, fully alert vigil, neither able to look away even for a fraction of an instant ... as if, Rachmael thought, our lives, the physical preservation of both of us, has cataclysmically and without warning become jeopardized.

And neither of us, he realized as he stared unwinkingly at the TV image of Omar Jones, can escape; we're both snared. Until or unless one of us can -- can do what?

Blurred, now, as he felt himself sink into numbed fatigue, the two remorseless eyes of the TV figure began to blend. The eyes shifted, came together, superimposed until all at once, locked, they became a clearly defined single eye the intensity of which appalled him; a wet, smoldering greatness that attracted light from every source, drew illumination and authority from every direction and dimension, confronted him, and any possibility of looking away now was gone.

From behind him, Gretchen Borbman's voice sounded, "You see, don't you? Some of the paraworlds are --" She hesitated, perhaps wanting to tell him in such a manner as to spare him; she wanted him to know, but with the least pain possible. "-- hard to detect at first," she finished, gently. Her hand, soothing, comforting, rested on his shoulder; she was drawing him away from the image on the TV screen, the oozing cyclopean entity that had ceased its speeded-up harangue and, in silence, emanated in his direction its diseased malevolence.

"This one," Rachmael managed to say hoarsely, "has a description, too? A code-identification?"

"This," Gretchen said, "is reality."

"Paraworld Blue --"

Turning him around by physical force to face her, Gretchen said, stricken, "'Paraworld Blue'"? Is that what you see? On the TV screen? I don't believe it -- the aquatic cephalopod with one working eye? No; I just don't believe it."

Incredulous, Rachmael said, "I ... thought you saw it. Too."

"No!" She shook her head violently; her face now hardened, masklike; the change in her features came to him initially, in the first particle of a second, as a mere idea -- and then the actual jagged carving of old, shredding wood replaced the traditional, expected flesh, wood burned, carbonized as if seared both to injure it and to create fright in him, the beholder; an exaggerated travesty of organic physiognomy that grimaced in a fluidity, a mercury-like flux so that the irreal emotions revealed within the mask altered without cease, sometimes, as he watched, several manifesting themselves at once and merging into a configuration of affect which could not exist in any human -- or could it be read.

Her actual -- or rather her normally perceived-features, by a slow process, gradually re-emerged. The mask sank down, hidden, behind. It remained, of course, still there, but at least no longer directly confronting him. He was glad of that; relief passed through him, but then it, too, like the sight of the scorched-wood mask, sank out of range and he could no longer recall it.

"Whatever gave you the idea," Gretchen was saying, "that I saw anything like that? No, not in the slightest." Her hand, withdrawn from his shoulder, convulsed; she moved away from him, as if retreating down a narrowing tube, farther and fatally, syphoned off from his presence like a drained insect, back toward the kitchen and the dense pack of others.

"Type-basics," he said to her, appealing to her, trying to catch onto her and hold her. But she continued to shrink away anyhow. "Isn't it still possible that only a projection from the unconscious --"

"But your projection," Gretchen said, in a voice raptor-like, sawing, "is unacceptable. To me and to everybody else."

"What do you see?" he asked, finally. There was almost no sight of her now.

Gretchen said, "I'm scarcely likely to tell you, Mr. ben Applebaum; you can't actually expect that, now, after what you've said."

There was silence. And then, by labored, unnaturally retarded degrees, a groaning noise came from the speaker of the television set; the noise at last became intelligible speech, at the proper pitch and rate: his categories of perception had again achieved a functioning parallel with the space-time axis of the image of Omar Jones. Or had the progression of the image resumed as before? Time had stopped or the image had stopped, or perhaps both ... or was there such a thing as time at all? He tried to remember, but found himself unable to; the falling off of his capacity for abstract thought -- as -- what --was --

He did not know.

Something looked at him. With its mouth.

It had eaten most of its own eyes.
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Re: Lies, Inc., by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Tue Sep 01, 2020 6:27 am

Chapter Eleven

People who are out of phase in time, Sepp von Einem thought caustically to himself, ought to be dead. Not preserved like bugs in amber. He glanced up from the encoded intel-repo and watched with distaste his mysteriously -- and rather repellently -- gifted proleptic co-worker, Gregory Gloch, in his clanking, whirring anti-prolepsis chamber; at the moment, the thin, tall, improperly hunched youth talked silently into the audio receptor of his sealed chamber, his mouth twisting as if composed of some obsolete plastic, not convincingly flesh-like. The mouth-motions, too, lacked authenticity; far too slow, von Einem observed, even for Gloch. The fool was slowing down. However, the memory spools of the chamber would still collect everything said by Gloch, at whatever rate. And the transmission subsequently would of course be at proper time ... although, of course, the frequency would be abysmal, probably doubled. At the thought of the screeching which lay ahead, von Einem groaned.

His groan, received by the sensitive input audio system of the anti-prolepsis chamber, became processed: recorded at twenty inches of iron oxide audio tape a second it whipped in retrograde to rewind, then released itself at six inches a second to be carried to the earphones well fixed to Gloch's bony head. Presently Gloch responded to his reception of his superior's groan with characteristic eccentricity. His cheeks puffed out; his face turned red as he held his breath. And at the same time he grinned vacuously, his head lolling, turning himself into a parody of a brain-damaged defective -- a double parody, because it was of course his own fantastic mentational processes which constituted the actual target of his lampoon. Disgusted, von Einem looked away, gritted his near-priceless custom-fashioned teeth, returned to his scrutiny of the intel-repo material which had newly been made available to him.

"I'm Bill Behren," the tinny mechanical voice of the intel-repo transport announced cheerfully. "Operator of fly 33408. Now, as you may or may not remember fly 33408 is a real winner. I mean it really gets in there and tackles its job and really gathers up the stuff, the real hot stuff. I've personally been operator for, say, fifty flies ... but in all this time, none has really performed true- blue like this little fella. I think he -- or it, whatever they are these days -- deserves a vote of thanks from us all involved in this highly delicate work we do. Right, Herr von Einem?" Operator of housefly 33408 Bill Behren paused hopefully.

"The vote of thanks," von Einem said, "goes to you, Mr. Behren, for your compound eyes."

"How about that," operator Behren rambled on oozingly. "Well, I think we're all inspired by --"

"The data," von Einem said. "As to the activity at the UN Advance-weapons Archives. What specifically is meant by their code number variation three of that time-warping construct they're so devoted to?" Queer for, he thought to himself; the UN wep-x personnel probably take turns going to bed with it.

"Well, sir," operator Bill Behren of fly 33408 answered vigorously, "variation three appears to be a handy-dandy little portable pack unit in the ingenious shape of a tin of chocolate-flavored psychic energizers."

On the video portion of the intel-repo playback system a wide-angle shot of the portable pack appeared; von Einem glanced toward Gloch in his whirring anti-prolepsis chamber to see if the hunched, grimacing youth was receiving this transmission. Gloch, however, obviously lagged at least fifteen minutes behind, now; it would be some time before his synchronizing gear brought this video image to him. And no way to speed it up; that would defeat the chamber's purpose.

"Did I say 'chocolate-flavored'?" Behren droned on, in agitation. "I intended to say 'chocolate- covered.'"

And with such weapons artifacts as this, von Einem reflected, the UN expects to survive. Of course, this assumed that the intel-repo were accurate.

His inquiry into the certainty of fly 33408's information brought an immediate reaction from operator Behren.

"There are just plain virtually no houseflies as intelligent as this; I give you no niddy, Herr von Einem, no niddy at all. And here's the real substance of what 33408 has captured via his multipartis receptors: I suggest you prepare for this, as it's overwhelming." Behren cleared his throat importantly. "Ever hear of ol' Charley Falks?"

"No," von Einem said.

"Think back to your childhood. When you were, say, eight years old or maybe a little more. Recall a backyard and you playing, and ol' Charley Falks leaning over the fence and --"

"This is what your verfluchte fly brought back from the UN Advance-weapons Archives?" Time for a replacement of both Behren and his dipterous insect, both of them with one arboreal, American orthopterous katydid; it could carry twice the minned receptors and recording spools of 33408 and probably would possess the same brain-convolutions as Behren and his housefly put together. Von Einem felt gloomy; in fact his depression bordered on despair. At least Theo Ferry managed to handle the tricky situation at Whale's Mouth effectively -- in contrast to this. And that, more than anything else, counted.

Effectively except for the unhappy weevils and their destroyed, ridiculous crypto-perceptions. The old comrades back in 1945 would have known how to dispatch those Unmanner; von Einem thought to himself with irritable satisfaction. It's a clear sign of genetic decay to be possessed by such subrealities, he brooded. Inferior type-basics overwhelming weak, unstable character-structures; degenerate idioplasm involved casually, beyond doubt.

"Ol' Charley Falks," operator Behren said, "is the individual back in your childhood days who more than any other human being formed your ontological nature. What you have been throughout your adult life depends absolutely, in total essence, on 'what ol' Charley --

"Then," von Einem said witheringly, "why is it that I fail to recall his existence?"

"The UN wep-x tacticians," operator Behren said, "have not as yet placed him there."

***

Within his anti-prolepsis membrane -- the environment manufactured by Krupp und Sohne years ago which permitted him to collaborate with the conventionally time-oriented personalities linked indirectly to him -- the warped, inspired protege of Sepp von Einem contemplated the message-packets discharged at intervals by the data-storing houses of his intricate mechanism. As always, he felt weary; the release of stimuli came too frequently for his overtaxed metabolism ... the adjusting of periodic discharge control gate lay unfortunately outside his manual reach.

What reached him, at the moment, consisted of what seemed the most miserable idiocy he had ever encountered; bewildered, he attempted to focus his depleted attention on it, but only ill-formed fragments of the intel-repo material constellated for his mentational scrutiny.

"... fettered fetus of homemade apples lurching ... searching ... something like pataradical outfits of lace. Iron beds of red hot sabratondea flashes just jib FRIB --"

Resignedly, Gregory Gloch listened on helplessly, wondering what transistorized turret-control of the chamber had gone astray this time.

"... medicine ice

"man.

"cone-shaped melting dripping

"away -- away --"

As apathy began to seep over him an interval of almost startling meaning abruptly caught his ear; he awoke, paid rapt attention.

"Operator Behren, here, with really thrilling data on ol' Charley Falks, who, you'll remember, was placed in the formative years of Herr von Einem on an alternate time-path by the UN wep-x tacticians in order to deflect Herr von Einem from his chosen -- and militarily significant -- profession to a relatively harmless vocation, that of --" And then, to his chagrin, the lucid segment of verbal data faded and the meaningless chatter -- with which he had, over the years, become so familiar -- resumed.

". ..fiber-glassed. Windows
"stained with grease
"Off a polyhemispheric double-overhead-cam
"EXTERNAL compulsion engine
"floating out
"into the vast gigantic money-thing-making machine
" ... diaperashis phenomenon disintegrating
"into foul fierce
"pressure
"spinning spinning
"lifting harsh
"harsh -- a breath, a beat -- a being still present
"-- thank god ..."

And, in the midst of this, the steady but interrupted by the far stronger signal-strength of the babble, the authentic intel-repo continued to make its vital point; he brought his internal attention to bear on it and managed to follow its thread of meaning.

Evidently fly-technician Behren had gathered at last the crucial material as to the UN's disposition of its near-absolute device. With vigorous, virtually relentless logic, Jaime Weiss, the top strategist now working under Horst Bertold -- he who at one time had been von Einem's most brilliant and promising new discovery in the field of weapons inventiveness, but who had turned: gone over to the better-paying other side -- this renegade had come up with the correct answer to the UN's strategic needs.

To kill off Sepp von Einem was now pointless; Telpor existed. But to abolish von Einem sometime in the past, before his discovery of the basic mechanism of teleportation ...

A less skilled manipulation of past-time factors would have sought as its objective cheap outright murder -- the total physical elimination of Sepp von Einem. But this, of course, would simply have left the field open to others, and if one man could locate the principle on which teleportation could be effectively based, then so, eventually, given enough time, could someone else. Telpor, not Sepp von Einem, had to be blocked -- and it would require the presence of a uniquely strong personality to block it. Jaime Weiss and Bertold could not do it; they were not that formidable. In fact, probably only one man in the world could manage it ... successfully.

Sepp von Einem himself.

***

To himself Gregory Gloch thought, It's a good idea. This, his professional, official appraisal of the tactical plan which the UN had put in motion to abort the evolution of the Telpor instrument, had now to be said aloud; Gloch, selecting his words carefully spoke into the recording microphone permanently placed before his lips, simultaneously activating the tape-transport.

"They want for their disposal," he declared, "the use of yourself, Herr von Einem -- nothing else is adequate. A compliment ... but one which you could no doubt do without." He paused, considered. Meanwhile, the tape-reel moved inexorably, but it was dead tape; he felt the pressure on him to produce a counter-tactic in response to what those opposed to his superior had so artfully -- and skillfully -- advanced. "Umm," he murmured, half to himself. He felt, now, even more truly out of phase in the time-dimension: he felt the gulf between himself and those, everyone else in the universe of sentient life, beyond his anti-prolepsis chamber. "In my estimate," he continued, "Your most profitable avenue of action --" And then abruptly he ceased. Because once again the random word-salad noise had burbled into seeming spontaneous existence in his ears.

This, however, appeared to be a radically different -- startling so -- interference than was customary.

Rubbish that it was it nonetheless made sense ... sense, but it had obliterated -- for the time being, at least -- his counter-tactical idea.

Could this be a UN electronic signal deliberately beamed so as to disrupt the orderly functioning of his chamber?

The thought, theoretical as it was, chilled him as he involuntarily, without the possibility of evasion, listened to the curious mixture of nonsense and -- meaning. Of the highest order.

"... I think, though, I see why Zoobko lards, butters, marginates and otherwise fattens up the word 'spore' into the rather sinister male spore slogan. Their house brochure in Move-E: 3-D kul-R is directed (heh-heh) at women consumers, to fumble lewdly a metaphor, ahem, no offense meant (gak). More fully articulated, it would read, 'The male spore, my dears, is as we well know tireless in its half-crazed struggle -- against all sanity and moral restraint -- to reach the female egg. That's the way men are. Right? We all realize it. Give a male (sic) spore half an inch and he'll take seventy-two-and-a-sixth miles. BE PREPARED! ALWAYS READY! A HUGE, SLIMY, SLANT-EYED YELLOW-SKINNED MALE SPORE MAY BE WATCHING YOU THIS VERY MINUTE! And, considering his almost demonic ability to wiggle for miles upon miles, you may at this moment be in dire, severe danger! To quote Dryden: 'The trumpet's loud clamor doth call us to arms,' etc. (And don't forget, ladies, the handsome prize awarded yearly by Zoobko Products, Incorporated for the greatest number of dead male (sic) spores mailed (pun) to our Callisto factory in an old Irish linen pillow case, attesting to (one) your tenacity in balking the evil damned things and (two) the fact that you're buying our lather-like goo in one-hundred-pound squirt cans. Also remember: if you are unable to adequately prepare yourself with a generous, expensive portion of Zoobko patented goo in the proper place, ahem, in advance of marital lawful pawing, then merely squirt the spray can with nozzle directed directly into the grimacing fungiform's ugly face as it hovers six feet high in the air above you. Best range --"

"Best range," Gregory Gloch said aloud, against the din of the obsessive noise in his ears, "approximately two inches."

"-- 'two inches,'" the tinny, mechanical racket reeled off, accompanying him, "'from his eyes. Zoobko's patented goo is not only --'"

"-- 'a top-drawer killer of male spores,'" Gloch murmured,

"'but it also blasts the tear-ducts out of existence. Too bad, fella.'" End brochure, he thought. End monolog. End sex. End of Zoobko, or zoob of Endko. Is this an ad or a contemplation of a squandered life? Check one. I know this discourse, he thought. By heart. Why? How? It's as if, he thought, I said it; as if it's happening inside my brain -- not coming to me from the outside. What does this mean ? I have to know.

"Always bear in mind," the inexorable din continued, "that male spores have an almost appalling capacity to progress under their own power. If, ladies, you constantly ponder that --"

"Appalling, yes," Gloch said, "But FIVE MILES?" I said all that, he realized. A long time ago. When I was a child. But no, he thought; I didn't say all that -- I thought it, worked it out in my mind, a prank, a lampoon, when I was a kid in school. What's being piped to me now here in this goddamn chamber, what's supposed to be rephased sensory-data from the outside world -- it's my own goddamn former thoughts returning to me, a loop from my brain to my brain, with a ten-year lag.

"Splub gnog furb SQUAZ," the aud input circuit rattled away, into his passive ears. Relentlessly.

My counter-weapon, Gloch thought. They've blocked my counter-weapon with a counter-weapon, their own. Who --

"Yes sir, gnog furb," the aud input circuit declared in a hearty but garbled voice, "this is good ol' Charley Falks' little boy Martha signing off for now, but I'll be back with you soon and with me a few more chuckles to lighten the day and make things SQUAZ! cheery and bright. Toodeloo!" The voice, then, ceased. There was only distant background static, not even a carrier wave.

