Postby admin » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:46 am

by Philip K. Dick
© 1981 by Philip K. Dick




Table of Contents:

• Chapter 1
• Chapter 2
• Chapter 3
• Chapter 4
• Chapter 5
• Chapter 6
• Chapter 7
• Chapter 8
• Chapter 9
• Chapter 10
• Chapter 11
• Chapter 12
• Chapter 13
• Chapter 14
• Chapter 15
• Chapter 16
• Chapter 17
• Chapter 18
• Chapter 19
• Chapter 20

"I will always speak the truth to you, Herb Asher," the boy continued. "There is no deceit in God. I want you to live. I made you live once before, when you lay in psychological death. God does not desire any living thing's death; God takes no delight in nonexistence. Do you know what God is, Herb Asher? God is He Who causes to be. Put another way, if you seek the basis of being that underlies everything you will surely find God. You can work back to God from the phenomenal universe, or you can move from the Creator to the phenomenal universe. Each implies the other. The Creator would not be the Creator if there were no universe, and the universe would cease to be if the Creator did not sustain it. The Creator does not exist prior to the universe in time; he does not exist in time at all. God creates the universe constantly; he is with it, not above or behind it. This is impossible to understand for you because you are a created thing and exist in time. But eventually you will return to your Creator and then you will again no longer exist in time. You are the breath of your Creator, and as he breathes in and out, you live. Remember that, for that sums up everything that you need to know about your God. There is first an exhalation from God, on the part of all creation; and then, at a certain point, it starts its journey back, its inhalation. This cycle never ceases. You leave me; you are away from me; you start back; you rejoin me. You and everything else. It is a process, an event. It is an activity -- my activity. It is the rhythm of my own being, and it sustains you all."

"It is not a good universe that I strive for, nor a just one, nor a pretty one; the existence of the universe itself is at stake. Final victory for Belial does not mean imprisonment for the human race, continued slavery, but nonexistence; without me, there is nothing, not even Belial, whom I created."

"The power of evil," Emmanuel continued, "is the ceasing of reality, the ceasing of existence itself. It is the slow slipping away of everything that is, until it becomes, like Linda Fox, a phantasm. That process has begun. It began with the primal fall. Part of the cosmos fell away. The Godhead itself suffered a crisis; can you fathom that, Herb Asher? A crisis in the Ground of Being? What does that convey to you? The possibility of the Godhead ceasing -- does it convey that to you? Because the Godhead is all that stands between --" He broke off. "You can't even imagine it. No creature can imagine nonbeing, especially its own nonbeing. I must guarantee being, all being. Including yours."

"A war is coming," Emmanuel said. "We will choose our ground. It will be for us, the two of us, Belial and me, a table, on which we play. Over which we wager the universe, the being of being as such. I initiate this final part of the ages of war; I have advanced into Belial's territory, his home. I have moved forward to meet him, not the other way around. Time will tell if it was a wise idea."

-- The Divine Invasion, by Philip K. Dick
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Postby admin » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:46 am

Chapter 1

It came time to put Manny in a school, The government had a special school. The law stipulated that Manny could not go to a regular school because of his condition; there was nothing Elias Tate could do about that. He could not get around the government ruling because this was Earth and the zone of evil lay over everything, Elias could feel it and, probably, the boy could feel it, too.

Elias understood what the zone signified but of course the boy did not. At the age of six Manny looked lovely and strong but he seemed half-asleep all the time, as if (Elias reflected) he had not yet been completely born.

"You know what today is?" Elias asked.

The boy smiled.

"OK," Elias said, "Well, a lot depends on the teacher. How much do you remember, Manny? Do you remember Rybys?" He got out a hologram of Rybys, the boy's mother, and held it to the light, "Look at Rybys," Elias said, "Just for a second."

Someday the boy's memories would come back. Something, a disinhibiting stimulus fired at the boy by his own prearrangement, would trigger anamnesis -- the loss of amnesia, and all the memories would flood back: his conception on CY30-CY30B, the period in Rybys's womb as she battled her dreadful illness, the trip to Earth, perhaps even the interrogation. In his mother's womb Manny had advised the three of them: Herb Asher, Elias Tate and Rybys herself. But then had come the accident, if it really had been accidental. And because of that the damage.

And, because of the damage, forgetfulness.

The two of them took the local rail to the school. A fussy little man met them, a Mr. Plaudet; he was enthusiastic and wanted to shake hands with Manny. It was evident to Elias Tate that this was the government. First they shake hands with you, he hought, and then they murder you.

"So here we have Emmanuel," Plaudet said, beaming.

Several other small children played in the fenced yard of the school. The boy pressed against Elias Tate shyly, obviously wanting to play but afraid to.

"What a nice name," Plaudet said. "Can you say your name, Emmanuel?" he asked the boy, bending down. "Can you say 'Emmanuel'?

"God with us," the boy said.

"I beg your pardon?" Plaudet said.

Elias Tate said, "That's what 'Emmanuel' means. That's why his mother chose it. She was killed in an air collision before Manny was born."

"I was in a synthowomb," Manny said.

"Did the dysfunction originate from the --" Plaudet began, but Elias Tate waved him into silence.

Flustered, Plaudet consulted his clipboard of typed notes. "Let's see ... you're not the boy's father. You're his great-uncle."

"His father is in cryonic suspension."

"The same air collision?"

"Yes," Elias said. "He's waiting for a spleen."

"It's amazing that in six years they haven't been able to come up with --"

"I am not going to discuss Herb Asher's death in front of the boy," Elias said.

"But he knows his father will be returning to life?" Plaudet said.

"Of course. I am going to spend several days here at the school watching to see how you handle the children. If I do not approve, if you use too much physical force, I am taking Manny out, law or no law. I presume you will be teaching him the usual bullshit that goes on in these schools. It's not something I'm especially pleased about, but neither is it something that worries me. Once I am satisfied with the school you will be paid for a year ahead. I object to bringing him here, but that is the law. I don't hold you personally responsible." Elias Tate smiled.

Wind blew through the canes of bamboo growing at the rim of the play area. Manny listened to the wind, cocking his head and frowning. Elias patted him on the shoulder and wondered what the wind was telling the boy. Does it say who you are? he wondered. Does it tell you your name?

The name, he thought, that no one is to say.

A child, a little girl wearing a white frock, approached Manny, her hand out. "Hi," she said. "You're new."

The wind, in the bamboo, rustled on.


Although dead and in cryonic suspension, Herb Asher was having his own problems. Very close to the Cry-Labs, Incorporated, warehouse a fifty-thousand-watt FM transmitter had been located the year before. For reasons unknown to anyone the cryonic equipment had begun picking up the powerful nearby FM signal. Thus Herb Asher, as well as everyone else in suspension at Cry-Labs, had to listen to elevator music all day and all night, the station being what it liked to call a "pleasing sounds" outfit.

Right now an all-string version of tunes from Fiddler on the Roof assailed the dead at Cry-Labs. This was especially distasteful to Herb Asher because he was in the part of his cycle where he was under the impression that he was still alive. In his frozen brain a limited world stretched out of an archaic nature; Herb Asher supposed himself to be back on the little planet of the CY30-CY30B system where he had maintained his dome in those crucial years ...crucial, in that he had met Rybys Rommey, migrated back to Earth with her, after formally marrying her, and then getting himself interrogated by the Terran authorities and, as if that were not enough, getting himself perfunctorily killed in an air collision that was in no way his fault. Worse yet, his wife had been killed and in such a fashion that no organ transplant would revive her; her pretty little head, as the robot doctor had explained it to Herb, had been riven in twain -- a typical robot word-choice.

However, inasmuch as Herb Asher imagined himself still back in his dome in the star system CY30-CY30B, he did not realize that Rybys was dead. In fact he did not know her yet. This was before the arrival of the supplyman who had brought him news of Rybys in her own dome.


Herb Asher lay on his bunk listening to his favorite tape of Linda Fox. He was trying to account for a background noise of soupy strings rendering songs from one or another of the well-known light operas or Broadway shows or some damn thing of the late twentieth century. Apparently his receiving and recording gear needed an overhaul. Perhaps the original signal from which he had made the Linda Fox tape had drifted. Fuck it, he thought dismally. I'll have to do some repairing. That meant getting out of his bunk, finding his tool kit, shutting down his receiving and recording equipment -- it meant work.

Meanwhile, he listened with eyes shut to the Fox.

Weep you no more, sad fountains;
What need you flow so fast?
Look how the snowy mountains
Heaven's sun doth gently waste.
But my sun's heavenly eyes
View not your weeping
That now lies sleeping ...

This was the best song the Fox had ever sung, from the Third and Last Booke of lute songs of John Dowland who had lived at the time of Shakespeare and whose music the Fox had remastered for the world of today.

Annoyed by the interference, he shut off the tape transport with his remote programmer. But, mirabile dictu, the soupy string music continued, even though the Fox fell silent. So, resigned, he shut off the entire audio system.

Even so, Fiddler on the Roof in the form of eighty-seven strings continued. The sound of it filled his little dome, audible over the gjurk- jurk of the air compressor. And then it came to him that he had been hearing Fiddler on the Roof for -- good God! -- it was something like three days, now.

This is awful, Herb Asher realized. Here I am billions of miles out in space listening to eighty-seven strings forever and ever. Something is wrong.

Actually a lot of things had gone wrong during the recent year. He had made a dreadful mistake in emigrating from the Sol System. He had failed to note that return to the Sol System became automatically illegal for ten full years. This was how the dual state that governed the Sol System guaranteed a flow of people out and away but no flow back in return. His alternative had been to serve in the Army, which meant certain death. SKY OR FRY was the slogan showing up on government TV commercials. You either emigrated or they burned your ass in some fruitless war. The government did not even bother to justify war, now. They just sent you out, killed you and recruited a replacement. It all came from the unification of the Communist Party and the Catholic Church into one mega-apparatus, with two chiefs-of-state, as in ancient Sparta.

Here, at least, he was safe from being murdered by the government. He could, of course, be murdered by one of the ratlike autochthons of the planet, but that was not very likely. The few remaining autochthons had never assassinated any of the human domers who had appeared with their microwave transmitters and psychotronic boosters, fake food (fake as far as Herb Asher was concerned; it tasted dreadful) and meager creature comforts of complex nature, all items that baffled the simple autochthons without arousing their curiosity.

I'll bet the mother ship is directly overhead, Herb Asher said to himself. It's beaming Fiddler on the Roof down at me with its psychotronic gun. As a joke.

He got up from his bunk, walked unsteadily to his board and examined his number-three radar screen. The mother ship, according to the screen, was nowhere around. So that wasn't it.

Damndest thing, he thought. He could see with his own eyes that his audio system had correctly shut down, and still the sound oozed around the dome. And it didn't seem to emanate from one particular spot; it seemed to manifest itself equally everywhere.

Seated at his board he contacted the mother ship. "Are you transmitting Fiddler on the Roof!" he asked the ship's operator circuit.

A pause. Then, "Yes, we have a video tape of Fiddler on the Roof, with Topol, Norma Crane, Molly Picon, Paul --"

"No," he broke in. "What are you getting from Fomalhaut right now? Anything with all strings?"

"Oh, you're Station Five. The Linda Fox man."

"Is that how I'm known?" Asher said.

"We will comply. Prepare to receive at high speed two new Linda Fox aud tapes. Are you set to record?"

"I'm asking about another matter," Asher said.

"We are now transmitting at high speed. Thank you." The mother ship's operator circuit shut off; Herb Asher found himself listening to vastly speeded-up sounds as the mother ship complied with a request he had not made.

When the transmission from the mother ship ceased he contacted its operator circuit again. "I'm getting 'Matchmaker, Matchmaker' for ten hours straight," he said. "I'm sick of it. Are you bouncing a signal off someone's relay shield?"

The operator circuit of the mother ship said, "It is my job continually to bounce signals off somebody's --"

"Over and out," Herb Asher said, and cut the circuit of the mother ship off.

Through the port of his dome he made out a bent figure shuffling across the frozen wasteland. An autochthon gripping a meager bundle; it was on some errand.

Pressing the switch of the external bullhorn, Herb Asher said, "Step in here a minute, Clem." This was the name the human settlers had given to the autochthons, to all of them, since they all looked alike. "I need a second opinion."

The autochthon, scowling, shuffled to the hatch of the dome and signaled for entry. Herb Asher activated the hatch mechanism and the intermediate membrane dropped into place. The autochthon disappeared inside. A moment later the displeased autochthon stood within the dome, shaking off methane crystals and glowering at Herb Asher.

Getting out his translating computer, Asher spoke to the autochthon. "This will take just a moment." His analog voice issued from the instrument in a series of clicks and clacks. "I'm getting audio interference that I can't shut off. Is it something your people are doing? Listen."

The autochthon listened, his rootlike face twisted and dark. Finally he spoke, and his voice, in English, assumed an unusual harshness. "I hear nothing."

"You're lying," Herb Asher said.

The autochthon said, "I am not lying. Perhaps your mind has gone, due to isolation."

"I thrive on isolation. Anyhow I'm not isolated." He had, after all, the Fox to keep him company.

"I've seen it happen," the autochthon said. "Domers like you suddenly imagine voices and shapes."

Herb Asher got out his stereo microphones, turned on his tape recorder and watched the VU meters. They showed nothing. He turned the gain up to full. Still the VU meters remained idle; their needles did not move. Asher coughed and at once both needles swung wildly and the overload diodes flashed red. Well, the tape recorder simply was not picking up the soupy string music, for some reason. He was more perplexed than ever. The autochthon, seeing all this, smiled.

Into the stereo microphones Asher said distinctly, "O tell me all about Anna Livia! I want to hear all about Anna Livia. Well, you know Anna Livia? Yes, of course, we all know Anna Livia. Tell me all. Tell me now. You'll die when you hear. Well, you know, when the old cheb went futt and did what you know. Yes, I know, go on. Wash quit and don't be dabbling. Tuck up your sleeves and loosen your talktapes. And don't butt me -- hike! -- when you bend. Or whatever --'"

"What is this?" the autochthon said, listening to the translation into his own tongue.

Grinning, Herb Asher said, "A famous Terran book. "Look, look, the dusk is growing. My branches lofty are taking root. And my cold cher's gone ashley. Fieluhr? Filou! What age is at? It saon is late. 'Tis endless now senne --'"

"The man is mad," the autochthon said, and turned toward the hatch, to leave.

"It's Finnegans Wake," Herb Asher said. "I hope the translating computer got it for you. 'Can't hear with the waters of. The chittering waters of. Flittering bats, field mice bawk talk. Ho! Are you not gone ahome? What Thom Malone? Can't hear --'"

The autochthon had left, convinced of Herb Asher's insanity. Asher watched him through the port; the autochthon strode away from the dome in indignation.

Again pressing the switch of the external bullhorn, Herb Asher yelled after the retreating figure, "You think James Joyce was crazy, is that what you think? Okay; then explain to me how come he mentions 'talktapes' which means audio tapes in a book he wrote starting in 1922 and which he completed in 1939, before there were tape recorders! You call that crazy? He also has them sitting around a TV set -- in a book started four years after World War I. I think Joyce was a --"

The autochthon had disappeared over a ridge. Asher released the switch on the external bullhorn.

It's impossible that James Joyce could have mentioned "talk-tapes" in his writing, Asher thought. Someday I'm going to get my article published; I'm going to prove that Finnegans Wake is an information pool based on computer memory systems that didn't exist until a century after James Joyce's era; that Joyce was plugged into a cosmic consciousness from which he derived the inspiration for his entire corpus of work. I'll be famous forever.

What must it have been like, he wondered, to actually hear Cathy Berberian read from Ulysses? If only she had recorded the whole book. But, he realized, we have Linda Fox.

His tape recorder was still on, still recording. Aloud, Herb Asher said, "I shall say the hundred- letter thunder word." The needles of the VU meters swung obediently "Here I go," Asher said, and took a deep breath. "This is the hundred-letter thunder word from Finnegans Wake. I forget how it goes." He went to the bookshelf and got down the cassette of Finnegans Wake. "I shall not recite it from memory," he said, inserting the cassette and rolling it to the first page of the text. "It is the longest word in the English language," he said. "It is the sound made when the primordial schism occurred in the cosmos, when part of the damaged cosmos fell into darkness and evil. Originally we had the Garden of Eden, as Joyce points out. Joyce --"

His radio sputtered on. The foodman was contacting him, telling him to prepare to receive a shipment.

"... awake?" the radio said. Hopefully.

Contact with another human. Herb Asher shrank involuntarily. Oh Christ, he thought. He trembled. No, he thought, Please no.
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Postby admin » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:47 am

Chapter 2

You can tell they're after you, Herb Asher said to himself, when they bore through the ceiling. The foodman, the most important of the several supplymen, had unscrewed the roof lock of the dome and was descending the ladder.

"Food ration comtrix," the audio transducer of his radio announced. "Start rebolting procedure."

"Rebolting underway," Asher said.

The speaker said, "Put helmet on."

"Not necessary," Asher said. He made no move to pick up his helmet; his atmosphere flow rate would compensate for the loss during the foodman's entry: he had redesigned it.

An alarm bell in the dome's autonomic wiring sounded.

"Put your helmet on!" the foodman said angrily.

The alarm bell ceased complaining; the pressure had restabilized. At that, the foodman grimaced. He popped his helmet and then began to unload cartons from his comtrix.

"We are a hardy race," Asher said, helping him.

"You have amped up everything," the foodman said; like all the rovers who serviced the domes he was sturdily built and he moved rapidly. It was not a safe job operating a comtrix shuttle between mother ships and the domes of CY30 II. He knew it and Asher knew it. Anybody could sit in a dome; few people could function outside.

"Can I sit down for a while?" the foodman said, when his work had ended.

"All I have is a cupee of Kaff," Asher said.

"That'll do. I haven't drunk real coffee since I got here. And that was long before you got here." The foodman seated himself at the dining module service area.

The two men sat facing each other across the table, both of them drinking Kaff. Outside the dome the methane messed around but here neither man felt it. The foodman perspired; he apparently found Asher's temperature level too high.

"You know, Asher," the foodman said, "you just lie around on your bunk with all your rigs on auto. Right?"

"I keep busy."

"Sometimes I think you domers --" The foodman paused. "Asher, you know the woman in the next dome?"

"Somewhat," Asher said. "My gear transfers data to her input circuitry every three or four weeks. She stores it, boosts it and transmits it. I suppose. Or for all I know --"

"She's sick," the foodman said.

Startled, Asher said, "She looked all right the last time I talked to her. We used video. She did say something about having trouble reading her terminal's displays."

"She's dying," the foodman said, and sipped his Kaff.


The word scared Asher. He felt a chill. In his mind he tried to picture the woman, but strange scenes assailed him, mixed with soupy music. Strange concoction, he thought; video and aud fragments, like old cloth remnants of the dead. Small and dark, the woman was. And what was her name? "I can't think," he said, and put the palms of his hands against the sides of his face. As if to reassure himself. Then, rising and going to his main board, he punched a couple of keys; it showed her name on its display, retrieved by the code they used. Rybys Rommey. "Dying of what?" he said. "What the hell do you mean?"

"Multiple sclerosis."

"You can't die of that. Not these days."

"Out here you can."

"How -- shit." He reseated himself; his hands shook. I'll be god damned, he thought. "How far advanced is it?"

"Not far at all," the foodman said. "What's the matter?" He eyed Asher acutely.

"I don't know. Nerves. From the Kaff."

"A couple of months ago she told me that when she was in her late teens she suffered an -- what is it called? Aneurysm. In her left eye, which wiped out her central vision in that eye. They suspected at the time that it might be the onset of multiple sclerosis. And then today when I talked to her she said she's been experiencing optic neuritis, which --"

Asher said, "Both symptoms were fed to M.E.D.?"

"A correlation of an aneurysm and then a period of remission and then double vision, blurring ... You're all rattled up."

"I had the strangest, most weird sensation for just a second, there," Asher said. "It's gone now. As if this had all happened once before."

The foodman said, "You ought to call her up and talk to her. It'd be good for you as well. Get you out of your bunk."

"Don't mastermind my life," Asher said. "That's why I moved out here from the Sol System. Did I ever tell you what my second wife used to get me to do every morning? I had to fix her breakfast, in bed; I had to --"

"When I was delivering to her she was crying."

Turning to his keyboard, Asher punched out and punched out and then read the display. "There's a thirty to forty percent cure rate for multiple sclerosis."

Patiently, the foodman said, "Not out here. M.E.D. can't get to her out here. I told her to demand a transfer back home. That's what I'd sure as hell do. She won't do it."