I don't know any little boy named Martha, Gloch thought. And, he realized, there's more wrong; the a-ending is out of the first Latin declension, so "Martha" can't be a boy's name. Logically, it would have to be Marthus. Or maybe they didn't know that; Charley Falks didn't know that. Probably not well-read. As I recall, from what I saw of Charley he was one of those self-educated simps ignorant as hell on the inside but lathered over on the outside with a thin layer of bits of cultural, scientific, odd, dubious half-facts which he always liked to drone out for hours on end to whoever was listening or if not listening then anyhow in the vicinity and so at least potentially within earshot. And then when he got older you could practically walk off and he'd still be talking, to no one. But then of course I didn't have my chamber in those days, so my own time-sense was so faulty that what actually lasted only minutes seemed like years; at least that's what they told me, those 'wash psychiatrists, back in the early days, when they were testing me and setting me up so I could function, getting this chamber designed and built.

I wish for chrissake's, he thought mournfully, I could remember the concept for the counter-weapon I had in mind or almost had in mind or anyhow think I almost had in mind, before that garbage started coming in over the conduit.

It would have been one hell of a counter-weapon to use against Horst Bertold and the UN. He was sure of that.

Maybe it'll come back to me later, he reflected. Anyhow strictly speaking it was merely the nucleus of the counter-tactic idea; hardly had begun to grow. Takes time. If I'm not interrupted any further ... if that dratted rubbish doesn't start up again promptly the second I begin to really fatten up the original notion into something Herr von Einem can put to use functionally, right out into the field to see action in the overall struggle we're bogged so darn down in at Whale's Mouth and wherever else they're all tangling ... probably all over the universe by now; I'm probably six weeks behind, with data stored up ready to be fed to me from for instance last Thursday if not last year.

Martha, he thought. Let's see: "The Last Rose of Summer" is from that. Who wrote it? Flotow? Lehar? One of those light opera composers.

"Hummel," the aud input circuit suddenly stated, startling him; it was a familiar, dry, aged male voice. "Johann Nepomuk Hummel."

"You're a goldmine of misinformation," Gloch said irritably, in response, automatically, to one more of garrulous ol' Charley Falks' typical tidbits of wrong knowledge. He was so used to it, so darn, wearily resigned out of long experience. All the way back to his childhood, back throughout the dreary procession of years.

It's enough to make you wish you were a carpenter, Gloch mused grimly. And didn't have to think, just measure boards, saw and pound, all that purely physical activity. Then it wouldn't matter what ol' Charley Falks blabbled out, or what his pest of a kid Martha chimed in with in addition, for that matter; it didn't matter who said anything, or what.

Damn nice, he thought, if you could go back and live your life over again from the start. Only this time making it different; getting on the right track for once. A second chance, and with what I know now --

But exactly what did he know now?

For the life of him he couldn't remember.

"Pun, there," the voice from the aud circuit commented. "Life of you, life lived over ... see? " It chuckled.
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Re: Lies, Inc., by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Tue Sep 01, 2020 6:27 am

Chapter Twelve

Within its bow-shaped mouth the half-chewed eyes lay, rolling on the surface of its greedy, licking tongue. Those not completely eaten, those which still shone with luster, regarded him as they rolled slightly; they continued to function, although no longer fixed to the bulbed, oozing exterior surface of the head. New eyes, like tiny pale eggs, had already begun to form, he perceived. They clung in clusters.

He was seeing it. Not a deformed, half-hallucinated, pseudo-image, but the actual presence of the underlying substrate-entity which inhabited or somehow managed to lodge itself in this paraworld for long periods of time -- possibly forever, he realized with a shudder. Possibly for the total, absolute duration of its existence.

That might be a time-span of such magnitude as to smother any rational insight; he intuited that. The thing was old. And it had learned to feed on itself. He wondered how many centuries had passed before it had encountered that method of survival. He wondered what else it had tried first-hand what it still resorted to, when necessary.

There were undoubtedly a number of techniques which it could make use of, when pressed. This act of consuming its own sensory-apparatus ... it appeared to be a reflex act, not even consciously done. By now a mere habit; the creature chewed monotonously, and the luster within the still- watching half-consumed eyes was extinguished. But already the new ones expanding in clusters against the outer surface of the head had begun to acquire animation; several, more advanced in development than the others, had in a dim way discovered him and were with each passing second becoming more alert. Their initial interchange with reality involved him, and the realization of this made him sick with disgust. To be the first object sighted by such semi-autonomous entities --

Hoarsely, its voice thickened by the mouthful which it still continued to chew, the creature said, "Good morning. I have your book for you. Sign here." One of its pseudopodia convulsed and its tip lathered in a spasm which, after an interval, fumbled forth a bulky old-style bound-in-boards volume which it placed on a small plastic table before Rachmael.

"What -- book is this?" he demanded, presently. His mind, numbed, refused to interfere as his fingers poked haphazardly at the handsome gold-stamped book which the creature had presented him.

"The fundamental reference source in this survey instruction," the cephalopodic organism answered as it laboriously filled out a long printed form; it made use of two pseudopodia and two writing instruments simultaneously, enormously speeding up the intricate task. "Dr. Bloode's great primary work, in the seventeenth edition." It swiveled the book, to show him the ornate spine. "The True and Complete Economic and Political History of Newcolonizedland," it informed him, in a severe, dignified tone of voice, as if reproving him for his unfamiliarity with the volume. Or rather, he realized suddenly, as if it assumed that the title would have overpowering influences alone, without additional aid.

"Hmm," he said, then, still nonplussed -- to say the least. And he thought, It can't be, but it is. Paraworld -- which? Not precisely as it had manifested itself before; this was not Blue, because his glimpse of that, ratified by the other weevils, had contained a cyclopsic organism. And this, for all its similarity to the Aquatic Horror-shape, had by reason of its compound multi-eye system a fundamentally different aspect.

Could this actually be the authentic underlying reality? he wondered. This macro-abomination that resembled nothing ever witnessed by him before? A grotesque monstrosity which seemed, as he watched it devour and consume -- to its evident satisfaction -- the remainder of its eyes, almost a parody of the Aquatic Horror-shape?

"This book," the creature intoned, "demonstrates beyond any doubt whatsoever that the plan to colonize the ninth planet of the Fomalhaut system is foolish. No such colony as the projected Newcolonizedland can possibly be established. We owe a great debt to Dr. Bloode for his complete elucidation of this complex topic." It giggled, then. A wet, slurred, wobbly giggle of delighted mirth.

"But the title," he said. "It says --"

"Irony," the creature tittered. "Of course. After all, no such colony exists." It paused, then, contemplatively. "Or does it?"

He was silent. For some ill-disclosed reason he felt a deep, abiding ominousness in the query.

"I wonder," the creature said speculatively, "why you don't speak. Is it so difficult a question? There is, of course, that small group of insane fanatics who allege that such a colony in some weird manner or other actually --" It halted as an ominous shape began -- to both its surprise and Rachmael's -- to materialize above its head. "A thing," the creature said; with resigned weariness. "And the worst style of thing in the known universe. I detest them. Do you not also, Mr. ben Applebaum?"

"Yes," Rachmael admitted. Because the detested object forming was equally familiar -- and loathsome -- to him also.

A creditor balloon.

"Oh, there you are!" the balloon piped at the amorphous mass of living tissue confronting Rachmael; it descended, tropic to the eye-eating creature. Obviously, it had located its target.

"Ugh," the eye-eater mumbled in disgust; with its pseudopodia it batted irritably at the invader.

"You must keep your credit-standing up and in good repute!" the balloon squealed as it bobbed and descended. "Your entire --"

"Get out of here," the eye-eater muttered angrily.

"Mr. Trent," the balloon shrilled, "your debts are odious! A great variety of small businessmen will go into bankruptcy immediately unless you honor your obligations! Don't you have the decency to do so? Everyone took you for a person who honored his obligations, an honorable man who could be trusted. Your assets will be attached through the courts, Mr. Trent; prepare for legal action to be instigated starting immediately! If you don't make at least a token attempt to pay, the entire net worth of Lies, Incorporated --"

"I don't own Lies, Incorporated anymore," the eye-eater broke in gloomily. "It belongs to Mrs. Trent, now. Mrs. Silvia Trent. I suggest you go and bother her."

"There is no such person as 'Mrs. Silvia Trent,'" the creditor balloon said, with wrathful condemnation. "And you know it. Her real name is Freya Holm, and she's your mistress."

"A lie," the eye-eater rumbled ominously; again its pseudopodia whipped viciously, seeking out the agile creditor balloon, which dipped and bobbed barely beyond the flailing reach of the several sucker-impregnated arms. "As a matter of fact, this gentleman here --" It indicated Rachmael. "My understanding is that the lady and this individual are emotionally involved. Miss Holm is -- was, whatever -- a friend of mine, a very close friend. But hardly my mistress." The eye-eater looked embarrassed.

Rachmael said to it, "You're Matson Glazer-Holliday."

"Yes," the eye-eater admitted.

"He took this evil manifestation," the creditor balloon shouted, "to evade us. But as you can see, Mr. --" It regarded Rachmael as it bobbed and drifted. "I believe you are familiar to us, too," it declared then. "Are you one of those who has shirked his moral and legal duty, who has failed to honor his financial obligations? As a matter of fact ...." It drifted very slowly toward Rachmael. "I think I personally hounded you not too long ago, sir. You are --" It considered as, within, electronic circuits linked it to its agency's central computer banks. "ben Applebaum!" it shrilled in triumph. "Zounds! I've caught two deadbeats AT THE SAME TIME!"

"I'm getting out of here," the eye-eater who was -- or once had been -- Matson Glazer-Holliday declared; it began to flow off, uniped-wise, getting free of the situation as quickly as possible. ..and at Rachmael's expense.

"Hey," he protested weakly. "Don't you go scuttling off, Matson. This is all too damn much; wait, for god's sake!"

"Your late father," the creditor balloon boomed at him, its voice now amplified by the background data supplied it by the central computer upon which it depended, ''as of Friday, November tenth, 2014, owed four and one-third million poscreds to the noble firm Trails of Hoffman Limited, and as his heir, you, sir, must appear before the Superior Court of Marin County, California, and show just cause as to why you have failed (or if you by a miracle have not failed but possess the due sum in toto) and if by your failure you hope to --"

Its resonant voice ceased. Because, in approaching Rachmael the better to harass him, it had forgotten about the finely probing pseudopodia of the eye-eater.

One of the pseudopodia had whipped about the body of the creditor balloon. And squeezed.

"Gleeb!" the creditor balloon squeaked. "Gak!" it whooshed as its frail structure crumbled. "Glarg!" it sighed, and then wheezed into final silence as the pseudopodium crushed it. Fragments rained down, then. A gentle pat-pat of terminal sound.

And after that -- silence.

"Thanks," Rachmael said, gratefully.

"Don't thank me," the eye-eater said in a gloomy voice. "After all, you've got a lot more troubles than that pitiful object. For instance, Rachmael, you've got the illness. Telpor Syndrome. Right?"

"Right," he admitted.

"So it's S.A.T. for you. Good old therapy by Lupov's psychiatrists, probably some second-string hick we never ought to have voted money to pay for. Some fnigging quab; right?" The eye-eater chuckled, in a philosophic fashion. "Well, so it goes. Anyhow -- what's with you, Rachmael? Lately you've been, um, a weevil; part of that class and seeing Paraworld Blue ... is that correct? Yes, correct." The eye-eater nodded sagely. "And it's just ever so much fun ... right? With that Sheila Quam as the control, these days. And form 47-B hanging around, ready to be utilized as soon as two of you experience the same delusional world. Heh-heh." It chuckled; or rather, Matson Glazer-Holliday chuckled. Rachmael still found it difficult, if not impossible, to recall that the pulpy, massive heap of organic tissue confronting him was Matson.

And -- why this shape? Had the creditor balloon been right? Merely to evade the balloon ... it seemed an overly extreme ruse to escape. Frankly Rachmael was not convinced; he sensed that more, much more, lay below the surface of apparent meaning.

Below the surface. Did nothing actual lie at hand? Did everything have to turn out, eventually, to consist of something else entirely? He felt weary -- and resigned. Evidently this remained so. Whether he liked it or not. Delusional as this might be, obviously it was not acting in conformity to his wishes. Not in the slightest.

"What can you tell me," he said, "about Freya?" He set himself, braced against the possibility of horrible final news; he waited with cold stoic anticipation.

"Chrissake, she's fine," the eye-eater answered. "Nobody got her; it was me they got. Blew me to bits, they did."

"But," Rachmael pointed out, "you're alive."

"Somewhat." The eye-eater sounded disenchanted. "You call this being alive? Well, I guess technically it's being alive; I can move around, eat food, breathe; maybe, for all I know, I can reproduce myself. Okay, I admit it; I'm alive. Are you satisfied?"

Rachmael said hoarsely, "You're a Mazdast."

"Hell I am."

"But my paraworld," Rachmael said bluntly, "is Paraworld Blue. I've seen the Aquatic Horror- Shape, Matson; I know from firsthand experience what it looks like." He plunged on, then, ruthlessly. "And you're it."

"Almost." The eye-eater sounded placid; he had not disturbed its potent calm. "But you yourself noticed crucial differences, son. For example, I possess a multitude of compound eyes; high in protein, they often provide me -- in time of dire want -- an ample diet. As I recently demonstrated. Shall I display this neat faculty once more?" It reached, then, two pseudopodia toward its recently regrown optic organs. "Very tasty," it intoned, now apparently engrossed in furthering its meal.

"Wait a moment," Rachmael said thickly. "I find your appetite offensive; for god's sake, wait!"

"Anything," the eye-eater said obligingly, "to please a fellow human being. We both are, you realize. I am, certainly. After all, I'm the quondam owner of Lies, Incorporated; correct? No, I am not a Mazdast; not one of the primordial Ur-inhabitants of Fomalhaut IX. They constitute a low order of organism; I spit on them." It spat, decisively. In its mind there was no doubt; it detested the Mazdasts. "What I am," it continued, "is the living embodiment of humanity and not some alien creep-thing that nature was inclined to spawn on this far-flung, rather degenerate crypto-colony planet. Well, when Computer Day arrives, all that will be taken care of. You included, you odd life-form, you. Heh-heh." It giggled once more. "Now, that book I loaned you. Dr. Bloode's book. It seems to me that if you want to catch up on the very vital facts pertaining to Newcolonizedland, you really ought to con it thoroughly. What you want to learn undoubtedly lies within. Read it! Go on! Heh-heh." Its voice trailed off stickily into an indistinct torrent of mumbled amusement, and Rachmael felt a surge of doubt, overwhelming doubt, that this was -- at least now -- the man he had known as Matson Glazer-Holliday. He sensed its innate alienness. It was, beyond doubt, nonhuman. To say the least.

With dignity, he answered, "I'll read it when I have time."

"But you'll enjoy it, Mr. ben Applebaum. Not only is the volume educational, but also highly amusing. Let me quote one of Dr. Bloode's quite singular Thingisms."

"'Thingisms'?" Rachmael felt baffled -- and wary. He had a deep intuition that the Thingism, whatever it was, would not be amusing. Not to him, anyhow, or to any human.

"I always enjoyed this one," the eye-eater intoned, its saliva spilling from its mouth as it writhed with glee. "Consider: since you are about to read the book, here is Thingism Number Twenty, dealing with books.

"Ahem. 'The book business is hidebound.'"

After a pause, Rachmael said, "That's it?"

"Perhaps you failed to understand. I'll give you another gem, one more particular favorite of mine. And if that fails to move you ... Oooohhh! That's a Thingism! Listen! 'The representative of the drayage firm failed to move me.' Oooohhh! How was that?" It waited hopefully.

Baffled, Rachmael said, "I don't get it."

"All right." The eye-eater's tone was now harsh. "Read the book purely for educational purposes, then. So be it. You want to know the origin of this form which I have taken. Well, everyone will take it, sooner or later. We all do; this is how we become after we die."

He stared at it.

"While you ponder," the eye-eater continued, "I'll delight you with a few more Thingisms of Dr. Bloode's. This one I always enjoy. 'The vidphone company let me off the hook.' How was that? Or this one: 'The highway construction truck tore up the street at forty miles an hour.' Or this: 'I am not in a position to enjoy sexual relations.' Or --"

Shutting his ears, ignoring the prolix eye-eater, Rachmael examined the book, finding a page at dead-random. The text swam, then set into clear focus for him.

A zygote formed between the indigenous inhabitants of Fomalhaut IX and Homo sapiens gives us evidence of the dominant aspect of the so-called 'Mazdast' genetic inheritance. From the twin radically opposing strains arises what nominally appears to be a pure 'Mazdast,' with the exceptional reorganization of the organs of sight, the cephalopodic entity otherwise manifesting itself intact and in its customary fashion.

"You mean," Rachmael said, glancing up from the book, stunned, "that when you say you're Matson Glazer-Holliday you mean you're an offspring of his and a --"

"And of a female Mazdast," the eye-eater said calmly. "Read on, Mr. ben Applebaum. There's much more there to interest you. You'll find that each of the paraworlds is explained; the structure of each is displayed so that the logic constituting each is clearly revealed. Look in the index. Select the paraworld which most interests you."

He turned at once to Paraworld Blue.

"And Freya Holm," the eye-eater said, as Rachmael leafed shakily through the volume for the cited page. "You wish to find her; this is your primary motive for coming here to Fomalhaut IX. Possibly there's an entry regarding Miss Holm; had you thought of that, sir?"

Huskily, with disbelief, Rachmael said, "You're kidding." It was impossible.

"Merely test out what I say. Look under Holm comma Freya."

He did so.