"She's crazy," Asher said.

"You're right. She's rattled up crazy. Everybody out here is crazy."

"I just got told that once today already."

"You want proof of it? She's proof of it. Wouldn't you go back home if you knew you were very sick?"

"We're never supposed to surrender our domes. Anyhow it's against the law to emigrate back. No, it's not," he corrected himself, "Not if you're sick. But our job here --"

"Oh yeah: that's right -- what you monitor here is so important, Like Linda Fox. Who told you that once today?"

"A Clem," Asher said, "A Clem walked in here and told me I'm crazy, And now you climb down my ladder and tell me the same thing. I'm being diagnosed by Clems and foodmen, Do you hear that sappy string music or don't you? It's all over my dome: I can't locate the source and I'm sick of it. Okay. I'm sick and I'm crazy: how could I benefit Ms. Rommey? You said it yourself. I'm in here totally rattled up: I'm no good to anyone."

The food man set down his cup. "I have to go."

"Fine," Asher said. "I'm sorry: you upset me by telling me about Ms. Rommey."

"Call her and talk to her. She needs someone to talk to and you're the closest dome. I'm surprised she didn't tell you."

Herb Asher thought. I didn't ask.

"It is the law, you know," the foodman said.

"What law?"

"If a domer is in distress the nearest neighbor --"

"Oh." He nodded. "Well, it's never come up before in my case. I mean -- yeah, it is the law. I forgot. Did she tell you to remind me of the law?"

"No," the food man said.

After the foodman had departed, Herb Asher got the code for Rybys Rommey's dome, started to run it into his transmitter and then hesitated. His wall clock showed 18:30 hours. At this point in his forty-two-hour cycle he was supposed to accept a sequence of high- speed entertainment, audio and video-taped signals emanating from a slave satellite at CY30 III: upon storing them he was to run them back at normal and select the material suitable for the overall dome system on his own planet.

He took a look at the log. Fox was doing a concert that ran two hours. Linda Fox, he thought. You and your synthesis of old-time rock, modern-day streng and the lute music of John Dowland. Jesus, he thought: if I don't transcribe the relay of your live concert every domer on the planet will come storming in here and kill me. Outside of emergencies -- which really didn't occur -- this is what I'm paid to handle: information traffic between planets, information that connects us with home and keeps us human. The tape drums have to turn.

He started the tape transport at its high-speed mode, set the module's controls for receive, locked it in at the satellite's operating frequency, checked the wave form on the visual scope to be sure that the carrier was coming in undistorted and then patched into an audio transduction of what he was getting.

The voice of Linda Fox emerged from the strip of drivers mounted above him. As the scope showed, there was no distortion, No noise, No clipping. All channels, in fact, were balanced; his meters indicated that.

Sometimes I could cry myself when I hear her, he thought. Speaking of crying.

Wandering all across this land,
My band.
In the worlds that pass above,
I love.
Play for me you spirits who are weightless.
I believe in drinking to your greatness,
My band.

And, behind Linda Fox's vocal, the vibrolutes which were her trademark. Until Fox no one had ever thought of bringing back that sixteenth-century instrument for which Dowland had written so beautifully and so effectively.

Shall I sue? shall I seek for grace?
Shall I pray? shall I prove?
Shall I strive to a heavenly joy
With an earthly love?
Are there worlds? Are there moons
Where the lost shall endure?
Shall I find for a heart that is pure?

These remasterings of the old lute songs, he said to himself; they bind us, Some new thing, for scattered people as flung as if they had been dropped in haste: here and there, disarranged, in domes, on the backs of miserable worlds and in satellites and arks -- victimized by the power of oppressive migration, and with no end in sight.

Now the Fox was singing one of his favorites:

Silly wretch, let me rail
At a voyage that is blind,
Holy hopes do require

A flurry of static, Herb Asher grimaced and cursed; the next line had been effaced. Damn, he thought.

Again the Fox repeated the lines.

Silly wretch, let me rail
At a voyage that is blind,
Holy hopes do require

Again the static. He knew the missing line. It went:

Greater find.

Angrily, he signaled the source to replay the last ten seconds of its transmission; obligingly, it rewound, paused, gave him the signal back, and repeated the quatrain, This time he could make out the final line, despite the eerie static.

Silly wretch, let me rail
At a voyage that is blind,
Holy hopes do require
Your behind.

"Christ!" Asher said, and shut his tape transport down. Could he have heard that? "Your behind"?

It was Yah. Screwing up his reception. This was not the first time.

The local throng of Clems had explained it to him when the interference had first set in several months ago. In the old days before humans had migrated to the CY30-CY30B star system, the autochthonic population had worshiped a mountain deity named Yah, whose abode, the autochthons had explained, was the little mountain on which Herb Asher's dome had been erected.

His incoming microwave and psychotronic signals had gotten cooked by Yah every now and then, much to his displeasure. And when no signals were coming in, Yah lit up his screens with faint but obviously sentient driblets of information. Herb Asher had spent a long time fussing with his equipment, trying to screen out this interference, but with no success. He had studied his manuals and erected shields, but to no avail.

This, however, was the first time that Yah had wrecked a Linda Fox tune. Which, as far as Asher was concerned, put the matter over a crucial line.

The fact of the matter was, whether it was healthy or not, he was totally dependent on the Fox.

He had long maintained an active fantasy life dealing with the Fox. He and Linda Fox lived on Earth, in California, at one of the beach towns in the Southland (unspecified beyond that). Herb Asher surfed and the Fox thought he was wonderful. It was like a living commercial for beer. They had campouts on the beach with their friends; the girls walked around nude from the waist up; the portable radio was always tuned to a twenty-four-hour no-commercials-at-all rock station.

However, the truly spiritual was what mattered most; the topless girls at the beach were simply -- well, not vital but pleasant. The total package was highly spiritual, It was amazing how spiritual an elaborated beer commercial could get.

And, at the peak of it all, the Dowland songs. The beauty of the universe lay not in the stars figured into it but in the music generated by human minds, human voices, human hands. Vibrolutes mixed on an intricate board by experts, and the voice of Fox. He thought, I know what I must have to keep on going. My job is my delight: I transcribe this and I broadcast it and they pay me.

"This is the Fox," Linda Fox said.

Herb Asher switched the video to holo, and a cube formed in which Linda Fox smiled at him. Meanwhile, the drums spun at furious speed, getting hour upon hour into his permanent possession.

"You are with the Fox," she declared, "and the Fox is with you." She pinned him with her gaze, the hard, bright eyes. The diamond face, feral and wise, feral and true; this is the Fox / Speaking to you. He smiled back.

"Hi, Fox," he said.

"Your behind," the Fox said.


Well, that explained the soupy string music, the endless Fiddler on the Roof. Yah was responsible. Herb Asher's dome had been infiltrated by the ancient local deity who obviously begrudged the human settlers the electronic activity that they had brought. I got bugs all in my meal, Herb Asher thought, and I got deities all in my reception. I ought to move off this mountain. What a rinky-dink mountain it is anyhow -- no more, really, than a slight hill, Let Yah have it back. The autochthons can start serving up roasted goat meat to the deity once more. Except that all the autochthonic goats had died out, and, along with them, the ritual.

Anyhow his incoming transmission was ruined. He did not have to replay it to know. Yah had cooked the signal before it reached the recording heads; this was not the first time, and the contamination always got onto the tape.

Thus I might as well say fuck it, he said to himself. And ring up the sick girl in the next dome.

He dialed her code, feeling no enthusiasm.

It took Rybys Rommey an amazingly long time to respond to his signal, and as he sat noting the signal-register on his own board he thought, Is she finished? Or did they come and forcibly evacuate her?

His microscreen showed vague colors. Visual static, nothing more. And then there she was.

"Did I wake you up?" he said. She seemed so slowed down, so torpid. Perhaps, he thought, she's sedated.

"No. I was shooting myself in the ass."

"What?" he said, startled. WasYah screwing him over once again, cooking his signal? But she had said it, all right.

Rybys said, "Chemotherapy. I'm not doing too well."

But what an uncanny coincidence, he thought. Your behind and shooting myself in the ass. I'm in an eerie world, he thought, Things are behaving funny.

"I just now taped a terrific Linda Fox concert," he said. "I'll be broadcasting it in the next few days. It'll cheer you up."

Her slightly swollen face showed no response. "It's too bad we're stuck in these domes. I wish we could visit one another. The foodman was just here. In fact he brought me my medication. It's effective but it makes me throw up."

Herb Asher thought, I wish I hadn't called.

"Is there any way you could visit me?" Rybys said.

"I have no portable air, none at all." It was of course a lie.

"I have," Rybys said.

In panic he said, "But if you're sick --"

"I can make it over to your dome."

"What about your station? What if data come in that --"

"I've got a beeper I can bring with me."

Presently he said, "OK."

"It would mean a lot to me, someone to sit with for a little while. The food man stays like half an hour, but that's as long as he can. You know what he told me? There's been an outbreak of a form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis on CY30 VI. It must be a virus. This whole condition is a virus. Christ, I'd hate to have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. This is like the Mariana form."

"Is it contagious?" Herb Asher said.

She did not answer directly; she said, "What I have can be cured." Obviously she wanted to reassure him, "If the virus is around ... I won't come over; it's okay." She nodded and reached to shut off her transmitter. "I'm going to lie down," she said, "and get more sleep. With this you're supposed to sleep as much as you can. I'll talk to you tomorrow. Good-bye."

"Come over," he said.

Brightening, she said, "Thank you."

"But be sure you bring your beeper. I have a hunch a lot of telemetric confirms are going to --"

"Oh, fuck the telemetric confirms!" Rybys said, with venom, "I'm so sick of being stuck in this goddam dome! Aren't you going bugward sitting around watching tape-drums turn and little meters and gauges and shit?"

"I think you should go back home," he said. "To the Sol System."

"No," she said, more calmly. "I'm going to follow exactly the M.E.D. instructions for my chemotherapy and beat this fucking M.S. I'm not going home. I'll come over and fix you dinner. I'm a good cook. My mother was Italian and my father is Chicano so I spice everything I fix, except you can't get the spices out here. But I figured out how to beat that with different synthetics. I've been experimenting."

Herb Asher said, "In this concert I'm going to be broadcasting, the Fox does a version of Dowland's 'Shall I Sue.'"

"A song about litigation?"

"No, 'Sue' in the sense of to pay court to or woo, In matters of love." And then he realized that she was putting him on.

"Do you want to know what I think of the Fox?" Rybys said, "Recycled sentimentality, which is the worst kind of sentimentality; it isn't even original. And she looks like her face is on upside down. She has a mean mouth."

"I like her," he said, stiffly; he felt himself becoming mad, really mad. I'm supposed to help you? he asked himself, Run the risk of catching what you have so you can insult the Fox?

"I'll fix you beef Stroganoff with parsley noodles," Rybys said.

"I'm doing fine," he said.

Hesitating, she said in a low, faltering voice, "Then you don't want me to come over?"

"I --" he said.

Rybys said, "I'm very frightened, Mr. Asher. Fifteen minutes from now I'm going to be throwing up from the I-V Neurotoxite. But I don't want to be alone. I don't want to give up my dome and I don't want to be by myself. I'm sorry if I offended you, It's just that to me the Fox is a joke. She is a joke media personality. She is pure hype. I won't say anything more; I promise."

"Do you have the --" He amended what he intended to say. "Are you sure it won't be too much for you, fixing dinner?"

"I'm stronger now than I will be," she said. "I'll be getting weaker for a long time."

"How long?"

"There's no way to tell."

He thought, You are going to die. He knew it and she knew it. They did not have to talk about it. The complicity of silence was there, the agreement. A dying girl wants to cook me a dinner, he thought. A dinner I don't want to eat. I've got to say no to her. I've got to keep her out of my dome. The insistence of the weak, he thought; their dreadful power. It is so much easier to throw a body block against the strong!

"Thank you," he said, "I'd like it very much if we had dinner together. But make sure you keep in radio contact with me on your way over here -- so I'll know you're okay. Promise?"

"Well, sure," she said, "Otherwise --" She smiled. "They'd find me a century from now, frozen with pots, pans and food, as well as synthetic spices. You do have portable air, don't you?"

"No, I really don't," he said.

And knew that his lie was palpable to her.
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Postby admin » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:48 am

Chapter 3

The meal smelled good and tasted good but halfway through, Rybys Rommey excused herself and made her way unsteadily from the central matrix of the dome -- his dome -- into the bathroom, He tried not to listen; he arranged it with his percept system not to hear and with his cognition not to know. In the bathroom the girl. violently sick, cried out and he gritted his teeth and pushed his plate away and then all at once he got up and set in motion his in-dome audio system; he played an early album of the Fox.

Come again!
Sweet love doth now invite
Thy graces, that refrain
To do me due delight ...

"Do you by any chance have some milk?" Rybys said, standing at the bathroom door, her face pale.

Silently, he got her a glass of milk, or what passed for milk on their planet.

"I have anti-emetics," Rybys said as she held the glass of milk. "but I didn't remember to bring any with me. They're back at my dome."

"I could get them for you," he said.

"You know what M.E.D. told me?" she said, her voice heavy with indignation. "They said that this chemotherapy won't make my hair fall out but already it's coming out in --"

"Okay," he interrupted.


"I'm sorry," he said.

Rybys said, "This is upsetting you. The meal is spoiled and you're -- I don't know what. If I'd remembered to bring my anti-emetics I'd be able to keep from --" She became silent. "Next time I'll bring them. I promise. This is one of the few albums of the Fox that I like. She was really good then, don't you think?"

"Yes," he said tightly.

"Linda Box," Rybys said.

"What?" he said.

"Linda the box. That's what my sister and I used to call her."

She tried to smile.

He said, "Please go back to your dome."

"Oh," she said. "Well --" She smoothed her hair, her hand shaking. "Will you come with me? I don't think I can make it by myself right now. I'm really weak. I really am sick."

He thought, You are taking me with you. That's what this is. That is what is happening. You will not go alone; you will take my spirit with you. And you know. You know it as well as you know the name of the medication you are taking, and you hate me as you hate the medication, as you hate M.E.D. and your illness; it is all hate, for each and every thing under these two suns. I know you. I understand you. I see what is coming, In fact it has begun.

And, he thought, I don't blame you. But I will hang on to the Fox; the Fox will outlast you. And so will I. You are not going to shoot down the luminiferous ether which animates our souls.

I will hang onto the Fox and the Fox will hold me in her arms and hang on to me. The two of us -- we can't be pried apart. I have dozens of hours of the Fox on audio and video tape, and the tapes are not just for me but for everyone. You think you can kill that? he said to himself. It's been tried before. The power of the weak, he thought, is an imperfect power; it loses in the end. Hence its name. We call it weak for a reason.

"Sentimentality," Rybys said.

"Right," he said sardonically.

"Recycled at that."

"And mixed metaphors."

"Her lyrics?"

"What I'm thinking, When I get really angry I mix --"

"Let me tell you something," Rybys said. "One thing. If I am going to survive I can't be sentimental. I have to be very harsh. If I've made you angry I'm sorry but that is how it is. It is my life. Someday you may be in the spot I am in and then you'll know. Wait for that and then judge me. If it ever happens. Meanwhile this stuff you're playing on your in-dome audio system is crap. It has to be crap, for me. Do you see? You can forget about me; you can send me back to my dome, where I probably really belong, but if you have anything to do with me --"

"Okay," he said, "I understand."

"Thank you. May I have some more milk? Turn down the audio and we'll finish eating. Okay?"

Amazed, he said, "You're going to keep on trying to --"

"All those creatures -- and species -- who gave up trying to eat aren't with us anymore." She seated herself shakily, holding on to the table.

"I admire you."

"No," she said, "I admire you. It's harder on you. I know."

"Death --" he began.

"This isn't death. You know what this is? In contrast to what's coming out of your audio system? This is life. The milk, please; I really need it."

As he got her more milk he said, "I guess you can't shoot down ether. Luminiferous or otherwise."

"No," she agreed, "since it doesn't exist."

"How old are you?" he said.


"You emigrated voluntarily?"

Rybys said, "Who can say? I can't reconstruct my earlier thinking, now, at this point in my life. Basically I felt there was a spiritual component to emigrating. It was either emigrate or go into the priesthood. I was raised Scientific Legate but --"

"The Party," Herb Asher said. He still thought of it by its old name, the Communist Party.

"But in college I began to get involved in church work. I made the decision. I chose God over the material universe."

"So you're Catholic."

"C.I.C., yes. You're using a term that's under ban. As I'm sure you know."

"It makes no difference to me," Herb Asher said. "I have no involvement with the Church."

"Maybe you'd like to borrow some C. S. Lewis."

"No thanks."

"This illness that I have," Rybys said, "is something that made me wonder about --" She paused ...You have to experience everything in terms of the ultimate picture. As of itself my illness would seem to be evil, but it serves a higher purpose we can't see. Or can't see yet, anyhow."

"That's why I don't read C. S. Lewis," Herb Asher said.

She glanced at him dispassionately. "Is it true that the Clems used to worship a pagan deity on this little hill?"

"Apparently so," he said. "Called Yah."

"Hallelujjah," Rybys said.

"What?" he said, startled.

"It means 'Praise ye Yah.' The Hebrew is Halleluyah."

"Yahweh, then."

"You never say that name. That's the sacred Tetragrammaton. Elohim, which is not plural but singular, means 'God,' and then later on in the Bible the Divine Name appears with Adonay, so you get 'Lord God.' You can choose between Elohim or Adonay, or use both together but you can never say Yahweh."

"You just said it."

Rybys smiled. "So nobody's perfect. Kill me."

"Do you believe all that?"

"I'm just stating matters of fact." She gestured. "Historic fact."

"But you do believe it. I mean, you believe in God."


"Did God will your M.S.?"

Hesitating, Rybys said slowly, "He permitted it. But I believe he's healing me. There's something I have to learn and this way I'll learn it."

"Couldn't he teach you some easier way?"

"Apparently not."

Herb Asher said, "Yah has been communicating with me."

"No, no; that's a mistake. Originally the Hebrews believed that the pagan gods existed but were evil; later they realized that the pagan gods didn't exist."

"My incoming signals and my tapes," Asher said.

"Are you serious?"

"Of course I am."

"There's a life form here besides the Clems?"

"There is where my dome is; yes. It's on the order of C.B. interference, except that it's sentient. It's selective."

Rybys said, "Play me one of the tapes."

"Sure." Herb Asher walked over to his computer terminal and began to punch keys. A moment later he had the correct tape playing.

Silly wretch, let me rail
At a voyage that is blind.
Holy hopes do require
Your behind.

Rybys giggled. "I'm sorry," she said, laughing. "Is that Yah who did that? Not some wise guy on the mother ship or over on Fomalhaut? I mean, it sounds exactly like the Fox. The tone, I mean; not the words. The intonation. Somebody's playing a joke on you, Herb. That isn't a deity. Maybe it's the Clems."

"I had one of them in here," Asher said sourly. "I think we should have used nerve gas on them when we settled here originally. I thought you only encountered God after you die."

"God is God of history and of nations. Also of nature. Originally Yahweh was probably a volcanic deity. But he periodically enters history, the best example being when he intervened to bring the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt and to the Promised Land. They were shepherds and accustomed to freedom; it was terrible for them to be making bricks. And the Pharaoh had them gathering the straw as well and still being required to meet their quota of bricks per day. It is an archetypal timeless situation, God bringing men out of slavery and into freedom. Pharaoh represents all tyrants at all times." Her voice was calm and reasonable; Asher felt impressed.

"So you can encounter God while you're alive," he said.

"Under exceptional circumstances. Originally God and Moses talked together as a man talks with his friend."

"What went wrong?"

"Wrong in what way?"

"Nobody hears God's voice anymore."

Rybys said, "You do."

"My audio and video systems do."

"That's better than nothing." She eyed him, "You don't seem to enjoy it."

"It's interfering with my life."

She said, "So am I."

To that he could think of no response; it was true.

"What do you normally do all the time?" Rybys asked. "Lie in your bunk listening to the Fox? The food man told me that; is it true? That doesn't sound to me like much of a life."

Anger touched him, a weary anger. He was tired of defending his life-style. So he said nothing.

"I think what I'll lend you first," Rybys said, "is C. S. Lewis's The Problem of Pain. In that book he --"

"I read Out of the Silent Planet." Asher said.

"Did you like it?"

"It was OK."

Rybys said, "And you should read The Screwtape Letters. I have two copies of that."