The index informed him that there existed two entries regarding Freya. One on page fifty. The second further in, deep into the book: on page two-hundred-and-ten.

He chose the earlier one first.

***

Freya saw, then, into the grave and screamed; she ran and as she ran, struggled to get away, she knew it for what it was: a refined form of nerve gas that -- and then her coherent thoughts ceased and she simply ran.

"It details," the eye-eater informed him, "Miss Holm's actions on this side of the Telpor gate. Up to the present. If you want to know what became of her, simply read on. And," it added sourly, "what became of me."

His hands shaking, Rachmael read on. He had now swiftly turned to the later citation on page two- hundred-and-ten; before his eyes danced the black bug-like words, details of Freya's fate here at Newcolonizedland. He held, read, understood what he had come for; this, as the eye-eater said, contained what he wanted.

Facing the deformed entity which she had once known as the human 'wash psychiatrist Dr. Lupov, Freya whispered ashenly, "So the transformation is arranged by means of your techniques and all of those damned gadgets you use to keep people thinking along the exact lines you want. And I thought it was a biological sport; I was so completely convinced." She shut her eyes in deep, overpowering fatigue. And realized that this was the end; she would go the way of Mat, of Rachmael ben Applebaum, of

"What way?" Rachmael demanded, lifting his eyes from the page and confronting the creature before him. "You mean become like you?" His body cringed; he retreated physically from even the notion of it, let alone its presence here before him.

"All flesh must die," the eye-eater said, and giggled.

Almost unable to hold onto Dr. Bloode's volume, Rachmael once more turned to the index. This time he selected the entry:

ben Applebaum, Rachmael

And again read on. Grimly.

***

To the sharp-featured, intent young man beside him, Lupov said, "I think we can consider Reconstruct Method Three to be successful. At least in its initial phase."

Jaime Weiss nodded. "I agree. And you have the alternate versions of the text available? As the other persons are brought in?" He did not take his eyes from the vid screen; he missed nothing of the activity that at slowed-velocity passed before the magnetic scanning-heads of the replay deck for his and Dr. Lupov's scrutiny.

"Several are ready." It did not seem urgent to Lupov to have all alternates of the text which Rachmael ben Applebaum now read available at the same time; after all ... certain changes in the other versions might be indicated, depending on which way ben Applebaum jumped. His reaction to this text -- in particular the part dealing with his own "death " -- would come in any moment, now.

On the small screen Rachmael ben Applebaum slowly closed the book, stood uncertainly, and then said to the creature facing him, "So that's how I'm going to get knocked off. Like that. Just like that."

"More or less," the eye-eater answered, carelessly.

"It's a good job," Jaime Weiss commented with approval.

"Yes," Lupov nodded. "It will probably function satisfactorily with this ben Applebaum person, anyhow." But the girl, he thought. Miss Holm ... so far it had failed with her. So far. But that did not indicate for a certainty that it would continue to fail. She had put up a protracted expert struggle -- but of course she was a pro. And ben Applebaum was not. Like the pilot Dosker, Miss Holm knew her business; it would not be easy -- was not at this moment easy, in fact -- to recon her mentality by means of a variety of (as she had asserted in the pseudo-spurious text) "damned gadgets you use to keep people thinking along the exact lines you want."

A good description of our instrumentalities, Lupov reflected. This Weiss person has ability. His composition, this initial variant of the so-called Dr. Bloode Text -- masterful. A powerful weapon in this final vast conflict.

Of most interest would be a later response to one of the versions of the text. The reaction by Theodoric Ferry.

It was this that both Jaime Weiss and Dr. Lupov looked toward.

And -- it would not be long, now. Theodoric Ferry would soon be located where the text could be presented to him. At this moment, Ferry loitered on Terra. But --

At six-thirty, three hours from now, Ferry would make a secret trip to Newcolonizedland, one of many; like Sepp von Einem, he crossed back and forth at will.

This time, however, he would make a one-way crossing.

Theodoric Ferry would never return to Terra.

At least not sane.
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Re: Lies, Inc., by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Tue Sep 01, 2020 6:28 am

Chapter Thirteen

In the darkness of gathering fright Freya Holm wandered, trying to escape insight, the awareness of absolute nonbeing which the intricate weapon manned by the two veteran police of Lies, Incorporated had thrust onto her -- how long ago? She could not tell; her time sense, in the face of the field emanating from the weapon, had like so much else that constituted objective reality totally vanished.

At her waist a delicate detection meter clicked on, registered a measured passage of high-frequency current; she halted, and the gravity of this new configuration slapped her into abrupt alertness. The meter had been built to record one sole subvariety of electrical activity. The flux emanating from --

A functioning Telpor station.

She peered. And, gathering in the dense haze that occluded her sight, she made out what normally would have passed for -- and beyond any doubt had been designed deliberately to pass for -- a mediocre construct: a peripatetic bathroom. It appeared to have landed nearby, undoubtedly to give aid and comfort to some passerby; its gay, bright neon sign winked on and off invitingly, displaying the relief-providing slogan:

UNCLE JOHN'S LI'L HUT-SUT

An ordinary sight. And yet, according to the meter at her belt, not a peripatetic bathroom at all but one end of a von Einem entity, set down here at Newcolonizedland and working away full blast; the recorded line-surge appeared to be maximum, not minimum. The station could not be more fully in operation.

Warily, she made her way toward it. Heavy gray haze, a diffuse mass of drifting airborne debris, surrounded her as she entered Uncle John 's Li'l Hut-Sut station, passed down the quaintly archaic wrought-iron staircase and into the cool, dimly lit chamber marked LADIES.

"Five cents, please," a mechanical voice said pleasantly.

In a reflexive gesture she handed the nonexistent attendant a dime; her change rolled down a slot to her and she pocketed it with absolutely no interest. Because, ahead of her, two bald women sat in adjoining stalls, conversing in deep, guttural German.

She drew her sidearm and said to them as she pointed the pistol at them, "Hande hoch, bitte."

Instantly one of the two figures yanked at the handle nearest her -- or more accurately his -- right hand; a roar of rushing water thundered up and lashed at Freya in a sonic torrent which shook her and caused her vision to blur, to become disfigured; the two shapes wavered and blended, and she found it virtually impossible to keep her weapon pointed at them.

"Fraulein," a masculine voice said tautly, "gib uns augenblicklich dein --"

She fired.

One of the twin indistinct shapes atomized silently. But the alternate Telpor technician hopped, floundered, to one side; he sprang to his feet and bolted off. She followed him with the barrel of her gun, fired once more -- and missed. The last shot I'm entitled to, she thought to herself wanly. I missed my chance; I missed getting both of them. And now it's me.

A current of hot, lashing air burst at her from the automatic wet-hands dryer; she ducked, half- blinded, attempted to fire her small weapon once more -- and then, from behind her, something of steel, something not alive but alert and active, closed around her middle. She gasped in fear as it swept her from her feet; twisting, she managed a meager glimpse of it; grotesquely, it was the vanity-table assembly -- or rather a homotropic device cammed as a vanity table. Its legs, six of them, had fitted one into the next, like old-fashioned curtain rods; the joint appendage had extended itself expertly, groped until it encountered her, and then, without the need or assistance of life, had embraced her in a grip of crushing death.

The remaining Telpor technician ceased to duck and weave; he drew himself upright, irritably tossed aside the female garments which he had worn, walked a few steps toward her to watch her destruction. Face twitching eagerly, he surveyed the rapid closure of the vanity-table defense system, oh-ing with satisfaction, his thin, pinched face marred with sadistic delight -- pleasure at a well-functioning instrument of murder.

"Please," she gasped, as the appendage drew her back toward the crypto-vanity table, which now displayed a wide maw in which to engulf her; within it she would be converted to ergs: energy to power the assembly for future use.

"Es tut mir furchtbar leid," the Telpor technician said, licking his mildly hairy lips with near-erotic delight, "aber --"

"Can't you do anything for me?" she managed to say, or rather made an attempt to say; no breath remained in her, now, by which to speak. The end, she realized, was close by; it would not be long.

"So schon, doch," the German intoned, his eyes fixed on her; crooning to himself, he approached closer and closer, swaying in a hypnotic dance of physiological sympathy -- physical but not emotional correspondence, his body -- but not his mentality -- responding to what was rapidly happening to her as the tapered extension of the vanity table drew her back to engulf her.

No one, she realized. Nothing. Rachmael, she thought; why is it that -- and then her thoughts dimmed. Over. Done. She shut her eyes, and, with her fingers, groped for the destruct-trigger which would set off a high-yield charge implanted subdermally; better to die by means of a merciful Lies, Incorporated Selbstmort instrument placed within her body for her protection than by the cruel THL thing devouring her piecemeal ... as the final remnant of awareness departed from her, she touched the trigger --

"Oh no, miss," a reprimanding voice said, from a distance away. "Not in the presence of a guided tour." Sounds, the near-presence of people -- she opened her eyes, saw descending the stairs of the women's room a gang of miscellaneous persons: men and women and children, all dressed well, all solemnly scrutinizing her and the remaining Telpor technician, the vanity table with its metal arm engaged in dragging her to her death ... my god, she realized. I've seen this on TV, on transmissions from Whale's Mouth!

It can't be, Freya Holm said to herself. This is part of the ersatz reality superimposed for our benefit. Years of this hoax -- still? This is impossible!

Yet -- here it was, before her eyes. Not on TV but in actuality.

The tour guide, with armband, in carefully pressed suit, continued to eye her reprovingly. Being killed before the eyes of a guided tour; it's wrong, she realized. True; she agreed. You're absolutely correct. Thinking that, she found herself sobbing hysterically; unable to cease she shut her eyes, took a deep, unsteady breath.

"I am required to inform you, miss," the guide stated, his voice now wooden and correct, "that you are under arrest. For causing a disturbance interfering with the orderly unfolding of an official, licensed White House tour. I am also required to inform you that you are in custody as of this moment, without written notice, and you are to be held without bail until a Colony Municipal Court can, at a later date, deal with you." He eyed the Telpor technician coldly and with massive suspicion. "Sir, you appear to be involved in this matter to some extent."

"In no way whatsoever," the Telpor technician said at once.

"Then," the guide said, as his herded group of sightseers gawked, "how do you explain your unauthorized presence here in the ladies' section of this Uncle John's Li'l Hut-Sut station?"

The Telpor technician shrugged, flushing crimson.

"A Thingism," the guide said in an aside to Freya. "He flushes at his presence in a comfort station." He sniggered, and the group of sightseers laughed to various degrees. "I hold this job," the guide informed Freya as he expertly unfastened her from the manual extension of the pseudo vanity table, "for good reason; my wit delights the multitude."

The Telpor technician said sullenly, "Thingismtry is degenerate."

"Perhaps," the guide admitted. He steadied Freya as the vanity table reluctantly released her; in a gentlemanly way he assisted her away from the feral device and over to his throng. "But it helps pass the dull hours away; does it not?" He addressed his tame collection of sightseers.

They nodded obediently, the men eyeing Freya with interest; she saw, now, that her blouse had been neatly shredded by the arm of the vanity table, and, with numb fingers, she gathered it about her.

"No need of that," the guide said softly in her ear. "A bit of exposed female bosom also helps pass the dull hours." He grinned at her. "Hmm," he added, half to himself. "I wouldn't be surprised if President Jones wanted to interview you personally. He takes a grave interest in matters of this sort, these civil disturbances which upset the orderly --"

"Please just get me out of here," Freya said tightly.

"Of course." The guide led her to the stairs. Behind them, the Telpor technician was ignored. "But I don't think you can avoid spending a few moments with the august President of Whale's Mouth, in view of -- or perhaps I should say because of -- the anatomy which you reveal so --"

"President Omar Jones," Freya said, "does not exist."

"Oh?" The guide glanced at her mockingly. "Are you certain, miss? Are you truly ready to invite a little of Dr. Lupov's S.A.T. to remedy a rather disordered little feminine mental imbalance? Eh?"

She groaned. And allowed the guide to escort her and the group of sightseers up the stairs, out of Uncle John's Li'l Hut-Sut comfort station and onto the surface of -- Newcolonizedland.

"I'd like to have your complete, legal name, miss, " the guide was murmuring to her; he now held a book of forms in his left hand and a pen in his right. "Last name first, please. And if you have any i.d. on you I'd be much obliged to see that, too. Ah, Miss Freya Holm."

He glanced at her wallet, then at her face, with a totally new expression. I wonder what that means, Freya wondered.

She had an intuition that she would soon know.

And it would not be pleasant.

***

At the top of the stairs two agents of Trails of Hoffman Limited met her and the guide, expertly relieved the guide of his self-assumed responsibilities.

"We'll take her from here on in," the taller of the two THL agents explained curtly to the guide; he took Freya by the shoulder and led her, with his companion, toward a parked official-looking oversize flapple.

The guide, perplexed, looking after them, murmured, "Gracious." And then returned to his customary duties; he herded his group off in the other direction, circumspectly minding his own business; the expression on his face showed all too well that he recognized that somehow he had strayed out of his depth. His discomfort at unexpectedly encountering the two THL agents seemed to Freya almost as great as her own ... and her awareness of the lethal aspect of THL grew with this recognition -- in fact burgeoned into overwhelming immensity.

Even here, on Fomalhaut IX -- the power, the dull, metallic size of THL was matched by nothing else; the great entity stood alone, without a real antagonist. And here the UN failed to manifest its own authority. Or so, she reflected somberly, it would seem.

The contest between Horst Bertold and Theo Ferry seemed to have resolved itself before genuinely getting underway; fundamentally it was no contest at all. And Theo Ferry, more than anyone else, knew it.

Beyond any doubt.

"Your operations here," she told the two THL agents "are absolutely illegal." And, having announced this, she felt the utter futility of mere words. How could an empty statement abolish THL, or for that matter, even these two minor instruments of its authority? The futility of the struggle seemed to her, at this instant, beyond compare; she felt her verve, her energy quotient, wither.

Meanwhile, the two THL agents led her rapidly toward their parked motor-on flapple.

When the flapple had achieved reasonable altitude, one of the THL agents produced a large hardbound volume, examined it, then passed it to his companion, who, after an interval, then abruptly handed it to Freya.

"What's this?" she demanded. "And where are we going?"

"You may be interested in this," the taller agent informed her. "I think you'll find it well worth your time. Go ahead; open it."

With almost occult suspicion, Freya studied the cover. "An economic history of Newcolonizedland," she said, with distaste. More of the propaganda, lurid and false, of the irreal president's regnancy, she realized, and started to hand it back. The agent, however, refused to accept the book; he shook his head curtly. And so, with reluctance, she opened to the back, glanced with distaste over the index.

And saw her own name.

"That's right," the tall THL agent said with a smirk. "You're in it, Miss Holm. So's that fathead, ben Applebaum."

She turned pages and saw that it was so. Will this tell me, she wondered, what's happened to Rachmael? Finding the page reference, she at once turned to it. Her hands shook as she read the startling passage.

"What way?" Rachmael demanded, lifting his eyes from the page and confronting the creature before him. "You mean become like you?" His body cringed; he retreated physically from even the notion of it, let alone its presence here before him.

"Good lord," Freya said. And read intently on.

"All flesh must die," the eye-eater said, and giggled.

Aloud, Freya said, "'The eye-eater.'" Chilled, she said to the two THL agents, "What's that? In the name of god --"

"Is that in there?" the shorter of the two agents asked his companion; he appeared displeased. Reaching out, he suddenly retrieved the book; at once he put it away out of sight. "It was a mistake to let her see it," he told his companion. "She knows too much now."

"She doesn't know a damn thing," his companion said.

Freya said, "Tell me. What is the 'eye-eater'? I have to know." Her breath caught in her throat; raggedly, she managed to breathe, but with difficulty.

"A fungiform," the taller of the THL agents said briefly. "One that resides here." He said nothing further.

"Is Rachmael alive?" she demanded. At least she knew one thing. Rachmael was here at Whale's Mouth, and that she had not, up until this instant, realized.

The shorter agent was correct. She had learned too much. At least, too much for their purpose. But for hers -- hardly enough.

"Yeah," the taller agent conceded. "He came looking for you."

"And found it," the other said.

For a time there was silence. The flapple droned on -- heaven only knew where.

"If you don't tell me where you're taking me," Freya said levelly, "I'm going to destruct myself." Her fingers already touched the trigger at her waist; she waited, eyes fixed on the two men with her in the oversize flapple. Several moments passed. "The UN," she said, "equipped me with this --"

"Get her;" the taller THL agent rasped; instantly he and his companion leaped toward her, clawing.

"Let me go," she choked; her fingers, torn from the trigger, dug into their clutching hands. I couldn't do it, she realized; I couldn't activate the darn mechanism. Weariness filled her as she felt their hands rip loose the destruct mechanism, tear it apart, then drop it into the waste slot of the flapple.

"It would have destroyed all of us," the taller agent gasped as he and his companion confronted her accusingly, with indignation mixed with apprehension; she had genuinely frightened them by her near-suicide. As far as they knew, it had been close, very close. But actually she could not have done it at all.

The man's companion muttered, "We better consult the book. See what it says; assuming of course it says anything." Together the two of them pored over the book, ignoring her; Freya, with trembling fingers, lit a cigarette, stared sightlessly through the window at the ground below.

Trees ... houses. Exactly as the TV screen had promised. Jolted, she thought, Where's the garrison state? Where's the war I saw? The battle I was a part of, only a little while ago?

It made no sense.

"We were fighting," she said at last.

Startled, the THL agents glanced at her, then at one another. "She must have gotten into one of the paraworlds," one said presently to his companion; they both nodded in attentive agreement. "Silver? White? I forget which Lupov calls it. Not The Clock, though."

"And not Blue," the other agent murmured. Again the two of them returned to the large hardbound book; again they ignored her.

Strange, Freya thought. It made no sense. And yet the two THL agents appeared to understand. Will I ever know? she asked herself. And if so, will it be in time?

Several worlds, she realized. And each of them different. And -- if they're looking in that book, not to see what has happened but to see what will happen ... then it must have something to do with time.

Time-travel. The UN's time-warpage weapon.

Evidently Sepp von Einem had gotten hold of it. The senile old genius and his disturbed proleptic protege Gloch had altered it, god only knew how. But effectively; that much was obvious.

The flapple began to descend.

Glancing, she saw below them a large ship moored by its tail, in flight position, poised to ascend at any moment; in fact, wisps of fuel-vapor trickled from its rear. A big one, she decided; it belonged to someone of importance. Possibly President Omar Jones. Or --

Or worse.

She had a good idea that it was not Omar Jones' ship -- even if such a person existed. Undoubtedly the ship belonged to Theo Ferry. And, as she watched the ship grow, a bizarre idea occurred to her. What if the Omphalos had been beaten, years ago, in its flight from the Sol system to Fomalhaut? This ship, huge and menacing, with its pitted gray hull ... certainly it did have the sullied, darkened appearance of a much-utilized vessel; had it, at some earlier time, crossed deep space between the two star systems?

The ultimate irony. Theo Ferry had made the journey before Rachmael ben Applebaum. Or rather possibly had; she could of course not be sure. But she felt intuitively that Ferry had, all this time, been capable of doing it. So whatever could be learned had long ago -- perhaps decades ago -- been learned ... and by the very man whom they had, at all costs, to defeat.

"Better brush your hair," the taller of the two THL agents announced to her; he then winked -- lewdly, it seemed to her -- to his companion. "I'm giving you fair warning; you're going to have an important visitor here in your room in a few minutes."

Almost unable to speak, Freya said. "This isn't my room!"

"Bedroom?" Both THL agents laughed in unison, and this time there was no mistaking it; the tone was one of rancid, enormous licentiousness. And, clearly, this appeared to the two men an old story; they both knew precisely what would be happening -- not to them but for them to witness; she was overtly conscious of the mood already in progress. They knew what would soon be expected of them ... and of her. And yet it did not seem to her so much concerned with Theo Ferry as it did with the environment here as a whole; she sensed an underlying wrongness, and sensed further that in some way which she did not comprehend, Ferry was as much a victim of it as she.

Paraworlds, she thought to herself. They, the two THL agents, had said that. Silver, White, The Clock ... and finally Blue.

Am I in a paraworld now? she wondered. Whatever they are. Perhaps that would explain the twisted, strained wrongness which the world around her now seemed to possess throughout. She shivered. Which one is this? she asked herself, assuming it's any of them? But even if it is, she realized, that still doesn't tell me what they are, or how I got into this one, or -- how I manage to scramble back. Again she shivered.

"We'll be touching ships with Mr. Ferry at 003.5," the taller of the two THL agents informed her conventionally; he seemed amused, now, as if her discomfort were quaint and charming. "So be prepared," he added. "Last chance to --"

"May I see that book again?" she blurted. "The one you have there; the book about me and Rachmael."

The taller of the two agents passed her the volume; at once she turned to the index and sought out her own name. Two citations in the first part of the book; three later on. She selected the next to last one, on page two-ninety-eight; a moment later she had begun rapidly to read.

No doubt could exist in her mind, now; it had been abundantly demonstrated. With renewed courage Freya faced Theodoric Ferry, the most powerful man in either the Sol or the Fomalhaut system and perhaps even beyond, and said,

"I'm sorry, Mr. Ferry." Her voice, in her own ears, was cool, as calm as she might have hoped for. "I failed to realize what you are. You'll have to excuse my hysteria on that basis." With a slight -- but unnoticed -- tremor she adjusted the right strap of her half-bra, drawing it back up onto her smooth, bare, slightly tanned shoulder. "I now --"

"Yes, Miss Holm?" Ferry's tone was dark, mocking. "Exactly what do you realize about me, now? Say it." He chuckled.

Freya said, "You're an aquatic cephalopod, a Mazdast. And you've always been. A long time ago, when Telpor first linked the Sol system with the Fomalhaut system, when the first Terran field-team crossed over and returned --"

"That's correct," Theodoric Ferry agreed, and once more chuckled ... although now his -- or rather its -- tone consisted of a wet, wailing hiss. "I infiltrated your race decades ago. I've been in your midst

"Better get the book back from her again," the smaller of the two THL agents said warningly to his companion. "I still think she's reading too damn much." He then, without further consultation, snatched the book back from her numbed hands, this time put it away in a locked briefcase which, after an indecisive pause he then laboriously chained to his wrist -- just in case.

"Yes," the other agent agreed absently; he had become completely involved in landing the flapple on the flattened roof-indentation of Theo Ferry's huge ship. "She probably read too much. But --" He spun the unusually elaborate controls "-- it doesn't much matter, at this point; I fail to see what effective difference it makes." From beneath them a low scraping noise sounded; the flapple jiggled.

They had landed.

Doesn't it matter? she thought, dazed. That Theo Ferry is another life-form entirely, not human at all? That has invaded our System a long time back? Don't you two men care?

Did you know it all this time?

Our enemy, she realized, is far more ominous than any of us had at any time glimpsed. Ironic, she thought; one of the sales pitches they gave us -- THL gave us -- was the need to fight with and subdue the hostile native life-forms of the Fomalhaut system ... and it turns out to be true after all, true in the most awful sense. I wonder, she thought, how many of THL's employees know it? I wonder --

She thought, I wonder how many more of these monsters exist on Terra. Imitating human life- forms. Is Theodoric Ferry the only one? Probably not; probably most of THL is staffed by them, including Sepp von Einem.

The ability to mingle with human beings, to appear like them ... undoubtedly it's due to a device compounded either by von Einem or that hideous thing who works with him, that Greg Gloch.

Of all of them, she thought, none is really less human than Gloch.

The door of the flapple swung open; the two THL agents at once stood at attention. Reluctantly, she turned her unwilling eyes toward the now fully open door.

In the entrance way stood Theodoric Ferry.

She screamed.

"I beg your pardon," Ferry said, and lifted an eyebrow archly. He turned questioningly to the two THL agents. "What's the matter with Miss Holm? She seems out of control."

"Sorry, Mr. Ferry," the taller of the two agents said briskly. "I would guess that she's not well; she appears to have hallucinated one or more of what is called 'paraworlds.' On her arrival here she experienced the particular delusional world dealing with the garrison state ... although now, from what she's told us, that delusion seems to have evaporated."

"But something," Ferry said with a frown, "has replaced it. Perhaps an alternate paraworld ... possibly even a more severe one. Well, Miss Holm has turned out as predicted." He chuckled, walked several cautious steps toward Freya, who stood frozen and trembling, unable even to retreat. "As with her paramour, Rachmael von Applebaum --"

"Ben," the taller of the two THL agents corrected tactfully.

"Ah yes." Ferry nodded amiably. "I am more accustomed to the prefix designating a high-born German than the rather --" He grimaced offensively "-- low-class name-structure employed by, ah, individuals of Mr. Applebaum's shall I say type." He grimaced distastefully, then once more moved toward Freya Holm.

They didn't search me, she said to herself. A spasm of fierceness filled her as she realized that -- realized, too, its meaning. Within the tied tails of superior fabric caught in a bun at her midsection lay a tiny but effective self-defense instrument, provided by the wep-x people at Lies, Incorporated. Now, if ever, the time had come to employ it. True, it had a limited range; only one person could be taken out by it, and if she moved to take out Theo Ferry both of the THL agents -- armed and furious -- would remain. She could readily picture the following moments, once she had managed to wound or destroy Ferry. But -- it appeared well worth it. Even if she had not learned of Ferry's actual physiological origin ...

Her fingers touched the bun of cloth at her midriff; an instant later she had found the safety of the weapon, had switched it to off.

"Drot," Ferry said, regarding her uneasily --

"'Drat,' sir," the taller of the two agents corrected him, as if routinely accustomed to doing so. "'Drat' is the Terran ejaculative term of dismay, if I may call your attention at a time like this to something so trivial. Still, we all know how important it is -- how vital you rightly feel it to be -- to maintain strict verisimilitude and accuracy in your speech patterns."

"Thank you, Frank," Theo Ferry agreed; he did not take his eyes from Freya. "Was this woman searched?"

"Well, sir," the THL agent named Frank said uncomfortably, "we had in mind your overweening desire to obtain a female of this --"

"Blurb!" Theodoric Ferry quivered in agitation. "She has on some variety of --"

"Sorry sir," the agent named Frank broke in with utter tact. "The term of immediate and dismayed concern which you're reaching for is the word 'blast.' The term you've employed, 'blurb,' deals with a sensational ad for some form of entertainment; generally a notice on a book cover or flap as to --"

All at once Freya became aware, shockingly, of the meaning of the THL agent's remarks; everything which she suspected, everything which she had read in Dr. Bloode's book, now had been validated.

Theodoric Ferry had to be reminded, constantly, of the most commonplace Terran linguistic patterns. Of course; these patterns were to him a totally alien structure. So it was true. And, because of what had up to this instant seemed an absurd, pointless exchange of remarks, no doubt could exist in her mind, now; it had been abundantly demonstrated. With renewed courage Freya faced Theodoric Ferry, the most powerful man in either the Sol or the Fomalhaut system and perhaps even beyond, and said,

"I'm sorry, Mr. Ferry." Her voice, in her own ears, was cool, as calm as she might have hoped for. "I failed to realize what you are. You'll have to excuse my hysteria on that basis." With a slight -- but unnoticed -- tremor she adjusted the right strap of her half-bra, drawing it back up onto her smooth, bare, slightly tanned shoulder. "I now --"

"Yes, Miss Holm?" Ferry's tone was dark, mocking. "Exactly what do you realize about me, now? Say it." He chuckled.

Freya said, "You're an aquatic cephalopod, a Mazdast. And you've always been. A long time ago, when Telpor first linked the Sol system with the Fomalhaut system, when the first Terran field- team crossed over and returned --"

"That's correct," Theodoric Ferry agreed, and once more chuckled ... although now his -- or rather its -- tone consisted of a wet, wailing hiss. "I infiltrated your race decades ago. I've been in your midst before Lies, Incorporated was founded; I've been with your people before you, Miss Holm, were even born." Studying her intently he smiled; his eyes shone bleakly, and then, to her horror, the eyes began to migrate. Faster and faster they moved toward the center of the forehead; there they joined, fused, became one vast compound eye whose many lenses reflected her own image back at her, as in a thousand warped black mirrors, again and again.

Within the bun of cloth slightly beneath her ribcase, Freya Holm compressed the activating assembly of the defense-gun.

"Shloonk," Theodoric Ferry wheezed. His single eye rattled and spun as his body rocked back and forth; then, without warning, the great dark orb popped from his bulging forehead and hung dangling from a spring of steel. At the same time his entire head burst; screaming, Freya ducked as bits of gears, rods, wiring, components of power systems, cogs, amplifying surge-gates, all failing to remain within the shattered structure, bounced here and there in the flapple. The two THL agents ducked, grunted and then retreated as the rain of hot, destroyed metal pieces condensed about them both. She, too, reflexively drew back; staring, she saw a mainshaft and an intricate cog mechanism ... like a clock, she thought dazedly. He's not a deformed, non-Terran water-creature; he's a mechanical assembly -- I don't understand. She shut her eyes, moaned in despair, the flapple, now, had faded momentarily into obscurity, so intense was the hailstorm of metal and plastic parts from the bursting entity which had posed as Theodoric Ferry just a moment before -- had posed, more accurately, as an aquatic horror masquerading as Theodoric Ferry. "One of those damn simulacrums," the THL agent who was not Frank said in disgust.

"'Simulacra,'" Frank corrected, his teeth grinding in outrage as a major transformer from the power-supply struck him on the temple and sent him flailing backward, off-balance; he fell against the wall of the flapple, groaned and then slid to a sitting position, where he remained, his eyes empty. The other THL agent, arms wind-milling, fought his way through the still-exploding debris of the simulacrum toward Freya; his fingers groped for her ineffectually -- and then he gave up, abandoned whatever he had had in his mind; turning, he hunched forward, lurched blindly off, in the general direction of the entrance hatch of the flapple. And then, with a clatter, disappeared. She remained with the disintegrating simulacrum and the unconscious THL agent Frank; the only sound was the metallic thump of components as they continued to pelt against the walls and floor of the flapple.

Good lord, she thought indistinctly, her mind in a state of almost deranged confusion. That book they showed me -- it was wrong! Or else I failed to read far enough ...

Desperately, she searched about in the rubbish-heaped flapple for the book; then all at once she remembered what had happened to it. The smaller THL agent had escaped with it locked in a briefcase chained to his wrist; the book had, so to speak, departed with him -- in any case, both the agent and the volume were gone, now. So she would never know what had come next in the printed text; had it corrected its own evident misperception, as she had hers? Or -- did the text of Dr. Bloode's book continue on, manfully declaring that Theodoric Ferry was an aquatic -- what was the term it-and she-had used? Mazdast; that was it. She wondered, now, precisely what it meant; until she had read the word in the text she had never before encountered it. But there was something else. Something at the rim of consciousness, crowding forward, attempting to enter her mind; it could not be thrust back, odious as it was.

The Clock. That term, referring to one of the so-called paraworlds. Had this been -- The Clock? And if so --

Then the original encounter between the black space-pilot, Rachmael ben Applebaum and the sim of Theodoric Ferry -- that, back in the Sol system, had been a manifestation -- not a Ferry- simulacrum at all -- but, like this, of the paraworld called The Clock.

The delusional worlds somehow active here at Whale's Mouth had already spread to and penetrated Terra. It had already been experienced -- experienced, yes; but not recognized.

She shuddered.
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Re: Lies, Inc., by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Tue Sep 01, 2020 6:28 am

Chapter Fourteen

For more than thirty minutes nothing had emanated from the anti-prolepsis chamber of Gregory Gloch, and by now Sepp von Einem realized with full acuity that something dreadful had gone wrong.

Taking a calculated risk -- Gloch in the past had ranted against this as an illegal invasion of his privacy, of his very psyche, in fact -- Dr. von Einem clicked to on the audio monitoring mechanism which tapped the input circuit of the chamber. Shortly, he found himself receiving via a three-inch speaker mounted on the wall the same signals which passed to his protege.

The first rush of impulses almost unhinged him.

"Pun, there," a jovial masculine -- somewhat elderly -- voice was in the process of intoning. "Life of you, life lived over ... see?" It then chuckled loudly in a comical but distinctly vulgar fashion. "Heh-heh," it gloated. "How you doin', ol' boy, Gloch there, ol' fella?"

"Fine," Greg Gloch's retort came. But to von Einem it had a very distinctive weak quality about it, a vivid loss of surgency which chilled him deeply, caused him to hang on each following word of the exchange. Who was this person addressing Gloch? he asked himself. And got no response; the voice was new to him. And yet --

At the same time it acutely resembled a voice he knew. A voice he could however not identify, to save his life. He had the intuition, then, that this voice had deliberately been disguised; he would need a video breakdown by which to identify it. And that would take time, precious time which no one, at this moment in the struggle over Whale's Mouth, could afford to spare -- least of all he.

Pressing a command key, von Einem said, "Emergency call. I want an immediate trace put on the audio signal reaching Herr Gloch. Notify me of the origin-point, then if you must, obtain a video pic of the voice-pattern and inform me of the caller's identity." He paused, pondering; it was, to say the least, a decision of gravity which he now entertained. "Once you have the locus detailed," he said slowly, "run a homotropic foil along the line. We can obtain the voice-indent afterwards."

The microscopic feedback circuit within his ear spluttered, "Herr Doktor -- you mean take out the caller before identification? Das ist gar unmoglich -- gar!"

Von Einem rasped, "It is distinctly not out of the question; in fact it is essential." For, underneath, he had an intuition as to who the disguised voice consisted of. It could only be one person.

Jaime Weiss. The enfant terrible of the UN, probably operating in conjunction with his brother-in- law, the 'wash psychiatrist Lupov. Thinking that, von Einem felt nausea rise like a gray tide within him. Them, he reflected bitingly; the worst pair extant. Probably in orbit in a sealed sat at Whale's Mouth ... transmitting either at faster-than-light directly to our system or worse still: feeding their lines during routine traffic through one of our own Telpor stations.

Savagely, he said to the technician brought into contact by means of the command key at his disposal, "There is an exceedingly meager latitude for the performance of successful action against this party, mein Herr; or don't you believe me? You suppose I am mistaken? I know who has infiltrated the anti-prolepsis tank of poor Herr Gloch; mach' snell!" And you had damn well better be successful, he said to himself as he released his command key and walked moodily to the chamber to look directly at his protege, to discern Gloch's difficulty with his own eyes.

I wonder, he thought to himself as he watched the youth's face twist with discomfort, if I shouldn't obliterate the alien audio signal that's so successfully jamming the orderly process within the chamber. Or at least reroute it so that I receive it but Gloch does not.