To himself, Asher thought, Can't I just watch you slowly die, and learn about God from that? "Look," he said. "I am Scientific Legate. The Party. You understand? That's my decision; that's the side I found. Pain and illness are something to be eradicated, not understood. There is no afterlife and there is no God, except maybe a freak ionospheric disturbance that's fucking up my equipment here on this dipshit mountain. If when I die I find out I'm wrong I'll plead ignorance and a bad upbringing. Meanwhile I'm more interested in shielding my cables and eliminating the interference than I am in talking back and forth with this Yah. I have no goats to sacrifice and anyway I have other things to do. I resent my Fox tapes being ruined; they are precious to me and some of them I can't replace. Anyhow God doesn't insert such phrases as 'your behind' in otherwise beautiful songs. Not any god I can imagine."

Rybys said, "He's trying to get your attention."

"He would do better to say, 'Look, let's talk.'"

"This apparently is a furtive life form. It's not isomorphic with us. It doesn't think the way we do."

"It's a pest."

Rybys said, pondering, "It may be modifying its manifestations to protect you."

"From what?"

"From it." Suddenly she shuddered wildly, in evident pain. "Oh goddam it! My hair is falling out!" She got to her feet. "I have to go back to my dome and put on that wig they gave me. This is awful. Will you go with me? Please?"

He thought, I don't see how someone whose hair is falling out can believe in God. "I can't," he said. "I just can't go with you. I'm sorry. I don't have any portable air and I have to person my equipment. It's the truth."

Gazing at him unhappily, Rybys nodded. Apparently she believed him. He felt a little guilty, but, more than that, he experienced overwhelming relief that she was leaving. The burden of dealing with her would be off him, at least for a time. And perhaps if he got lucky he could make the relief permanent. If he had any prayer at all it was, I hope I never see her enter this dome again. As long as she lives.

A pleased sense of relaxation stole over him as he watched her suit up for the trip back to her dome. And he inquired of himself which of his trove of Fox tapes he would play when Rybys and her cruel verbal snipings had departed, and he would be free again: free to be what he truly was, the connoisseur of the undying lovely. The beauty and perfection toward which all things moved: Linda Fox.


That night as he lay sleeping a voice said softly to him, "Herbert, Herbert."

He opened his eyes. "I'm not on standby," he said, thinking it was the mother ship. "Dome Nine is active. Let me sleep."

"Look," the voice said.

He looked -- and saw that his control board, which governed all his communications gear, was on fire. "Jesus Christ," he said, and reached for the wall switch that would turn on the emergency fire extinguisher. But then he realized something. Something perplexing. Although the control board was burning, it was not consumed.

The fire dazzled him and burned his eyes. He shut his eyes and put his arm over his face. "Who is it?" he said.

The voice said, "It is Ehyeh."

"Well," Herb Asher said, amazed. It was the deity of the mountain, speaking to him openly, without an electronic interface. A strange sense of his own worthlessness overcame Herb Asher, and he kept his face covered. "What do you want?" he said. "I mean, it's late. This is my sleep cycle."

"Sleep no more," Yah said.

"I've had a hard day." He was frightened.

Yah said, "I command you to take care of the ailing girl. She is all alone. If you do not hasten to her side I will burn down your dome and all the equipment in it, as well as all you own besides. I will scorch you with flame until you wake up. You are not awake, Herbert, not yet, but I will cause you to be awake; I will make you rise up from your bunk and go and help her. Later I will tell her and you why, but now you are not to know."

"I don't think you have the right person," Asher said. "I think you should be talking to M.E.D. It's their responsibility."

At that moment an acrid stench reached his nose. And, as he watched in dismay, his control board burned down to the floor, into a little pile of slag.

Shit, he thought.

"Were you to lie again to her about your portable air," Yah said, "I would afflict you terribly, beyond repair, just as this equipment is now beyond repair. Now I shall destroy your Linda Fox tapes." Immediately the cabinet in which Herb Asher kept his video and audio tapes began to burn.

"Please," he said.

The flames disappeared. The tapes were undamaged. Herb Asher got up from his bunk and went over to the cabinet; reaching out his hand he touched the cabinet -- and instantly yanked his hand away; the cabinet was searingly hot.

"Touch it again," Yah said.

"I will not," Asher said.

"You will trust the Lord your God."

He reached out again and this time found the cabinet cold. So he ran his fingers over the plastic boxes containing the tapes. They, too, were cold. "Well, goodness," he said, at a loss.

"Play one of the tapes," Yah said.

"Which one?"


He selected a tape at random and placed it into the deck. He turned his audio system on.

The tape was blank.

"You erased my Fox tapes," he said.

"That is what I have done," Yah said.


"Until you hasten to the side of the ailing girl and care for her."

"Now? She's probably asleep."

Yah said, "She is sitting crying."

The sense of worthlessness within Herb Asher burgeoned; in shame he shut his eyes. "I'm sorry," he said.

"It is not too late. If you hurry you can reach her in time."

"What do you mean, 'in time'?"

Yah did not answer, but in Herb Asher's mind appeared a picture, resembling a hologram; it was in color and it was in depth. Rybys Rommey sat at her kitchen table in a blue robe; on the table was a bottle of medication and a glass of water. In dejection she sat resting her chin on her fist; in her fist she clutched a wadded-up handkerchief.

"I'll get my suit on," Asher said; he popped the suit compartment door open, and his suit -- little used and long neglected -- tumbled out onto the floor.

Ten minutes later he stood outside his dome, in the bulky suit, his lamp sweeping out over the expanse of frozen methane before him; he trembled, feeling the cold even through the suit -- which was a delusion, he realized, since the suit was absolutely insulating. What an experience, he said to himself as he started walking down the slope. Roused out of my sleep in the middle of the night, my equipment burned down, my tapes erased -- bulk erased in their totality.

The methane crystals crunched under his boots as he walked down the slope, homing in on the automatic signal emitted by Rybys Rommey's dome; the signal would guide him. Pictures inside my head, he thought. Pictures of a girl about to take her own life. It's a good thing Yah woke me. She probably would ave done it.

He was still frightened, and as he descended the slope he sang to himself an old Communist Party marching song.

Because he fought for freedom
He was forced to leave his home.
Near the blood-stained Manzanares,
Where he led the fight to hold Madrid,
Died Hans, the Commissar,
Died Hans, the Commissar.
With heart and hand I pledge you,
While I load my gun again,
You will never be forgotten,
Nor the enemy forgiven,
Hans Beimler, our Commissar,
Hans Beimler, our Commissar.
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Postby admin » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:49 am

Chapter 4

As Herb Asher descended the slope the meter in his hand showed the homing signal growing in strength. She ascended this hill to get to my dome, he realized. I made her walk uphill, since I wouldn't go to her. I made a sick girl toil her way up step by step, carrying an armload of supplies. I will fry in hell.

But, he realized, it's not too late.

He made me take her seriously, Asher realized. I simply was not taking her seriously. It was as if I imagined that she was making up her illness. Telling a tale to get attention. What does that say about me? he asked himself. Because in point of fact I really knew she was sick, truly sick, not faking it. I have been asleep, he said to himself. And, while I slept, a girl has been dying.

And then he thought about Yah, and he trembled. I can get my rig repaired, he thought. The gear that Yah burned down. That won't be hard; all I have to do is notify the mother ship and inform them that I suffered a meltdown. And Yah promised to restore to me my Fox tapes -- which undoubtedly he can do. But I've got to go back to that dome and live there. How can I live there? I can't live there. It's impossible.

Yah has plans for me, he thought. And he felt fear, realizing this. He can make me do anything.

Rybys greeted him impassively. She did have on a blue robe and she did hold a wadded-up handkerchief, and, he saw, her eyes were red from crying. "Come in," she said, although he was already in the dome; she seemed a little dazed. "I was thinking about you," she said. "Sitting and thinking."

On the kitchen table stood a medicine bottle. Full.

"Oh, that," she said. "I was having trouble sleeping and I was thinking about taking a sleeping pill."

"Put it away," he said.

Obediently, she returned the bottle to her bathroom cabinet.

"I owe you an apology," he said.

"No you don't. Want something to drink? What time is it?" She turned to look at her wall clock. "I was up anyhow; you didn't wake me. Some telemetric data was coming in." She pointed to her gear; lights showed, indicating activity.

He said, "I mean I had air. Portable air."

"I know that. Everyone has portable air. Sit down; I'll fix you tea." She rooted in an overflowing drawer beside her stove. "Somewhere I have teabags."

Now, for the first time, he became aware of the condition of her dome. It was shocking. Dirty dishes, pots and pans and even glasses of spoiled food, soiled clothing strewn everywhere, litter and debris ... Troubled, he gazed around, wondering if he should offer to clean up the place. And she moved so slowly, with such evident fatigue. He had an intuition, suddenly, that she was far sicker than she had originally led him to believe.

"It's a sty," she said.

He said, "You are very tired."

"Well, it wears me out to heave up my guts every day of the week. Here's a teabag. Shit; it's been used once. I use them and then dry them out. It's OK once, but sometimes I find I'm reusing the same bag again and again. I'll try to find a fresh one." She continued to rummage.

The TV screen showed a picture. It was an animated horror: a vast hemorrhoid that swelled and pulsed angrily. "What are you watching?" Asher asked. He averted his gaze from the animation.

"There's a new soap opera on. It just began the other day. 'The Splendor of --' I forget. Somebody or something. It's really interesting. They've been running it a lot."

"You like the soaps?" he said.

"They keep me company. Turn up the sound."

He turned up the sound. The soap opera had now resumed, replacing the animated hemorrhoid. An elderly bearded man, an exceedingly hairy old man, struggled with two popeyed arachnids who sought, apparently, to decapitate him. "Get your fucking mandibles off me!" the elderly man shouted, flailing about. The flash of laser beams ignited the screen. Herb Asher remembered once again the burning down of his communications gear by Yah; he felt his heart race in anxiety.

"If you don't want to watch it --" Rybys said.

"It's not that." Telling her about Yah would be hard; he doubted if he could do it. "Something happened to me. Something woke me." He rubbed his eyes.

"I'll bring you up to date," Rybys said. "Elias Tate --"

"Who is Elias Tate?" Asher interrupted.

"The old bearded man; I remember what the program is called, now. 'The Splendor of Elias Tate.' Elias has fallen into the hands -- although they don't have hands, actually -- of the antmen of Sychron Two. There's this queen who is really evil, named -- I forget." She reflected. "Hudwillub, I think. Yes, that's it. Anyhow, Hudwillub wants Elias Tate dead. She's really awful; you'll see her. She has one eye."

"Gracious," Asher said, not interested. "Rybys," he said, "listen to me."

As if she had not heard him, Rybys plodded on, "However, Elias has this friend Elisha McVane; they're really good friends and they always help each other out. It's sort of --" She glanced at Asher. "Like you and me. You know; helping each other. I fixed you dinner and you came over here because you were worried about me."

"I came over here," he said, "because I was told to."

"But you were worried."

"Yes," he said.

"Elisha McVane is a lot younger than Elias. He's really good looking. Anyhow, Hudwillub wants --"

"Yah sent me," Asher said.

"Sent you what?"

"Here." His heart continued to labor.

"Did he? That's really interesting. Anyhow, Hudwillub is very beautiful. You'll like her. I mean, you'll like her physically. Well, let me put it this way; she's objectively obviously attractive, but spiritually she's lost. Elias Tate is a sort of external conscience for her. What do you take in your tea?"

"Did you hear --" he began and then gave up.

"Milk?" Rybys examined the contents of her refrigerator, got out a carton of milk, poured some of the milk into a glass, tasted it and made a face. "It's sour. Goddam." She poured the milk down the sink drain.

"What I am telling you," Asher said, "is important. The deity of my hill woke me up in the night to tell me that you were in trouble. He burned down half my equipment. He erased all my Fox tapes."

"You can get more from the mother ship."

Asher stared at her.

"Why are you staring at me?" Quickly, Rybys inspected the buttons of her robe. "I'm not unfastened, am I?"

Only mentally, he thought.

"Sugar?" she said.

"Okay," he said. "I should notify the C-in-C on the mother ship. This is a major matter."

Rybys said, "You do that. Contact the C-in-C and tell him that God talked to you."

"Can I use your gear? I'll report my meltdown at the same time. That's my proof."

"No," she said.

"No?'" He glared at her, baffled.

"That's inductive reasoning, which is suspect. You can't resson back from effects to causes."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

Calmly, Rybys said, "Your meltdown doesn't prove that God exists. Here; I'll write it down in symbolic logic for you. If I can find my pen. Look for it; it's red. The pen, not the ink. I used to --"

"Give me a minute. Just one goddam minute. To think. Okay? Will you do that?" He heard his voice rising.

"There's someone outside," Rybys said. She pointed to an indicator; it blinked rapidly. "A Clem stealing my trash. I keep my trash outside. That's because --"

"Let the Clem in," Asher said, "and I'll tell it."

"About Yah? Okay, and then they'll start coming to your little hill with offerings, and they'll be consulting Yah all day and all night; you'll never get any peace. You won't be able to lie in your bunk and listen to Linda Fox. The tea is ready." She filled two cups with boiling water.

Asher dialed the mother ship. A moment later he had the ship's operator circuit. "I want to report a contact with God," he said. "This is for the Commander-in-Chief personally. God spoke to me an hour ago. An autochthonic deity called Yah."

"Just a moment." A pause and then the ship's operator circuit said, "This wouldn't be the Linda Fox man, would it? Station Five?"

"Yes," he said.

"We have your video tape of Fiddler on the Roof that you requested. We tried to transmit it to your dome but your receiving manifold appears to be malfunctioning. We have notified repair and they will be out shortly. The tape features the original cast starring Topol, Norma Crane, Molly Picon --"

"Just a minute," Asher said. Rybys had put her hand on his arm, to attract his attention. "What is it?" he said.

"There's a human being outside; I got a look at it. Do something."

To the mother ship's operator circuit, Asher said, "I'll call you back." He rang off.

Rybys had turned on the external floodlight. Through the dome's port Asher saw a strange sight: a human being, but not wearing a standard suit; instead the man wore what looked like a robe, a very heavy robe, and leather apron. His boots had a rustic, much-mended quality about them. Even his helmet seemed antique. What the hell is this? Asher asked himself.

"Thank God you're here," Rybys said. From the locker by her bunk she brought out a gun. "I'm going to shoot him," she said. "Tell him to come in; use the bullhorn. You make sure you're out of the way."

I'm dealing with lunatics, Asher thought. "Let's simply not let him in."

"Fuck that! He'll wait until you're gone. Tell him to come in. He's going to rape me and kill me and kill you, if we don't get him first. You know what he is? I recognize what he is; I know that gray robe. He's a Wild Beggar. You know what a Wild Beggar is?"

"I know what a Wild Beggar is," Asher said.

"They're criminals!"

"They're renegades," Asher said. "They don't have domes any more."

"Criminals." She cocked the gun.

He did not know whether to laugh or be dismayed; Rybys stood there swollen with indignation, in her blue bathrobe and furry slippers; she had put her hair up in curlers and her face was puffy and red with indignation. "I don't want him skulking around my dome. It's my dome! Hell, I'll call the mother ship and they'll send out a party of cops, if you're not going to do anything."

Turning on the external bullhorn, Asher said into it, "You, out there."

The Wild Beggar glanced up, blinked, shielded his eyes, then waved at Asher through the port. A wrinkled, weathered, hairy old man, grinning at Asher.

"Who are you?" Asher said into the bullhorn.

The old man's lips moved, but of course Asher heard nothing. Rybys's outside mike either wasn't turned on or it wasn't working. To Rybys Asher said, "Please don't shoot him. OK? I'm going to let him in. I think I know who he is."

Slowly and carefully Rybys disarmed her gun.

"Come inside," Asher said into the bullhorn. He activated the hatch mechanism and the intermediate membrane dropped into place. With vigorous steps the Wild Beggar disappeared inside.

"Who is he?" Rybys said.

Asher said, "It's Elias Tate."

"Oh, then that soap opera isn't a soap opera." She turned to the screen of the TV. "I've been intercepting a psychotronic information- transfer. I must have plugged in the wrong cable. Damn. Well, what the hell. I thought it was on the air an awful lot of the time."

Shaking off methane crystals, Elias Tate appeared before them, wild and hairy and gray, and happy to be inside out of the cold. He began at once to remove his helmet and vast robe.

"How are you feeling?" he asked Rybys. "Any better? Has this donkey been taking good care of you? His ass is grass if he hasn't."

Wind blew about him, as if he were the center of a storm.


To the girl in the white frock Emmanuel said, "I am new. I do not understand where I am."

The bamboo rustled. The children played. And Mr. Plaudet stood with Elias Tate watching the boy and girl. "Do you know me?" the girl said to Emmanuel.

"No," he said. He did not. And yet she seemed familiar. Her face was small and pale and she had long dark hair. Her eyes, Emmanuel thought. They are old. The eyes of wisdom.

To him in a low voice the girl said, "'When there was yet no ocean I was born.'" She waited a moment, studying him, searching for something, a response perhaps; he did not know. "'I was fashioned in times long past,'" the girl said. "'At the beginning, long before earth itself.'"

Mr. Plaudet called to her reprovingly, "Tell him your name. Introduce yourself."

"I am Zina," the girl said.

"Emmanuel," Mr. Plaudet said, "this is Zina Pallas."

"I don't know her," Emmanuel said.

"You two are going to go and play on the swings," Mr. Plaudet said, "while Mr. Tate and I talk. Go on. Go."

Elias came over to the boy, bent down and said, "What did she say to you just now? This little girl, Zina; what did she tell you?" He looked angry, but Emmanuel was accustomed to the old man's anger; it flashed forth constantly. "I couldn't hear."

"You grow deaf," Emmanuel said.

"No, she lowered her voice," Elias said.

"I said nothing that was not said long ago," Zina said.

Perplexed, Elias glanced from Emmanuel to the girl. "What nationality are you?" he asked the girl.

"Let's go," Zina said. She took Emmanuel by the hand and led him away; the two of them walked in silence.

"Is this a nice school?" Emmanuel asked her presently.

"It's OK. The computers are outdated. And the government monitors everything. The computers are government computers; you must keep that in mind. How old is Mr. Tate?"

"Very old," Emmanuel said. "About four thousand years old, I guess. He goes away and comes back."

"You've seen me before," Zina said.

"No I haven't."

"Your memory is missing."

"Yes," he said, surprised that she knew. "Elias tells me it will return."

"Your mother is dead?"

He nodded.

"Can you see her?" Zina said.


"Tap your father's memories. Then you can be with her in retrotime."


"He has it all stored."

Emmanuel said, "It frightens me. Because of the crash. I think they did it on purpose."

"Of course they did, but it was you they wanted, even if they didn't know it."

"They may kill me now."

"There is no way they can find you," Zina said.

"How do you know that?"

"Because I am that which knows. I will know for you until you remember, and even then I will stay with you. You always wanted that. I was at your side every day; I was your darling and your delight, playing always in your presence. And when you had finished, my chief delight was in them."

Emmanuel asked, "How old are you?"

"Older than Elias."

"Older than me?"

"No," Zina said.

"You look older than me."

"That's because you have forgotten. I am here to cause you to remember, but you are not to tell anyone that, even Elias."

Emmanuel said, "I tell him everything."

"Not about me," Zina said. "Don't tell him about me. You have to promise me that. If you tell anyone about me the government will find out."

"Show me the computers."

"Here they are." Zina led him into a large room. "You can ask them anything but they give you modified answers. Maybe you can trick them. I like to trick them. They're really stupid."

He said to her, "You can do magic."

At that Zina smiled. "How did you know?"

"Your name. I know what it means."

"It's only a name."

"No," he said. "Zina is not your name; Zina is what you are."

"Tell me what that is," the girl said, "but tell me very quietly. Because if you know what I am then some of your memory is returning. But be careful; the government listens and watches."

"Do the magic first," Emmanuel said.

"They will know; the government will know."

Going across the room, Emmanuel stopped by a cage with a rabbit in it. "No," he said. "Not that. Is there another animal here that you could be?"

"Careful, Emmanuel," Zina said.

"A bird," Emmanuel said.

"A cat," Zina said. "Just a second." She paused, moved her lips. The cat came in, then, from outside, a gray-striped female. "Shall I be the cat?"

"I want to be the cat," Emmanuel said.

"The cat will die."

"Let the cat die."


"They were created for that."

Zina said, "Once a calf about to be slaughtered ran to a Rabbi for protection and put its head between the Rabbi's knees. The Rabbi said, 'Go! For this you were created,' meaning, 'You were created to be slaughtered.'"

"And then?" Emmanuel said.