However, it appeared to von Einem that the interloping audio transmission had already done its job; Greg Gloch's face was a mass of confusion and turbulence. Whatever ideas Gloch had entertained for a counter-weapon against Bertold had long since evaporated. Zum Teufel, von Einem said to himself in a near-frenzied spasm of disappointment -- as well as an ever-expanding sense that the Augenblick, the essential instant, had somehow managed to elude him. Somehow? Again he listened to the disruptive voice plaguing Gregory Gloch. Here it was; this was the malefactionary disturbance. This: Jaime Weiss himself, wherever in the galaxy he had now located himself and his fawning sycophantic retinue.

Can Gloch hear me now? he wondered. Can he hear anything beyond that damned voice?

As an experiment, he cautiously addressed Gloch -- by means of the customary time-rephasing constructs built into the chamber. "Greg! Kannst hor'!?" He listened, waited; after a time he heard his words reeled off to the man within the chamber at appropriate velocity. Then the lips of the man moved, and then, to his relief, a sentence by Gloch was spewed out by the transmitter of the chamber.

"Oh. Yes, Herr von Einem." The voice had a vague quality about it, a preoccupation; Greg Gloch heard, but did not really seem able to focus his faculties. "I was ... um ... daydreaming or ... some dam thing. Ummp!" Gloch noisily cleared his throat. "What, ah, can I, eh, do for you, sir? Um?"

"Who's that constantly addressing you, Greg? That irritating voice which impedes every attempt you make to perform your assigned tasks?"

"Oh. Well. I believe --" For almost an entire minute Gloch remained silent; then, at last, like a rewound toy, he managed to continue. "Seems to me he identified himself as Charley Falks' little boy Martha. Yes; I'm certain of it. Ol' Charley Falks' little boy --"

"Das kann nicht sein,!' von Einem snarled. "It simply can't be! No one's little boy is named Martha; das weis' Ich ja. " He lapsed into brooding, introverted contemplation, then. A conspiracy, be decided. And one that's working. Our only recourse is the homotropic weapon released to follow the carrier wave of this deceptive transmission back to its source; I hope it is already in motion.

Grimly, he strode back to the command key, punched it down.

"Yes, Herr Doktor."

"The homotropic foil; has it --"

"On its way, sir," the technician informed him brightly. "As you instructed; released before indent." The technician added in a half-aside, "I do hope, sir, that it's not someone you have positive inclinations toward."

"It can't be," von Einem said, and released the key with an abiding sense of satisfaction. But then an alternate -- and not so pleasing -- thought came to him. The homotropic foil, until it reached its target, could act as a dead giveaway regarding its own origin. If the proper monitoring equipment were put in use -- or already had been put in functioning condition -- then the foil would accomplish a handy, quick task for the enemy: it would tell him -- or both of them -- where the disruptive signal entitling itself "ol' Charley Falks' little boy Martha" et cetera had gone ... gone and accomplished vast damage in respect to von Einem and THL in general.

I wish Herr Ferry were immediately here, von Einem growled to himself gloomily; he picked at a poison-impregnated false tooth mounted in his upper left molars, wondering if the time might come when he would be required by obtaining conditions to do away with himself.

But Theodoric Ferry busied himself at this moment preparing for a long-projected trip via Telpor to Whale's Mouth. A most important journey, too, inasmuch as there he would complete the formulation of contemplated final schemes: this was the moment in which the vise of history would clamp shut on the unmen such as Rachmael ben Applebaum and his doxie Miss Holm -- not to mention Herr Glazer-Holliday, who might in fact well already be now dead ... or however it was phrased.

"There," von Einem mused, "is a no-good individual, that Matson person, that slobbering hyphenater." His disgust -- and satisfaction at either the already-accomplished or proposed taking- out of Glazer-Holliday -- knew no limit; both emotions expanded like a warm, unclouded sun.

On the other hand, what if Weiss and Lupov managed to obtain the reverse trace on the homotropic foil now dispatched themwards? An unease-manufacturing thought, and one which he still did not enjoy. Nor would he until the manifold success of the foil had been proclaimed.

He could do nothing but wait. And meanwhile, hope that Herr Ferry's journey to Whale's Mouth would accomplish all that it entertained. Because the import of that sally remained uncommonly vast -- to say the least.

In his ear the monitor covering aud transmissions entering Gloch's anti-prolepsis tank whined, "Say, you know? An interesting sort of game showed up among us kids the other day; might interest you. Thingisms, it's called. Ever hear of it?"

"No," Gloch answered, briefly; his retort, too, reached the listening Herr von Einem.

"Works like this. I'll give you this example; then maybe you can think up a few of your own. Get this: 'The hopes of the woolen industry are threadbare.' Haw haw haw! You get it? Woolen, threadbare -- see?"

"Umm," Gloch said irritably.

"And now, little ol' Greg," the voice intoned, "how 'bout a Thingism from you'all? Eh?"

"Keerist," Gloch protested, and then was silent. Obviously he had directed his thoughts along the requested direction.

This must stop, von Einem realized. And soon.

Or Theo Ferry's trip to Whale's Mouth is in jeopardy.

But why -- he did not know; it was an unconscious insight, nothing more. As yet. Even so, however, he appreciated its certitude: beyond any doubt his appraisal of the danger surging over them all was accurate.

***

To the exceedingly well-groomed young receptionist wearing the topless formal dress, a gaggle of dark red Star of Holland roses entwined in her heavy, attractive blonde hair, Theodoric Ferry said brusquely,

"You know who I am, miss. Also, you know that by UN law this Telpor station is inoperative; however, we know better, do we not?" He kept his eyes fixed on her; nothing could be permitted to go wrong. Not at this late date, with each side fully committed to the fracas on the far side of the teleportation gates. Neither he nor the UN had much left to offer; he was aware of this, and he hoped that his analysis of the UN's resources was not inadequate.

Anyhow -- no other direction lay ahead except that of continuation of this, his original program. He could scarcely withdraw now; it would be an immediate undoing of everything so far accomplished.

"Yes, Mr. Ferry," the attractive, full-breasted-with enlarged gaily lit pasties-young woman responded. "But to my knowledge there's no cause for alarm. Why don't you seat yourself and allow the sim-attendant to pour you a warm cup of catnip tea?"

"Thank you," Ferry said, and made his way to a soft, comfortable style of sofa at the far end of the station's waiting room.

As he sipped the invigorating tea (actually a Martian import with stimulant properties, not to mention aphrodisiac) Theo Ferry unwillingly made out the complex series of required forms, wondering sullenly to himself why it was that he, even he!, had to do so ... after all, he owned the entire plant, lock, stock et al. Nevertheless he followed protocol; possibly it had a purpose, and in any case he would be traveling, as usual, under a code name -- he had been called "Mr. Ferry" for the last time. Anyhow for a while.

"Your shots, Mr. Hennen." A THL nurse, middle-aged and severe, stood nearby with ugly needles poised. "Kindly remove your outer garments, please. And put away that cup of insipid catnip tea." Obviously she did not recognize him; she, a typical bureaucrat, had become engrossed in the cover projected by the filled-out forms. He felt amiable, realizing this. A good omen, he said to himself.

Presently he lay unclothed, feeling conspicuous, now, while three owlish Telpor technicians puttered about.

"Mr. Mike Hennen, Herr," one of the technicians informed him with a heavy German accent, "please if you will reduce your gaze not to notice the hostile field-emanations; there is a severe retinal risk. Understand?"

"Yes, yes," he answered angrily.

The ram-head of energy that tore him into shreds obliterated any sense of indignation that he might have felt at being treated as one more common mortal; back and forth it surged, making him shrill with pain -- it could not be called attractive, the process of teleportation; he gritted his teeth, cursed, spat, waited for the field to diminish ... and hated each moment that the force held him. Hardly worth it, he said to himself in a mixture of suffering and outrage. And then --

The terminal surge dwindled and he succeeded in opening his left eye. He blinked. Strained to see.

All three Telpor technicians had vanished. He lay now in a vastly smaller chamber. A pretty girl, wearing a pale blue transparent smock, busied herself strolling back and forth past the entrance- doorway, a hulking hand-weapon at ready. Patrolling in case of UN seizure or attempted seizure, he understood. And sat up, grunting.

"Good morning!" the girl said blithely, glancing at him with an expression of amusement. "Your clothing, Mr. Hennen, can be found in one of our little metal baskets; in your case, marked 136552. Now, if you should by any chance find yourself becoming unsteady --"

"Okay," he said roughly. "Help me to my goddamn feet."

A moment later, in a side alcove, he had dressed; he gathered together his portable possessions, examined his reflection in a rather dim-with-dust mirror, then strolled out, feeling much better, to confront the prowling girl in the lacy smock.

"What's a good hotel?" he demanded -- as if he did not know. But the pose of being an ordinary neocolonist had to be maintained, even toward this loyal employee.

"The Simpy Cat," the girl answered; she now studied him intently. "I think I've seen you before," she decided. "Mr. Hennen. Hmm. No, the name is new to me. An odd name; is it Irish?"

"Who knows," he muttered as he strode toward the door. No time for chitchat, not even with a girl so pretty. Another time, perhaps ...

"Watch out for Lies, Incorporated police, Mr. Hennen!" the girl called after him. "They're everywhere. And the fighting -- it's really getting awful. Are you armed?"

"No." He paused reluctantly at the door. More details.

"THL," the girl informed him, "would be glad to sell you a small but highly useful weapon which --"

"Nuts to that," Ferry said, and plunged on outdoors, onto the dark sidewalk.

Shapes, colorless, vast and swift-moving, sailed in every layer of this world. Rooted, he gaped at the new ghastly transformation of the colony which he knew so well. The war; he remembered, then, with a jolt. Well, so it would be for a while. But, startled, he had difficulty once more orienting himself. Good god, how long would this last? He walked a few steps, still attempting to adjust, still finding it impossible; he seemed to sway in an alien sea, a life unanticipated by the environment; he was as strange to it as it to him.

"Yes sir!" a mechanical voice said. "Reading material to banish boredom. Newspaper or paperback book, sir?" The robot 'pape vendor coasted eagerly in his direction; with dismay he observed that its metal body had become corroded and pitted from the discharge of nearby anti-personnel weapons' fire.

"No," he said rapidly. "This damn war, here --"

"The latest 'pape will explain it entirely, sir, " the vendor said in a loud braying voice as it pursued him; he peered about hopefully for a flapple-for-hire, saw none, felt keen nervousness: out here on the pavement he remained singularly exposed.

And in my own damn colony planet's own main hub, he said to himself with aggrieved indignation. Can't walk my own streets with impunity; have to put on a cammed identity -- make it appear I'm some nitwit nonentity named Mike Hennen or whatever ... he had already virtually lost contact with his false identity, by now, and the loss frankly pleased him. Damn it, he said to himself, I'm the one and only --

At that moment he caught sight of the single main item which the 'pape vendor had to offer. The True and Complete Econoonic and Political History of Newcolonizedland, he read. By who? Dr. Bloode. Strange, he thought. I haven't run across that before, and yet I'm in and out of this place all the time.

"I perceive your scrutiny of this remarkable text which I have for sale," the vendor declared. "This edition, the eighteenth, is exceptionally up-to-date, sir; possibly you'd like to glance through it. No charge for that." It whipped its copy of the huge book in his direction; reflexively, he accepted it, opened it at random, feeling restless and set-upon but not knowing precisely how to escape the 'pape vendor.

And, before his eyes, a passage dealing with him; his own name leaped up to stun him, to hold and transmute his faculties of attention.

"You, too," the 'pape vendor announced, "can play a vital role in the development of this fine virgin colonial world with its near-infinite promise of cultural and spiritual reward. In fact, it is a distinct possibility that you are already mentioned; why not consult the index and thereby scout out your own name? Take a chance, Mr. --"

"Hennen," he murmured. "Or Hendren; whichever it is." Automatically obeying the firm promptings of the vendor he turned to the index, glanced up and down the H's, then realized with a start that he had already been doing exactly that: reading about himself, but under his real name. With a grunt of irritation he swept the useless pages aside, sought his actual, correct name in the index.

After the entry Ferry, Theodoric, he found virtually unending citations; the page he had formerly been reading consisted of but one out of many.

On impulse he chose the first entry, that with the lowest page number.

Early in the morning Theodoric Ferry, chief of the vast economic and political entity Trails of Hoffman Limited, got out of bed, put on his clothes and walked into the living room.

Damned dull stuff, he decided in bewilderment. Is this book full of everything about me? Even the most trivial details? For some strange and obscure reason, this rubbed him the wrong way; once more he sought the index and this time selected a much later entry.

That early evening when Theo Ferry entered the Telpor station under the false code- indent, that of one Mike Hennen, he little glimpsed the fateful events which would in only a short time transpire in his already baroque and twisted

"For godsake," he complained hoarsely. They already knew; already had hold of his cover name -- in fact had had time to print it up and run off this weird book concerning him. Slander! "Listen," he said severely to the alert 'pape vendor, "my private life is my own business; there's no valid reason in the galaxy why my doings should be listed here." I ought to bust this outfit, he decided. Whoever these people are who put together this miserable book. Eighteenth edition? Good lord, he realized; it must have to lack this entry if for no other reason than that I just may be lacking some of these entries about me. In fact it would have to lack this entry if for no other reason than that I just within the last day or so hit on my name-cover.

"One poscred, sir," the vendor said politely. "And the book becomes yours to keep."

Gruffly, he handed over the money; the vendor, pleased, wheeled off into the clouds of debris created by the warfare taking place a few blocks off. The book carefully gripped, Theo Ferry sprinted sure-footedly for the security of a nearby semi-ruined housing structure; there, crouched down among the fragmented blocks of building-plastic, he once more resumed his intent reading. Fully absorbed in the peculiar text he became totally oblivious to the noises and movements around him; all that existed for him now was the printed page held motionless before his intense scrutiny.

I'm damn near the main character in this tract, he realized. Myself, Matson, that Rachmael ben Applebaum, this girl named Freya something and of course Lupov -- naturally Lupov. On impulse he looked up a citation regarding Dr. Lupov; a moment later he found himself engrossed in that particular section of the text, even though admittedly it did not deal with himself at all.

Peering tautly into the small vid screen, Dr. Lupov said to the sharp-featured young man beside him, "Now, is the time, Jaime. Either Theo Ferry examines the Bloode text or else he never does. If he turns to page one-forty-nine, then we have a real chance of --"

"He won't," Jaime Weiss said fatalistically. "The chances are against it. In my opinion he must somehow be maneuvered very clearly and directly into turning to that one particular page; somehow an instrument or method must be employed which will first of all provide him with that page number out of all possible page numbers, and, when that's done, somehow his curiosity must

Hands shaking, Theo Ferry leafed through the book to page one hundred and forty-nine. And, compulsively, unblinkingly, studied the text before him.

***

With a snort of exultation, Jaime Weiss said, "He did it. Dr. Lupov -- I was absolutely right." Gleefully, he slapped at the series of meters, switches and dials before the two of them. But of course the ploy had succeeded because of the 'wash psychiatrist's accurate diagnosis of all the passive factors constellating in Theo Ferry's psyche. Inability to resist danger ... the suggestion that it constituted a hazard, his turning to that one page: the very notion that an extreme risk was involved had caused Ferry to thumb frantically in that direction.

He had gone unresistingly to that page -- and he would not be coming back out.

"Sir," one of Lupov's assistants said suddenly, startling both Weiss and the psychiatrist, "we've just picked up something deadly on the scope" A detonation-foil tropic to both of you has passed through the Telpor gate that we made use of to reach Greg Gloch in his chamber." The man's face shone pale and damp with fright.

Jaime Weiss and Dr. Lupov looked at each other wordlessly.

"I would say," Lupov said presently, his voice shaking, "that everything now depends on how rapidly the foil moves, how accurate it is, and --" He gestured convulsively at the microscreen before them, "-- and how long it takes Mr. Ferry to succumb to the 'wash instructions on the page."

"How long," Jaime said carefully, "would you estimate it would take for a man of Ferry's caliber to succumb?"

After briefly calculating, Lupov said huskily, "At least an hour."

"Too long," Jaime said.

Lupov, woodenly, nodded slowly, up and down.

"If the foil reaches us first," Jaime said then, "and takes both of us out, will Ferry's pattern be altered?" What a waste, he thought; what a dreadful, impossible waste, if not. Everything we set up: the pseudo-worlds, the fake class of "weevils," everything -- with no result. And to be so close, so incredibly close! Again he turned his attention to the small screen; he deliberately forgot everything else. Why not? he asked himself bitterly. After all, there was nothing they could do, now that the defense-foil from von Einem's lab had passed through the gate and had come here to Fomalhaut IX.

"I can't predict," Lupov said, half to himself in a drab mutter, "what Ferry will do, if you and I are --

The back of the bunker burst in a shower of murdering white and green sparks. Jaime Weiss shut his eyes.

***

Studying the page before him, Theo Ferry, engrossed, failed to hear the buzzer at his neck-com the first time. At last, however, he became aware of it, grasped the fact that von Einem was attempting to reach him.

"Yes," he said brusquely. "What is it, Sepp?"

"You are in extreme danger," the distant faded voice came to him, a tinny, gnat-like dancing whisper from many light-years off. "Throwaway that thing you have, whatever it is; it's a Lupov invention -- the 'wash technique structured for you, sir! Hurry!"