Zina said, "God greatly afflicted the Rabbi for a long time."

"I understand," Emmanuel said. "You have taught me. I will not be the cat."

"Then I will be the cat," Zina said, "and it will not die because I am not like you." She bent down, her hands on her knees, to address the cat. Emmanuel watched, and presently the cat came to him and asked to speak to him. He lifted it up and held it in his arms and the cat placed its paw against his face. With its paw it told him that mice were annoying and a bother and yet the cat did not wish to see an end of mice because, as annoying as they were, still there was something about them that was fascinating, more fascinating than annoying; and so the cat sought out mice, although the cat did not respect the mice. The cat wanted there to be mice and yet the cat despised mice.

All this the cat communicated by means of its paw against the boy's cheek.

"All right," Emmanuel said.

Zina said, "Do you know where any mice are right now?"

"You are the cat," Emmanuel said.

"Do you know where any mice are right now?" she repeated.

"You are a kind of mechanism," Emmanuel said.

"Do you know --"

"You have to find them yourself," Emmanuel said.

"But you could help me. You could chase them my way." The girl opened her mouth and showed him her teeth. He laughed.

Against his cheek the paw conveyed more thoughts; that Mr. Plaudet was coming into the building. The cat could hear his steps. Put me down, the cat communicated.

Emmanuel set the cat down.

"Are there any mice?" Zina said.

"Stop," Emmanuel said. "Mr. Plaudet is here."

"Oh," Zina said, and nodded.

Entering the room, Mr. Plaudet said, "I see you've found Misty, Emmanuel. Isn't she a nice little animal? Zina, what's wrong with you? Why are you staring at me?"

Emmanuel laughed; Zina was having trouble disentangling herself from the cat. "Be careful, Mr. Plaudet," he said. "Zina'll scratch you."

"You mean Misty," Mr. Plaudet said.

"That's not the kind of brain damage I have," Emmanuel said. "To --" He broke off; he could feel Zina telling him no.

"He's not very good at names, Mr. Plaudet," Zina said. She had managed to separate herself from the cat, now, and Misty, perplexed, walked slowly away. Obviously Misty had not been able to fathom why, all at once, she found herself in two different places.

"Do you remember my name, Emmanuel?" Mr. Plaudet asked.

"Mr. Talk," Emmanuel said.

"No," Mr. Plaudet said. He frowned. "'Plaudet' is German for 'talk,' though."

"I told Emmanuel that," Zina said. "About your name."

After Mr. Plaudet left, Emmanuel said to the girl, "Can you summon the bells? For dancing?"

"Of course." And then she flushed. "That was a trick question."

"But you play tricks. You always play tricks. I'd like to hear the bells, but I don't want to dance. I'd like to watch the dancing, though."

"Some other time," Zina said. "You do remember something, then. If you know about the dancing."

"I think I remember. I asked Elias to take me to see my father, where they have him stored. I want to see what he looks like. If I saw him, maybe I'd remember a lot more. I've seen pictures of him."

Zina said, "There's something you want from me even more than the dancing."

"I want to know about the time power you have. I want to see you make time stop and then run backward. That's the best trick of all."

"I said you should see your father about that."

"But you can do it," Emmanuel said. "Right here."

"I'm not going to. It disturbs too many things. They never line up again. Once they're out of synch -- Well, someday I'll do it for you. I could take you back to before the collision. But I'm not sure that's wise because you might have to live it over, and that would make you worse. Your mother was very sick, you know. She probably would not have lived anyhow. And your father will be out of cryonic suspension in four more years."

"You're sure?" Emmanuel said excitedly.

"When you're ten years old you'll see him. He's back with your mother right now; he likes to retrotime to when he first met her. She was very sloppy; he had to clean up her dome."

"What is a 'dome'?" Emmanuel asked.

"They don't have them here; that's for outspace. The colonists. Where you were born. I know Elias told you. Why don't you listen to him more?"

"He's a man," Emmanuel said. "A human being."

"No he's not."

"He was born as a man. And then I --" He paused, and a segment of memory came back to him. "I didn't want him to die. Did I? So I took him, all at once. When he and --" He tried to think, to frame the word in his mind.

"Elisha," Zina said.

"They were walking together," Emmanuel said, "and I took him up, and he sent part of himself back to Elisha. So he never died; Elias, I mean. But that's not his real name."

"That's his Greek name."

"I do remember some things, then," Emmanuel said.

"You'll remember more. You see, you set up a disinhibiting stimulus that would remind you before -- well, when the right time came. You're the only one who knows what the stimulus is. Even Elias doesn't know it. I don't know it; you hid it from me, back when you were what you were."

"I am what I am now," Emmanuel said.

"Yes, except that you have an impaired memory," Zina said, pragmatically. "So it isn't the same."

"I guess not," the boy said. "I thought you said you could make me remember."

"There are different kinds of remembering. Elias can make you remember a little, and I can make you remember more; but only your own disinhibiting stimulus can make you be. The word is ... you have to bend close to me to listen; only you should hear this word. No, I'll write it." Zina took a piece of paper from a nearby desk, and a length of chalk, and wrote one word.


Gazing down at the word, Emmanuel felt memory come to him, but only for a nanosecond; at once -- almost at once -- it departed.

"Hayah," he said, aloud.

"That is the Divine Tongue," Zina said.

"Yes," he said. "I know." The word was Hebrew, a Hebrew root word. And the Divine Name itself came from that word. He felt a vast and terrible awe; he felt afraid.

"Fear not," Zina said quietly.

"I am afraid," Emmanuel said, "because for a moment I remembered." Knew, he thought, who I am.


But he forgot again. By the time he and the girl had gone outside into the yard he no longer knew. And yet -- strange! -- he knew that he had known, known and forgotten again almost at once. As if, he thought, I have two minds inside me, one on the surface and the other in the depths. The surface one has been injured but the deep one has not. And yet the deep one can't speak; it is closed up. Forever? No; there would be the stimulus, one day. His own device.

Probably it was necessary that he not remember. Had he been able to recall into consciousness everything, the basis of it all, then the government would have killed him. There existed two heads of the beast, the religious one, a Cardinal Fulton Statler Harms, and then a scientific one named N. Bulkowsky. But these were phantoms. To Emmanuel the Christian-Islamic Church and the Scientific Legate did not constitute reality. He knew what lay behind them. Elias had told him. But even had Elias not told him he would have known anyhow; he would everywhere and at every time be able to identify the Adversary.

What did puzzle him was the girl Zina. Something in the situation did not ring right. Yet she had not lied; she could not lie. He had not made it possible for her to deceive; that constituted her fundamental nature: her veracity. All he had to do was ask her.

Meanwhile, he would assume that she was one of the zine; she herself had admitted that she danced. Her name, of course, came from dziana, and sometimes it appeared as she used it, as Zina.

Going up to her, stopping behind her but standing very close to her, he said in her ear, "Diana."

At once she turned. And as she turned he saw her change. Her nose became different and instead of a girl he saw now a grown woman wearing a metal mask pushed back so that it revealed her face, a Greek face; and the mask, he realized, was the war mask. That would be Pallas. He was seeing Pallas, now, not Zina. But, he knew, neither one told him the truth about her. These were only images. Forms that she took. Still, the metal mask of war impressed him. It faded, now, this image, and he knew that no one but himself had seen it. She would never reveal it to other people.

"Why did you call me 'Diana'?" Zina asked.

"Because that is one of your names."

Zina said, "We will go to the Garden one of these days. So you can see the animals."

"I would like that," he said. "Where is the Garden?"

"The Garden is here," Zina said.

"I can't see it."

"You made the Garden," Zina said.

"I can't remember." His head hurt; he put his hands against the sides of his face. Like my father, he thought; he used to do what I am doing. Except that he is not my father.

To himself he said, I have no father.

Pain filled him, the pain of isolation; suddenly Zina had disappeared, and the school yard, the building, the city -- everything vanished. He tried to make it return but it would not return. No time passed. Even time had been abolished. I have completely forgotten, he realized. And because I have forgotten. it is all gone. Even Zina, his darling and delight, could not remind him now; he had returned to the void.

A low murmuring sound moved slowly across the face of the void, across the deep. Heat could be seen; at this transformation of frequency heat appeared as light, but only as a dull red light, a somber light. He found it ugly.

My father, he thought. You are not.

His lips moved and he pronounced one word.


The world returned.
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Postby admin » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:50 am

Chapter 5

Elias Tate, throwing himself down on a heap of Rybys's dirty clothes, said, "Do you have any real coffee? Not that joke stuff the mother ship peddles to you." He grimaced.

"I have some," Rybys said, "but I don't know where it is."

"Have you been throwing up frequently?" Elias said to her, eyeing her. "Every day or so?"

"Yes." She glanced at Herb Asher, amazed.

"You're pregnant," Elias Tate said.

"I'm in chemo!" Rybys said angrily, her face dark red with fury. "I'm heaving up my guts because of the goddam Neurotoxite and the Prednoferic --"

"Consult your computer terminal," Elias said.

There was silence.

"Who are you?" Herb Asher said.

"A Wild Beggar," Elias said.

"Why do you know so much about me?" Rybys said.

Elias said, "I came to be with you. I'll be with you from now on. Consult your terminal."

Seating herself at her computer terminal, Rybys placed her arm in the M.E.D. slot. "I hate to put it to you this way," she said to Elias and Herb Asher, "but I'm a virgin."

"Get out of here," Herb Asher said quietly to the old man.

"Wait until M.E.D. gives her the test result," Elias said.

Tears filled Rybys's eyes. "Shit. This is just terrible. I have M.S. and then now this, as if M.S. isn't enough."

To Herb Asher, Elias said, "She must return to Earth. The authorities will permit it; her illness will be sufficient legal cause."

To the computer terminal, which had now locked onto the M.E.D. channel, Rybys said brokenly, "Am I pregnant?"


The terminal said, "You are three months pregnant, Ms. Rommey."

Rising, Rybys walked to the port of the dome and stared fixedly out at the methane panorama. No one spoke.

"It's Yah, isn't it?" Rybys said presently.

"Yes," Elias said.

"This was planned out a long time ago," Rybys said.

"Yes," Elias said.

"And my M.S. is so there is a legal pretext for me to return to Earth."

"To get you past Immigration," Elias said.

Rybys said, "And you know all about it." She pointed at Herb Asher. "He's going to say he's the father."

"He will," Elias said, "and he will go with you. So will I. You'll be checking in at Bethesda Naval Hospital at Chevy Chase. We'll go by emergency axial flight, high-velocity flight, because of the seriousness of your physical condition. We should start as soon as possible. You already have the papers in your possession, the necessary legal papers requesting a transfer back home."

"Yah made me sick?" Rybys said.

After a pause Elias nodded.

"What is this?" Rybys said furiously. "A coup of some kind? You're going to smuggle --"

Interrupting her, Elias said in a low, harsh voice, "The Roman X Fretensis."

"Masada," Rybys said. "Seventy-three C.E. Right? I thought so. I started thinking so when a Clem told me about the mountain deity at our Station Five."

"He lost," Elias said. "The Tenth Legion was made up of fifteen thousand experienced soldiers. But Masada held out for almost two years. And there were less than a thousand Jews at Masada, including women and children."

To Herb Asher, Rybys said, "Only seven women and children survived the fall of Masada. It was a Jewish fortress. They had
hidden in a water conduit." To Elias Tate she said, "And Yahweh was driven from the Earth."

"And the hopes of man," Elias said, "faded away."

Herb Asher said, "What are you two talking about?"

"A fiasco," Elias Tate said briefly.

"So he -- Yah -- first makes me sick, and then he --" She broke off. "Did he start out from this star system originally? Or was he driven here?"

"He was driven here," Elias said. "There is a zone around Earth now. A zone of evil. It keeps him out."

"The Lord?" Rybys said. "The Lord is kept out? Away from Earth?" She stared at Elias Tate.

"The people of Earth do not know," Elias Tate said.

"But you know," Herb Asher said. "Right? How do you know all these things? How do you know so much? Who are you?"

Elias Tate said, "My name is Elijah."


The three of them sat together drinking tea. Rybys's face had an embittered, stark expression on it, a look of fury; she said almost nothing.

"What bothers you the most?" Elias Tate said. "The fact that Yah was driven off Earth, that he was defeated by the Adversary, or that you have to go back to Earth carrying him inside you?"

She laughed. "Leaving my station."

"You have been honored," Elias said.

"Honored with illness," Rybys said; her hand shook as she lifted her cup to her lips.

"Do you realize who it is that you carry in your womb?" Elias said.

"Sure," Rybys said.

"You are not impressed," Elias said.

"I had my life all planned out," Rybys said.

"I think you're taking a small view of this," Herb Asher said. Both Elias and Rybys glanced at him with distaste, as if he had intruded. "Maybe I don't understand," he said, weakly.

Reaching out her hand, Rybys patted him. "It's OK. I don't understand either. Why me? I asked that when I came down with the M.S. Why the hell me? Why the hell you? You have to leave your station, too; and your Fox tapes. And lying all day and night in your bunk doing nothing, with your gear on auto. Christ. Well, I guess Job had it right. God afflicts those he loves."

"The three of us will travel to Earth," Elias said, "and there you will give birth to your son, Emmanuel. Yah planned this at the beginning of the age, before the defeat at Masada, before the fall of the Temple. He foresaw his defeat and moved to rectify the situation. God can be defeated but only temporarily. With God the remedy is greater than the malady."

"'Felix culpa,'" Rybys said.

"Yes," Elias agreed. To Herb Asher he explained, "It means 'happy fault,' referring to the fall, the original fall. Had there been no fall perhaps there would have been no Incarnation. No birth of Christ."

"Catholic doctrine," Rybys said remotely. "I never thought it would apply to me personally."

Herb Asher said, "But didn't Christ conquer the forces of evil? He said, 'I have overcome the world.'"

"Well," Rybys said, "apparently he was wrong."

"When Masada fell," Elias said, "all was lost. God did not enter history in the first century C.E.; he left history. Christ's mission was a failure."

"You are very old," Rybys said. "How old are you, Elias? Almost four thousand years, I guess. You can take a long-term view but I can't. You've known this about the First Advent all this time? For two thousand years?"

"As God foresaw the original fall," Elias said, "he also foresaw that Jesus would not be acceptable. It was known to God
before it happened."

"What does he know about this now?" Rybys said. "What we are going to do?"

Elias was silent.

"He doesn't know," Rybys said.

"This --" Elias hesitated.

"The final battle," Rybys said. "It could go either way. Couldn't it?"

"In the end," Elias said, "God wins. He has absolute foresight."

"He can know," Rybys said, "but does that mean he can -- Look, I really don't feel well. It's late and I'm sick and I'm worn out and I feel as if ..." She gestured. "I'm a virgin and I'm pregnant. The Immigration doctors will never believe it."

Herb Asher said, "I think that's the point. That's why I'm supposed to marry you and come along."

"I'm not going to marry you; I don't even know you." She stared at him. "Are you kidding? Marry you? I've got M.S. and I'm pregnant. Damn it, both of you; go away and leave me alone. I mean it. Why didn't I take that bottle of Seconax when I had the chance? I never had the chance; Yah was watching. He sees even the fallen sparrow. I forgot."

"Do you have any whiskey?" Herb Asher said.

"Oh fine," Rybys said bitterly. "You can get drunk but can I? With M.S. and some kind of baby inside me? There I was" -- she glared hatefully at Elias Tate -- "picking up your thoughts visually on my TV set, and I imagined in my deluded folly that it was a corny soap opera dreamed up by writers at Fomalhaut -- pure fiction. Arachnids were going to decapitate you? Is that what your unconscious fantasies consist of? And you're Yahweh's spokesperson?" She blanched. "I spoke the Sacred Name. Sorry."

"Christians speak it all the time," Elias said.

Rybys said, "But I'm a Jew. I would be a Jew; that's what got me into this. If I was a Gentile Yah wouldn't have picked me. If I'd ever been laid I'd --" She broke off. "The Divine Machinery has a peculiar brutality to it," she finished. "It isn't romantic. It's cruel; it really is."

"Because there is so much at stake," Elias said.

"What is at stake?" Rybys said.

"The universe exists because Yah remembers it," Elias said.

Both Herb Asher and Rybys stared at him.

"If Yah forgets, the universe ceases," Elias said.

"Can he forget?" Rybys said.

"He has yet to forget," Elias said elliptically.

"Meaning he could forget," Rybys said. "Then that's what this is about. You just spelled it out. I see. Well --" She shrugged and then reflexively sipped at her cup of tea. "Then I wouldn't exist in the first place except for Yah. Nothing would exist."

Elias said, "His name means 'He Brings into Existence What ever Exists.'"

"Including evil?" Herb Asher asked.

"It says in Scripture," Elias said, "thus:

"... So that men from the rising and the setting sun
May know that there is none but I:
I am the LORD, there is no other;
I make the light, I create darkness,
author alike of prosperity and trouble.
I, the LORD, do all these things."

"Where does it say that?" Rybys said.

"Isaiah forty-five," Elias said.

"'Prosperity and trouble,'" Rybys echoed. "'Weal and woe.'"

"Then you know the passage." Elias regarded her.

"It's hard to believe," she said.

"It is monotheism," Elias said harshly.

"Yes," she said, "I guess it is. But it's brutal. What's happening to me is brutal. And there's more ahead. I want out and I can't get out. Nobody asked me originally. Nobody is asking me now. Yah foresees what lies ahead but I don't, except that there's more cruelty and pain and throwing up. Serving God seems to mean throwing up and shooting yourself with a needle every day. I am a diseased rat in a kind of cage. That's what he's made me into. I have no faith and no hope and he has no love, only power. God is a symptom of power, nothing else. The hell with it. I give up, I don't care. I'll do what I have to but it will kill me and I know it. OK?"

The two men were silent. They did not look at her or at e~ch other.

Herb Asher said finally, "He saved your life tonight. He sent me over here."

"That and five credpops will get you a cupee of Kaff," Rybys said. "He gave me the illness in the first place!"

"And he's guiding you through," Herb said.

"To what end?" she said.

"To emancipate an infinitude of lives," Elias said.

"Egypt," she said. "And the brick makers. Over and over again. Why doesn't the emancipation last? Why does it fade out? Isn't there any final resolution?"

"This," Elias said, "is that final resolution."

"I am not one of the emancipated," Rybys said. "I fell along the way."

"Not yet," Elias said.

"But it's coming."

"Perhaps." The expression on Elias Tate's face could not be read.

As the three of them sat, there came a low, murmuring voice which said, "Rybys, Rybys."

Rybys gave a muffled cry and looked around her.

"Fear not," the voice said. "You will live on in your son. You cannot now die, nor even unto the end of the age."

Silently, her face buried in her hands, Rybys began to cry.


Late in the day, when school had ended, Emmanuel decided to try the Hermetic transform once again, so that he would know the world around him.

First he speeded up his internal biological clock so that his thoughts raced faster and faster; he felt himself rushing down the tunnel of linear time until his rate of movement along that axis was enormous. First, therefore, he saw vague floating colors and then he suddenly encountered the Watcher, which is to say the Grigon, who barred the way between the Lower and Upper Realms. The Grigon presented itself to him as a nude female torso that he could reach out and touch, so close was it. Beyond this point he began to travel at the rate of the Upper Realm, so that the Lower Realm ceased to be something but became, instead, a process; it evolved in accretional layers at a rate of 31.5 million to one in terms of the Upper Realm's time scale.

Thereupon he saw the Lower Realm -- not as a place -- but as transparent pictures permutating at immense velocity. These pictures were the Forms outside of space being fed into the Lower Realm to become reality. He was one step away, now, from the Hermetic transform.

The final picture froze and time ceased for him. With his eyes shut he could still see the room around him; the flight had ended; he had eluded that which pursued him. That meant that his neural firing was perfect, and his pineal body registered the presence of light carried up its branch of the optic conduit.

He sat for a little while, although "little while" no longer signified anything. Then, by degrees, the transform took place. He saw outside him the pattern, the print, of his own brain; he was within a world made up of his brain, with living information carried here and there like little rivers of shining red that were alive. He could reach out, therefore, and touch his own thoughts in their original nature, before they became thoughts. The room was filled with their fire, and immense spaces stretched out, the volume of his own brain external to him.

Meanwhile he introjected the outer world so that he contained it within him. He now had the universe inside him and his own brain outside everywhere. His brain extended into the vast spaces, far larger than the universe had been. Therefore he knew the extent of all things that were himself, and, because he had incorporated the world, he knew it and controlled it.

He soothed himself and relaxed, and then could see the outlines of the room, the coffee table, a chair, walls, pictures on the walls: the ghost of the external universe lingering outside him. Presently he picked up a book from the table and opened it. Inside the book he found, written there, his own thoughts, now in a printed form. The printed thoughts lay arranged along the time axis which had become spacial and the only axis along which motion was possible. He could see, as in a hologram, the different ages of his thoughts, the most recent ones being closest to the surface, the older ones lower and deeper in many successive layers.

He regarded the world outside him which now had become reduced to spare geometric shapes, squares mostly, and the Golden Rectangle as a doorway. Nothing moved except the scene beyond the doorway, where his mother rushed happily among tangled old rosebushes and a farmland she had known as a child; she was smiling and her eyes were bright with joy.

Now, Emmanuel thought, I will change the universe that I have taken inside me. He regarded the geometric shapes and allowed them to fill up a little with matter. Across from him the ratty blue couch that Elias prized began to warp away from plumb; its lines changed. He had taken away the causality that guided it and it stopped being a ratty blue couch with Kaff stains on it and became instead a Hepplewhite cabinet, with fine bone china plates and cups and saucers behind its doors.

He restored a certain measure of time -- and saw Elias Tate come and go about the room, enter and leave; he saw accretional layers laminated together in sequence along the linear time axis. The Hepplewhite cupboard remained for a short series of layers; it held its passive or off or rest mode, and then it was whisked over into its active or on or motion mode and joined the permanent world of the phylogons, participating now in all those of its class that had come before. In his projected world brain the Hepplewhite cabinet, and its bone china pieces, became incorporated into true reality forever. It would now undergo no more changes, and no one would see it but he. It was, to everyone else, in the past.

He completed the transform with the formulary of Hermes Trismegistus:

Verum est ... quod superius est sicut quod inferius et quod inferius est sicut quod superius, ad perpetrando miracula rei unius.

That is:

The truth is that what is above is like what is below and what is below is like what is above, to accomplish the miracles of the one thing.

This was the Emerald Tablet, presented to Maria Prophetissa, the sister of Moses, by Tehuti himself, who gave names to all created things in the beginning, before he was expelled from the Palm Tree Garden.

That which was below, his own brain, the microcosm, had become the macrocosm, and, inside him as microcosm now, he contained the macrocosm, which is to say, what is above.

I now occupy the entire universe, Emmanuel realized; I am now everywhere equally. Therefore I have become Adam Kadmon, the First Man. Motion along the three spacial axes was impossible for him because he was already wherever he wished to go. The only motion possible for him or for changing reality lay along the temporal axis; he sat contemplating the world of the phylogons, billions of them in process, continually growing and completing themselves, driven by the dialectic that underlay all transformation. It pleased him; the sight of the interconnected network of phylogons was beautiful to behold. This was the kosmos of pythagorias, the harmonious fitting-together of all things, each in its right way and each imperishable.

I see now what Plotinus saw, he realized. But, more than that, I have rejoined the sundered realms within me; I have restored the Shekhina to En Sof. But only for a little while and only locally. Only in microform. It would return to what it had been as soon as he released it.

"Just thinking," he said aloud.

Elias came into the room, saying as he came, "What are you doing, Manny?"

Causality had been reversed; he had done what Zina could do: make time run backward. He laughed in delight. And heard the sound of bells.

"I saw Chinvat," Emmanuel said. "The narrow bridge. I could have crossed it."

"You must not do that," Elias said.

Emmanuel said, "What do the bells mean? Bells ringing far off."

"When you hear the distant bells it means that the Saoshyant is present."

"The Saviour," Emmanuel said. "Who is the Saviour, Elias?"

"It must be yourself," Elias said.

"Sometimes I despair of remembering."

He could still hear the bells, very far off, ringing slowly, blown, he knew, by the desert wind. It was the desert itself speaking to him. The desert, by means of the bells, was trying to remind him. To Elias he said, "Who am I?"

"I can't say," Elias said.

"But you know."

Elias nodded.

"You could make everything very simple," Emmanuel said, "by saying."

"You must say it yourself," Elias said. "When the time comes you will know and you will say it."

"I am --" the boy said hesitantly.

Elias smiled.


She had heard the voice issue forth from her own womb. For a time she felt afraid and then she felt sad; sometimes she cried, and still the nausea continued -- it never let up. I don't recall reading about that in the Bible, she thought. Mary being afflicted with morning sickness. I'll probably get edema and stretch marks. I don't remember reading about that either.

It would make a good graffito on some wall, she said to herself. THE VIRGIN MARY HAD STRETCH MARKS. She fixed herself a little meal of synthetic lamb and green beans; seated alone at her table she gazed out listlessly through the dome's port at the landscape. I really should clean up this place, she realized. Before Elias and Herb come back. In fact, I should make a list of what I have to do.

Most of all, she thought, I have to understand this situation. He is already inside me. It has happened.

I need another wig, she decided. For the trip. A better one. I think I'll try out a blond one that's longer. Goddam chemo, she thought. If the ailment doesn't kill you the therapy will. The remedy, she thought acidly, is worse than the malady. Look; I turned it around. God, I feel sick.

And then, as she picked at her plate of cold, synthetic food, a strange idea came to her. What if this is a maneuver by the Clems? she said to herself. We invaded their planet; now they're fighting back. They figured out what our conception of God involves. They're simulating that conception!

I wish mine was simulated, she ruminated.

But to get back to the point, she said to herself. They read our minds or study our books -- never mind how they did it -- and they fake us out. So what I have inside me is a computer terminal or something, a glorified radio. I can see me going through Immigration. "Anything to declare, Miss?" "Only a radio." Well, she thought, where is this radio? I don't see any radio. Well, you have to look real hard. No, sire thought; it's a matter for Customs, not Immigration. What is the declared value of this radio, Miss? That would be hard to say, she answered in her mind. You're not going to believe me but -- it's one of a kind. You don't see radios like this every day.

I should probably pray, she decided.

"Yah," she said, "myself, I am weak and sick and afraid, and I really don't want to be involved in this." Contraband, she thought. I'm going to smuggle in contraband. "Lady, come with me. We're going to conduct a complete body search. The matron will be in here in a minute; just sit down and read a magazine." I'll tell them it's an outrage, she thought. "What a surprise!" Feigned amazement. "I have what inside me? You're kidding. No, I have no idea how it got there. Will wonders never cease."

A strange lethargy came over her, a kind of hypnagogic state, even as she sat reflexively eating. The embryo inside her had begun to unfold a picture before her, a view by a mind totally different from hers.

She realized, This is how they will view it. The powers of the world.

What she saw, through their eyes, was a monster. The Christian-Islamic Church and the Scientific Legate -- their fear did not resemble her fear; hers had to do with effort and danger, with what was required of her. But they -- She saw them consulting Big Noodle, the AI System that processed Earth's information, the vast artificial intelligence on which the government relied.

Big Noodle, after analyzing the data, informed the authorities that something sinister had been smuggled past Immigration and onto Earth; she felt their recoil, their aversion. Incredible, she thought. To see the Lord of the universe through their eyes; to see him as foreign. How could the Lord who created everything be a foreign thing? They are not in his image, then she realized. This is what Yah is telling me. I always assumed -- we were always taught -- that man is the image of God. It is like calling to like. Then they really believe in themselves! They sincerely do not understand.

The monster from outer space, she thought. We must be on guard perpetually lest it show up and sneak through Immigration. How deranged they are. How far off the mark. Then they would kill my baby, she thought. It is impossible but it is true. And no one could make them understand what they had done. The Sanhedrin thought the same way, she said to herself, about Jesus. This is another zealot. She shut her eyes.

They are living in a cheap horror film, she thought. There is something wrong when you fear little children. When you view them, anyone of them, as weird and awful. I don't want this insight, she said to herself, drawing back in aversion. Take it away, please; I've seen enough.

I understand.

She thought, This is why it has to be done. Because they see as they do. They pray; they make decisions; they shield their world -- they keep out hostile intrusions. To them this is a hostile intrusion. They are demented; they would kill the God who made them. No rational thing does that. Christ did not die on the cross to render men spotless; he was crucified because they were crazy; they saw as I see now. It is a vista of lunacy.

They think they are doing the right thing.
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Postby admin » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:51 am

Chapter 6

The girl Zina said, "I have something for you."

"A present?" He held out his hand, trustingly.

Only a child's toy. An information slate, such as every young person had. He felt keen disappointment.

"We made it for you," Zina said.

"Who is that?" He examined the slate. Self-governing factories turned out hundreds of thousands of such slates. Each slate contained common microcircuitry. "Mr. Plaudet gave me one of these already," he said. "They're plugged into the school."

"We make ours differently," Zina said. "Keep it. Tell Mr. Plaudet this is the one he gave you. He won't be able to distinguish them from each other. See? We even have the brand name on it." With her finger she traced the letters I.B.M.

"This one isn't really I.B.M.," he said.

"Definitely not. Turn it on."

He pressed the tab of the slate. On the slate, on the pale gray surface, a single word in illuminated red appeared.


"That's your question for right now," Zina said. "To figure out what 'Valis' is. The slate is posing the problem for you at a class-one level ... which means it'll give you further clues, if you want them."

"Mother Goose," Emmanuel said.

On the slate the word VALIS disappeared. Now it read:


"Kyklopes," Emmanuel said instantly.

Zina laughed. "You're as fast as it is."

"What's it connected to? Not Big Noodle." He did not like Big Noodle.

"Maybe it'll tell you," Zina said.

The slate now read:


"Kyklopes," Emmanuel repeated. "It's a trick. This was built by the troop of Diana."

At once the girl's smile faded.

"I'm sorry," Emmanuel said. "I won't say it again out loud even one more time."

"Give me the slate back." She held out her hand.

Emmanuel said, "1 will give it back if it says for me to give it back. He pressed the tab.


"All right," Zina said. "I'll let you keep it. But you don't know what it is; you don't understand it. The troop didn't build it. Press the tab."

Again he pressed the tab.


"I --" Emmanuel faltered.

"It will come back to you," Zina said. "Through this. Use it. I don't think you should tell Elias either. He might not understand."

Emmanuel said nothing. This was a matter that he himself would decide. It was important not to let others make his choices for him. And, basically, he trusted Elias. Did he also trust Zina? He was not sure. He sensed the multitude of natures within her, the profusion of identities. Ultimately he would seek out the real one; he knew it was there, but the tricks obscured it. Who is it, he asked himself, who plays tricks like this? What being is the trickster? He pressed the tab.


To that, he gave a nod of assent. Dancing certainly was the right answer; in his mind he could see her dancing, with all the troop, burning the grass beneath their feet, leaving it scorched, and the minds of men disoriented. You cannot disorient me, he said to himself. Even though you control time. Because I control time, too. Perhaps even more than you.

That night at dinner he discussed Valis with Elias Tate.

"Take me to see it," Emmanuel said.

"It's a very old movie," Elias said.

"But at least we could rent a cassette. From the library. What does 'Valis' mean?"

"Vast Active Living Intelligence System," Elias said. "The movie is mostly fiction. It was made by a rock singer in the latter part of the twentieth century. His name was Eric Lampton but he called himself Mother Goose. The film contained Mini's Synchronicity Music, which had considerable impact on all modern music to this day. Much of the information in the film is conveyed subliminally by the music. The setting is an alternate U.S.A. where a man named Ferris F. Fremount is president."

Emmanuel said, "But what is Valis?"

"An artificial satellite that projects a hologram that they take to be reality."

"Then it's a reality generator."

"Yes," Elias said.

"Is the reality genuine?"

"No; I said it's a hologram. It can make them see whatever it wants them to see. That's the whole point of the film. It's a study of the power of illusion."

Going to his room, Emmanuel picked up the slate that Zina had given him and pressed the tab.

"What are you doing?" Elias said, coming in behind him.

The slate showed one word:


"That's plugged into the government," Elias said. "There's no point in using it. I knew Plaudet would give you one of those." He reached for it. "Give it to me."

"I want to keep it," Emmanuel said.

"Good grief; it says I.B.M. right on it! What do you expect it to tell you? The truth? When has the government ever told anyone the truth? They killed your mother and put your father into cryonic suspension. Let me have it, damn it."

"If this is taken from me," Emmanuel said, "they will give me another."

"I suppose so." Elias withdrew his hand. "But don't believe what it says."

"It says you're wrong about Valis," Emmanuel said.

"In what way?"

Emmanuel said, "It just said 'no.' It didn't say anything more." He pressed the tab again.


"What the hell does that mean?" Elias said, mystified.

"I don't know," Emmanuel said truthfully. He thought, I will keep using it.

And then he thought, It is tricking me. It dances along the path like a bobbing light, leading me and leading me, away, further, further, into the darkness. And then when the darkness is everywhere the bobbing light will wink out. I know you, he thought at the slate. I know how you work. I will not follow; you must come to me.

He pressed the tab.


"Where no one ever returns," Emmanuel said.


After dinner he spent some time with the holoscope, studying Elias's most precious possession: the Bible expressed as layers at different depths within the hologram, each layer according to age. The total structure of Scripture formed, then, a three-dimensional cosmos that could be viewed from any angle and its contents read. According to the tilt of the axis of observation, differing messages could be extracted. Thus Scripture yielded up an infinitude of knowledge that ceaselessly changed. It became a wondrous work of art, beautiful to the eye, and incredible in its pulsations of color. Throughout it red and gold pulsed, with strands of blue.

The color symbolism was not arbitrary but extended back in time to the early medieval Romanesque paintings. Red always represented the Father. Blue the color of the Son. And gold, of course, that of the Holy Spirit. Green stood for the new life of the elect; violet the color of mourning; brown the color of endurance and suffering; white, the color of light; and, finally, black, the color of the Powers of Darkness, of death and sin.

All these colors could be found in the hologram formed by the Bible along the temporal axis. In conjunction with sections of text, complex messages formed, permutated, re-formed. Emmanuel never tired of gazing into the hologram; for him as well as Elias it was the master hologram, surpassing all others. The Christian-Islamic Church did not approve of transmuting the Bible into a color-coded hologram, and forbade the manufacture and sale. Hence Elias had constructed this hologram himself, without approval.

It was an open hologram. New information could be fed into it. Emmanuel wondered about that but he said nothing. He sensed a secret. Elias could not answer him, so he did not ask.

What he could do, however, was type out on the keyboard linked to the hologram a few crucial words of Scripture, whereupon the hologram would align itself from the vantage point of the citation, along all its spacial axes. Thus the entire text of the Bible would be focused in relationship to the typed-out information.

"What if I fed something new into it?" he had asked Elias one day.

Elias had said severely, "Never do that."

"But it's technically possible."

"It is not done."

About that the boy wondered often.

He knew, of course, why the Christian-Islamic Church did not allow the transmuting of the Bible into a color-coded hologram. If you learned how you could gradually tilt the temporal axis, the axis of true depth, until successive layers were superimposed and a vertical message -- a new message -- could be read out. In this way you entered into a dialogue with Scripture; it became alive. It became a sentient organism that was never twice the same. The Christian-Islamic Church, of course, wanted both the Bible and the Koran frozen forever. If Scripture escaped out from under the church its monopoly departed.

Superimposition was the critical factor. And this sophisticated superimposition could only be achieved in a hologram. And yet he knew that once, long ago, Scripture had been deciphered this way. Elias, when asked, was reticent about the matter. The boy let the topic drop.

There had been an acutely embarrassing incident at church the year before. Elias had taken the boy to Thursday morning mass. Since he had not been confirmed, Emmanuel could not receive the host; while the others in the congregation gathered at he rail Emmanuel remained bent in prayer. All at once, as the priest carried the chalice from person to person, dipping the wafers in the consecrated wine and saying, "The Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee --" all at once Emmanuel had stood up where he was in his pew and stated clearly and calmly:

"The blood is not there nor the body either."

The priest paused and looked to see who had spoken.

"You do not have the authority," Emmanuel said. And, upon saying that, he turned and walked out of the church. Elias found him in their car, listening to the radio.

"You can't do that," Elias had said as they drove home. "You can't tell them things like that. They'll open a file on you and that's what we don't want." He was furious.

"I saw," Emmanuel said. "It was a wafer and wine only."

"You mean the accidents. The external form. But the essence was --"

"There was no essence other than the visible appearance," Emmanuel answered. "The miracle did not occur because the priest was not a priest."

They drove in silence after that.

"Do you deny the miracle of transubstantiation?" Elias asked that night as he put the boy to bed.

"I deny that it took place today," Emmanuel said. "There in that place. I will not go there again."

"What I want," Elias said, "is for you to be as wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove."

Emmanuel regarded him.

"They killed --"

"They have no power over me," Emmanuel said.

"They can destroy you. They can arrange another accident. Next year I'm required to put you in school. Fortunately because of your brain damage you won't have to go to a regular school. I'm counting on them to --" Elias hesitated.

Emmanuel finished, "-- Consign anything they see about me that is different to the brain damage."


"Was the brain damage arranged?"

"I -- Perhaps."

"It seems useful." But, he thought, if only I knew my real name. "Why can't you say my name?" he said to Elias.

"Your mother did," Elias said obliquely.

"My mother is dead."

"You will say it yourself, eventually."

"I'm impatient." A strange thought came to him. "'Did she die because she said my name?"

"Maybe," Elias said.

"And that's why you won't say it? Because it would kill you if you did? And it wouldn't kill me."

"It is not a name in the usual sense. It is a command."

All these matters remained in his mind. A name that was not a name but a command. It made him think of Adam who named the animals. He wondered about that. Scripture said:

... and brought them unto the man to see what he would call them ...

"Did God not know what the man would call them?" he asked Elias one day.

"Only man has language," Elias explained. "Only man can give birth to language. Also --" He eyed the boy. "When man gave names to creatures he established his dominion over them."

What you name you control, Emmanuel realized. Hence no one is to speak my name because no one is to have -- or can have -- control over me. "God played a game with Adam, then," he said. "He wanted to see if the man knew their correct names. He was testing the man. God enjoys games."

"I'm not sure I know the answer to that," Elias said.

"I did not ask. I said."

"It is not something usually associated with God."

"Then the nature of God is known."

"His nature is not known."

Emmanuel said, "He enjoys games and play. It says in Scripture that he rested but I say that he played."

He wanted to feed that into the hologram of the Bible, as an addendum, but he knew that he should not. How would it alter the total hologram? he wondered. To add to the Torah that God enjoys joyful sport ... Strange, he thought, that I can't add that. Someone must add it; it has to be there, in Scripture. Someday.


He learned about pain and death from an ugly dying dog. It had been run over and lay by the side of the road, its chest crushed, bloody foam bubbling from its mouth. When he bent over it the dog gazed at him with glasslike eyes, eyes that already saw into the next world.

To understand what the dog was saying he put his hand on its stumpy tail. "Who mandated this death for you?" he asked the dog. "What have you done?"

"I did nothing," the dog replied.

"But this is a harsh death."

"Nonetheless," the dog told him, "I am blameless."

"Have you ever killed?"

"Oh yes. My jaws are designed to kill. I was constructed to kill smaller things."

"Do you kill for food or pleasure?"

"I kill out of joy," the dog told him. "It is a game; it is the game I play."

Emmanuel said, "I did not know about such games. Why do dogs kill and why do dogs die? Why are there such games?"

"These subtleties mean nothing to me," the dog told him. "I kill to kill; I die because I must. It is necessity, the rule that is the final rule. Don't you live and kill and die by that rule? Surely you do. You are a creature, too."

"I do what I wish."

"You lie to yourself," the dog said. "Only God does as he wishes."

"Then I must be God."

"If you are God, heal me."

"But you are under the law."

"You are not God."

"God willed the law, dog."

"You have said it, then, yourself; you have answered your own question. Now let me die."

When he told Elias about the dog who died, Elias said:

Go, stranger, and to Lacedaemon tell
That here, obeying her behests, we fell.

"That was for the Spartans who died at Thermopylae," Elias said.

"Why do you tell me that?" Emmanuel said.

Elias said:

Go tell the Spartans, thou that passeth by,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.

"You mean the dog," Emmanuel said.

"I mean the dog," Elias said.

"There is no difference between a dead dog in a ditch and the Spartans who died at Thermopylae." He understood. "None," he said. "I see."

"If you can understand why the Spartans died you can understand it all," Elias said.

You who pass by, a moment pause;
We, here, obey the Spartan laws.

"Is there no couplet for the dog?" Emmanuel asked.

Elias said:

Passer, this enter in your tog:
As Spartan was, so, too, the dog.

"Thank you," Emmanuel said.

"What was the last thing the dog said?" Elias said.

"The dog said, 'Now let me die.'"