With unbelievable effort Theo Ferry managed to close the book. The page of print vanished ... and as soon as it did so he felt strength return to his arms; volition flooded back and he at once jumped up, dropping the book. It tumbled wildly to the ground, pages fluttering; Theo Ferry at once jumped on it, ground his heel into the thing -- hideously, it emitted a shrill living cry, and then became silent.

Alive, he thought. An alien life-form; no wonder it could deal with my recent activities; the page actually contained nothing -- it was no book at all, only one of those awful Ganymede life-mirrors that Lupov was supposed to use. That entity that reflects back to you your own thoughts. Ugh. He winced with aversion. And it almost got me, he said to himself. Close.

"The report back by the foil," von Einem's far-off voice came to him, "indicates that Lupov and Weiss built up over a long period of time, perhaps even years, an intricate structure of subworlds of a hypnotic, delusional type, to trap you when you made your crucial trip to Whale's Mouth. Had they fully concentrated on that and left Greg Gloch alone they might very well have been successful. This way- -"

"Did you get Weiss and Lupov?" he demanded.

Von Einem said, "Yes. As near as I can determine. I'm still waiting for the certified results, but it seems hopeful. If I may explain about these mutually exclusive delusional worlds --"

"Forget it," Ferry broke in harshly. "I have to get out of here." If they could come this close, then he was hardly safe, even now; they had spotted him, prepared for him -- Lupov and Weiss might be gone, but that still left others. Rachmael ben Applebaum, he thought. We didn't get you, I suppose. And you have done us a good deal of harm already, harm that we know of. Theoretically you could do much, much more.

Except, he thought as he groped in his clothing for the variety of miniaturized weapons he knew were there, we're not going to let you. Too much is at stake; too many lives are involved. You will not succeed, even if you have outlasted Mat Glazer-Holliday, Lupov and Weiss and possibly even that Freya girl, the one who was Mat's mistress and now is yours -- you still don't stand a chance.

Thinly, he smiled. This part I will enjoy, he realized. My taking you out of action, ben Applebaum. For this I will operate out of my own ship, Apteryx Nil. When I'm finally there, I'll be safe. Even from you.

And you, he said to himself, have no place equal to it; even if the Omphalos were here at Whale's Mouth it would not be enough.

Nothing, ben Applebaum, he thought harshly, will be enough. Not when I've reached Apteryx Nil. As I enter it your tiny life fades out.

Forever.
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Re: Lies, Inc., by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Tue Sep 01, 2020 6:29 am

Chapter Fifteen

To Freya Holm the flapple repeated in high-pitched anxiety, "Sir or madam, you must evacuate at once; all living humans must leave me, as my meta-battery is about to deteriorate. Due to various punctures in my hull, which punctures having been caused by the demolition of the simulacrum of Mr. Ferry, or rather because of which -- in any case I am no longer able to maintain homeostasis, or whatever the phrase is. Please, sir or madam; do heed me: your life, sir or madam, is being risked each moment!"

Furiously, Freya grated, "And go where, once I leave here?"

"Down to the surface of the planet," the flapple said, in a tone of voice suggesting ultimate mechanical smugness; as far as the flapple was concerned it had solved everything.

"Jump?" she demanded. "Two thousand feet?"

"Well, I suppose your point is well-taken," the flapple said in a disgruntled tone; it evidently was displeased to have its solution dealt with so readily. "But the enormous inter-plan and -system ship which I am now attached to; why not hie yourself there? Or however the expression goes."

"It's Ferry's!"

"Ferry's, Schmerry's," the flapple said. "This way you'll perish when I do. You want THAT?"

"All right," she snarled, and made her way unsteadily toward the entrance hatch of the flapple, the link between it and the huge ship blowing its ceaseless wisps of fuel vapor, obviously ready to take off at an instant's command.

"My meta-battery has nowwwaaaa fooooof," the flapple intoned hazily; its expiration had accelerated by leaps and bounds.

"Goodbye," Freya said, and passed out through the entrance hatch, cautiously following the shorter of the two THL agents.

Behind her the flapple murmured in its dim fashion, "Tttturnnn uppp yrrrr hearing aaaaaaiddddd, misssszzzz." And drifted into oblivion.

Good riddance, she decided.

A moment later she had entered the great ship -- Theo Ferry's post from which he -- obviously -- operated when on Fomalhaut IX.

"Kill her," a voice said.

She ducked. A laser beam cut past her head; instantly she rolled, spun to one side, thinking, They did it to Mat, but not to me; they can't do it to me. A second last try for us, she thought desperately; if Rachmael can do anything. I can't. "Ferry," she gasped. "Please!"

The prayer proved worthless. Four THL agents, in military brown, deployed strategically at several compass points of the ship's central cabin, aimed at her emotionlessly, while at the controls, his face a dull mask of almost indifferent concentration, sat Theodoric Ferry. And, she realized, this was the man himself; this did not constitute a simulacrum.

"Do you know," Ferry said to her quietly, "where Rachmael ben Applebaum is at this moment?"

"No," she gasped. Truthfully.

At that Ferry nodded toward the four THL agents; the man to his immediate right caustically grimaced -- and squeezed the button that controlled his laser tube.

I made a mistake, Freya realized. The flapple tricked me; it deliberately made me come here -- it's a THL flapple and it knew who I was and what I wanted to do. It was my enemy ... and I failed to identify it as such -- in time. Now it was too late, far too late.

The laser beam came once more, narrow and alit with strength; it scraped past her, created its own escape-hole in the wall behind her.

"I'm very much interested in this Rachmael individual," Ferry informed her. "If you could possibly recall where he might be --"

"I told you," she said in a tight, almost inaudible whisper. "I have no idea."

Again Ferry nodded at his employee, an expression of resignation on his face. The laser beam howled, then, in Freya's direction.

Once more she prayed. And this time not to Theodoric Ferry.

***

The eye-eater said pleasantly, "Mr. ben Applebaum, reach inside me and you will find a slightly different edition of Dr. Bloode's Text. A copy of the twentieth edition, which I ingested some time ago ... but as far as I can determine, not already dissolved by my gastric juices." The idea seemed to amuse it; the lower portion of its face split apart in a peal of excruciatingly penetrating laughter.

"You're serious?" Rachmael said, feeling disorganized. And yet the eye-eater was correct; if it did possess a later edition of the text he most certainly had reason to seek it out -- wherever it lay, even within the body of the offensive eye-eater.

"Look, look," the eye-eater exclaimed; it held in one of its longer pseudopodia several remaining unchewed eyes, and these it had placed close to its stomach in order to see properly. "Yes, it's still in there -- and you can have it, free! No, but seriously, folks, the twentieth edition is worth a lot more to a collector than the seventeenth; get it while the getting's good or this free money-back offer expires forever."

After a pause Rachmael shut his eyes and reached his hand gropingly into the midsection of the cephalopodic life-form.

"Fine, fine," the eye-eater chortled. "That feels really cool, as the ancients said. Got hold of it yet? Reach deeper, and don't mind if the digestive juices destroy your sleeve; that's show biz, or whatever it was they formerly said. Tee-hee!"

His fingers touched something firm within the gelatinous, oozing mass. The edge of the book? Or -- something else. It felt very much as if -- incredibly -- it consisted of the crisp, starched, lower edge of a woman's bra.

"For god's sake!" a female voice declared furiously. And at the same instant a small but wildly intent hand grabbed his, forced it back toward him.

Immediately he opened his eyes. The eye-eater glowered at him in indignation. But -- it had changed. From it long strands of women's hair grew; the eye-eater had a distinctly female appearance. Even its pawful of eyes had altered; they now appeared elongated, graceful, with heavy lashes. A woman's eyes, he realized with a thrill of terror.

"Who are you?" he demanded, almost unable to speak; he jerked his hand back in revulsion and the pseudopodium released him.

The pseudopodia of the eye-eater, all of them, terminated in small, delicate hands. Like the hair and the eyes, distinctly female.

The eye-eater had become a woman. And, near the center of its body, it wore -- ludicrously -- the stiff white bra.

The eye-eater said, in a high-pitched voice, almost a squeal of indignation, "I'm Gretch Borbman, of course. And I frankly don't believe it's very funny to do what you did just now." Breathing hotly, the eye-eater glowered even more darkly.

"I'm -- sorry," he managed to say. "But I'm lost in damn paraworld; it's not my fault. So don't condemn me."

"Which paraworld is it this time?" the eye-eater demanded. "The same one as before?"

He started to answer ... and then noticed something which froze him into silence where he stood. Other eye-eaters had begun to appear, slowly undulating toward him and Gretch Borbman. Some had the distinct cast of masculinity; some obviously were, like Gretch, female.

The class. Assembling together in response to what Gretch had said.

"He attempted to reach inside me," the eye-eater calling itself Gretchen Borbman explained to the rest of them. "I wonder which paraworld that would indicate."

"Mr. ben Applebaum," one of the other eye-eaters, almost certainly Sheila Quam by the sound of her voice, said. "In view of what Miss Borbman says, I think it is virtually mandatory for me to declare a special emergency Computer Day; I would say that beyond a reasonable doubt this situation which you've created calls for it."

"True," the eye-eater named Gretch agreed; the others, to varying degrees, also nodded in unison. "Have his paraworld gestalt fed in so it can be examined and compared. Personally I don't think it's like anyone else's, but of course that's up to the computer to determine. Myself, I feel perfectly safe; I know that whatever he saw, or rather sees, bears absolutely no resemblance to anything I ever perceived."

"What did he do just now," an eye-eater which reminded him of Hank Szantho said, "that made you yip like that?"

The Gretch Borbman thing said in a low, sullen voice, "He attempted to diddle me."

"Well," the Hank Szantho eye-eater said mildly, "I don't see where that alone indicates anything; I might even attempt that myself, some day. Anyhow, as long as Sheila feels it's called for --"

"I've already got the forms ready," the one whom he had identified as Sheila Quam said. To Rachmael she said, "Here is 47-B; I've already signed it. Now, if you'll come with me --" She glanced toward the Gretchen Borbman eye-eater. "Miss Borbman already knows her paraworld ... I hope her confidence is vindicated; I hope that what you perceive, Mr. ben Applebaum, is not congruent with hers."

"I hope so, too," the Gretchen Borbman thing agreed faintly.

"As I recall," the Sheila Quam eye-eating entity declared, "Mr. ben Applebaum's initial delusional experience, set off by the LSD dart, consisted of involvement with the garrison state. Do you remember clearly enough to voluntarily testify to that, Mr. ben Applebaum?"

"Yes," he said huskily. "And then the aquatic --"

"But before that," Sheila interrupted. "When you first crossed by Telpor. Before the dart -- before the LSD."

Hazily, he said, "It's a blur to me, now." Reality, for him, had slipped and floundered too much; he could not be absolutely sure of the sequence of events. With a vast final effort he summoned his waning attention, focused on his past -- it seemed a billion light-years ago, and yet in actuality the experience with the garrison state had been reasonably recent. "It was before," he said, then. "I perceived the garrison state, the fighting; then a THL soldier shot me. So the experience with the garrison state came first; then, after the LSD, the aquatic nightmare-shape."

Hank Szantho said thoughtfully, "You may be interested to know, Mr. ben Applebaum, that you are not the first person among us to live with that hallucination -- I refer to the prior one, that of the garrison state. If your delusional gestalt, when you present it to the computer, comes out on those lines, I can assure you that a true bi-personal view of a paraworld will have been established ... and this, of course, is what we fear, as you well know. Do you want to see the garrison state world established as the authentic reality?" His voice lifted harshly. "Consider."

"The choice," Sheila Quam said, "is not his; it's mine. I therefore officially declare this late Wednesday afternoon and Computer Day, and I order Mr. ben Applebaum to accept this form I hold here, to fill it out, and then return it to me, as Control, to sign. You understand, Mr. ben Applebaum? Can you think clearly enough to follow what I'm saying?"

Reflexively, he accepted the form from her. "A pen?" he asked.

"A pen." Sheila Quam, plus all the other eye-eating quasi-forms, began to search about their bulb-like bodies -- to no avail.

"Chrissake," Rachmael said irritably, and searched his own pockets. Not only to be compelled to fill out the 47-B form, but to come up with his own pencil --

In his pocket his fingers touched something: a flat, small tin. Puzzled, he lifted it out, examined it. The eye-eaters around him did so, as well. In particular the Gretchen Borbman one.

MORE FUN
AFTER DONE!

"How disgusting," Gretchen Borbman said. To the others she said, "A tin of Yucatan prophoz. The worst kind possible -- fully automated, helium-battery powered, good for a five-year life span ... is this what you had in mind, Mr. ben Applebatim, when you diddled me a moment ago?"

"No," he said. "I forgot I had these." Chilled, he thought, Have I had this all along? The cammed, hyperminned UN weapon: the personnel variation of the time-warping construct which constituted the major device in Horst Bertold's arsenal. Naturally he retained it; the effectiveness of the camouflage lay beyond dispute and had now been tested and ratified in practice ... it had even seemed to him, during the first moment of discovery, that this was exactly as it appeared to be: a box of prophoz and nothing more.

"Out of respect for decency and the women present here," the Hank Szantho eye-eater said, "I believe you should put that obnoxiously specific tin away, Mr. ben Applebaum; don't you, on second thought, agree?"

"I suppose so," he said. And opened the tin.

***

Acrid smoke billowed about him, stinging his nostrils. He halted, dropped into an instinctive crouch of self-defense. Matson saw gray barracks.

Beside him. Freya appeared. The air was cold; she shivered and he, too, quaked, drew against her, stared and stared at the barracks; he saw row after row of them, and -- charged, twelve-foot-high wire fences with four strands of barbed wire at the top. And signs. The posted restrictive notices; he did not even need to read them.

Freya said, "Mat, have you ever heard of a town called Sparta?"

"'Sparta,'" he echoed, standing holding his two suitcases.

"Here." She released his fingers, set the suitcases down, A few people, drably dressed, slunk by, silently, carefully paying no attention to them. "I was wrong," Freya said. "And the message of course to you, the all-clear, was spurious. Mat, I thought --"

"You thought," he said, "it was going to be -- ovens."

She said, with quiet calmness, tossing her heavy dark mane of hair back and raising her chin to meet his gaze, look at him face-to-face, "It's work camps. The Soviet, not the Third Reich, model. Forced labor."

"Doing what? Clearing the planet? But the original authentic monitoring satellites reported that --"

"They seem," she said, "to be forming the nucleus of an army. First starting everyone out in labor gangs. To get them accustomed to discipline. The young males go into basic training at once; the rest of us -- we'll probably serve in that." She pointed and he saw the ramp of a subsurface structure; he saw the descent mechanism and he knew, remembered from his youth, what it meant, this pre-war configuration.

A multi-level autofac. On continuous schedule, hence not entirely homeo. For round-the-clock operations, machines would not do, could not survive. Only shifts, alternating, of humans, could keep the belts moving; they had learned that in '92.

"Your police vets," Freya said, "are too old for immediate induction; most of them. So they'll be assigned to barracks, as we will be. I have the number they gave you and the one they gave me."

"Different quarters? We're not even together?"

Freya said, "I also have the mandatory forms for us to fill out; we list all our skills. So we can be useful."

"I'm old," he said.

"Then," Freya said, "you'll have to die. Unless you can conjure up a skill."

"I have one skill." In the suitcase resting on the pavement beside him he had a transmitter which, small as it was, would send out a signal which, in six months, would reach Terra.

Bending, he brought out the key, turned the lock of the suitcase. All he had to do was open the suitcase, feed an inch of punched data-tape into the orifice of the transmitter's encoder; the rest was automatic. He switched the power on; every electronic item mimicked clothing, especially shoes; it appeared as if he had come to Whale's Mouth to walk his life away, and elegantly at that.

"Why?" he asked Freya as he programmed, with a tiny scholarly construct, the inch of tape. "An army for what?"

"I don't know, Mat. It's all Theodoric Ferry. I think Ferry is going to try to outspit the army on Terra that Horst Bertold commands. In the short time I've been here I've talked to a few people, but -- they're so afraid. One man thought there'd been a non-humanoid sentient race found, and we're preparing to strike for its colony-planets; maybe after a while and we've been here --"

Matson peered up and said, "I've encoded the tape to read, Garrison state, Sound out Bertold, It'll go to our top pilot, Al Dosker, repeated over and over again, because at this distance the noise- factor --"

A laser beam removed the back of his head.

Freya shut her eyes.

A second beam from the laser rifle with the telescopic sight destroyed first one suitcase and then its companion. And then a shiny, spic-and-span young soldier walked up, leisurely, the rifle held loosely; he glanced at her, up and down, carnally but with no particular passion, then looked down at the dead man, at Matson. "We caught your conversation on an aud rec." He pointed, and Freya saw, then, on the overhang of the roof of the Telpor terminal building, a netlike interwoven mesh. "That man" -- the soldier kicked -- actually physically kicked with his toe -- the corpse of Matson Glazer-Holliday -- "said something about 'our top pilot.' You're an organization, then. Friends of a United People? That it?"

She said nothing; she was unable to.

"Come along, honey," the soldier said to her. "For your psych-interrogation. We held it off because you were kind enough -- dumb enough -- to inform us that your husband was following you. But we never --"

He died, because, by means of her "watch" she had released the low-velocity cephalotropic cyanide dart; it moved slowly, but still he had not been able to evade it; he batted at it, childishly, with his hand, not quite alarmed, not quite wise and frightened enough, and its tip penetrated a vein near his wrist. And death came as swiftly and soundlessly as it had for Matson. The soldier swiveled and unwound and unwound in his descent to the pavement, and Freya, then, turned and ran --

At a corner she went to the right, and, as she ran down a narrow, rubbish-heaped alley, reached into her cloak, touched the aud transmitter which sent out an all-points, planet-wide alarm signal- alert; every Lies, Incorporated employee here at Whale's Mouth would be picking it up, if this was not already apparent to him: if the alarm signal added anything to his knowledge, that which had probably come, crushingly, within the first five minutes here on this side -- this one-way side -- of the Telpor apparatuses. Well, anyhow she had done that; she had officially, through technical channels, alerted them, and that was all -- all she could do.

She had no long-range inter-system transmitter as Matson had had; she could not send out a macrowave signal which would be picked up by Al Dosker at the Sol system six months hence. In fact none of the two thousand police agents of Lies, Incorporated did. But they had weapons. She was, she realized with dread and disbelief, automatically now in charge of those of the organization who survived; months ago Matson had set her up legally so that on his death she assumed his chair, and this was not private: this had been circulated, memo-wise, throughout the organization.

What could she tell the police agents who had gotten through -- tell them, of course, that Matson was dead, but what would be of use to them? What, she asked herself, can we do?

Eighteen years, she thought; do we have to wait for the Omphalos, for Rachmael ben Applebaum to arrive and see? Because by then it won't matter. For us, anyhow; nor for this generation.

Two men ran toward her and one bleated, "Moon and cow," shrilly, his face contorted with fear.

"Jack Horner," she said numbly. "I don't know what to do," she said to them. "Matson is dead and his big transmitter is destroyed. They were waiting for him; I led them right to him. I'm sorry." She could not face the two field reps of the organization; she stared rigidly past them. "Even if we put our weapons into use," she said, "they can take all of us out."

"But we can do some damage," one of the two police, middle-aged, with that fat spare tire at his middle, a tough old vet of the '92 war, said.

His companion, clasping a valise, said, "Yes, we can try, Miss Holm. Send out that signal; you have it?"

"No," she said, but she was lying and they knew it. "It's hopeless," she said. "Let's try to pass as authentic emigrants. Let them draft us, put us into the barracks."

The seasoned, hard-eyed paunchy one said, "Miss Holm, when they get into the luggage, they'll know." To his companion he said, "Bring it out."

Together, as she watched, the two experienced field reps of Lies, Incorporated assembled a small intricate weapon of a type she had never seen before; evidently it was from their advanced weapons archives.

To her the younger man said quietly, "Send the signal. For a fight. As soon as our people come through; keep the signal going so they'll pick it up as they emerge. We'll fight at this spot, not later, not when they have us cut down into individuals, one here, one there."

She. Touched. The. Signal-tab.

And then she said, quietly, "I'll try to get a message-unit back to Terra via Telpor. Maybe in the confusion --" Because there was going to be a lot of confusion as the Lies, Incorporated men emerged and immediately picked up the fracas-in-progress signal "-- maybe it'll slip by."

"It won't," the hard-eyed old tomcat of a fighter said to her. He glanced at his companion. "But if we focus on a transmission station maybe we can take and keep control long enough to run a vid track through. Pass it back through the Telpor gate. Even if all two thous of us were to --" He turned to Freya. "Can you direct the reps to make it to this point?"

"I have no more microwave patterns," she said, this time truthfully. "Just those two."

"Okay, Miss Holm." The vet considered. "Vid transmissions through Telpor are accomplished over there." He pointed and she saw an isolated multi-story structure, windowless, with a guarded entrance; in the gray sun of midday she caught a glint of metal, or armed sentries. "You have the code for back home you can transmit?"

"Yes," she said. "One of fifty. Mat and I both had them; committed to memory. I could transmit it by aud in ten seconds."

"I want," the wary, half-crouching veteran policeman said, "a vid track of this." He swung his hand at the landscape, "Something that can be spliced into the central coaxial cable and run on TV. Not just that we know but that they know." They. The people back home -- the innocents who lay beyond the one-way gate; forever, she thought, because eighteen years is, really, forever.

"What's the code?" the younger field rep asked her.

Freya said. "'Forgot to pack my Irish linen handkerchiefs. Please transmit via Telpor.'" She explained, "We, Mat and I, worked out all logical possibilities. This comes the closest. Sparta."

"Yep," the older vet said. "The warrior state. The trouble-maker. Well, it is close geographically to Athens, although not quite close enough." To his companion he said, "Can we get in there and transmit the aud signal?" He picked up the weapon which they had assembled.

"Sure," his younger companion said, nodding.

The older man clicked the weapon on.

Freya saw, then, into the grave and screamed; she ran and as she ran, struggled to get away, she knew it for what it was: a refined form of nerve gas that -- and then her coherent thoughts ceased and she simply ran.

The armed sentry-soldiers guarding the windowless building ran, too.

And, unaffected, their metabolisms insulated by preinjective antidotal hormones, the two field reps of Lies, Incorporated dogtrotted toward the windowless structure, and, as they trotted, brought out small, long-range laser pistols with telescopic sights.

That was her final view of them; at that point panic and flight swallowed her and it was only darkness. And a darkness into which people of all sorts -- she glimpsed, felt, them dimly -- ran alongside in company with her; she was not alone: the future radiated.

Mat, she thought. You will not have your police state here at Whale's Mouth, and I warned you; I told you. But, she thought, maybe now they won't either. If that encoded message can be put through. If.

And if, on the Terran side, there is someone smart enough to know what to do with it.
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Re: Lies, Inc., by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Tue Sep 01, 2020 6:29 am

Chapter Sixteen

In his ship near the orbit of Pluto, Al Dosker received, routinely, the message transmitted from Freya Holm at Whale's Mouth to the New New York office of Lies, Incorporated.

FORGOT TO PACK MY IRISH LINEN HANDKERCHIEFS. PLEASE TRANSMIT VIA TELPOR. FREYA.

He walked to the rear of the ship, leisurely, because at this distance from the sun everything seemed entropic, slowed down; it was as if, out here, there was a slower beat of the sidereal clock.

Opening the code box he ran his finger down the Fs. Then found the key. He then took the message and fed it directly into the computer which held the spools that comprised the contents of the box.

Out came a paper ribbon with typed words. He read them.

MILITARY DICTATORSHIP. BARRACKS LIFE ON SPARTAN BAS1S. PREPARATION FOR WAR AGAINST UNKNOWN FOE.

Dosker stood for a moment, then, taking the original encoded message, as handled by Vidphone Corporation, ran it through the computer once again. And, once again, he read the message in clear and once again it said what it had to say -- could not be denied from saying. And there was no doubt, because Matson Glazer-Holliday himself had programmed the computer-box.

This, Dosker thought. Out of fifty possibilities ranging from the Elysium field to -- hell.

Roughly, this lay halfway on the hell side. By a gross count of ten. It ranked about as bad as he had expected.

So, he thought, now we know.

We know ... and we can't validate it.

The scrap of ribbon, the encoded message, was, incredible as it seemed, completely, utterly worthless.

Because, he asked himself, whom do we take it to?

Their own organization, Lies, Incorporated, had been truncated by Mat's action, by the sending of their best men to Whale's Mouth; all which remained was the staff of bureaucrats in New New York -- and himself.

And, of course, Rachmael ben Applebaum out in 'tween space in the Omphalos. Busily learning Attic Greek.

Now, from the New New York office, a second message, encoded, arrived; this, too, he fed to the computer, more quickly, this time. It came out drearily and he read it with futile shame -- shame because he had tried and failed to stop what Matson planned; he felt the moral weight on himself.

WE CANNOT HOLD OUT. VIVISECTION IN PROGRESS.

Can I help you? he wondered, suffering in his impotent rage. Goddamn you, Matson, he thought, you had to do it; you were greedy. And you took two thousand men and Freya Holm with you, to be slaughtered over there where we can't do anything because "we" consist of nothing.

However, he could perform one final act -- his effort, not connected with the effort to save the multitude of Terran citizens who, within the following days, weeks, would be filing through Telpor gates to Whale's Mouth, but to save someone who deserved a reprieve from a self-imposed burden; a burden which these two encoded messages via Telpor and the Vidphone Corp had rendered obsolete.

Taking the risk that a UN monitor might pick up his signal, Al Dosker sent out a u.h.f. beamed radio signal to the Omphalos and Rachmael ben Applebaum.

When he raised the Omphalos, now at hyper-see velocity and beyond the Sol system, Dosker asked brutally, "How's the odes of Pindar coming?"

"Just simple fables so far," Rachmael's voice came distantly, mixed with the background of static, of inter-system interference as the signal-gathering cone aboard Dosker's ship rotated, tried to gather the weak, far-distant impulse. "But you weren't supposed to contact me," Rachmael said, "unless --"

"Unless," Dosker said, "this happened. We have, at Lies, Incorporated, an encoding method that can't be broken. Because the data are not in what's transmitted. Listen carefully, Rachmael." And, amplified by his ship's transmitter, his words -- he hoped -- were reaching the Omphalos, a segment of his equipment recorded his words and broadcast them several times: a multiplication of the signal to counter, on a statistical basis, the high background; by utilizing the principle of repetition he expected to get his message through to Rachmael. "You know the joke about the prison inmate," Dosker said, "who stands up and yells, 'Three.' And everyone laughs."

"Yes," Rachmael said alertly. "Because 'three' refers to an entire multi-part joke. Which all the inmates know; they've been confined together so long."

"By that method," Dosker said, "our transmission from Whale's Mouth operated today. We have a binary computer as the decoder. Originally, we started out by flipping a coin for each letter of the alphabet. Tails made it zero or gate-shut; heads means one or gate-open. It's either zero or one; that's the binary computer's modus operandi. Then we invented fifty message-units which describe possible conditions on the other side; the messages were constructed in such a way that each consisted of a unique sequence of ones and zeros. I --" His voice came out ragged, hoarse. "I have just now received a message, which when reduced to the elements of the binary system consists of a sequence reading: 11101001100111 0101100000100110101001110000100111110100000111. There is nothing intrinsic in this binary sequence that can be decoded, because it simply acts as one of the fifty unique signals known to our box -- here on my ship -- and it trips one particular tape. But its length -- it gives a spurious impression to cryptographers of an intrinsic message."

"And your tape --" Rachmael said, "that was tripped --"

"I'll paraphrase," Dosker said. "The operational word is -- Sparta." He was silent then.

"A garrison state?" Rachmael's voice came.

"Yes."

"Against whom?"

"They didn't say. A second message came, but it added relatively little. Except that it came through in clear and it told us that they can't hold out. They're being decimated by the military, over there."

"And you're sure this is authentic data?" Rachmael asked.

"Only Freya Holm, Matson and I," Dosker said, "have the decode boxes into which the messages can be fed as a binary tripping-sequence. It came from Freya, evidently; anyhow she signed the first." He added, "They didn't even try to sign the second one."

"Well," Rachmael said, "then I will turn back. There's no point to my trip, now."

"That's up to you to decide." He waited, wondering what Rachmael ben Applebaum's decision would be; but, he thought, as you say, it really doesn't matter, because the real tragedy is twenty- four light-years away, and not the destruct, the taking-out, of Lie's, Incorporated's two thousand best people, but -- the forty million who've gone before. And the eighty million or more who will follow, since, though we have this knowledge on this side of the teleport gates, there's no means by which we can communicate it over the mass info media to the population --

He was thinking that when the UN pursuit ships, three of them like black sliding fish, closed noiselessly in on him, reached a.-to-a. missile range; their missiles fired, and Dosker's Lies, Incorporated ship was cut into fragments.

Stunned, passive, he floated in his self-contained suit with its own air, heat, water, transmitter, waste-disposal deposit box, squeeze-tubes of food ... he drifted on and on, seemingly for eternity, thinking about vague and even happy things, about a planet of green forests and of women and the tinkling noise of get-togethers, and yet knowing dully that he could live only a short time like this, and wondering, too, if the UN had gotten the Omphalos as they had gotten him; obviously their vigilant switchboard of monitors had picked up his radio carrier-wave, but whether they had picked up Rachmael's too, which operated on another band ... god, he thought, I hope not; I hope it's just me.

He was still hoping when the UN pursuit ship moved up beside him, sent out a robot-like construct which fished at him until it had with great care grappled him without puncturing his suit. Amazed, he thought, Why don't they just dig a little hole in the suit-fabric, let out the air and heat, let me float here and meanwhile die?

It bewildered him. And now a hatch of the UN pursuit ship was opening; he was reeled in, like an enmeshed quarry; the hatch slammed shut and he felt the artificial gravity which prevailed within the expensive, ultra-modern vessel; he lay prone and then, wearily, got to his feet, stood.

Facing him, a uniformed UN senior officer, armed, said, "Take off your suit. Your emergency suit. Understand?" He spoke with a heavy accent; Dosker saw, by his armband, that he was from the Nordic League.

Piece by piece, Dosker shed his emergency suit.

"You Goths," Dosker said, "seem to be running things." At the UN, anyhow. He wondered about Whale's Mouth.

The UN officer, still pointing the laser pistol at him, said, "Sit down. We are returning to Terra. Nach Terra; versteh'n?" Behind him a second UN employee, not armed, sat at the control console; the ship was on a high-velocity course directed toward the third planet and Dosker guessed that only an hour's travel lay ahead. "The Secretary General," the UN officer said, "has asked to speak to you personally. Meanwhile, compose yourself and wait. Would you like a magazine to read? We have UN Back-peop Assist. Or an entertain-spool to watch?"

"No," Dosker said, and sat staring straight ahead, blindly.

The UN officer said, "We tracked the Omphalos by her carrier-wave transmission, also. As we did your ship."

"Good bit," Dosker said sardonically.

"However, due to the distance involved, it will take several days to reach her."

Dosker said. "But you will, though."

"That is a certainty," the UN officer said, with his heavy Swedish accent, nodding. He had no doubts. Nor did Dosker.

The only issue was the time-factor. As the officer said, some few days; no more.

He stared ahead, sat, waited, as the high-velocity UN pursuit ship hurried toward Terra, New New York and Horst Bertold.

***

At the UN Headquarters in New New York he was given a thorough physical examination; the doctors and nurses attached one testing apparatus after another, checked their readings, located no grafted-in subdermal devices.

"You survived your ordeal amazingly well," the doctor in charge informed him, at last, as he was given his clothing and allowed once more to dress.

"And now what?" Dosker asked.

"The Secretary General is ready to see you," the doctor said briefly, marking his chart; he nodded his head toward a door.

Having dressed, Dosker walked step by step to the door, opened it.

"Please hurry it up," Horst Bertold said.

Shutting the door after him Dosker said, "Why?"

Seated at his large antique oak desk, the UN Secretary General glanced up; he was a heavy man, red-haired, with a pinched, elongated nose and almost colorless small lips. His features were small but his shoulders, his arms and his ribcage, bulged, as if from countless steam baths and from handball; his legs, his feet, showed the tonus of great childhood walking trips and miles of bike riding; this was an outdoor man, confined by his job to a desk, but longing for open spaces which did not now exist. A thoroughly healthy man, physically speaking, Dosker thought. Strange, he thought, and, in spite of himself, received a good impression.

"We picked up your radio communication with the Omphalos," Bertold said, his English perfect -- in fact overly perfect; it had a tape-like quality, and probably it had been so learned. The impression here was not so good. "Thereby as you know we located both ships. We also understand that you are now the ranking executive of Lies, Incorporated, Miss Holm and Mr. Glazer-Holliday having crossed via Telpor -- under cover names, of course -- to Whale's Mouth."

Dosker shrugged, said nothing, imparted no free information; waited.

"However --" Horst Bertold tapped his pen against the top document on his desk, frowned. "This is a transcript, verbatim, of the interchange between you and the fanatic, Rachmael ben Applebaum. You initiated the radio exchange; you raised the Omphalos." Bertold glanced up and his blue, light eyes were sharp. "We have put our cryptographers on the sequence in code which you transmitted ... the same which you previously received from the Vidphone Corp. Intrinsically it means nothing. But in the wreckage of your ship we located your decoding computer, the intact box with its fifty tapes. We therefore matched the transmission and recorded binary sequence to the proper tape. And it was as you informed ben Applebaum."

"Did that surprise you?"

"Of course not," Bertold said swiftly. "Why should you deceive your own client? And at the risk -- a risk which should not have been taken, as it so turned out -- of revealing the location of your own vessel? Anyhow --" Bertold's voice sank to an introspective murmur. "We still were not satisfied. We therefore checked over our monitoring --"

"They're being wiped out, over there," Dosker said. "The two thousand field reps and Mat and Freya." His voice was toneless; he told this because he knew they would get it by a 'wash anyhow -- they could get anything that was there, any memory, any motives, plans, projects; after all, his own organization, far smaller than the UN, could do so -- had done so, over many years, and to many persons, by means of psychiatrists and their techniques.

Bertold said, "Trails of Hoffman Limited and Theodoric Ferry entirely control Newcolonizedland. The UN has no staff at Whale's Mouth. All we know is what we have received, as a courtesy, in aud and vid form. The info signals through the Telpors, over these years of colonization; our original monitoring satellites have been inoperative ever since THL auspical jurisdiction began."