Elias said:

Lasciatemi morire!
E chi volete voi che mi conforte
In cosi dura sorte,
In cosi gran martire?

"What is that?" Emmanuel said.

"The most beautiful piece of music written before Bach," Elias said. "Monteverdi's madrigal 'Lamento D' Arianna.' Thus:

Let me die!
And who do you think can comfort me
in my harsh misfortune,
in such grievous torment?

"Then the dog's death is high art," Emmanuel said. "The highest art of the world. Or at least celebrated, recorded, in and by high art. Am I to see nobility in an old ugly dying dog with a crushed chest?"

"If you believe Monteverdi, yes," Elias said. "And those who revere Monteverdi."

"Is there more to the lament?"

"Yes, but it does not apply. Theseus has left Ariadne; it is unrequited love."

"Which is more awesome?" Emmanuel said. "A dying dog in a ditch or Ariadne spurned?"

Elias said, "Ariadne imagines her torment, but the dog's is real."

"Then the dog's torment is worse," Emmanuel said. "It is the greater tragedy." He understood. And, strangely, he felt content. It was a good universe in which an ugly dying dog was of more worth than a classic figure from ancient Greece. He felt the tilted balance right itself, the scales that weighed it all. He felt the honesty of the universe, and his confusion left him. But, more important, the dog understood its own death. After all, the dog would never hear Monteverdi's music or read the couplet on the stone column at Thermopylae. High art was for those who saw death rather than lived death. For the dying creature a cup of water was more important.

"Your mother detested certain art forms," Elias said. "In particular she loathed Linda Fox."

"Play me some Linda Fox," Emmanuel said.

Elias put an audio cassette into the tape transport, and he and Emmanuel listened.

Flow not so fast, ye fountains,

"Enough," Emmanuel said. "Shut it off." He put his hands over his ears. "It's dreadful." He shuddered.

"What's wrong?" Elias put his arm around the boy and lifted him up to hold him. "I've never seen you so upset."

"He listened to that while my mother was dying!" Emmanuel stared into Elias's bearded face.

I remember, Emmanuel said to himself. I am beginning to remember who I am.

Elias said, "What is it?" He held the boy tight.

It is happening, Emmanuel realized. At last. That was the first of the signal that I -- I myself -- prepared. Knowing it would eventually fire.

The two of them gazed into each other's faces. Neither the boy nor the man spoke. Trembling, Emmanuel clung to the old bearded man; he did not let himself fall.

"Do not fear," Elias said.

"Elijah," Emmanuel said. "You are Elijah who comes first. Before the great and terrible day."

Elias, holding the boy and rocking him gently, said, "You have nothing to fear on that day."

"But he does," Emmanuel said. "The Adversary whom we hate. His time has come. I fear for him, knowing as I do, now, what is ahead."

"Listen," Elias said quietly.

How you have fallen from heaven, bright morning star,
felled to the earth, sprawling helpless across the nations!
You thought in your own mind,
I will scale the heavens;
I will set my throne high above the stars of God,
I will sit on the mountain where the gods meet
in the far recesses of the north.
I will rise high above the cloud-banks
and make myself like the Most High.
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
to the depths of the abyss.
Those who see you will stare at you,
they will look at you and ponder ...

"You see?" Elias said. "He is here. This is his place, this little world. He made it his fortress two thousand years ago, and set up a prison for the people as he did in Egypt. For two thousand years the people have been crying and there was no response, no aid. He has them all. And thinks he is safe."

Emmanuel, clutching the old man, began to cry.

"Still afraid?" Elias said.

Emmanuel said. "I cry with them. I cry with my mother. I cry with the dying dog who did not cry. I cry for them. And for Belial who fell, the bright morning star. Fell from heaven and began it all."

And, he thought, I cry for myself. I am my mother; I am the dying dog and the suffering people, and I, he thought, am that bright morning star, too ... even Belial; I am that and what it has become.

The old man held him fast.
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Postby admin » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:52 am

Chapter 7

Cardinal Fulton Statler Harms, Chief Prelate of the vast organizational network that comprised the Christian-Islamic Church, could not for the life of him figure out why there wasn't a sufficient amount of money in his Special Discretionary Fund to cover his mistress's expenses.

Perhaps, he pondered as his barber shaved him slowly and carefully, he had too dim a notion of the extent of Deirdre's needs.

Originally she had approached him -- no small task in itself, since it involved ascending the C.I.C. hierarchy rung by rung -- ascending without falling entirely off before reaching the top. Deirdre, at that time, represented the W.C.L.F., the World Civil Liberties Forum, and she had a list of abuses -- it was hazy to him then and it was still hazy to him, but anyhow the two of them had wound up in bed, and now, officially, Dierdre had become his executive secretary.

For her work she blotted up two salaries: the visible one that came with her job and the invisible one doled out from the substantial account that he was free to dispense as he saw fit. Where all this money went after it reached Deirdre he hadn't the foggiest idea. Bookkeeping had never been his strong suit.

"You want the yellow removed from this gray on the side, don't you?" his barber said, shaking up the contents of a bottle.

"Please," Harms said; he nodded.

"You think the Lakers are going to snap their losing streak?" his barber said. "I mean, they acquired that What's-his-name; he's nine feet two inches. If they hadn't raised the --"

Tapping his ear, Harms said, "I'm listening to the news, Arnold."

"Well, yeah, I can see that, Father," Arnold the barber said as he splashed bleach onto the Chief Prelate's graying hair. "But there's something I wanted to ask you, about homosexual priests. Doesn't the Bible forbid homosexuality? So I don't see how a priest can be a practicing homosexual."

The news that Harms was attempting to hear had to do with the health of the Procurator Maximus of the Scientific Legate, Nicholas Bulkowsky. A solemn prayer vigil had been formally called into being but nonetheless Bulkowsky continued to decline. Harms had, sub rosa, dispatched his personal physician to join the team of specialists attending to the Procurator's urgent condition.

Bulkowsky, as not only Cardinal Harms but the entire curia knew, was a devout Christian. He had been converted by the evangelical, charismatic Dr. Colin Passim who, at his revival meetings, often flew through the air in dramatic demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit within him.

Of course, Dr. Passim had not been the same since he sailed through a vast stained-glass window of the cathedral at Metz, France. Formerly he had talked occasionally in tongues and now he talked only in tongues. This had inspired a popular TV comic to suggest that an English-Glossolalia dictionary be brought out, so that folks could understand Dr. Passim. This in turn had given rise to such indignation in the pious that Cardinal Harms had it jotted down on his desk calendar somewhere that, when possible, he should pronounce the comic anathema. But, as usual, he had not gotten around to such petty matters.

Much of Cardinal Harms's time was spent in a secret activity: he had been feeding St. Anselm's Proslogion to the great Artificial Intelligence system Big Noodle with the idea of resurrecting the long-discredited Ontological Proof for the existence of God.

He had gone right back to Anselm and the original statement of the argument, unsoiled by the accretions of time:

Anything understood must be in the intelligence. Certainly, too, the being greater than which none can be conceived cannot exist in the intellect alone; for if it were only in the intellect it could be conceived as existing also in reality and this would be to conceive a still greater being. In such a case, if the being greater than which none can be conceived is merely in the intelligence (and not in reality), then this same being is something than which one could still conceive a greater (i.e., one which exists both in the intelligence and in reality). This is a contradiction. Consequently, there can be no doubt that the being greater than which none can be conceived must exist both in the intelligence and in reality.

However, Big Noodle knew all about Aquinas and Descartes and Kant and Russell and their criticisms, and the A.I. system also possessed common sense. It informed Harms that Anselm's argument did not hold water, and presented him with page after page of analysis as to why. Harms's response was to edit out Big Noodle's analysis and seize upon Hartshorne and Malcolm's defense of Anselm; viz: that God's existence is either logically necessary or logically impossible. Since it has not been demonstrated to be impossible -- which is to say, the concept of such an entity has not been shown to be self-contradictory -- then it follows that we must of necessity conclude that God exists.

Upon fastening onto this weary argument, Harms had dispatched a copy via his direct line to the ailing Procurator Maximus as a means of instilling new vigor in his co-ruler.

"Now take the Giants," Arnold the barber was saying as he valiantly tried to bleach the yellow from the cardinal's hair. "I say you can't count them out. Look at Eddy Tubb's ERA for last year. So he has a sore arm; pitchers always get sore arms."

The day had begun for the Chief Prelate Cardinal Fulton Statler Harms; trying to hear the news, meditating simultaneously on his enterprise vis-a-vis St. Anselm, fending off Arnold's base ball statistics -- this constituted his morning confrontation with reality, his routine. All that remained to make it the Platonic archetypal beginning of his activity phase was the mandatory -- and futile -- attempt to pin down Deirdre regarding her cost overrun.

He was prepared for that; he had a new girl waiting in the wings. Dierdre, who did not know it, was about to go.


At his resort city on the Black Sea the Procurator Maximus walked in slow circles as he read Deirdre Connell's most recent report on the chief prelate. No health problems assailed the procurator; he had allowed news of his "medical condition" to leak its way into the media so as to ensnare his co-ruler in a web of self-serving lies. This gave him time to study his intelligence staff's appraisal of Deirdre Connell's daily reports. So far it was the educated opinion of everyone who intimately served the procurator that Cardinal Harms had lost touch with reality and was lost in harebrained theological quests -- journeys that led him further and further away from any control over the political and economic situation that was pro forma his purview.

The fake reports also gave him time to fish and relax and sun himself and figure out how to depose the cardinal in order to get one of his own people into the position of chief prelate of the C.I.C. Bulkowsky had a number of S.L. functionaries in the curia, well-trained and eager. As long as Deirdre Connell held down the post of executive secretary and mistress to the cardinal, Bulkowsky had the edge. He felt reasonably certain that Harms owned no one in the Scientific Legate's top positions, owned no reciprocal access. Bulkowsky had no mistress; he was a family man with a plump, middle-aged wife, and three children all attending private schools in Switzerland. In addition, his conversion to Dr. Passim's enthusiastic nonsense -- the miracle of flying had of course been achieved by technological means -- was a strategic fraud, designed to lull the cardinal deeper into his grand dreams.

The procurator knew all about the attempt to induce Big Noodle to come up with verification of St. Anselm's Ontological Proof for the existence of God; the topic was a joke in regions dominated by the Scientific Legate. Deirdre Connell had been instructed to recommend to her aging lover that he spend more and more time in his lofty venture.

Nonetheless, although wholly rooted in reality, Bulkowsky had not been able to solve certain problems of his own -- matters which he concealed from his co-ruler. Decisions for the S.L. had fallen off among the youth cadres during recent months; more and more college students, even those in the hard sciences, were finding for the C. I. C., throwing aside the hammer-and-sickle pin and donning the cross. Specifically there had developed a paucity of ark engineers, with the result that three S.L. orbiting arks, with their inhabitants, had had to be abandoned. This news had not reached the media, since the inhabitants had perished. To shield the public from the grim news the designations of the remaining S.L. arks had been changed. On computer printouts the malfunctions did not appear; the situation gave the semblance of normality.

At least we did eliminate Colin Passim, Bulkowsky reflected. A man who talks like an aud-tape of a duck played backward is no threat. The evangelist had, without suspecting it, succumbed to S.L. advanced weaponry. The balance of world power had thus been made to shift ever so slightly. Little things like that added up. Take, for instance, the presence of the S.L. agent duked in as the cardinal's mistress and secretary. Without that --

Bulkowsky felt supremely confident. The dialectical force of historic necessity was on his side. He could retire to his floating bed, half an hour from now, with a knowledge that the world situation was in hand.

"Cognac," he said to a robot attendant. "Courvoisier Napoleon."

As he stood by his desk warming the snifter with the palms of his hands his wife, Galina, entered the room. "Make no appointments for Thursday night," she said. "General Yakir has planned a recital for the Moscow corps. The American chanteuse Linda Fox will be singing. Yakir expects us."

"Certainly," Bulkowsky said. "Have roses prepared for the end of the recital." To a pair of robot servants he said, "Have my valet de chambre remind me."

"Don't nod off during the recital," Galina said. "Mrs. Yakir will be hurt. You remember the last time."

"The Penderecki abomination," Bulkowsky said, remembering well. He had snored through the "Quia Fecit" of the "Magnificat" and then read about his behavior in intelligence documents a week later.

"Remember that as far as informed circles know, you are a born-again Christian," Galina said. "What did you do about those responsible for the loss of the three arks?"

"They are all dead," Bulkowsky said. He had had them shot.

"You could recruit replacement from the U.K."

"We will have our own soon. I don't trust what the U.K. sends us. Everyone is for sale. For instance, how much is that chanteuse now asking for her decision?"

"The situation is confused," Galina said. "I have read the intelligence reports; the cardinal is offering her a large sum to decide for the C.I.C. I don't think we should try to meet it."

"But if an entertainer that popular were to step forth and announce that she had seen the white light and accepted sweet Jesus into her life --"

"You did."

"But," Bulkowsky said, "you know why." As he had accepted Jesus solemnly, with much pomp, he would presently declare that he had renounced Jesus and returned, wiser now, to the S.L. This would have a dire effect on the curia and, hopefully, even on the cardinal himself. The chief prelate's morale, according to S.L. psychologists, would be shattered. The man actually supposed that one day everyone associated with the S.L. would march up to the various offices of the C.I.C. and convert.

"What are you doing about that doctor he sent?" Galina said. "Are there any difficulties?"

"No." He shook his head. "The forged medical reports keep him busy." Actually the medical information presented regularly to the physician whom the cardinal had sent were not forged. They simply pertained to someone other than Bulkowsky, some minor S.L. person genuinely sick. Bulkowsky had sworn Harms's physician to secrecy, pleading medical ethics as the issue, but of course Dr. Duffey covertly dispatched detailed reports on the procurator's health to the cardinal's staff at every opportunity. S.L. intelligence routinely intercepted them, checked to make sure they painted a sufficiently grave picture, copied them and sent them on. By and large the medical reports traveled by microwave signal to an orbiting C.I.C. communications satellite and from there were beamed down to Washington, D.C. However, Dr. Duffey, in a periodic fit of cleverness, sometimes simply mailed the information. This was harder to control.

Imagining that he was dealing with an ailing man, and one who had decided for Jesus, the cardinal had relaxed his stance of vigil regarding the higher activities of the S.L. The cardinal now supposed the procurator to be hopelessly incompetent.

"If Linda Fox will not decide for the S.L.," Galina said, "why don't you draw her aside and tell her that one day on her way to a concert engagement her private rocket -- that gaudy plush thing she flies herself -- will go up in a flash of flaming fire?"

Gloomily, Bulkowsky said, "Because the cardinal got to her first. He has already passed the word to her that if she doesn't accept sweet Jesus into her life bichlorides will find her whether she wants to accept them or not."

The tactic of poisoning Linda Fox with small doses of mercury was an artful one. Long before she died (if she did die) she would be as mad as a hatter -- literally, since it had been mercury poisoning, mercury used to process felt hats, that had driven the English hatters of the nineteenth century into famous organic psychosis.

I wish I had thought of that, Bulkowsky said to himself. Intelligence reports stated that the chanteuse had become hysterical when informed by a C.I.C. agent of what the cardinal intended if she did not decide for Jesus -- hysteria and then temporary hy pothermia, followed by a refusal to sing "Rock of Ages" in her next concert, as had been scheduled.

On the other hand, he reflected, cadmium would be better than mercury because it would be more difficult to detect. The S.L. secret police had used trace amounts of cadmium on unpersons for some time, and to good effect.

"Then money won't influence her," Galina said.

"I wouldn't dismiss it. It's her ambition to own Greater Los Angeles."

Galina said, "But if she's destroyed, the colonists will grumble. They're dependent on her."

"Linda Fox is not a person. She is a class of persons, a type. She is a sound that electronic equipment, very sophisticated electronic equipment, makes. There are more of her. There will always be. She can be stamped out like tires."

"Well, then don't offer her very much money." Galina laughed.

"I feel sorry for her," Bulkowsky said. How must it feel, he asked himself, not to exist? That's a contradiction. To feel is to exist. Then, he thought, probably she does not feel. Because it is a fact that she does not exist, not really. We ought to know. We were the first to imagine her.

Or rather -- Big Noodle had first imagined the Fox. The A.I. system had invented her, told her what to sing and how to sing it; Big Noodle set up her arrangements ... even down to the mixing. And the package was a complete success.

Big Noodle had correctly analyzed the emotional needs of the colonists and had come up with a formula to meet those needs. The A.I. system maintained an ongoing survey, deriving feedback; when the needs changed, Linda Fox changed. It constituted a closed loop. If, suddenly, all the colonists disappeared, Linda Fox would wink out of existence. Big Noodle would have canceled her, like paper run through a paper shredder.

"Procurator," a robot serving assembly said, coasting up to Bulkowsky.

"What is it?" he said irritably; he did not like to be interrupted when he was conversing with his wife.

The robot serving assembly said, "Hawk."

To Galina he said, "Big Noodle wants me. It's urgent. You'll excuse me." He walked away from her rapidly and into his complex of private offices where he would find the carefully protected terminal of the A.I. system.

The terminal indeed pulsed, waiting for him.

"Troop movements?" Bulkowsky said as he seated himself facing the screen of the terminal.

"No," the artificial voice of Big Noodle came, with its characteristic ambiance. "A conspiracy to smuggle a monster baby through Immigration. Three colonists are involved. I monitored the fetus of the woman. Details to follow." Big Noodle broke the circuit.

"'Details when?" Bulkowsky said, but the A.I. system did not hear him, having cut itself off. Damn, he thought. It shows me little courtesy. Too busy deconstructing the Ontological Proof of the Existence of God.


Cardinal Fulton Statler Harms received the news from Big Noodle with his customary aplomb. "Thank you very much," he said as the A.I. system signed off. Something alien, he said to himself. Some sport that God never intended should exist. This is the truly dreadful aspect of space migration: we do not get back what we send out. We get in return the unnatural.

Well, he thought, we shall have it killed; however I will be interested to see its brain-print. I wonder what this one is like. A snake within an egg, he thought. A fetus within a woman. The original story retold: a creature that is subtle.

The serpent was more crafty than any wild creature that the LORD God had made.

Genesis chapter three, verse one. What happened before is not going to happen again. We will destroy it this time, the evil one. In whatever form it now has taken.

He thought, I shall pray on it.

"Excuse me," he said to his small audience of visiting priests who waited outside in the vast lounge. "I must retire to my chapel for a little while. A serious matter has come up."

Presently he knelt in silence and gloom, with burning candles off in the far corners, the chamber and himself hallowed.

"Father," he prayed, "teach us to know thy ways and to emulate thee. Help us to protect ourselves and guard against the evil one. May we foresee and understand his wiles. For his wiles are great; his cunning also. Give us the strength -- lend us thy holy power -- to ferret him out wherever he is."

He heard nothing in response. It did not surprise him. Pious people spoke to God, and crazy people imagined that God spoke back. His answers had to come from within himself, from his own heart. But, of course, the Spirit guided him. It was always thus.

Within him the Spirit, in the form of his own proclivities, ratified his original insight. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" included in its domain the smuggled mutation. "Witch" equaled "monster." He therefore had scriptural support.

And anyhow he was God's regent on Earth.

Just to be on the safe side he consulted his huge copy of the Bible, rereading Exodus twenty-two, verse seventeen.

Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live.

And then for good measure he read the next verse.

Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely
be put to death.

Then he read the notes.

Ancient witchcraft was steeped in crime, immorality and imposture; and it debased the populace by hideous practices and superstitions. It is preceded by provisions against sexual license and followed by condemnation of unnatural vice and idolatry.

Well, that certainly applied here. Hideous practices and superstitions. Things spawned by intercourse with nonhumans on far off foreign planets. They shall not invade this sacred world, he said to himself. I'm sure my colleague the Procurator Maximus will agree.

Suddenly illumination washed over him. We're being invaded! he realized. The thing we've been talking about for two centuries. The Holy Spirit is telling me; it has happened!

Accursed spawn of filth, he thought; rapidly he made his way to his master chamber where the direct -- and highly shielded -- line to the procurator could be found.

"Is this about the baby?" Bulkowsky said, when contact -- in an instant -- had been established. "I have retired for the night. It can wait until tomorrow."

"There is an abomination out there," Cardinal Harms said. "Exodus twenty-two, verse seventeen. 'Thou -- '"

"Big Noodle won't let it reach Earth. It must have been intercepted at one of the outer rings of Immigration."

"God does not wish monsters on this his primary world. You as a born-again Christian should realize that."

"Certainly I do," Bulkowsky said, with indignation.

"What shall I instruct Big Noodle to do?"

Bulkowsky said, "It's what will Big Noodle instruct us to do, rather. Don't you think?"

"We will have to pray our way through this crisis," Harms said. "Join me now in a prayer. Bow your head."

"My wife is calling me," Bulkowsky said. "We can pray tomorrow. Good-night." He hung up.

Oh God of Israel, Harms prayed, his head bowed. Protect us from procrastination and from the evil that has descended on it. Awaken the Procurator's soul to the urgency of this our hour of ordeal.

We are being spiritually tested, he prayed. I know that is the case. We must prove our worth by casting out this satanic presence. Make us worthy, Lord; lend us thy sword of might. Give us thy saddle of righteousness to mount the steed of ... He could not finish the thought; it was too intense. Hasten to our aid, he finished, and raised his head. A sense of triumph filled him; as if, he thought, we have trapped something to be killed. We have hunted it down. And it will die. Praise be to God!
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Postby admin » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:53 am

Chapter 8

The high-velocity axial flight made Rybys Rommey deathly ill. United Spaceways had arranged for five adjoining seats for her, so that she could lie outstretched; even so, she was barely able to speak. She lay on her side, a blanket up to her chin.

Somberly, as he gazed down at the woman, Elias Tate said, "The damn legal technicalities. If we hadn't been held up --" He grimaced.

Within Rybys's body the fetus, now six months along, had been silent for a vast amount of time. What if the fetus dies? Herb Asher asked himself. The death of God ... but not under circumstances anyone ever anticipated. And no one, except himself, Rybys and Elias Tate would ever know.

Can God die? he wondered. And with him my wife.

The marriage ceremony had been lucid and brief, a transaction by the deepspace authorities, with no religious or moral overtones. Both he and Rybys had been required to undergo extensive physical examinations, and, of course, her pregnancy had been discovered.

"You're the father?" the doctor asked him.

"Yes," Herb Asher said.

The doctor grinned and noted that on his chart.

"We felt we had to get married," Herb said.

"It's a good attitude." The doctor was elderly and well groomed, and totally impersonal. "Are you aware that it's a boy?"

"Yes," he said. He certainly was.

"There is one thing I do not understand," the doctor said. "Was this impregnation natural? It wasn't artificial insemination, by any chance? Because the hymen is intact."

"Really," Herb Asher said.

"It's rare but it can happen. So technically your wife is still a virgin."

"Really," Herb Asher said.

The doctor said, "She is quite ill, you know. From the multiple sclerosis."

"I know," he answered stoically.

"There is no guarantee of a cure. You realize that. I think it's an excellent idea to return her to Earth, and I heartily approve of your going along with her. But it may be for nothing. M.S. is a peculiar ailment. The myelin sheath of the nerve fibers develops hard patches and this eventually results in permanent paralysis. We have finally isolated two causal factors, after decades of intensive effort. There is a microorganism, but, and this is a major factor, a form of allergy is involved. Much of the treatment involves transforming the immune system so that --" The doctor continued on, and Herb Asher listened as well as he could. He knew it all already; Rybys had told him several times, and had shown him texts that she had obtained from M.E.D. Like her, he had become an authority on the disease.

"Could I have some water?" Rybys murmured, lifting her head; her face was blotched and swollen, and Herb Asher could understand her only with difficulty.

A stewardess brought Rybys a paper cup of water; Elias and Herb lifted her to a sitting position and she took the cup in her hands. Her arms, her body, trembled.

"It won't be much longer," Herb Asher said.

"Christ," Rybys murmured. "I don't think I'm going to make it. Tell the stewardess I'm going to throw up again; make her bring back that bowl. Jesus." She sat up fully, her face stricken with pain.

The stewardess, bending down beside her, said, "We'll be firing the retrojets in two hours, so if you can just hold on --"

"Hold on?' Rybys said. "I can't even hold on to what I drank, Are you sure that Coke wasn't tainted or something? I think it made me worse. Don't you have any ginger ale? If I had some ginger ale maybe I could keep from --" She cursed with venom and rage. "Damn this," she said. "Damn all this. It isn't worth it!" She stared at Herb Asher and then Elias.

Yah, Herb Asher thought. Can't you do anything? It's sadistic to let her suffer this way.

Within his mind a voice spoke. He could not at first fathom what it meant; he heard the words but they seemed to make no sense. The voice said, "Take her to the Garden."

He thought, What Garden?

"Take her by the hand."

Herb Asher, reaching down, fumbling in the folds of the blanket, took his wife's hand.

"Thank you," Rybys said. Feebly, she squeezed his hand.

Now, as he sat leaning over her, he saw her eyes shine; he saw spaces beyond her eyes, and if he were looking into something empty, containing huge stretches of space. Where are you? he wondered. It is a universe in there, within your skull; it is a different universe from this: not a mirror reflection but another land. He saw stars, and clusters of stars; he saw nebulae and great clouds of gases that glowed darkly and yet still with a white light, not a ruddy light. He felt wind billow about him and he heard something rustle. Leaves or branches, he thought; I hear plants. The air felt warm. That amazed him. It seemed to be fresh air, not the stale, recirculated air of the spaceship.

The sound of birds, and, when he looked up, blue sky. He saw bamboo, and the rustling sound came from the wind blowing through the canes of bamboo. He saw a fence, and there were children. And yet at the same time he still held his wife's weak hand. Strange, he thought. The air so dry, as if it comes sweeping off the desert. He saw a boy with brown curly hair; the boy's hair reminded him of Rybys's hair before she had lost it, before, from the chemotherapy, it had fallen out and disappeared.

Where am I? he wondered, At a school?

Beside him fussy Mr. Plaudet told him pointless stories having to do with the school's financial needs, the school's problems -- he wasn't interested in the school's problems; he was interested in his son. His son's brain damage; he wanted to know all about it.

"What I can't understand," Plaudet was saying, "is why they kept you in suspension for ten years for a spleen. For heaven's sake, a splenectomy is a normal and regular type of surgery, and there is frequently a splenolus that can be --"

"Which hemisphere of his brain is damaged?" Herb Asher interrupted.

"Mr. Tate has all the medical reports. But I'll go to our computer and ask for a printout. Manny seems a little afraid of you, but I suppose it's because he's never seen his father before."

"I'll stay out here with him," Herb said, "while you get me the printout. I want to know as much as possible about the injury."

"Herb," Rybys said.

Startled, he realized where he was; aboard the United Space ways XR4 axial flight from Fomalhaut to the Sol System. In two hours the first Immigration party would board the ship and make their preliminary inspection.

"Herb," his wife whispered, "I just saw my son."

"A school," Herb Asher said, "where he's going to go."

"I don't think I'll live to be there," Rybys said. "I have a feeling ... He was there and you were there, and a noisy little ratlike man who babbled on, but I wasn't anywhere around. I looked; I kept looking. This really is going to kill me but it won't kill my son. That's what he told me, remember? Yah told me I would live on through my son, so I guess I will die; I mean, this body will die, but they'll save him. Were you there when Yah said that? I don't remember. That was a garden we were in, wasn't it? Bamboo, I saw the wind blowing. The wind talked to me; it was like voices."

"Yes," he said.

"They used to go out in the desert for forty days and forty nights. Elijah and then Jesus. Elias?" She looked around. "You ate locusts and wild honey and called on men to repent. You told King Ahab there would be no dew nor rain these years ... thus says the Lord. According to my word." She shut her eyes.

She is really sick, Herb Asher said to himself. But I saw her son. Beautiful and wild and -- something more. Timid. Very human, he thought; that was a human child. Maybe this is all in our minds. Maybe the Clems have occluded our perceptions so that we believe and see and experience but it is not real. I give up, he thought. I just don't know.

Something to do with time. He seems able to transform time. Now I am here in the ship but then I am in the Garden with the child and the other children, her child, years from now. What is the true time? he asked himself. Me here in the ship or back in my dome before I met Rybys or after she is dead and Emmanuel is in school? And I have been in cryonic suspension, for a matter of years, It has to do or had to do or will have to do with my spleen. Did they shoot me? he wondered. Rybys died from her illness but how did I die? And what became or will become of Elias?

Leaning toward him Elias said, "I want to talk to you." He motioned Herb Asher away from Rybys and away from the other passengers. "We are not to mention Yah. We will use the word 'Jehovah' from now on. It's a word coined in 1530; it's all right to say it. You understand the situation. Immigration will try to tap our minds with psychotronic listening devices, but Jehovah will cloud our minds and they will get little or nothing. But this is the part that is hard to say. Jehovah's power wanes from here on. The zone of Belial begins soon."

"OK." He nodded.

"You know all this."

"And a lot more." From what Elias had told him and from what Rybys had told him -- and Jehovah had told him much, in his sleep, in vivid dreams. Jehovah had been teaching all of them; they would know what to do.

Elias said, "He is with us, and can address us from her womb. But there is always the possibility that very advanced electronic scanning devices, monitoring devices, might pick it up. He will converse with us sparingly." After a pause he added, "If at all."

"A strange idea," Herb Asher said. "I wonder what the authorities would think if their intelligence- gathering circuitry picked up the thoughts of God."

"Well," Elias said, "they wouldn't know what it was. I know the authorities of Earth; I have dealt with them for four thousand years, in situation after situation. Country after country. War after war. I was with Graf Egemont in the Dutch wars of independence, the Thirty Years War; I was present the day he was executed. I knew Beethoven ... but perhaps 'knew' is not the word."

"You were Beethoven," Herb Asher said.

"Part of my spirit returned to Earth and to him," Elias said.

Vulgar and fiery, Herb thought. Passionately dedicated to the cause of human freedom. Walking hand-in-hand with his friend Goethe, the two men stirring the new life of the German Enlightenment. "Who else were you?" he said.

"Many people in history."

"Tom Paine?"

"We engineered the American Revolution," Elias said. "A group of us. We were the Friends of God at one time, and the Brothers of the Rosy Cross in 1615 ... I was Jakob Boehme, but you wouldn't know of him. My spirit doesn't dwell alone in a man; it is not incarnation. It is part of my spirit returning to Earth to bond with a human whom God has selected. There are always such humans and I am there. Martin Buber was one such man, God rest his noble soul. That dear and gentle man. The Arabs, too, placed flowers on his grave. Even the Arabs loved him," Elias fell silent. "Some of the men I sent myself to were better men than I was. But I have the power to return. God granted it to me to -- well, it was for Israel's sake. A hint of immortality for the dearest people of all. You know, Herb, God offered the Torah, it is said, to every people in the world, back in ancient times, before he offered it to the Jews, and every nation rejected it for one reason or another. The Torah said, 'Thou shalt not kill' and many could not live by that; they wanted religion to be sep arate from morality --they didn't want religion to hobble their desires. Finally God offered it to the Jews, who accepted it."

"The Torah is the Law?" Herb said.

"It is more than the Law. The word 'Law' is inadequate. Even though the New Testament of the Christians always uses the word 'Law' for Torah. Torah is the totality of divine disclosure by God; it is alive; it existed before creation. It is a mystic, almost cosmic, entity. The Torah is the Creator's instrument. With it he created the universe and for it he created the universe. It is the highest idea and the living soul of the world. Without it the world could not exist and would have no right to exist. I am quoting the great Hebrew poet Hayyim Nahman Bialik who lived from the latter part of the nineteenth century into the mid- twentieth century. You should read him sometime."

"Can you tell me anything else about the Torah?"

"Resh Lakish said, 'If one's intent is pure, the Torah for him becomes a life-giving medicine, purifying him to life. But if one's intent is not pure, it becomes a death-giving drug, purifying him to death.'"

The two men remained silent for a time.

"I will tell you something more," Elias said. "A man came to the great Rabbi Hillel -- he lived in the first century, C.E. -- and said, 'I will become a proselyte on the condition that you teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot.' Hillel said, 'Whatever is hateful to you, do not do it to your neighbor. That is the entire Torah. The rest is commentary; go and learn it.'" He smiled at Herb Asher.

"Is the injunction actually in the Torah?" Herb Asher said. "The first five books of the Bible?"

"Yes. Leviticus nineteen, eighteen. God says, 'You shall love your neighbor as a man like yourself.' You did not know that, did you? Almost two thousand years before Jesus."

"Then the Golden Rule derives from Judaism," Herb said.

"Yes, it does, and early Judaism. The Rule was presented to man by God Himself."

"I have a lot to learn," Herb said.

"Read," Elias said, "'Cape, lege,' the two words Augustine heard. Latin for 'Take, read.' You do that, Herb. Take the book and read it. It is there for you. It is alive."

As their journey continued, Elias disclosed to him further intriguing aspects of the Torah, qualities regarding the Torah that few men knew.

"I tell you these matters," Elias said, "because I trust you. Be careful whom you relate them to."

Four ways existed by which to read the Torah, the fourth being a study of its hidden, innermost side. When God said, "Let there be light," he meant the mystery that shone in the Torah. This was the concealed primordial light of Creation itself, it being of such nobility that it could not be debased by the use of mortals; so God wrapped it up within the heart of the Torah. This was an inexhaustible light, related to the divine sparks which the Gnostics had believed in, the fragments of the Godhead which were now scattered throughout Creation, enclosed -- unfortunately -- in material shells, that of physical bodies.

Most interesting of all, some Medieval Jewish mystics held the view that there had been 600,000 Jews who went out of Egypt and received the Torah at Mount Sinai. Reincarnated at each succeeding generation, these 600,000 souls continually live. Each soul or spark is related to the Torah in a different way; thus, 600,000 separate, unique meanings of the Torah exist. The idea is as follows: that for each of these 600,000 persons the Torah is different, and each person has his own specific letter in the Torah, to which his own soul is attached, So in a sense 600,000 Torahs exist.

Also, three aeons or epochs in time exist, the first in order being an age of grace, the second or current one being of severe justice and limitation, and the next, yet to come, being of mercy. A different Torah exists for each of the three ages. And yet there is only one Torah. A primal or matrix Torah exists in which there is no punctuation nor any spaces between the words; in fact all the letters are jumbled together. In each of the three ages the letters form themselves into alternative words, as events unfold.

The current age, that of severe justice and limitation, Elias explained, is marred by the fact that in its Torah one of the letters was defective, the consonant shin. This letter was always written with three prongs but it should have had four. Thus the Torah produced for this age was defective. Another view held by Medieval Jewish mystics was that a letter is actually missing in our alphabet. Because of this our Torah contains negative laws as well as positive. In the next aeon the missing or invisible letter will be restored, and every negative prohibition in the Torah will disappear. Hence this next aeon or, as it is called in Hebrew, the next shemittah, will lack restrictions imposed on humans; freedom will replace severe justice and limitation.

Out of this notion comes the idea (Elias said) that there are invisible portions of the Torah -- invisible to us now, but to be visible in the Messianic Age that is to come. The cosmic cycle will bring this age inevitably: it will be the next shemittah, very much like the first; the Torah will again rearrange itself out of its jumbled matrix.

Herb Asher thought, It sounds like a computer. The universe is programmed -- and then more accurately reprogrammed. Fantastic.


Two hours later an official government ship clamped itself to their ship, and, after a time, Immigration agents began to move among them, beginning their inspection. And their interrogation.

Filled with fear, Herb Asher held Rybys against him, and he sat as close to Elias as possible, obtaining strength from the older man. "Tell me, Elias," Herb said quietly, "the most beautiful thing you know about God." His heart pounded harshly within him and he could scarcely breathe.

Elias said, "All right. Rabbi Judah said, quoting Rav:

The day consists of twelve hours. During the first three hours, the Holy One (God), praised be He, is engaged in the study of Torah. During the second three He sits in judgment over His entire world. When He realizes that the world is deserving of destruction, He rises from the Throne of Justice, to sit on the Throne of Mercy. During the third group of three hours, He provides sustenance for the entire world, from huge beasts to lice. During the fourth, He sports with the Leviathan, as it is written, "Leviathan, which you did form to sport with" (Ps. 104:26) ... During the fourth group of three hours (according to others) He teaches schoolchildren.'"

"Thank you," Herb Asher said. Three Immigration agents were moving toward them, now, their uniforms bright, shiny; and they carried weapons.

Elias said, "Even God consults the Torah as the formula and blueprint of the universe." An Immigration agent held out his hand for Elias's identification; the old man passed the packet of documents to him. "And even God cannot act contrary to it."

"You are Elias Tate," the senior Immigration agent said, examining the documents. "What is your purpose in returning to the Sol System?"

"This woman is very ill," Elias said. "She is entering the naval hospital at --"

"I asked you your purpose, not hers." He gazed down at Herb Asher. "Who are you?"

"I'm her husband," Herb said, He handed over his identification and permits and documentation.

"She is certified as not contagious?" the senior Immigration agent said.

"It's multiple sclerosis," Herb said, "which is not --"

"I didn't ask you what she has; I asked you if it is contagious."

"I'm telling you," he said. "I'm answering your question."

"Get up."

He stood.

"Come with me." The senior Immigration agent motioned Herb Asher to follow him up the aisle, Elias started to follow but the agent shoved him back, bodily. "Not you."

Following the Immigration agent, Herb Asher made his way step by step up the aisle to the rear of the ship. None of the other passengers was standing; he alone had been singled out.

In a small compartment marked CREW ONLY the senior Immigration agent faced Herb Asher, staring at him silently; the man's eyes bulged as if he were unable to speak, as if what he had to say could not be said. Time passed. What the hell is he doing? Herb Asher asked himself. Silence. The raging stare continued.

"Okay," the Immigration agent said. "I give up. What is your purpose in returning to Earth?"

"I told you."

"Is she really sick?"

"Very. She's dying."

"Then she's too sick to travel. It makes no sense."

"Only on Earth are there facilities where --"

"You are under Terran law now," the Immigration agent said. "Do you want to serve time for giving false information to a federal officer? I'm sending you back to Fomalhaut. The three of you. I don't have any more time. Go back to where you were sitting and remain there until you're told what to do."

A voice, a neutral, dispassionate voice, neither male nor female, a kind of perfect intelligence, spoke inside Herb Asher's head. "At Bethesda they want to study her disease."

He started visibly. The agent regarded him.

"At Bethesda," he said, "they want to study her disease."


"It's a microorganism."

"You said it isn't contagious."

The neutral voice said, "Not at this stage."

"Not at this stage," he said aloud.

"Are they afraid of plague?" the Immigration agent said abruptly.

Herb Asher nodded.

"Go back to your seat." The agent, irritably, waved him away. "This is out of my jurisdiction. You have a pink form, form 368? Properly filled out and signed by a doctor?"

"Yes." It was true.

"Are either you or the older man with you infected?"

The voice inside his head said, "Only Bethesda can determine that." He had, suddenly, a vivid inner glimpse of the person whose voice he heard; he saw in his own mind a visage, female, a placid but strong face. A metal mask had been pushed back from that visage, exposing wise, impassive eyes; a beautiful classic face, like Athena; he was staggered with astonishment. This could not be Yahweh. This was a woman. But like no woman he had ever seen. He did not know her. He did not understand who this was. Her voice was not Yah's voice, and this could not be Yah's visage. He did not know what to make of it. He was perplexed beyond the telling of it. Who had taken on the task of advising him?

"Only Bethesda can determine that," he managed to say.

The Immigration agent paused uncertainly. His exterior harshness had evaporated.

The female voice whispered again, and this time, in his mind, he saw her lips move. "Time is of the essence."

"Time is of the essence," Herb Asher said. His voice grated in his own ears.

"Shouldn't you be quarantined? You probably shouldn't be with other people. Those other passengers We should have you on a special ship. It can be arranged. It might be better ... we could get her there faster."

"OK," he said. Reasonably.

"I'll put in a call," the Immigration agent said. "What's the name of this microorganism? It's a virus?"

"The nerve sheathing --"

"Never mind. Go back to your seat. Look." The Immigration agent followed after him. "I don't know whose idea it was to send you on a commercial carrier, but I'm getting you off of it right now. There are strict statutes that haven't been observed, here. Bethesda is expecting you? Do you want me to put in a call ahead, or is that all taken care of?"

"She is registered with them already." This was so. The arrangements had been made.

"This is really nuts," the Immigration agent said, "to put you on a public carrier. They should have known better back at Fomalhaut."

"CY30-CY30B," Herb Asher said.

"Whatever. I don't want any part of this. A mistake of this kind --" The Immigration agent cursed. "Some dumb fool back at Fomalhaut probably figured it'd save the taxpayers a few bucks --Take your seat and I'll see that you're notified when your ship is ready. It should -- Christ."

Herb Asher, shaking, returned to his seat.