There was silence and then Dosker said incredulously, "Then this is as much news to you as it is to --"

"We believed the fifteen years of aud and vid tapes; we saw no reason to check for ourselves. THL had volunteered to underwrite the colonization economically; they picked up the tab and we gave them the franchise because they owned the Telpor patent and equipment. Dr. von Einem's patents are possessed exclusively by THL; he had the legal right to so arrange that. And this --" Bertold picked up the top document from his desk, showed it to Dosker; it was a typed transcript, in its entirety, of his own conversation by radio with Rachmael. "This," Horst Bertold said, "is the result."

Dosker said, "Tell me what it means." Because, he thought, I don't know. I saw the original messages when they arrived; I understand the literal meaning of the words. But that's all.

The UN Secretary General said, "Out of the forty million colonists Ferry has conscripted an army and provided it with modern, sophisticated weapons. There is no 'non-humanoid race,' no non- Terran culture to encounter. Had there been our unmanned monitors would have detected them; by now we've touched every star system in our galaxy." He stared at Dosker. "It's us," he said. "The UN. That's what Theodoric Ferry is proposing to engage. When enough colonists have gone across. Then the up-to-then 'one-way' aspect of the teleportation equipment will suddenly reveal that the so-called Theorem One was false."

"Here?" Dosker said, then. "They'll reenter through their own Telpor outlets?"

"And take us on," Bertold said. "But not now. At this point they're not quite large enough." To himself he said." At least so we estimate; we studied samples of groups who had emigrated; he can't have more than one million men actually under arms. But weapons -- they may have u.s.h.: ultra sophisticated hardware; after all, they've got von Einem working for them."

Dosker said. "Where is von Einem? At Whale's Mouth?"

"We put a tail on him instantly." Bertold's fingers convulsed, crushed the document. "And proved already -- ganz genug! -- that we were correct. Von Einem has been all these years passing back and forth between Terra and Whale's Mouth; he has always used -- they have always -- operated the Telpor instruments for two-way travel -- so it's vertfied, Dosker. Verified!" He stared at Dosker.
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Re: Lies, Inc., by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Tue Sep 01, 2020 6:29 am

Chapter Seventeen

When Rachmael ben Applebaum made out the dim, shadowy shapes of the UN pursuit ships as they approached to escort the Omphalos he knew that, whatever else was a cover, at least this much was true: the UN had traced him, had him and no doubt Dosker as well. So -- he clicked on the microwave transmitter and raised, after an interval, the UN pursuit ships' local commanding officer.

"I'll believe you," Rachmael said, "when I hear Al Dosker say it." And when I look him over, he said to himself, for signs of a cephalic 'wash. But -- why would they say it if it wasn't true? They had him; he and the Omphalos, detected, were now booty captured by the armed inter-system vessels of the great UN structure that spanned from planet to planet. Why make up a cover when there was no force to influence, no force able to provide any resistance?

God above, he thought. If it's true, then we can rely on Horst Bertold. We let our prejudices blind us ... von Einem is German and Horst Bertold is German. But that does not any more prove they are working together, are secret collaborators, than, say, any two Ubangis or any two Jews. Adolf Hitler was not even a German ... so our own thinking, he realized, has betrayed us. But -- maybe now we can believe this. We can see. New Whole Germany has produced Dr. Sepp von Einem and Trails of Hoffman Limited ... but it may also have produced something else when it created Horst Bertold.

We will see, Rachmael said to himself.

-- Will wait until we are in New New York at UN Headquarters; face Horst Bertold and see the evidence of the assertion given by relayed macroradio signal.

The assertion that as of six a.m. New New York time this morning, UN troops had entered all retail outlets of Trails of Hoffman Limited, had seized the Telpor instruments -- had, throughout Terra, arbitrarily and without warning of any kind, halted emigration to Whale's Mouth.

***

Twelve hours later Rachmael was led by a worried overworked female secretary into the UN Secretary General's office.

"The fanatic," Horst Bertold said, surveying him. "The idealist who sparked the hankering in Matson Glazer-Holliday that caused him to attempt his coup d'etat at Whale's Mouth." He turned to an aide. "Bring in the Telpor Apparat."

Seconds later the familiar bipolar mechanism was noisily carted into the UN leader's office, along with a thoroughly unnerved-looking technician; minus his goggles he looked frightened and -- small.

To the Telpor technician, Horst Bertold said, "Does this operate to permit teleportation two ways? Or only one? Zwei oder ein? Antworte."

"Just outward, mein Herr Sekretar General," the technician quavered. "As Theorem One demonstrates, the recession of matter toward --"

Horst Bertold said to his aide, "Bring in our 'wash psychiatrists. Have them start with their EEG machines."

At that, the Telpor technician said, in a voice that broke with dismayed intimidation, "Dass brauchen Sie nicht."

"He's saying," Bertold said to Rachmael, "that he will cooperate; we don't need to employ our psychiatrists with him. So ask him." He jerked his head fiercely toward the cowering THL employee, this man in his white smock who had assisted in the emigration of literally millions of innocent human beings." Ask him whether the Telpors work both ways."

The technician said, virtually inaudibly, "Beide. Both ways."

"There never was any 'Theorem One,'" Bertold snapped.

"Sie haben Recht," the technician agreed, nodding.

"Bring in Dosker," Bertold said to his overworked female secretary.

When Dosker appeared he said to Rachmael at once, "Freya is still alive over there." He indicated the Telpor instrument. "We've been in contact through this. But --" He hesitated.

Horst Bertold said, "Matson Glazer-Holliday is dead. They murdered him immediately. But nearly half of Lies, Incorporated's field personnel remain alive at various installations at Newcolonizedland, and we're beginning to supply them on a strategic basis. With weapons of types which they instantly need. And presently we will, at tactical spots, try commando teams; we can do a lot, I think, with our commando teams."

"What can I do?" Rachmael said. He felt overwhelming impotence; it was going on -- had been going on -- without him. While he journeyed -- pointlessly -- through 'tween, utterly empty, space.

This, the UN Secretary General seemed to read on his face. "You awakened Matson," he pointed out. "Which caused Matson to attempt his aborted coup. And the relayed message from Freya Holm to Dosker and then to the Omphalos informed us of the reality hidden under Theodoric Ferry's cover; a cover which we carry the moral stigma for accepting all these fifteen years. Everything based on the one fundamental hoax that teleportation could be achieved in only one direction ..." He grimaced. "However, Trails of Hoffman Limited made an error as great as their cover when they did not impede your two thousand Lies, Incorporated veterans from crossing over." To Dosker he said, 'But even so, that would not have been enough. However, with our tactical support --"

"It wasn't enough even at the start," Dosker said, "since they took out Matson right away." Half to himself, half to Rachmael, he said, "We never had a chance. Probably Matson never knew; he probably didn't even live that long. Anyhow, maybe you can retrieve Freya. Do you want to?"

Instantly Rachmael said, "Yes." To Horst Bertold he said, "Can I get equipment out of you? Defensive screens, if not offensive hardware? And I'll go alone." They would not, in the confusion, notice him, perhaps. Whale's Mouth had become a battlefield, and too many participants were involved; one lone man was a cypher, a mote; he would enter inconspicuously and if he found her at all it would be that way, as an entity too trifling to be considered by the vast warring entities. Within the context of the power struggle which had already truncated Lies, Incorporated; one contender had been abolished at the start, and now only the two monoliths existed in the field to slug it out, THL on one hand, the UN as its wise old antagonist, its roots of victory deep in the last century. The UN, he reflected, had a head start, that of fifty years.

But Trails of Hoffman Limited had the inventive genius of half-senile but still crafty old Dr. Sepp von Einem. And -- the inventor of the Telpor instrument might not have ceased with that construct. He wondered if Horst Bertold had considered this.

It didn't matter, because if von Einem had produced something else of equal -- or of merely significant -- value, it would show up now.

In the streets of Newcolonizedland, whatever Dr. Sepp von Einem and THL had over the years developed would be at this moment in full use. Because this was, for all participants, the Dies Irae, the Day of Wrath; now they were, like beasts in the field, being tried. And God help, Rachmael thought, the contender who was found wanting. Because out of this only one participant would live; there would be extended to the loser no partial, no half, life. Not in this arena.

He himself -- he had only one task, as he saw it. That of getting Freya Holm out of Whale's Mouth and back safely to Terra.

The eighteen-year journey, the odyssey aboard the Omphalos, learning Attic Greek so that he could read the Bacchae in the original -- that childlike fantasy had withered at the press of the iron glove of the reality-situation, the struggle going on -- not eighteen years from now -- but at this instant, at the Whale's Mouth terminals of six thousand Telpor stations.

"'Sein Herz voll Hass geladen,'" Horst Bertold said to Rachmael. "You speak Yiddish? You understand?"

"I speak a little Yiddish," Rachmael said, "but that's German. 'His heart heavy with hate.' What's that from?"

"From the Civil War in Spain," Bertold said. "From a song of the International Brigade. Germans, mostly, who had left the Third Reich to fight in Spain against Franco, in the 1930s. They were, I suppose, Communists. But -- they were fighting Fascism, and very early; and they were Germans. So they were always 'good' Germans ... what that man, Hans Beimler, hated was Nazism and Fascism, in all its stages and states and manifestations." After a pause he said. "We fought the Nazis, too, we 'good' Germans; verges' uns nie." Forget us never, Bertold had said, quietly, calmly. Because we did not merely join the fight late, in the 1950s or '60s, but from the start. The first human beings to fight to the death, to kill and be killed by the Nazis, were --

Germans.

"And Terra," Bertold said to Rachmael, "ought nor to forget that. As I hope they will not forget who at this moment is taking out Dr. Sepp von Einem and creatures allied with him. Theodoric Ferry, his boss ... who, by the way, is an American." He smiled at Rachmael. "But there are 'good' Americans. Despite the A-bomb dropped on those Japanese women and children and elderly."

Rachmael was silent, he could not answer this.

"All right," Bertold said, then. "We will put you together with a wep-x, a weapon expert. To see what gear you should have. And then good luck. I hope you bring back Miss Holm." He smiled -- fleetingly. And turned at once to other matters.

A minor UN official plucked at Rachmael's sleeve. "I'm to take charge of your problem," he explained. "I will be handling it from now on. Tell me, Mr. ben Applebaum; precisely what contemporary -- and I do not mean last month's or last year's -- weapons of war you are accustomed to operating, if any? And how recently you have been exposed to the neurological and bacterial --"

"I've had absolutely no military training." Rachmael said. "Or antineuro or -bac modulation."

"We can still assist you," the minor UN official said. "There is certain equipment requiring no prior experience. However --" He made a mark on the sheet attached to his clipboard. "This does make a difference; eighty percent of the hardware available would be useless to you." He smiled encouragingly. "We must not let it get us down, Mr. ben Applebaum."

"I won't," Rachmael said grimly. "So I'll be teleported to Whale's Mouth after all."

"Yes, within a matter of an hour."

"The unteleported man," Rachmael murmured. "Will be teleported." Instead of enduring the eighteen years aboard the Omphalos. Ironic.

"Are you capable morally," the UN official inquired, "of employing a nerve gas, or would you prefer to --"

"Anything," Rachmael said, "that'll bring back Freya. Anything except the phosphorus weapons, the jellied petroleum products; I won't use any of those, and also the bone-marrow destroyers -- leave those out. But lead slugs, the old-fashioned muzzle-expelled shells; I'll accept them, as well as the laser-beam artifacts." He wondered what variety of weapon had gotten Matson Glazer-Holliday, the most professional of men in this area.

"We have something new," the UN official said, consulting his clipboard, "and according to the Defense Department people very promising. It's a time-warping construct that sets up a field which coagulates the --"

"Just equip me," Rachmael said. "And get me over there. To her."

"Right away," the UN official promised, and led him rapidly down a side hall to a hi-speed descent ramp. To the UN Advance-weapons Archives.

***

At the retail outlet of Trails of Hoffman Limited, Jack and Ruth McElhatten and their two children emerged from a flapple taxi; a robot-like organism carted their luggage, all seven overstuffed seedy -- borrowed for the most part -- suitcases, as they entered the modern, small building which for them was to be the last stopping-point on Terra.

Going up to the counter, Jack McElhatten searched about for a clerk to wait on them. Jeez, he thought; just when you decide to make the Big Move they decide to step out for a coffee break.

A smartly uniformed armed UN soldier, with an arm-band identifying him as a member of the crack UAR division, approached him. "What did you wish?"

Jack McElhatten said, "Hell, we came here to emigrate. I've got the poscreds." He reached for his wallet. "Where are the forms to fill out, and then I know we got to take shots and --"

The UN soldier politely said, "Sir, have you watched your info media during the last forty-eight hours?"

"We've been packing." Ruth McElhatten spoke up. "Why, what is it? Has something happened?"

And then, through an open rear door, Jack McElhatten saw it. The Telpor. And his heart bent with mingled dread and anticipation. What an admirably large move this was, this true migration; seeing the twin wall-like polar surfaces of the Telpor was to see -- the frontier itself. In his mind he recalled the years of TV scenes of grasslands, of miles of green, lush --

"Sir," the UN soldier said, "read this notice." He pointed to a square white with words so dark, so unglamorous, that Jack McElhatten, even without reading them, felt the glow, the wonder of what for him was a long-held inner vision, depart.

"Oh good lord," Ruth said, from beside him as she read the notice. "The UN -- it's closed down all the Telpor agencies. Emigration has been suspended." She glanced in dismay at her husband. "Jack, it's now illegal for us to emigrate, it says."

The UN soldier said, "Later on, madam. Emigration will resume; When the situation is resolved." He turned away, then, to halt a second couple, who, with four children, had entered the Trails of Hoffman office.

Through the still-open rear door, McElhatten saw, to his dumb disbelief, four work-garbed laborers; they were busily, sweatily, efficiently torch-cutting into sections the Telpor equipment.

He then forced himself to read the notice.

After he had read it the UN soldier tapped him -- not unkindly -- on the shoulder, pointed out a nearby TV set, which, turned on, was being watched by the second couple and their four children. "These are Newcolonizedland," the UN soldier said. "You see?" His English was not too good, but he was attempting to explain; he wanted the McElhattens to understand why.

Approaching the TV set, Jack McElhatten saw gray, barracks-like structures with tiny, slotted windows like raptor eyes. And -- high fences. He stared, uncomprehendingly ... and yet, underneath, comprehending completely; he did not even have to listen to the aud track, to the UN announcer. Ruth whispered, "My god. It's a -- concentration camp."

A puff of smoke and the top floors of the gray cement building disappeared; dwarfed dark shapes scampered, and rapid-fire weapons clattered in the background of the announcer's British-type voice; the calm, reasonable commentary explained what did not need to be explained.

At least not after this sight.

"Is that," Ruth said to her husband, "how we would have lived over there?"

Presently he said, to her and their two children, "Come on. Let's go home." He signaled the robot-organism to pick their luggage up once more.

"But," Ruth protested, "couldn't the UN have helped us? They have all those welfare agencies --"

Jack McElhatten said, "The UN is protecting us now. And not with welfare agencies." He indicated the work-garbed laborers busy dismantling the Telpor unit.

"But so late --"

"Not," he said, "too late." He signaled the robot-thing to carry their seven bulging suitcases back outside onto the sidewalk; avoiding the many passing people, the dense, always dense, sidewalk traffic, he searched for a flapple taxi to take himself and his family home again to their miserable cramped, hated conapt.

A man, distributing leaflets, approached him, held out a broadsheet; McElhatten reflexively accepted it. The Friends of a United People outfit, he saw. Glaring banner:

UN VERIFIES COLONY TYRANNY

He said, aloud, "They were right. The cranks. The lunatics, like that guy who wanted to make the eighteen-year trip by interstellar ship." He carefully folded the broadsheet, put it into his pocket to read later; right now he felt too numbed. "I hope," he said aloud, "that my boss will take me back."

"They're fighting, " Ruth said. "You could see on the TV screen; they showed UN soldiers and then others in funny uniforms I never saw before in all my --"

"You think," Jack McElhatten asked his wife, "you could sit in the taxi with the kids while I find a bar and get one good stiff drink?"

She said, "Yes. I could." Now a flapple taxi was swooping down, attracted; it headed for the curb, and the four of them and their mound of fat luggage enticing its tropism.

"Because," Jack McElhatten said, "I can use for instance a bourbon and water. A double." And then, he said to himself, I'm heading for UN recruiting headquarters and volunteer.

He did not know for what -- not yet. But they would tell him.

His help was needed; he felt it in his blood. A war had to be won, and then, years from now but not eighteen as it had been for that nut written up in the 'papes, they could do it, could emigrate. But before that -- the fighting. The winning of Whale's Mouth all over again. Actually, for the first time.

But even before that: the two drinks.

As soon as the luggage was loaded he got with his family into the flapple taxi and gave it the name of the bar where he often stopped after work. Obligingly the taxi spouted up into the overcrowded, me-first, nose-to-nose density of supra-surface Terran unending traffic.

And as the taxi rose Jack McElhatten dreamed again of tall, windtouched grasses and froglike creatures and open plains meandered over by quaint animals that were not afraid because no one intended to hurt them. But his awareness of the reality remained and ran parallel to the dream; he saw both at once and he put his arm around his wife and hugged her and was silent.

The taxi, expertly maneuvering among all the other vehicles, directed itself toward the bar on the east side of town; it knew its way, too. It, also, knew its task.
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