Elias eyed him. Rybys lay with her eyes shut; she was oblivious to what was happening.

"Let me ask you a question," Herb said to Elias. "Have you ever tasted Laphroaig Scotch?"

"No," Elias said, puzzled.

"It is the finest of all Scotches," Herb said. "Ten years old, very expensive. The distillery opened in 1815. They use traditional copper stills. It requires two distillations --"

"What went on in there?" Elias said.

"Just let me finish. Laphroaig is Gaelic for 'the beautiful hollow by the broad bay.' It's distilled on Islay in the Western Isles of Scotland. Malted barley -- they dry it in a kiln over a peat fire, a genuine peat fire. It's the only Scotch made that way now. The peat can only be found on the island of Islay. Maturation takes place in oak casks. It's incredible Scotch. It's the finest liquor in the world. It's --" He broke off.

An Immigration agent came over to them. "Your ship is here, Mr. Asher. Come with me. Can your wife walk? You want some help?"

"Already?" He was dumbfounded. And then he realized that the ship had been there all this time. Immigration was routinely prepared to deal with emergency situations. Especially of this kind. Or rather, what they supposed this situation to be.

"Who wears a metal mask?" Herb said to Elias as he drew the blanket from Rybys. "Pushed back up over her hair. And has a straight nose, a very strong nose -- well, let it go. Give me a hand." Together, he and Elias got Rybys to her feet. The Immigration agent watched sympathetically.

"I don't know," Elias said.

"There is someone else," Herb said as they moved Rybys step by step up the aisle.

"I'm going to throw up," Rybys said weakly.

"Just hang on," Herb Asher said. "We're almost there."


Big Noodle notified Cardinal Fulton Statler Harms and the Procurator Maximus, and then, to all the heads of states in the world it printed out the following mystifying statement:


The statement ended there. Technicians swarmed over the A.I. system in a matter of minutes.

Their verdict: the A.I. system would have to be shut down for a time. Something basic had gone wrong with it. The last coherent information it had processed was the message that the pregnant woman Rybys Rommey-Asher, her husband, Herbert Asher, and their companion, Elias Tate, had been cleared by Immigration at Ring III and had been transferred from a commercial axial carrier to a government-owned speedship, whose destination was Washington, D.C.

Standing at his no longer pulsing terminal, Cardinal Harms thought, A mistake has been made. Immigration was supposed to intercept them, not facilitate their flight. It doesn't make any sense. And now we've lost our primary data-processing entity, on which we are totally dependent.

He rang up the procurator maximus, and was told by an underling that the procurator had gone to bed.

The son of a bitch, Harms said to himself. The idiot. We have one more station at which to intercept them: Immigration proper, at Washington, D.C, And if they got this far -- My good God, he thought. The monster is using its paranormal powers!

Once more he called the procurator maximus. "Is Galina available?" he said, but he knew it was hopeless. Bulkowsky had given up. Going to bed at this point amounted to that.

"Mrs. Bulkowsky?" the S.L. official said, incredulous. "Of course not."

"Your general staff? One of your marshals?"

"The procurator will return your call," the S.L. functionary informed him; obviously they had orders from Bulkowsky not to disturb him.

Christ! Harms said to himself as he slammed down the phone mechanism. The screen faded.

Something has gone wrong, Harms realized. They should not have gotten this far and Big Noodle knew it. The A.I. system had literally gone insane. That was not a technical breakdown, he realized; that was a psychotic fugue. Big Noodle understood something but could not communicate it. Or had the A.I. system in fact communicated it? What, Harms asked himself, was that gibberish?

He contacted the highest order of computers remaining, the one at Cal Tech. After transmitting the puzzling material to it he gave instructions that the material be identified.

The Cal Tech computer identified it five minutes later.


Strange, Harms thought. He knew of the Essenes. Many theologians had speculated that Jesus was an Essene, and certainly there was evidence that John the Baptist was an Essene. The sect had anticipated an early end to the world, with the Battle of Armageddon taking place within the first century, C.E. The sect had shown strong Zoroastrian influences.

He reflected, John the Baptist. Stipulated by Christ to have been Elijah returned, as promised by Jehovah in Malachi:

Look, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. He will reconcile fathers to sons and sons to fathers, lest I come and put the land under a ban to destroy it.

The final verse of the Old Testament; there the Old Testament ended and the New Testament began.

Armageddon, he pondered. The final battle between the Sons of Darkness and the Sons of Light. Between Jehovah and -- what had the Essenes called the evil power? Belial. That was it. That was their term for Satan, Belial would lead the Sons of Darkness; Jehovah would lead the Sons of Light. This would be the seventh battle.

There will be six battles, three of which the Sons of Light will win and three of which the Sons of Darkness will win. Leaving Belial in power. But then Jehovah himself takes command in what amounts to a tie breaker.

The monster in her womb is Belial, Cardinal Harms realized. He has returned to overthrow us. To overthrow Jehovah, whom we serve.

The Divine Power itself is now in jeopardy, he declared; he felt great wrath.

It seemed to the cardinal, at this point, that meditation and prayer were called for. And a strategy by which the invaders would be destroyed when they reached Washington, D.C.

If only Big Noodle had not broken down!

Glumly, he made his way to his private chapel.
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Postby admin » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:54 am

Chapter 9

The procurator said, "We will wreck their ship. There is no particular problem. An accident will take place; the three of them -- four, if you include the fetus -- will be killed." To him it seemed simple.

At his end of the line Cardinal Harms said, "They will evade it. Don't ask me how." His gloom had not departed.

"You have jurisdiction in Washington, D.C.," the procurator said. "Order their ship destroyed; order it now."

"Now" was eight hours later. Eight precious hours during which the procurator had peacefully slept. Cardinal Harms glared at his co-ruler. Or, he thought suddenly, had Bulkowsky been struggling to find a solution? Perhaps he had not slept at all. This solution sounded like Galina's. They had conferred, the two of them; they worked as a team.

"What a stale solution," he said. "Your typical answer, to dispatch a warhead."

"Mrs. Bulkowsky likes it," the procurator said.

"I dare say. The two of you sat up all night working that out?"

"We did not sit up. I slept soundly, although Galina had strange dreams. There's one she told me that -- well, I think it worth relating. Do you want to hear Galina's dream? I'd like your opinion about it, since it seems to have religious overtones."

"Shoot," Harms said.

"A huge white fish lies in the ocean. Near the surface, as a whale does. It is a friendly fish. It swims toward us; I mean, toward Galina. There is a series of canals with locks. The great white fish makes its way into the canal system with extreme difficulty. Finally it is caught, away from the ocean, near the people watching. It has done this on purpose; it wants to offer itself to the people as food. A metal saw is produced, one of those two-man band saws that lumberjacks use to cut down trees. Galina said that the teeth on the saw were dreadful. People began to saw slices of flesh from the great fish, who is still alive. They saw slice after slice of the living flesh of the great white fish that is so friendly. In the dream Galina thinks, 'This is wrong. We are injuring the fish too much.'" Bulkowsky paused. "Well? What do you say?"

"The fish is Christ," Cardinal Harms said, "who offers his flesh to man so that man may have eternal life."

"That's all very well, but it was unfair to the fish. She said it was a wrong thing to do. Even though the fish offered itself. Its pain was too much. Oh yes; in the dream she thought, 'We must find another kind of food, which doesn't cause the great fish suffering.' And then there were some blurred episodes where she was looking in a refrigerator; she saw a pitcher of water, a pitcher wrapped in straw or reeds or something ... and a cube of pink food like a cube of butter. Words were written on the wrapper but she couldn't read them. The refrigerator was the common property of some kind of small settlement of people, off in a remote area. What happened, the way it worked, was that this pitcher of water and this pink cube belonged to the whole colony and you only ate the food and drank the water when you realized you were approaching your moment of death."

"What did drinking the water --"

"Then you came back later. Reborn."

Harms said, "That is the host under the two species. The consecrated wine and wafer. The blood and body of our Lord. The food of eternal life. 'This is my body. Take --'"

"The settlement seemed to exist at another time entirely. A long time ago. As in antiquity."

"Interesting," Harms said, "but we still have our problem to face, what to do about the monster baby."

"As I said," the procurator said, "we will arrange an accident. Their ship won't reach Washington, D.C. When, precisely, does it arrive? How much time do we have?"

"Just a moment." Harms pressed keys on the board of a small computer terminal. "Christ!" he said.

"What's the matter? It only takes seconds to dispatch a small missile. You have them in that area."

Harms said, "Their ship has landed. While you slept. They are already being processed by Immigration at Washington, D.C."

"It is normal to sleep," the procurator said.

"The monster made you sleep."

"I've been sleeping all my life!" Angrily, the procurator added, "I am here at this resort for rest; my health is bad."

"I wonder," Harms said.

"Notify Immigration, at once, to hold them. Do it now ... "

Harms rang off, and contacted Immigration. I will take that woman, that Rybys Rommey-Asher, and break her neck, he said to himself. I will chop her into little pieces, and her fetus along with her. I will chop up all of them and feed them to the animals at the zoo.

Surprised, he asked himself; Did I think that? The ferocity of his ratiocination amazed him. I really hate them, he realized. I am furious. I am furious with Bulkowsky for logging eight full hours of sleep in the midst of this crisis; if I had the power I would chop him up, too.

When he had the director of Washington, D.C. Immigration on the line he asked first of all if the woman Rybys Rommey-Asher, her husband and Elias Tate were still there.

"I'll check, your Eminence," the bureau chief said. A pause, a very long pause. Harms counted off the seconds, cursing and praying by turns. Then the director returned. "We are still processing them."

"Hold them. Don't let them go for any reason whatsoever. The woman is pregnant. Inform her -- do you know who I'm talking about? Rybys Rommey-Asher -- inform her that there will be a mandatory abortion of the fetus. Have your people make up any excuse they want."

"Do you actually want an abortion performed on her? Or is this a pretext --"

"I want abortion induced within the next hour," Harms said. "A saline abortion. I want the fetus killed. I'm going to take you into our confidence. I have been conferring with the procurator maximus; this is global policy. The fetus is a freak. A radiation sport. Possibly even the monster offspring of interspecies symbiosis. Do you understand?"

"Oh," the Immigration director said. "Interspecies symbiosis. Yes. We'll kill it with localized heat. Inject radioactive dye directly into it through the abdominal wall. I'll tell one of our doctors --"

"Tell him to abort her or tell him to kill it inside her," Harms said, "but kill it and kill it now."

"I'll need a signature," the Immigration director said. "I can't do this without authorization."

"Transmit the forms." He sighed.

From his terminal pages oozed; he took hold of them, found the lines where his signature was required, signed and fed the pages back into the fone terminal.


As he sat in the Immigration lounge with Rybys, Herb Asher wondered where Elias Tate had gone. Elias had excused himself to go to the men's room, but he had not returned.

"When can I lie down?" Rybys murmured.

"Soon," he said. "They're putting us right through." He did not amplify because undoubtedly the lounge was bugged.

"Where's Elias?" she said.

"He'll be back."

An Immigration official, not in uniform but wearing a badge, approached them. "Where is the third member of your party?" He consulted his clipboard. "Elias Tate."

"In the men's room," Herb Asher said. "Could you please process this woman? You can see how sick she is."

"We want a medical examination made on her," the Immigration official said dispassionately. "We require a medical determination before we can put you through."

"It's been done already! By her own doctor originally and then by --"

"This is standard procedure," the official said.

"That doesn't matter," Herb Asher said. "It's cruel and it's useless."

"The doctor will be with you shortly," the official said, "and while she's being examined by him you will be interrogated. To save you time. We won't interrogate her, at least not very extensively. I'm aware of her grave medical condition."

"My God," Herb said, "you can see it!"

The official departed, but returned almost at once, his face grim. "Tate isn't in the men's room."

"Then I don't know where he is."

"They may have processed him. Put him through." The official hurried off, speaking into a hand-held intercom unit.

I guess Elias got away, Herb Asher thought.

"Come in here," a voice said. It was a woman doctor, in a white smock. Young, wearing glasses, her hair tied back in a bun, she briskly escorted Herb Asher and his wife down a short sterile-looking and sterile-smelling corridor into an examination room. "Lie down, Mrs. Asher," the doctor said, helping Rybys to an examination table.

"Rommey-Asher," Rybys said as she got up painfully onto the table. "Can you give me an IV anti-emetic? And soon? I mean soon. I mean now."

"In view of your wife's illness," the doctor said to Herb Asher as she seated herself at her desk, "why wasn't her pregnancy terminated?

"We've been through all this," he said savagely.

"We may still require her to abort. We do not wish a deformed infant born; it's against public policy."

Staring at the doctor in fear, Herb said, "But she's six months into her pregnancy!"

"We have it down as five months," the doctor said. "Well within the legal period."

"You can't do it without her consent," Herb said; his fear became wild.

"The decision," the doctor told him, "is no longer yours to make, now that you have returned to Earth. A medical board will study the matter."

It was obvious to Herb Asher that there would be a mandatory abortion. He knew what the board would decide -- had decided.

In the corner of the room a piped-in music source gave forth the odious background noise of soupy strings. The same sound, he realized, that he had heard off and on at his dome. But now the music changed, and he realized that a popular number of the Fox's was coming up. As the doctor sat filling out medical forms the Fox's voice could distantly be heard. It gave him comfort.

Come again!
Sweet love doth now invite
Thy graces, that refrain
To do me due delight.

The lady doctor's lips moved reflexively in synchronization with the Fox's familiar Dowland song.

All at once Herb Asher became aware that the voice from the speaker only resembled the Fox's. The voice was no longer singing; it was speaking.

The faint voice said distinctly:

There will be no abortion. There will be a birth.

At her desk the doctor seemed unaware of the transition. Yah has cooked the audio signal, Herb Asher realized. As he watched he saw the doctor pause, pen lifted from the page before her.

Subliminal, he said to himself as he watched the doctor hesitate. The woman still imagines she is hearing a familiar song. Familiar lyrics. She is in a kind of spell. As if hypnotized.

The song resumed.

"We can't abort her legally if she's six months along," the doctor said hesitantly. "Mr. Asher, there must be an error. We have her down as five. Five months into her pregnancy. But if you say six, then --"

"Examine her if you want," Herb Asher said. "It's at least six. Make your own determination."

"I --" The doctor rubbed her forehead, wincing; she shut her eyes and grimaced, as in pain. "I see no reason to --" She broke off, as if unable to remember what she intended to say. "I see no reason," she resumed after a moment, "to dispute this." She pressed a button on her desk intercom.

The door opened and a uniformed Immigration official stood there. A moment later he was joined by a uniformed Customs agent.

"The matter is settled," the doctor said to the Immigration official. "We can't force her to abort; she's too far along."

The Immigration official gazed down at her fixedly.

"It's the law," the doctor said.

"Mr. Asher," the Customs agent said, "let me ask you something. In your wife's declaration prepared for Customs clearance she lists two phylacteries. What is a phylactery?"

"I don't know," Herb Asher said.

"Aren't you Jewish?" the Customs agent said. "Every Jew knows what a phylactery is. Your wife, then, is Jewish and you are not?"

"Well," Herb Asher said, "she is C.I.C. but --" He paused. He sensed himself moving step by step into a trap. It was patently impossible that a husband would not know his wife's religion. They are getting into an area I do not want to discuss, he said to himself. "I'm a Christian," he said, then. "Although I was raised Scientific Legate. I belonged to the Party's Youth Corps. But now --"

"But Mrs. Asher is Jewish. Hence the phylacteries, You've never seen her put them on? One goes on the head; one goes on the left arm. They're small square leathern boxes containing sections of Hebrew scripture. It strikes me as odd that you don't know anything about this. How long have you known each other?"

"A long time," Herb Asher said.

"Is she really your wife?" the Immigration official said. "If she is six months along in her pregnancy --" He consulted with some of the documents lying on the doctor's desk. "She was pregnant when you married her. Are you the father of the child?"

"Of course," he said.

"What blood type are you? Well, I have it here." The Immigration official began going through the filled-out legal and medical forms. "It's somewhere ..."

The fone on the desk rang; the lady doctor picked it up and identified herself. "For you." She handed the receiver to the Immigration official.

The Immigration official, raptly attentive, listened in silence; then, putting his hand over the audio sender, he said irritably to Herb Asher, "The blood type checks out. You two are cleared. But we want to talk to Tate, the older man who --" He broke off and again listened to his fone.

"You can call a cab from the payfone in the lounge," the Customs agent said.

"We're free to go?" Herb Asher said.

The Customs agent nodded.

"Something is wrong," the doctor said; again she had removed her glasses and sat rubbing her eyes.

"There's this other matter," the Customs agent said to her, and bent down to present her with a stack of documents.

"Do you know where Tate is?" the Immigration official called after Herb Asher as he and Rybys made their way from the examination room.

"No, I don't," Herb said, and found himself in the corridor; supporting Rybys he walked step by step back down the corridor to the lounge. "Sit down," he said to her, depositing her in a heap on a couch. Several waiting people gazed at them dully. "I'll fone. I'll be right back. Do you have any change? I need a five-dollar piece."

"Christ," Rybys murmured. "No, I don't have."

"We got through," he said to her in a low voice.

"OK!" she said angrily.

"I'll fone for a cab." Going through his pockets, searching for a five-dollar piece, he felt elated. Yah had intervened, distantly and feebly, but it had been enough.


Ten minutes later they and their luggage were aboard a Yellow flycab, rising up from the Washington, D.C. spaceport, heading in the direction of Bethesda-Chevy Chase.

"Where the hell is Elias?" Rybys managed to say.

"He drew their attention," Herb said. "He diverted them. Away from us."

"Great," she said. "So now he could be anywhere."

All at once a large commercial flycar came hurtling toward them at reckless speed.

The robot driver of the cab cried out in dismay. And then the massive flycar sideswiped them; it happened in an instant. Violent waves of concussion hurled the cab in a downward spiral; Herb Asher clutched his wife against him -- buildings bloomed into hugeness, and he knew, he knew absolutely and utterly, what had happened. The bastards, he thought in pain; he hurt physically; he ached from the realization. Warning beepers in the cab had gone off --"

Yah's protection wasn't enough, he realized as the cab spun lower and lower like a falling, withered leaf.

It's too weak. Too weak here.

The cab struck the edge of a high-rise building.

Darkness came and Herb Asher knew no more.


He lay in a hospital bed, wired up and tubed up to countless devices like a cyborg entity.

"Mr. Asher?" a voice was saying, a male voice. "Mr. Asher, can you hear me?"

He tried to nod but could not.

"You have suffered serious internal damage," the male voice said. "I am Dr. Pope. You've been unconscious for five days. Surgery was performed on you but your ruptured spleen had to be removed. That's only a part of it. You are going to be put into cryonic suspension until replacement organs -- Can you hear me?"

"Yes," he said.

"-- Until replacement organs, available from donors, can be procured. The waiting list isn't very long; you should be in suspension for only a few weeks. How long, specifically --"

"My wife."

"Your wife is dead. She lost brain function for too long a time. We had to rule out cryonic suspension for her. It wouldn't have been of any use."

"The baby."

"The fetus is alive," Dr. Pope said. "Your wife's uncle, Mr. Tate, has arrived and has taken legal responsibility. We've removed the fetus from her body and placed it in a synthowomb. According to all our tests it was not damaged by the trauma, which is something of a miracle."

Grimly, Herb Asher thought, Exactly.

"Your wife asked that he be called Emmanuel," Dr. Pope said.

"I know."

As he lost consciousness Herb Asher said to himself, Yah's plans have not been completely wrecked. Yah has not been defeated entirely. There is still hope.

But not very much.

"Belial," he whispered.

"Pardon me?" Dr. Pope leaned close to hear. "Belial? Is that someone you want us to contact? Someone who should know?"

Herb Asher said, "He knows."


The chief prelate of the Christian-Islamic Church said to the procurator maximus of the Scientific Legate, "Something went wrong. They got past Immigration."

"Where did they go? They have to have gone somewhere."

"Elias Tate disappeared even before the Customs inspection. We have no idea where he is. As for the Ashers --" The cardinal hesitated. "They were last seen leaving in a cab. I'm sorry."

Bulkowsky said, "We will find them."

"With God's help," the cardinal said, and crossed himself. Bulkowsky, seeing that, did likewise.

"The power of evil," Bulkowsky said.

"Yes," the cardinal said. "That is what we are up against."

"But it loses in the end."

"Yes, absolutely. I am going to the chapel, now. To pray. I advise you to do the same."

Raising an eyebrow, Bulkowsky regarded him. His expression could not be read; it was intricate.
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